Behind the Specs: A Season for Coffee Cozies & Flower Clips

It all started in 2008 when I discovered these little fabric coffee sleeves that other artists were making. I thought, "How CUTE! I could do that!" And so it began.... I started making a little piece of S&W history. :) Some of my very first things to post in my Etsy shop were these little guys that I named "Coffee Cozies" (because they keep your hand "cozy" while you drink "coffee" of course!)  I started off with simple designs and a big button. I think the reason I liked them so much is that coffee reminds me of special times with friends and with the Lord.

I tried all kinds of patterns, fabrics and colors....collected fabric scraps and lots of buttons and eventually I tried new things! I created some with felt flowers sewn on and even some out of vintage ties. I had a great time learning about Etsy, taking orders from customers, craftsmanship, packaging and more! I even had my first wholesale experience when a coffee shop carried my cozies for awhile. I got orders for special occasions or events, even for a bride's morning coffee on her wedding day!

I learned so much about "craft business" through the experience of selling coffee cozies, but my true passion (painting) was calling so I decided to try some new things...

(Adventures in coffee cozies! 1. My first shipment of tie cozies for wholesale, 2. Labels I sewed inside them, 3. A bride's custom coffee cozy, 4. My cozies for sale in a coffee shop!)
Up next, I had this amazing opportunity to sell handmade creations in my city's Downtown Farmer's Market! My friend Danielle and I set up a both every other Saturday and began to sell our creations. I had a few paintings, but the cost and time that went into making them wasn't really fit for the market, so I decided to try out accessories! I ended up creating LOTS of handmade flower clips. They sold great! I felt like I was really connecting with the people we met at the market and they enjoyed taking home a handmade creation from a fun family outing.

I started to branch out and sell them on Etsy as well as try new things like mini flower clips, flower headbands, flower necklaces, and even flower scarves. One day at the market, we met Allison from Pink Tumbleweed (a local boutique!) she asked if she could sell our accessories in her shop! WOW! This was such a fun opportunity and we even got to sell items at a shopping event called "Spring Fling". I had more fun opportunities to create flower clips for a church group, a birthday party and even a wedding! It was fun to see people wearing my creations around town and even on mission trips! One of my favorite things that happened was when some photos of my creations were printed in Artful Blogging magazine.

(Adventures in flower clips! 1. A sweet friend wearing her mini flower clip in Africa, 2. Selling at Spring Fling, 3. Our first display at Pink Tumbleweed, 4. My flower clip for a bride!, 5. Flower Clips with my sis in Artful Blogging Magazine, 6. Danielle and me at Farmer's Market)
I wouldn't trade the memories I made or the experiences I had during this season of my art, but I also learned that just because something is good or successful doesn't mean you have to keep doing it. I was a little afraid that I stopped creating small accessories, my business might fall apart! But after many talks with my sweet husband and getting great advice from other artists, I realized that I wanted to pursue painting. It's ALWAYS been my dream! I'm so thankful to God for this season in my life and for giving me to the courage to transition out of it too. I learned so much in this season and I had a blast meeting people and hopefully sharing little bits of joy, but it was time to move to the next season and create in freedom!

So, I let go of fear and cleaned out my fabric box. I still do a little sewing from time to time, but my focus is on painting. When I stopped selling accessories a couple of years ago, an amazing thing happened! Yes, I lost a few opportunities, but new ones opened up! I realized I had the opportunity to create and relate to people in a new way...through painting their stories! There is something so personal and beautiful to me about helping someone express themselves through unique canvas paintings and Toms! 

So, that's what happened to coffee cozies and flower clips. I still have a few in my art closet to remind me of these amazing adventures....but now I've got my paint brush in hand and I'm ready for some new ones!

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1 comment:

emily said...

As I read this, I'm sitting at my computer with my mug in hand...covered in an adorable Molly Swanson Original coffee cozy! So glad to be with you on this amazing journey.