Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Please join us in welcoming Laurie of WitchesLairWreaths, our featured member!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a 3rd generation Floridian born in Tampa, Florida raised in Brandon, Florida. I am 50 years old and currently reside in Palm Harbor, Florida with my amazing husband Jeff whom I’ve been married to now for 15 years. Without his love & support, this dream would not be possible! I must mention our sweet corgi dog “Lady” who keeps me from becoming a work-a-holic as, she requires her daily walks and rides along with me to the post office every time a sale is made in my shop. We have raised two beautiful daughters, Tabatha 32 & Alisha 25. Tabatha has blessed me with two beautiful grandchildren Carley 12 & Grayson 8 months. Thank you Jesus as I couldn’t be any more fortunate & blessed than I am!
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
My grand opening of The Witches Lair Wreaths was in September 2015. I decided to go into business for myself because I was tired of the rat race of working for someone else. I am fortunate that my husband financially supports me. I am able to stay at home to run my business from my shop and commit to it as often as I need too.
Tell us a bit about your products.
In the beginning, I was making only wreaths and then I branched out and started making bows, centerpieces, swags & garlands in all sizes, for every Season, Theme & Team you can desire. My shop currently has over 250+ items in it. All hand made by me and are ready to ship out to you now. I have been collecting items for my art for many years. It could be a vase or a wooden tray, or a flower, a bumble bee pick, a ribbon, a gigantic pumpkin, a Marine plaque, etc. The next step is to do lots of research online for other items that coordinate with it and to help me to complete “the vision” that I have in my head of how my finished product is supposed to look. Once I have every piece in its place, I will assemble it to completion for my finished product.
What inspires your work?
My favorite Holiday’s are Halloween & Christmas! I was born on Halloween & that’s why I am “The Witch of The Witches Lair Wreaths”. I absolutely love the colors & themes of Halloween as, it keeps me young at heart.
I don’t usually make things too scary or gory but, I am proud of my Halloween vulture/skull centerpiece & my Fall/Fairy, pumpkin centerpieces. They are my original designs and are very unique.
My inspiration to open my Etsy shop is from becoming an empty nester & from the passion that I have from creating something beautiful with my own two hands.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
My future goals for my business is to downsize the merchandise that I use to create my art with by spending more time working and less time shopping!
I am also, working on promoting a Etsy sale “Out with the old & In with the new”. Anything more than 3 years old in my shop will be marked down. This will keep me motivated to stay up with the current trends and help me to move out the outdated items to clients at a cheaper rate as, the craft world is always evolving and so am I.
My dream for this business is for me to continue to grow and to reach for the stars with my creativity so that I can produce irresistible products that are one of a kind unique!
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
I try to be different and think outside of the box when I am searching for my materials to create something new. Sometimes, I purchase an item just to tear it apart so that I can use that “one unique piece” just to make it my own style. I use many elements. Like I might spray paint a wooden or ceramic candlestick just to turn around and glue it to a charger plate which allows me space for a beautiful flower scape at the base, for my centerpiece. I also, love hand painting and stenciling words to make my own plaques. I cut, stuff and sew material sometimes too for that finished touch. The key is to customize my work so that it stands out from others. I mostly use high end quality materials but occasionally I will find that “gently used” second hand piece that inspires me too. I do a lot of customization pieces for my clients because they know that I can deliver a product designed with their vision in mind that will look absolutely amazing! Please make sure to read all of my 5 star ratings from my happy clients whom I must thank as, none of this is possible without them!
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
My amazing work space consists of a 25′ x 14′ room that is devoted entirely for storing some of my crafting items and also, for my every day work space. Located along the walls are 2 large industrial racks to support my inventory like my incomplete wreath & garland frames, centerpiece vases, plaques for my wreaths etc.
I had a carpenter customize to my drawings, 4 solid wood shelves to hold my every day and seasonal ribbons. There are shelves on the front & back sides easily accessible with the casters on the bottom to allow easy access as I turn it around to see what’s on the other side yet it stays flush against the wall to allow ample floor space in my work area. The rest of my ribbons are stored in jumbo ziploc bags and then placed inside of a rubber-made storage bin labeled for the appropriate season. Then I place out in our 3 car garage until needed again. In the center of the room is my work space area where I have placed two 6′ tables & two 4′ tables to make a large “U’ shape and my executive chair sits smack in the middle of it so, that I can access my work from many angles. I have a 4 drawer mesh organizer that holds my “go to” items like a hammer, saw-tooth hooks for my plaques. So many types of glue for all types of materials. Markers, pens, several types of tape, push pins, sewing pins, spray paints, latex gloves, brushes, more paints, stencils, paint tape, pain saucers to hold the water. I have glitter & glitter glue & raffia tie & twine in every color imagined.
