This month marks five years since I quit my job to pursue Julie Ann Art full-time. I thought there would be no better way to reflect on our story than with this blog. I do, after all, credit it for a lot of our growth in the beginning. Going over years of posts has been really inspiring and it made me realize how glad I am that I have this space on the internet, whether I update it often or not. There are so many memories that I hadn’t thought about in so long and reading them felt like experiencing them for the first time.
A couple years into starting an Etsy shop, I started doing craft shows (I’m pretty sure I didn’t even break even on my first one!). What a rookie I was. Not even an umbrella! (Or sunscreen, I remember getting burnt.) We all start somewhere, huh? ;]
This was the year I was getting more involved in the blogging world. I went to my first blogging conference and made friends with fellow blogging females (all of which I’m still in touch with today!). I think it was this community of networking that made me realize pursuing my business full-time was possible.
And thanks to Jordan for making me this card display that upped my craft show booth’s look.
In August of this year I announced I quit my day job. I started releasing holiday-specific card lines to be more intentional with my work and marketing.
At the end of 2012, my work space included two printers because I was printing everything myself. I remember constantly having issues with my printers, but also struggling with the idea of outsourcing my printing.
It’s funny how something that feels so hard and transitional can turn out to be something you couldn’t imagine NOT doing.
This is the year I realized I needed help. Where did I start? My friends! They helped me fold wholesale orders while I paid them in wine and pizza. We would sit on my living room floor and watch The Bachelorette while folding.
I started adding new products to our line, like notepads and recipe cards. This was an important step because it was a challenge, and to this day, handling product manufacturing is one of the hardest parts of my job!
I also had my first opportunity to work with a big box store this year. I remember forwarding the sample request email from Urban Outfitters to Jordan and asking if he thought it was spam!
I continued to up my craft-show game, improving my display (hey look at that, an umbrella!) as well as doing multiple Renegade Fairs. I also did my first travel show and flew to Michigan for the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. It was so awesome to do a show in my home state and have friends and family come and support me.
I also lucked out with a couple influential features, like Etsy’s Quit Your Day Job series, as well as Lauren Conrad’s Instagram.
As my business continued to grow, the time I had for this blog started to dwindle. This was a hard realization for me, since I felt like one fueled the other. I didn’t want to abandon this space because I was so thankful it gave me a lot of the resources that guided me into self-employment.
This was a year of ups and down. My grandpa passed away two months before Jordan and I got married. I had a trip to Michigan planned for a bridal shower my mom was throwing for me, and the trip ended up including a funeral. Sometimes I go back to this post I wrote about the last time I saw my grandpa. I’m so glad I type it out so I never forget it.
To add to the roller coaster, the day before the funeral included my first TV appearance for Julie Ann Art.
In the summer of 2014, I did my first speaking gig at Blogging for Makers. I have always had a fear of speaking in front of people but facing my fears is something owning a business has really forced me to do. It’s hard, but at the same time, it’s character-building so I’m ok with it!
I started thinking more ‘big picture’ this year. Rather than considering Julie Ann Art a ‘successful Etsy shop’ I knew it was time to branch out and get more eggs in my basket. My goals included more craft shows, my own website, and a stronger wholesale game.
In the fall, I attended Tradeshow Bootcamp (for my 30th birthday!) with the plan to get prepared for my first trade show. It is still a huge resource for me and the community is incredible.
I ended the year with hiring my first employee in time to help with holiday shows and the Christmas rush.
This year was a crazy one, therefor the amount of blog posts I wrote are slim to none and my memories are a blur. I launched our new website, complete with a wholesale ordering portal for our retailers (thanks Jordan). I also continued to add new products into our line, as well as attend craft shows to focus on direct-to-consumer sales.
The beginning of 2016 was intense. I got some insane Valentine’s Day press, including being shared on George Takei’s Facebook page (what???) and we had a record month in February. Soon after Valentine’s Day I was up to my ears in National Stationery Show prep.
Our first tradeshow in 2016 was a fun (and sure, stressful) experience. We learned a lot and made notes for doing it all over again in 2017.
A couple months after the show I announced we were moving to the East coast. And I can’t believe it, but that was my last blog post, a year ago.
While business has been good, I’ve been making a lot more time off this year. I’ve focused on fine-tuning my processes and working more efficiently so that I can work less. We’ve been traveling every month (partially for work, partially for fun) and I have really embraced it. The thing about running your own business is that IT will run YOU if you let it. The work never stops unless you learn to say ‘no’ to it. So I guess you could say my focus for the past year has been personal happiness. :]
That’s not say the work is not getting done though! I just launched a secret (not-so secret now?) Facebook group for JAA fans to offer them exclusive deals, as well as a chance to give input on future products. It has been really exciting to communicate directly with people who have been following us for years.
We also are in the mix of designing our next launch for October (hint: brand new gift products in time for Christmas!).
And here we are. If you made it this far, you deserve a fucking medal. (No but really, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.) The journey has been long, ever-changing and sometimes challenging, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Thank you for sticking by me. xx Julie