Small Business Spotlight: Tangled Happy

Today we have an interview with the woman behind one of my favorite crochet websites, Tangled Happy

Welcome Sara!

Hey there… I’m Sara, a wife to a wonderful husband and a mama to three lovely girls. These four are my favorite people in the whole wide world. I love my family to pieces!

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I learned to crochet in 2010 and fell head over heals in love with crochet. Soon after this little love affair started Tangled Happy was born. There you will find hundreds of free crochet patterns and a few of my original designs.

What is a typical day in your life?

A typical day is pretty full! In addition to wife, mama and blogger I also own and operate a house cleaning business locally. A typical day looks something like this… Drop my girls at school, clean a clients home, blog/design or crochet in the afternoon, pick up my girls from school, help with homework, make dinner, hang out with the family, put the little girls to bed, blog/design/crochet or hang with the husband and then bed.

My husband and I share a work space in our home. We turned one tiny bedroom into an office for the two of us. This seemed like a great idea at the time… This arrangement quickly became quite distracting! So, although my pretty little desk is still stashed away in the office I find myself blogging from the kitchen table and crocheting in random places around the house.

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What is your favorite thing about running your own business?

 When my youngest daughter was born (7 years ago) I quite my 8 to 5 and started a house cleaning business. Sending another baby to day care was not an option! I wanted to be with my girls. What I love most about running my own business is having the freedom to choose when I work and having more control over how much income I can make. Self employment has been a huge blessing in my role as a wife and mama.

What is the hardest thing for you in running your business?

Running a business is hard work. My biggest struggle… Time management! Finding the perfect balance is nearly impossible. I do my best to balance all the roles I have been given and although I don’t do it perfectly I’m much happier working for myself than I ever was punching the time clock for someone else.

What surprised you the most when you started your business?

 How quickly things can get going. Quitting my 8 to 5 was scary but I knew I had to go all in if I wanted to be with my girls full time. I hit the pavement and passed out flyers daily until I had enough cleaning clients to make up the income I needed. It didn’t take long to fill my schedule and things have remained pretty steady since then.

Tangled Happy has a similar story. Just like most blogs Tangled Happy started out getting a handful of pageviews per day and within a few months grew to thousands. That was definitely a pleasant surprise!

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What advice would you give to other business owners out there?

If you’re just getting started or thinking about starting your own business consistency is key. Make a plan and work the plan.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Creative blogger inspire me! Tangled Happy was created was initially created as a way to keep track of patterns and inspiring people I came across online. Have a quick browse around my blog and it won’t take long to see what and who inpires me.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

 Inside my teenage daughters head so I could figure out what’s going on in there…?

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If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?

Hmm… I really love Kansas! I think I would stay right here for now.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I make the best baked potato soup on the planet.

You can find Sara on her website, www.tangledhappy.comFacebook, Etsy and Pinterest

I’d like to thank Sara for being willing to talk to me today and share her business with us!

Do you know a business I should consider interviewing for an upcoming Small Business Spotlight? Leave a comment or email me with a link to their information and let me know! Wish I would have asked a different question? I will be changing up some of the questions in the future, so if you have something in particular you would like to know be sure to let me know! 

Thanks everyone, Happy Tuesday!

Small Business Spotlight: KT and the Squid

Today I’m excited to share this interview from Katy of KT and the Squid! She’s a fellow crocheter and she sounds kind of awesome! Enjoy…

My name is Katy! My life centers around my 2 wonderful children (Noah and Hannah), my marvelous husband (Ed) and my business (KT and the Squid).

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Tell us a bit about your business. What do you do? What got you started? 

KT and the Squid was born in November of 2009. You could almost say it was by accident. At the time, I was the manager at a gym for kids. When I was told the gym was closing I had no idea what I was going to do. I was pretty familiar with Etsy so I decided to try it out. I actually started trying to sell some sewn burp cloths, dresses and bibs. One day I added a cute little hat I made up. It sold pretty quickly and I had people asking for more! After a year or so I realized I had something here and started treating it more like business and less like a hobby.

My specialty is custom made crochet hats for kids and babies but I also knit and make other items. Most of the finished items I sell are my original designs and after receiving numerous requests for my patterns I decided to start selling them as well in November of 2012. I discovered I really LOVE writing patterns and see my business moving more in that direction. While I love making items to sell, I love seeing others selling items made from my patterns as well!

Where did your business name come from?

I am “KT” and my 4 year old daughter is the “Squid.” Why Squid? When she was born my husband looked at her (picture a brand new newborn baby) and said she looked like a squid. The name just stuck with her so it had to be part of my business name.

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What is a typical day in your life? 

