What did you want to be when you grew up? A lawyer, a veterinarian, a teacher, an astronaut — our answers as kids seemed to change with each year and new interest that passed. But when real life kicked in along with bills, mortgages, and mouths to feed, pursuing the work that we loved seemed a distant dream.
But the tides are turning — thanks to online businesses that make it easier than ever to share your life’s work and sell it around the world, more and more parents are able to do what they love … and make a living of it, too. Want to join their ranks? Hear how 22 of our Top 50 Etsy Parents got where they are today:
Fate is your friend 1 of 22It seems that I didn't have a choice in the matter of pursuing my creative passion. I was laid off from a career where I had been working for almost 12 years (kitchen & bathroom Design). I spent 2 years trying to find a job that would work for myself and my family, and after lots of disappointing opportunities, I decided to do the only other thing that I knew — beautiful housewares. All in all, I guess you could say fate forced me into it.
—Araya, Wind and Willow Home
Think it through 2 of 22We started small, but right; we took business, woodworking, digital and photography classes, got set up legally, and developed a small and cohesive product line. Nick and I make a good team, so working together at something we both care about made it worth the risk.
—Nick and Kimber, Little Sapling Toys
Follow your heart 3 of 22As long as I can remember, I loved spending time in my mum's sewing room. She showed me how to use the machine, and for the next several years I would alter and make my own clothes. I went on to study Clothing Technology at university back home in Berlin to get more knowledge in the production process. Once I moved to Australia, I started working in the industry for a few years before making the jump to starting my own business. I quickly realized running your own business and following your heart is so much more rewarding.
—Kerstin, Paul and Paula
Follow your passion 4 of 22I was always creating and full of ideas, and there was just no way that I could do that in a "normal" job. When my youngest daughter went to school, I stopped working for a boss and started my own business. I wanted to follow my passion because I don't want to look back later in life and regret not following my passion.
Work should be play 5 of 22For me, I knew I had found my passion when there was no distinction between work and play! I started sewing after I had my first daughter, for both fun and necessity. I quickly realised that I could start a (very small) business, whilst also raising my daughter. The fact that I wanted to sew every day, no matter how tired I was, told me that I had made the right decision.
Seven years on I am now working full time at my business and love it even more than I did in the beginning. Running your own business means that you end up work both day and night, so it really needs to be something that you love to do!
—Manda, Treefall Design
Believe it is possible 6 of 22The main reason I didn't pursue my passion in the first place was because I didn't believe it was possible. If you want to make the jump, have a plan: make attainable goals, have a clear vision of your work and a mission statement, and never underestimate the importance of a great support system — both emotionally and financially if necessary.
—Ashley, Ashley Pahl
Make the leap 7 of 22Doing what I do now was something that I always thought I'd do when I retired. But when I started doing it as a creative outlet from my day job as an architectural designer, I found there was already an audience. It kept growing as I kept investing in it, and suddenly I was busy enough that I had to make a decision: keep the current day job, or chase the dream. I built up enough savings for a cushion and made the leap!
—Katie and William, Oh Dier
Ask for help 8 of 22Making the jump into pursuing your passion is the most difficult part because there are no guarantees. But without the risk, you'll never know. Know what you want to do, get a solid brand developed, and start building momentum. Allow friends and family, new or old, to help you on your journey.
—Michelle and Steve, Twig Creative
Play like a child 9 of 22The golden rule for me is: play like a child. Think of having a lot of fun and pleasure from what you do, then devote time to it. You'll start with something that makes you happy and gives you pleasure, and when you've done it a thousand times, it'll look accomplished. Don't look for perfection, look for feeling happy while you do it... Let the process, and not the result, be the goal.
Be a risk-taker 10 of 22You have to take some risks. After we started a family, our focus shifted and consequently, so did our lifestyle. Love is a great motivator — we created a family-friendly business so we would could spend as much time as possible with our kids.
—David and Adrienne, Manzanita Kids
Timing is everything 11 of 22We made the jump in a moment of serendipity when everything we needed to start our letterpress business appeared in our lives. At the same time, we had both started to expand our families and wanted the flexibility of being on our own schedules — so the timing could not have been more perfect.
