Monday, January 6, 2014

Jump: Part 2

One of the ideas I thought about a lot in 2011 when contemplating what else I could do other than the enamel jewelry is opening up a retail space of my own. I loved having a store open to the public, but in Stone Mountain, it wasn't really ours. We shared the space with other artists, and we had to get approval for anything we wanted to do or sell. 

I dreamed of having a retail store, not a gallery, focusing on gifts and accessories. I have met so many awesome artists/crafters over the past couple of years... people making jewelry, home decor, soaps, candles, clothing, bbq sauce, and everything in between, all original stuff made in the USA.  My vision was a really cool, indie shop that carried the best of the best craft show items... a constantly changing inventory of those interesting handmade items that you can't get at department stores.

But, after deciding to continue with the jewelry biz at home, this gift shop idea was put on the "10 year goal list" and I didn't think too much more about it. 



In early November of this year, we went and ate lunch at one of the Italian restaurants (Amici) in downtown Monroe. It was a gorgeous fall day, perfect weather... soft breeze... we parked across from the restaurant and right in front of an antique store that had a "store closing" sale going on. 

Goosers went to get a table and Nolan and I walked through the antique shop, just looking around. As we passed the front checkout area, I started talking to the lady there, and discovered she lives in our neighborhood... so weird. We started talking about the store closing and she told me the rent/utilities weren't bad at all, she just didn't have the time to keep it open with her other job. I told her a little about my business, and she gave me the building owner's card. I put it in my purse and went to meet the rest of the fam at the restaurant.


Amici's has outdoor tables so Goose and I are sitting there, eating pizza with the boys, talking about how cozy the historic square of Monroe is... how it feels so "small town" and authentic. I told him about the store and the rent being so reasonable. We weren't really seriously considering it, but just dreaming about having a store of our own... and how awesome it would be to have a separate place for Sailor Studio and have our house just be "home" again. 

After lunch I decided to go into the Sanders furniture store, which is owned by the same guy who owns the other building, just to look around. I met Mr. Sander's daughter and asked her about the space. She took my info and said she would ask her dad and get back to me.

The next day, we were nearby with some family so we walked through again and got some other opinions on the space. 

 This was on the front door, might be my favorite part... ha!

Then, a few days later Mr. Sanders (who I liked immediately- such a sweet man, so positive and encouraging) called me and we talked for a little while about the space, about the rent and when it would be available. Then, we toured the space with him when it was cleaned out and took some pictures.

Old hardwood floors... love!! And all the walls are on wheels, 
so they can be moved around which is awesome.

There was also this little white gated area in the back from 
when it used to be a children's furniture store. I think we 
are going to keep it for Hubba and the boys to have 
a little play area.


Basement has tons of storage space

 There is a little loft space in the back which the boys have already claimed, 
it has a tiny window where you can look down into the store.

We decided to think and pray about it for awhile and just focus on the upcoming holidays. Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend were HUGE on Etsy so I was staying busy getting orders out in time for Christmas. 

Also in the middle of all this, I started having odd pains and other little health issues and ended up having a minor surgery in November. Thankfully, it wasn't serious and I was able to get back to my normal routine by the time Thanksgiving came around.

Then at the end of December, after really enjoying Christmas and our vacation with no work talk allowed, Goose looked at the numbers. He added up our sales through Etsy, craft shows, and wholesale orders along with all the expenses for the year. He told me if we wanted to shift focus from a new house for now, and try out the store, we were actually in a good place to do it. We had saved enough money to not have to go into debt for it, and if we move in and start bringing in income by spring, it could definitely be a worthwhile endeavor. 

After that, it became real... I mean if my voice of reason husband was on board, that was huge!

So we decided to just go for it... and on December 30th, 
we met with Mr. Sanders and signed the lease. 

So Goose and I are officially store owners! 

We will set up a studio space in the back to continue making jewelry and expand the online and wholesale parts of the business, and then make a retail space in the front to sell my jewelry along with other handmade items.


There are a million and a half things to do before we open, and I was freaking out a bit about all the "what-ifs" of our decision, but after Goose's parents and my mom and Randy came out and we prayed in the space I feel much better. We prayed that God would lead us each step of the way and help keep our focus on what is really important, and to give us peace about the looming "unknowns" ahead of us. I know there will be ups and downs, but nothing will happen that God is not in control of. 