I am by no means an expert managing my life as a small business owner, wife and mother but I get better at it every day. I try to stay as organized as I can. Without my planner I would be lost! There, I keep track of exactly what needs to be done each day.

Typically, I spend most of the day with my kids like most moms. Whenever I get a chance I answer emails, work on items, get items ready for shipping (my husband does the Post Office runs!)…but I try to do as much as I can when they are napping or in bed for the night.

It’s hard to say how many hours a day I spend on work because I’m doing it off and on all day long. I probably spend 4-5 hours actually making items for orders but I also spend a lot of time on the computer throughout the day. I feel like I’m always working! I know a lot of people that do what I do stay up late at night working but you’ll find me in bed by 11 pm every night.

Late summer to mid-winter is usually the busiest time of year. I might have more emails to answer during the busy times but because I only allow myself to make a certain amount of items each day it’s all pretty much all the same to me. Plus, I keep just as busy creating new things during the off-season as well.

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What is your favorite thing about running your own business?

I really love the freedom! I get to pick my hours which means more time to spend with my family. If we want to go on vacation it’s pretty easy for me to pack up the supplies I need and go.

I also love hearing from customers. I put love into every item and pattern I make so it means a lot to me when I know others like my work. Even if someone just comments on a picture on Facebook the simplest compliment make my day!

What is the hardest thing for you in running your business?

 Because I work from home it’s hard to just STOP. I also tend to get lost in all the numbers. All I want to do is create! I don’t want to have to calculate profit margin or figure out fees! I’m very lucky that my husband does an amazing job with our accounting and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

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What advice would you give to other business owners out there?

            If you want this to be your business treat it as such and do your research. Don’t sell yourself short. Literally! In the business of crochet/handmade I see people barely charging enough to cover their costs. For a lot of people it might be a confidence thing (I know it was for me!) but know you’re worth it.  Don’t just charge for materials! If something took you an hour to make think about how much you think your hour is worth and add that to your materials, fees, etc. Even if you’re making something for a friend treat them like you would any customer. Heck, I make my own mom buy things through my Etsy shop!

Where do you get your inspiration?

            My inspiration could come from anywhere! The other day I had a bunch of scrap yarn from some orders I had just finished sitting balled up together and suddenly got inspired by the colors that were there. I have some newborn props that are based off real items like my doctor set and cop and robber set. Lately, I’ve been looking up vintage patterns and looking for ways to update them and make them more current.

When I’m working on new items I usually sit with some yarn and keep playing with it until I get something I’m happy with. Sometimes I have a shape in my mind or I might be playing with a new stitch. It’s not uncommon that I end with something completely different than what I originally start with.

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What do you do when you’re NOT working?

I answer a million questions a day from a 2 and 4 year old! I also like cooking and crocheting (yes, you read that right) for myself or loved ones.

If you won the lottery today what is the first thing you would do?
Easy, I would buy a house with a wing just for yarn!

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I have a serious fear of aquariums.

A BIG thanks to Katy for letting me interrogate her this week! You can find her on Facebook and Etsy

Do you know a business I should consider interviewing for an upcoming Small Business Spotlight? Leave a comment or email me with a link to their information and let me know! Wish I would have asked a different question? I will be changing up some of the questions in the future, so if you have something in particular you would like to know be sure to let me know! 

Small Business Spotlight: DearOne Photography

Today I’ve got a great spotlight for you from Stephanie Hillyard, the creative mind behind DearOne Photography in Ontario!

Tell us a bit about yourself:

I have more photos of other people than I do of myself (a true make of a photographer, I’ve been told).

I have two stomachs – one for food and one for dessert.

It is doubtful that I’ve ever been told to eat my veggies. Everything else on my plate, perhaps, but not the plant stuff.

I have a BA in English, as well as a Journalism diploma. I also studied music while at Uni.

I’m a country girl at heart (I grew up on a farm), but fell in love with New York the minute I touched down.

My husband Dave and I have been married almost four years. We don’t have any children yet, but are anxiously awaiting our turn!

Once Upon a Time is my guilty pleasure. When it’s on, no one talks to me.

We have four nephews and two nieces, all on Dave’s side on the family.

I am a huge animal persons – Dave and I even had a chameleon once!

My husband is a chef (yes, a fantastic one!!).

I love kid jokes…. What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator!!

I would rather not eat than not have a camera.

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Tell us a bit about your business. What do you do? What got you started?

I’m the owner/ main photographer for DearOne Photography. We’re based out of Northern Ontario we keep moving and we travel all over for weddings and events (and sometimes newborn and family sessions!) that we don’t really have much of a home base anymore.