—Mara and Anna, Dutch Door Press
I needed it 12 of 22Sanity. I have 3 little kids! If I'm not doing art, I can't be happy. Doing things with my hands eases my mind and provides an outlet for self-expressionism and independence.
You’ll never know until you try 13 of 22There is no such thing as failure if you put yourself out there and give something your best shot. If it doesn't work out, that is one more answer for you on this journey of life. At least you'll know never to do that again! My husband really pushed me into this business, and I've figured out my passion is for the business, more so than the craft.
Although I love the craft, I feel more excited about making a go of it, making it something that people remember and love, making a brand that means something. I think that's what made me want to continue more than anything.
—Jo, 42 Things
Just do it 14 of 22I always wanted my own business, but I worked in-house as a designer for four years before I went for it. I believe there is a moment when you just have to do it. You have to try. You have to go for it, and when things do not work you have to pick yourself up and try again. I wanted my own business because I love setting my own schedule, working my own hours, and working directly with my customers. I believe talking to other business owners, experimenting with an idea, and starting slow is the best way to learn and grow steadily.
—Tara, INK + WIT
Pursue what you need 15 of 22After my daughter was born in 2004, I was looking for ways to stay home and earn an income as an artist. I found Etsy in 2006 and have been able to work from home ever since. It hasn't been easy, but it has been worth it.
—Suzanna, Sushipot Vintage
Do what makes you happy 16 of 22I made the jump to follow my passion and start my business when I could no longer live with my current job. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I needed to make a change. I researched, talked with my family, saved and then invested my money into my business and I have never looked back. Even knowing now what hard work it is I would not change a thing!
—Anna, Anna Joyce
Know what you want 17 of 22How to make the jump: just jump. The first step is the scariest. I think having a clear picture of what you want to do and all the realities that includes is smart and makes it less scary. I discovered in college that the things that felt "scary" were the things I wanted most.
—Lisa, Kiki and Polly
Take calculated risks 18 of 22My story is somewhat my accident. I didn't plan to make jewelry — I was actually very outspoken about never wanting to do it but for me I got excited about every purchase and enjoyed hearing feedback from happy customers. I've met some great people through my business which makes all the difference. I would encourage people to take calculated risk. If you have any idea and you're starting from scratch, test the waters a bit and see how people respond to it. If the demand continues to grow then increase your investment.
—Jennifer, A Merry Mishap
The right time for you 19 of 22My son's birth was a huge catalyst to take the leap. I knew when I was on maternity leave that I didn't want to work on a conventional schedule anymore. Now I realize I should have done it much sooner! I had dreamed of owning an online shop for years but was scared to make the move. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but you can do it at any time.
—Erin, Knot and Bow
If not now, when? 20 of 22I have a motto that I think I've always lived by, "And if not now, when?" It's a belief that has helped me through all of my creative ventures over many years. For me the doing it now became nearly a year of doing research and reaching out to fellow artists before I opened my shop. I think once you've found your passion and you want to move forward, start by getting feedback from close family and friends. Giving your items as gifts during holidays and special times is also a great way to get your name out there. It's during this time that I was able to tweak a few details of my main product, my Felt Campfire. I learned a lot by watching my grandchildren and their friends play with my toys. It allowed me to see what drew their interests and for how long. It lead me to discover new ideas and better ways to improve on my original design. In the end I realized that passion and confidence in what you love is all you need to make the step; everything else will fall into place.
Rebecca, Hopewell Creek
Put yourself out there 21 of 22Honestly, I never thought anyone would want to buy something I made, but I just put it out there, and they did. It's a great feeling.
Treat it like a business 22 of 22For us, we really bumbled into making our passion into what we do. We started off just having fun. Once we realized that we wanted to go from hobby to business, we started to treat it as a business. We added a bit of structure to our work days and that helped keep things rolling.
The nice part is when I need a break from the everyday toy making I can take a bit of time to design new toys, which I find to be really energizing because I'm sort of a big kid. Finding the balance between making product and maintaining the creative spark is a key to growth and success.
—Erin and Nick, Imagination Kids Toys
Need more inspiration? Etsy parents share 15 reasons to start a business right now!
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