I have a wooden table on wheels that I use solely for my shipping station. It homes my professional scale that accurately weighs my items, a measuring tape to measure the boxes for approximate height, length, width which is mandatory for accurate shipping rates for my website. There is a large solid wooden desk organizer that holds all of my VistaPrint mailing labels, Thank you cards, envelopes, instruction sheet on “How to rate your item on Etsy” that I print out and mail in every Thank you card with every purchase. Flyers for my art classes at Hobby Lobby which I leave in the store and hand out for publicity. Gift tags that coordinate with my merchandise that I tie either directly onto my merchandise or onto the ziploc bag that they are packed in for that extra, wow moment. Packing & Fragile tape for my boxes. I located
My desk in my bedroom with a printer, printer ink, printer paper, along with a multi leveled tray organizer to sort out all of my business paperwork. I find it hard to work with stacks of papers waiting to either be reviewed, sorted & filed that is why I separated my desk from my work space! On my U table which is my work station I have my journal which I list every single item in detail & price as I create a new item. This helps me stay organized & offer an accurate sale price in today’s market to my clients. I have a connected adjoining room to my main work space that is my “Floral room”. It displays my daily floral & current Seasonal floral. I zip tie each color of flowers together for that Season and then I zip tie that to my 4 metal grate stands. Each stand has two sides and there is a season on each side of these metal grates. This allows me to visually see & pick the floral that I need immediately without disrupting my work flow.
Most of my completed wreaths are stored on 2 of my duo industrial clothes racks in my garage. Each wreath is stored in a sealed tight XXL ziploc bag and hung for easy viewing/access. These bags are great to protect your wreath from any insects while in storage. All of my items are shipped in sturdy corrugated boxes (some new & some recycled) as there is such a large fluctuation in the sizes & weights of the items that I ship therefore, I have committed an entire 1 car garage area & another industrial rack to store my boxes and other packing materials like, Styrofoam, butcher paper, popcorn to assure that your item does not break during shipment.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
I have learned that creativity can not be forced! It has to come naturally or it just isn’t made with the same amount of love & devotion that it deserves. I have learned that there is no such thing as an accident but, instead its a learning curve/experience. I have also learned that because of the size of my items, most people at the craft shows won’t purchase my items. They are too large or too heavy to carry around and most people are too tired to return to purchase an item even if their intentions are good. I no longer set up tent due to these reasons.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Go for it as, It is an amazing experience to be your own boss but, just know that like any business it is a lot of work! You really need to do a lot of research before you take the plunge. I found it very exciting but, tedious as, you have to stop creating to do this and that is hard for me. It took me months of research and also, studying Etsy’s website and learning about the “How to’s”. It all comes together in time and it is so worth it!!! I thank all of the shop owners out there on Etsy that helped me “problem solve” when I was unsure of something, without your help the process would have been daunting. Also, locate the customer service help area so, when you do run into a problem, you can get expert advise not just a hunch. Best of luck and reach out to me for help anytime.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy being around my family & friends, cooking baking, sharing memories together! I catch up on house work that I neglected during that “never ending” craft project. I go through my recipes, plan my week & hit the grocery store. We spend a lot of time cooling off from this Florida heat in the pool & unwinding with a drink in hand in our heated Jacuzzi. We occasionally hit the beaches and take Lady to the dog beach. Occasionally attempt to read a book. Garden my plants & manicure my assortment of plants in my Succulent & herb gardens.
My favorite hobbies are crafting, scuba diving, horse back riding, jet skiing, boating, fishing, hiking in the mountains during Fall season, decorating/staging my home.
What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t expect anything & you won’t get let down.”
Where can people find out more about your business?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
As an Entrepreneur, I enjoy teaching craft classes at my local Hobby Lobby store here in Clearwater, Florida. I have my flyer posted on my Etsy shop for all to view with the dates, time of classes and class information as well. If you live in my area, you can purchase my classes directly in my shop, just show up and have some fun crafting with “The Witch”!
Otherwise, come visit us in Florida and give me a call while your in town, to set up a private class anytime.
If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.