The Small Business Scoop!
By: Danielle Escobal
In the midst of quarantine, a close friend, Elaine Sanico and I gained niche skills; her crafting, mine digital art. But, we had a problem. Neither of us had an outlet to share the products of our skills. We also wanted to contribute to important causes like the Black Lives Matter Movement, COVID-19, the Yemen Crisis, and more. Thus, our small business (once a mere shower thought) was formed in July of 2020. Handmade 4 Aid, a jewelry and accessory business, donates 50% of our proceeds to various organizations.
DE: What has been the biggest challenge and how have you found a solution?
ES: When we first launched, I thought it would be best to make products as people order them rather than already having an inventory. I immediately learned that was a mistake when a bunch of people ordered rubber ducky earrings, but I didn’t have any in stock. Let’s just say I spent that night meticulously making an army of rubber duckies until four in the morning.
I remember that moment vividly. I opened my phone the next morning to see the army of ducks in my text messages. Despite these challenges, we’ve had rewarding experiences. We’ve donated $1,104 to the International Relief Crisis, a fund to raise money for the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis, and $40 to rebuildtheblock that collects funds for Black small business owners affected by the pandemic and lootings. We are donating our current funds to Global Giving’s, an organization that raises money for COVID-19 emergency responses in the Philippines. There is simply no describing the joy we both feel to see a friend, classmate we’ve never met over zoom, or random customer all the way across the country, rocking our products!
But we aren’t the only ones who have made a rewarding and learning experience this year. Kayla Swisher, owner of The Burrow’s Garden, was inspired to create through her hobby of pressing wildflowers from her dad’s garden between books. When she had no use for the flowers, she resolved to create handmade resin earrings with the hand-pressed flowers.
DE: What’s the best thing you’ve learned throughout this experience as a small business owner?
KS: The best thing I’ve learned is if you put effort into your art, at least one person is going to like it. I’m surprised by how many customers I’ve had and the outpour of support from my friends, family, and strangers.
Photo Courtesy of Kayla Swisher
Different from small jewelry businesses, Mia Lulli, owner of @byy.mia on Instagram and Etsy, has sewn handmade scrunchies and masks to look fashionable during the pandemic since March of this past year. She’s been sewing for over ten years now and knew she wanted to prove that face masks can make a fashion statement.
DE: What advice would you give to those interested in starting their own small business?
ML: Pace yourself! It’s easy to get caught up in ideas, but it’s important to expand steadily. It’s been difficult to deal with marketing sometimes since I had very little experience promoting. Instead, the best thing I’ve learned is how to be responsible and keep myself on track without having a boss.
Photo Courtesy of Mia Lulli
From handmade jewelry to fashionable masks to donating profits, these three women have proven and continue to prove what inspiration, dedication, creativity, organization, determination, can do. Check out their businesses on Instagram at @handmade.4.aid, @theburrowsgarden, and @byy.mia.