The Vagabond Studio, along with Going Green with the Grizls and Eight Days a Week, is co-hosting a Fall In Love with Handmade Giveaway Hop in September, and we couldn’t be more excited! Through this process, I have met and talked with so many eco-friendly and handmade business owners! Networking and supporting other small business owners and bloggers is my absolute favorite part of what I do, so this collaborative giveaway hop has been tons of fun. One of the companies I’ve had the pleasure of working with is EcoCycled from Etsy. Below is a photo of the print I have from EcoCycled. Their selection is amazing and covers everything from StarWars/Star Trek to book characters to giraffes dressed as Sherlock Holmes! Go check out their awesome designs! They’ve even given my readers a discount code (which you can find at the bottom of this interview ♥)
Alice in Wonderland Print on Recycled Vintage Book Pages
And here’s an awesome upcycled rotary phone turned into a bird house – how cool is this?!
EcoCycled is run by Neece and Jeff – two awesome artists who are located in completely different states. I had the opportunity to talk to Neece, and this is what she said:
How did you get your store started? What inspired you to become a small business?
EcoCycled started when my friend Jeff and I were talking on the phone one day. He lives in North Carolina and I live in West Virginia. We already had an Etsy store for vinyl decals (www.smartdecals.etsy.com), but both of us wanted to try something new, in addition to the other shop. Both of us care very much about upcycling (converting something destined for a landfill into something useful or attractive with higher environmental value) so we wondered if we could come up with something fun and useful.
What gave you the idea for the printed book pages? I love them – they’re so unique!
Our favorite upcycling is the printed pages, where we print over vintage book pages. Honestly, we got this idea from Etsy itself. It’s not original to us, although we have a lot of unique designs. We also upcycle all kinds of other things, like old rotary phones into birdhouses, games and other things into clocks, and watch pieces into art and jewelry.
What challenges have you met as a small business, and what kept you going?
Some of the challenges of having a small business are inconsistent income, working long hours 7 days a week with little or no vacations, and having to handle every aspect of business. Although, when people buy stuff from us, and leave us positive feedback, that makes it totally worth it. The ongoing success and the positive reactions of our wonderful customers really make it fun and rewarding.
What have you given up as a result of being a small business?
I think the only thing we’ve given up as a result of being small business owners is the idea of being wealthy, having health insurance, and having a consistent income. We can’t live on what we make, but it does help to have the extra income.
What do you love about being a small business?
Being your own boss and working in your jammies from home, is very rewarding. My dogs appreciate it too, because I’m always around to let them out, and back in, and then let them out again 5 minutes later. It’s easy to work, because you’re doing it for yourself. So putting in 12 hours doesn’t really feel like that big of a deal. But also, if I stay up really late doing a custom job for someone, I can take a nap the next day!
The extra income we make is really nice, too. As I said, it is more supplemental at this point, but we are able to treat ourselves or pay off bills faster, than if we didn’t have EcoCycled (and Smart Decals).
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about leaving the ‘normal’ employment world for a small business?
If you have a neat idea that you think would make a good small business, here are a few things to consider.
1. Research to see if there are other people doing the same or similar on Google and on Etsy (or wherever you’re looking to sell your stuff). Are they making money at it?
2. Compare all the different people doing what you want to do. What are the successful shops doing that the unsuccessful don’t do? (or vice versa, what are they not doing that might be good to know?)
3. Make sure you know how to handle your finances, and only spend what you can afford. Make sure you either get a good program that helps you keep track of your income, expenses and taxes, or set up a spreadsheet. Paypal and Etsy both send out tax forms if you make a certain amount of money in a year, so you need to be prepared for that. Also, you need to keep a close eye on how you are doing financially, on what is working and what isn’t.
4. Don’t quit your day job until you are really successful with a good amount of money in savings. This might never happen, in which case your small business is just supplemental, or it might take awhile. Of course, you might hit on a fantastic idea and start making a lot of money right away, too! But don’t expect it or get discouraged if it takes longer than you’d like.
5. Before you start out, decide roughly how much you’re willing to put into a small business. Make sure you allot enough time to handle everything that needs to be done.
6. Customer Service is so important when you are in business for yourself. People on Etsy, for example, expect to be treated in a friendly manner, even more than a regular store. Expect to answer emails every day, never make people wait too long to have their item shipped or their questions answered. This will really help you in the long run. Also, if there is a problem (which is inevitable), make it right with the customer. Be honest and friendly. It doesn’t cost you much extra and it will make a difference with how people leave you feedback or if they tell others about you.
If I can stress one thing to get really good at, it’s customer service, and open, honest, quick communication with your customers. Oh, and one other thing, make sure you love what you do. Do it because you love it, not because you want to get rich. That will really help!
Neece has set my readers/fans up with an awesome 15% discount from now until August 15th! Just enter the code SHAI15 when you check out! ♥
What do you want from the EcoCycled shop?