This story has been developing for the last 6 years, I’ve wanted to share it for a few months now. I frequently get asked questions about my business and it’s beginnings, so lets start there, the beginning.
Alternate Post Title – ‘The Summer That I Banged on Glass to Recycle Aluminum to Make Money to Buy Supplies to Start a Shop to Make Money.’ Or, ‘If You Give a Girl a Hammer and an Idea…’
We were living in Florida the summer of 2007, we were on break between college semesters and Chris was working for my brother installing impact resistant windows. And we were poor, boy were we poor. Before we made the trek from Utah to Florida for the summer, I had a chat with one of my good friends about what I could possibly do to make extra money. She told me that she was going to make stuff and sell it online, and a lightbulb went off in my head. I thought to myself, I can totally do that – I’m can totally make stuff.
So there we are in Florida and I now had a plan, I was going to make ‘stuff’ and sell that ’stuff’ online. Before we left, I packed my sewing machine and the teeny tiny small stash of tools and fabric that I had. I started making a couple of quilts and sold them on ebay. But, I still needed fabric and thread and needles and ’stuff’ to make ’stuff’ with. And again, I don’t know if you understand by now, but we had no money.
Part of my brother’s business consisted of removing old windows and replacing them with the new windows. He had a big ole pile of old windows sitting on the side of their house collecting dust and around each of those old windows was aluminum. I asked my brother what he was going to do with all of that aluminum. He said that if I wanted to pound out all of the glass from the windows, I could have the aluminum. And then it started, every day for a week, I would put my one year old baby down for a nap and go outside in the hot Florida sun and pound glass out of aluminum. By the end of a week we took the aluminum to the scrap yard and I had pounded $100 worth of aluminum.
I took that $100 and my Joann coupons to the fabric store. I was able to buy yards of fabric and handles and needles and more fabric – supplies! With those supplies I made my first bags. And those bags were the first things that I sold on Etsy. Bless mine and my first customers’ heart.
The thing was/is, I’m not the best seamstress. I taught myself how to sew that summer, I sewed every day and I got much better. I sold my very first bags on etsy for $10 and I actually lost money with the first couple of things that I sold online. But, those first couple of sales that I made online bolstered my confidence enough that I kept at it. I kept pounding windows and I kept sewing. I left Florida with a car full of bags and quilts and a head full of ideas.
On the long drive from Florida back to Utah, I kept thinking about how I really wanted to make a business out of selling stuff online. Could I make this work as a career? Would I be able to make enough money to justify the time that I put into it this summer? Time would only tell. I learned something really important about my entrepreneurial self that summer, I can hustle way better than I can sew, and this reality is still true.