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This may be a long one… warning given. I felt I needed to share more of the personal side of my story so that you can start to see what brought me here. Be vulnerable, Andrea… I mean, it’s one of the things I’m going to encourage you to do, so I have to go first, right? I find that I’m most drawn to authentic people, ones willing to share what’s behind their masks, what’s in their hearts. My hope is that this may inspire you, give you hope, and perhaps you’ll see yourself reflected somewhere along the way. 

I didn’t have the easiest childhood, even saying that is an understatement. I learned quickly that the way to stay safe was to stay small. I rarely spoke up or ventured outside of my comfort zone.

“You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my mind.” -Yoko Ono

Somewhere along the way, I started doodling while tucked away, trying to be quiet. And I found out that I have natural talent. The problem was that my mom instantly saw it as a potential income stream, for her. She started selling my drawings to her clients and I was forced to draw portraits for them. Every day became this battle- she wanted me to only draw what would sell. And I quickly grew tired of the mounting pressure. So, I did what any child longing for safety would do, I retreated & stopped drawing, at all.

During this same time period, my grandmother took care of me after school and she was very crafty. Her main hobby was making dolls. She would sew all the clothes, paint their faces, hands, & feet, and build the dolls from scratch. Every day after school, I worked with her in her craft room. Sometimes we would paint, sometimes we would sew. We even worked with clay & put things in her kiln, mostly doll parts, but I got really good at tedious details. But what I didn’t know in those short lessons was that she was building a creator in me. She taught me how to dissect what I wanted to create so that I could make it myself.  

Being a creator is ingrained in me; it’s who I am. Even when I haven’t had a shop with products to sell, I’ve always been producing something crafty. I’ve made every curtain and roman shade in every house we’ve owned. I’ve painted murals, both seasonal and permanent. I’ve drawn and painted every bit of décor for a Vacation Bible School for my church, for years. I’ve designed prettier versions of almost every pdf or document that has crossed my path, because I’m always more inspired to use something when it looks styled. I homeschooled my sons and created more fun experiments and science lessons and art projects than I can think of in this moment.

Not everything though was meant to be the thing that I did forever…but each project holds a special place, including what I learned from it. I probably won’t create VBS decorations again, or come up with more homeschool lessons, but I might do some of the other creative projects again and I know that new ones will come along that spark my interest.

Now, I’d like to tell you that when the world slowed down during COVID that I got to work, diligently building out this business. But I didn’t. I was stuck. I had a major surgery with complications, that caused me to need supplemental oxygen 24/7 for over two years. This setback caused me to focus solely on my health. I didn’t do anything creative. I spent my spare time researching how to heal myself.

What I didn’t know is that when I started creating again, I would start healing physically faster. I have a blog post about a chrysanthemum that talks a little bit about this. I just picked up my pencil and paper one day and started drawing and that’s what came out. There’s more to the story, even more than I shared. But I needed to remember my worth. (still tearful as I type that.)

Healing comes in stages, just like most things in life. One of the most impactful things was for me to realize that my soul needed healing just as much as my physical body did. Some of the things I had to wrestle with and start believing again…

You are talented.

Your physical body doesn’t determine your worth.

Your voice is needed in the world.

It’s okay for you to take up space, so don’t play small.

There is room for you.

It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before, it hasn’t been done by you.

You don’t have to be like the rest of them, in fact it’s preferred.

What makes you different makes you special.

As I conquered some of the lingering lies that were taking up space, I felt bigger, safer. And I created more. I didn't know where I was headed. I just knew that I needed to keep going or I might stay stuck. So I started creating something every day, no particular rhyme or reason. But my anxiety-filled nightmares slowly turned into dreams about my designs. And the fears got quieter and the goals got more vivid and the voices in my head started sounding more like cheerleaders.

I reopened my Etsy shop mid-July of 2022, thinking “oh, I’ll post a few things and see if I want to go down this road again.” I had my first sale on August 1st. For anyone thinking that’s not special, you don’t know how hard it is to get seen in Etsy’s marketplace. That’s huge!

Then late September, I had a chat with an Etsy representative about a few questions I needed help with and towards the end of the conversation, he asked if there was anything else he could help with. I said, “I guess I just wonder the difference between my store and the stores here that are super successful cause even though I'm bringing in regular sales, it's still not enough to consider it a viable income.” He replied, “We’re not supposed to get into advice, (and here are articles that can help you), but when I’m looking at your shop, the only thing holding you back is that I want to see MORE! Your designs & mockups are great! I just think you should 10x your product offering.”

So that’s what I did. And while I was diligently working to build out a bunch of designs, in October, I made over $800. I wasn't doing anything proactive with these listings- they were found on organic search results. This was all happening in the background while I made more products to sell. Then in November, I made over $2200! And then in December, I made over $8000! In this moment, I knew I was on to something!

Everything started falling into place. All of the hard work, all of the doubting, all of the months and months spent on this shop finally seeing fruit.

It changed me. It made me believe in setting really big goals. And as I met my really big goals, my dreams grew bigger.

“You didn't just find a self out there waiting. You had to make one. You had to create who you wanted to be.” -Brit Bennett

Looking back, I can't even describe the amount of work I put in. It wasn’t easy, but it was absolutely worth it. It doesn’t matter what doubt or circumstance is holding you back. You can do hard things. But if you’re still in the trenches and struggling to see daylight, just do one small thing every day towards your goal. In 6 months, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come. I hope this encourages you, that no matter what you're going through or where you feel stuck, that it's worth it to start working toward your dream.

Warmest regards,

P.S. This post felt like a wonky mismatch of details that I thought were important to the story. But this quote sums it up quite nicely.

“The more I stepped away from darkness, the less it felt like home.” -Mitali Meelan

If you want help with a passive product business, I created my membership to make your path simpler, here.


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