I’ve always been ‘taking photos’ but moved up in the world when a friend of a friend asked if I shot weddings. I told her I honestly didn’t know if I did, but if she was willing to give me a shot I’d try it out. Before I knew it I had four booked my first year. We’re currently in our second (almost in our second, I really don’t know when our official anniversary is- maybe I should just pick a date!) and have five weddings this summer lined up. My chef husband (when available) acts as my second shooter (and driver and caddy and moral support and business advice) while we both try to balance running a small business and working full-time jobs. It can get pretty intense sometimes.

Each day is completely different (as cliché as that is). Right now I’m balancing time between DearOne Photography, waitressing, working on some business/ marketing/secretary work for my parents (they’ve owned and operated a farm, abattoir, butcher shop and store for the last 18 years or so) and have just been hired on as an assistant videographer for a company working on a documentary about family farms.

 Typically I start my day with breakfast and my Bible, then jump into emails. After that it could be any combination of editing photos, marketing (which includes promotion, products, networking….), research or any of the other jobs above. It’s nice to have a constant change of scenery, but also like that I usually know what’s coming. I’d love to say I have a 9-5 job, but I totally don’t. If I can’t sleep (which happens way too often) I’ll stay up editing or doing research until my eyes get heavy enough. I take odd breaks during the day (sometimes to go do one of those other jobs!) but I’ll sometimes be sitting on the computer literally for hours.

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Where do you work? 

I would love one day to have a studio space. I’m a natural light photographer, so while it’d be great to have a studio for newborn sessions, it would have to have HUGE windows. Right now I work in my bedroom, at the kitchen table, in the living room, and sometimes in other people’s houses- kind of wherever I am. I do have plans for a studio after Dave and I buy a house [we’re waiting until after we get back from overseas,we are planning on heading overseas in the fall to teach English (me) and cook (him)], and thankfully Dave’s all for it (possibly because it’ll keep my photo gear and business stuff somewhat contained!)

What is your favorite thing about running your own business?

 The freedom and the creativity. I love being able to make decisions by myself. If I want to give a friend a free mini-session for their baby shower, I can. If I decide I don’t have enough traffic and I need to change something about my business model, I can. Plus, owning your own business runs in my family!

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What is the hardest thing for you in running your business?

Probably having to make all the tough decisions myself and not being able to blame someone or something else. It sounds odd, but when you have an employer you can totally say ‘it’s company policy’ and not feel bad about it, but when you make the rules you have to be able to defend and stand by them!

What advice would you give to other business owners out there?

 The age-old standard ‘Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’ is totally true. But you HAVE to work at it. Most photographers only spend 20% of their time behind their cameras and the other 80% editing or marketing or doing other business related stuff. Sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes you totally want to give up and throw it away and never look at it again. But remember why you started it in the first place, and what it is about your business that you love. And make sure to take breaks! Take a day where you aren’t allowed to do anything work related. Or take and afternoon where you can only do one business related thing. It works wonders, trust me, to just relax and not worry for a few minutes.

If your business revolves around some kind of craft, the only way to improve to get out there and practice. And whatever it is you do, you do because you love it. But you’re a business owner, so give yourself the opportunity to fall in love with the business side of things as well!! I never knew I enjoyed certain parts of running a business until I got into the thick of it!

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What do you do when you’re NOT working?

Read everything. A little Lucy Maud, a little Suzanne Collins, a little Ray Bradbury. My parents gave me a Kindle for Christmas a couple years ago and it is filled with all sorts of classics and poetry and even my Bible. I pretty much never leave home without it.

As I type this I’m having a movie marathon with my sister. We’re re-watching the Harry Potter series, but we often find ourselves with the Disney movies we watched as kids or something we found in the discount bin.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

 Apparently the restricted section of the library (like I said, watching Harry Potter!). But I’d love to be invisible during weddings- I could stand right in front of the bride and groom and not be in the way!

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What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be? 

A teacher. I almost went to teacher’s college, but God changed my mind and I ended up studying Journalism instead. Last year I took my TESOL course and am now planning on heading overseas to teach!

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

 Even though all our family members are blood related, one day my husband and I hope to adopt! I babysat a little girl from Haiti when I was in Uni, and adopted touched my life so much that I can’t imagine it not being part of my life.

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You can find Stephanie on FACEBOOK and on her WEBSITE

Thanks for taking to us Stephanie, especially for your awesome business advice!

Do you know a business I should consider interviewing for an upcoming Small Business Spotlight? Leave a comment or email me with a link to their information and let me know! Wish I would have asked a different question? I will be changing up some of the questions in the future, so if you have something in particular you would like to know be sure to let me know! 

Thanks Everyone! Happy Tuesday!