My name is Rachel Halvaksz. I live in San Antonio, Texas with a precocious seven-year-old girl and very supportive husband who's helped me see parts of the world that I never would have imagined visiting. In addition to being a mom and wife, I also work with the homeless community at a great non-profit agency called Haven for Hope of Bexar County.
About 10+ years ago, I went to a "quarter-life crisis" retreat where a group of us newly college-graduated, recently-employed women tried to figure out what do we do with our lives now. For a weekend, we sat around in a beautiful Wisconsin cabin writing and discussing what we wanted to do with our lives in 5, 10, 15 years from now. One of things I listed was to create a cute shop that sold lovely things at an inexpensive cost. I knew that living on a combined "grassroots-non-profit and graduate-student" budget with the hubby to create a shop from bricks/mortar wasn't going to be in my future anytime soon. Thanks to etsy being in the world and the continual supportive nudging of my husband, I've created my shop, appropriately called "the cute shop".
I sell handmade items created solely by me with love and patience. I try to use upcycled/recycled materials as much as possible. I love taking something like a stack of magazines and creating a new bowl out of them. Ever since fifth grade when we did a class project on those who waste and those who recycle, I've been a firm believer of the "reduce, reuse, recycle" faith.
I'm also a fan of quotations, which you will find in the quotable art section of my shop. I also love quirky little designs or drawings and trying them out on paper or canvas. I'm still new to the world of etsy and handicrafting regularly so I love exploring new options, trying out new ideas, and posting them. Mainly, if I think it's cute, I'll add it to the shop.
When did you start creating? Why?
I guess you could say that I really started creating when I was in my 20s. First, I wanted to make handsewn quilts because my paternal grandmother had so many of them that she made and I just thought, I really should learn this tradition, so I made a few for friends and family. I also used to make cards with origami designs on them. I sold them to pay for my airline ticket to see my husband while he did his fieldwork overseas in Papua New Guinea. I use to subscribe to Martha Stewart Living magazine and try to challenge myself to create the items that she promoted. I'll admit that I failed at a lot of them but learned some new techniques and ideas. I love to doodle, explore handwriting styles and trying new styles. The most recent items in my shop, the recycled magazine bowls, were a way to reduce the clutter in my house. I got tired of seeing magazines just go into the recycling bin, I wanted them to be something more, so I started exploring options. It's also just become art therapy for me to help relieve daily stressors. It's amazing how tightly you can wind a piece of paper when you're stressed...it's quite stress-relieving.
What goals do you have for your shop? Is is a hobby, major source of income, or somewhere in between?
My goals for the cute shop this year is more promotion and creative expansion. I just started in my etsy shop in October 2012. It's my "fun-creativity"career that I do on the side of the "pays-the-bills" career. I'm hoping to eventually make it the "pays-the-bills" career but I predict that to be a few years from now since it will take time to build up the business. I've expanding to selling some items internationally, setting up a table at area farmers' markets and craft fairs, getting the shop's facebook page active and by mid-year, I'm hoping to have the cute shop blog up and running.
How do you balance your business with your family?
It's a difficult task of balancing family, etsy business, and "pays-the-bills" career all together. I normally take one day (or half-day) out of the weekend to work intensely on the shop while doing house chores (wait, is that possible?!?), either creating new items or updating the business side of the shop or working a fair/farmers' market. I also work in the evenings after the kiddo goes to bed while my husband is working on his lecture prep, doing his research, etc. Shipping off items, following up on etsy shop emails happen between going to/from work. I found creating the items is really an therapeutic journey for me and motivates me to keep moving forward on my goals.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Mommy with a Small Business?
Letting my kiddo know that she will be completely bored at a farmers' market or craft fair for 5 hours. At seven years of age, they don't sit for long periods of time. Also, when I have a three-day weekend and I'm able to really knock out a lot of items for the shop, it's hard to go back into work the next day. I feel like "Nooo! I'm on a rhythm. I still have so much I want to create!"
The most rewarding has been when complete strangers tell me that they love my stuff or when people walk by at a market/fair and say "oh, that's so cute!" Exactly! That's why I named it the cute shop. For the first three months, I didn't tell most of my friends or extended family that I was doing an etsy shop and pursuing this 10+ year dream because I wanted to see if I could do it without '"sympathy purchases" from friends and family. I wanted to just finally jump in and see if I could do it. And I'm pretty pleased with the results so far.
Do you have any tips for other moms with a small/home business?
Start small and build gradually. Remind yourself that you are in control. If you find yourself spiraling out of control, remember you decide the fate of your business. You can say "no!" to any offers. I've learned to say "no" to things that I knew would take away to much time away from my family and work. Networking is also important. I think it's especially important for your kids to see what your goals are in life and how you achieve and fail at things as well.
Thanks, Rachel! If you would like to see more of Rachel's cute creations, visit her on etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/rhalvaksz
or facebook: www.facebook.com/thecuteshopbyhalvaksz
Comments and questions are always welcome! Thanks for joining us!