So please keep us in your prayers as we start this 
adventure... We definitely couldn't do it without 
all the support and encouragement from our 
families and friends!

Love you all!! :) 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Jump: Part One


My word of the year.

Completely fitting for 2014 and we are only 2 days in. 

But more on that later... I need to get this timeline down somewhere because I want to remember how I got from there to here.

Past to Present.

The Beginning- 2010:  
When Sailor Studio started in August 2010, it was my mom, my sis-n-law, and I working together, throwing around ideas and designs and working day to day. Being a part of the artist program and gallery in Stone Mountain was a great learning experience, but we didn't really have a big plan for the future.

 Grand Opening - Stone Mtn Village Oct 2010

awww, so little...

None of us had a lot of money to invest into the business, so we were just doing everything little by little, whatever we could afford. Thankfully my mom's mentor, Peggy, gave my mom a ton of enameling supplies so we were able to set up the studio on a tiny budget and get started. That first 6 months was so much fun, just soaking up the experience and learning everything about running a small business.

A year later things had changed... we were still working at the gallery in Stone Mtn, but other family issues had put us all on edge and things were just overall stressed and strained at work. The business had no structure, no real leadership or accountability, which was a huge mistake from the get-go.

By the fall of 2011, my mom got remarried and was adjusting to that, my sister-n-law no longer worked there, and I had a big decision to make. I wasn't sure if my mom wanted to continue Sailor Studio as it was, or if she wanted to do something separate with her husband, Randy. There was a lot up in the air and I was just a wreck, not really knowing what my next move should be. I didn't want to quit, but I also couldn't work with things being so strained... it just wasn't worth it.

Towards the end of 2011, I had a long talk with my mom and basically told her if she wanted to continue the business with just her and Randy, I would be okay with separating and starting my own thing... that I thought it would end badly if we continued the way things were and it might be better to just go ahead and split amicably. The business was "officially" hers... she was the artist in the program and her name was on everything, so I thought starting fresh would probably be the easier way to go. I was very sad about it at the time, how everything was changing... I mean I had lived and breathed Sailor Studio for the past year and the idea that it would end was depressing.

But after talking everything over with my husband, I realized I had really gotten the entrepreneur "bug" and knew that I could start over with something new. I learned some hard lessons and gained a lot of invaluable experience from that first year of chaos, so now I just had to focus on a new idea and go for it.

In early December, my mom and I agreed that the time at the gallery in Stone Mountain had run its course and wasn't really worth it anymore. Her and Randy were going to start something on their own, focusing on the larger art pieces and stained glass... and she told me if I wanted to continue on with the jewelry line, I could have the Sailor Studio name.

I went back and forth for awhile about changing the name to make it officially a new company and save any confusion... but I really just loved the name Sailor Studio. Sailor is my mom's middle name, given to her because my grandfather was in the navy. It really meant something to me and I loved the nautical look that we played off of with everything from the anchor logo to the website and craft show set-up. I thought the pros outweighed the cons and decided to keep the Sailor name.

So we met with the accountant, changed everything over, and I became sole owner of the business in January of 2012. I made a studio in the barn and continued everything from home, focusing on online sales and craft shows. Since we moved away from a public gallery, it took some time to test out what did/didn't make sense for a home-based business.

I got pregnant with Hubba in Dec of 2011- so I took it easy, not over-working myself the first half of 2012. The fall show season was great and things really started moving along with the business after Hudson was born in August. He was a craft show baby, traveling all over with us during his first 4 months of life. (We actually made our set-up with a little private wall space in the back so I could breastfeed him every three hours... awww such sweet memories :)

This past year was fantastic for Sailor Studio. Business just exploded and I finally began to make a real profit. We were moving inventory before that, but the majority of the money coming in was put right back into expenses and growing the business, with a little extra here and there. 

This year, I was able to really focus on what was profitable and not waste time/money on things that weren't. I finally had my best-selling pieces figured out, Etsy was stocked and bringing in business, and my display and inventory at the shows were finally the way I envisioned them. 

My husband and I had a a big goal of paying off all our credit cards (debt we had been carrying since we got married 9 years ago). We met that goal (wooohoooooo!!) and started saving, tentatively, for a new house.

Then, in November, a different opportunity presented itself... and in true Goose and Lily fashion... we went ahead and decided to jump.


 Part 2 coming soon.