Tell us about yourselves.
We are two sisters from the frozen state of Minnesota. I’m Erica. I'm a married, stay-at-home mom of two young school-aged kids: a girl and a boy, and also a lazy orange cat. Beth, my younger sister, isn't a mom herself, but she does enjoy being an aunt to my kids and her other nieces and nephews. Besides our Etsy shop, she also works as a freelance video editor.
Our Etsy shop, Tenpenny Gray, opened for business at the end of 2012, so we’ve only been around for a few months. A common theme for most of our items is vintage--either an actual vintage item or something we've crafted using vintage materials. We both love using vintage materials or repurposing any used items to give them a new life. Since we are a relatively new business, we will keep expanding our products that we have for sale. More jewelry is one thing that I know we have our eye on creating.
We definitely spent a lot of time debating about a name for our shop! Both Beth and I agreed we wanted a shop name that was more general or abstract, and not tied to a specific type of item we would be selling, so that we could offer a wide variety of items in our shop. We actually, believe it or not, had a list of random words that we just really liked for some reason or liked the way they sounded. We may or may not have read the dictionary for inspiration! Tenpenny seemed to fit in with the vintage style we like, so we tried pairing it with different words until we came up with Tenpenny Gray. To us, it just felt and sounded right, and we think our perhaps somewhat crazy naming process led us to the perfect name for our shop.
Both Beth and I have enjoyed doing a variety of different crafts since we were kids. I've always loved interior design, and Beth was always into drawing and painting. We're both avid scrapbookers as well. We grew up being dragged to antique shops and garage sales, so I think it really gave us a love of all things vintage and inspired us to open Tenpenny Gray. As a stay-at-home mom, I was looking for a way to have a business that I could do from home, too.
It is difficult to fit in everything that needs to be done in a given day between my family needs and business needs. Something often has to give - and for me, it is often the housework! I do try to fit in most of my business-related work while the kids are at school. A typical morning for me would be working on listing new things into our shop, putting the finishing touches on handmade items, and trying to squeeze in some cleaning or vacuuming before my youngest comes home from morning kindergarten. I try to be present with my kids when they are home and save the business work for when they are away or sleeping. But it is hard! Next year my youngest will be in school all day, so I’m anticipating a longer time-window to get business stuff taken care of.
That can be tricky, but luckily we get along well and are close. We often have very similar thoughts - we joke that we share a brain - so regarding business decisions, we usually are on the same track. We each have certain aspects of the Etsy business that we handle ourselves, along with each of us making items to be sold in the shop. It can be kind of hard to get away from it all though, when you are doing business with family. We do often find ourselves talking Tenpenny Gray business at family birthday party get-togethers!
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
For me, the most difficult aspect has definitely been the time. As any mom knows, there is never enough time in the day. The more time that I spend on my business, means the less time I spend doing the grocery shopping, the laundry, the cleaning. But that stuff still has to get done, so then it takes away quality time from my kids - because we are having to go grocery shopping together instead of playing a game together. Time management is key and something I am still working on.
The most rewarding has been seeing our Etsy shop open and having business cards printed up and officially becoming a business. Getting that first sale was also really exciting! For us, it's also fun to take an old, used item and transform it into a lovely decoration for someone's home.
Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
While you of course want to grow and improve your business, try not to get too caught up in comparing yourself to other business owners. We moms do love to compare ourselves to other moms in all areas it seems. But that shop owner with lots of sales or all the creative products, may be at a different stage in her life where she can devote more time to nurturing her business than you can right now. When you are deep in the trenches of mothering and trying to run a small business too, you really can only do so much. It’s ok to build your business slowly. Know that you, too, will have different seasons in your life and you will get to a point where you have more time to devote to your business, but you can’t ever get those years back with your kids.
Do you have a coupon for us?
Take 15% off your purchase with coupon code: FRIDAYFEATURE15
If you'd like to see more, you can find Erica and Beth at the following sites:
Thank you, ladies!