Welcome to a new feature on G.L.O.C., I LOVE MY DAY JOB, which features the personal business endeavors of any and all women, comedians or otherwise.
Today we hear from mother and entrepreneur KIRBY MARAGULIA [who also just happens to be one of my best friends and the woman who kept me sane my first year in NY] about her invitation and stationary business HAPPY HOUND CREATIVE, how she started her own business and tips on doing the same.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Chama, NM and Durango, CO but I don’t think I really grew up until I moved to NY and tried to live off of $98 a week!
What were your childhood aspirations?
I wanted to be a vet!!
Where do you now live?
Oak Ridge, NJ
What did you do to make money before starting your own business?
I was tortured!!! Okay, maybe not literally but I did have a 9-5 office job where I stared at cubicle walls all day. Torture for us creative types!!!
Where did the inspiration for your business come from?
Martha Stewart! No really, every time I saw her doing something cute or fancy, I thought I think I can do something like that, but I never really tried it until my sister in law got married and I offered to do her wedding programs.
Where did the name for your business come from?
When I started my business, I was still doing the 9-5. We just got a puppy and it wrenched my little heart leaving his cute face alone in a crate all day. I thought about what a happy hound he would be if I was able to stay home with him everyday. Right now he’s got his lazy head on my leg with a big sloppy smile on his face! : )
This was obviously something you were naturally good at, did someone else point this out or did you come to that on your own?
After I made the programs, several people suggested I start a business, I didn’t believe I was good enough to do it but had to chase it to see where it lead.
Who was your biggest inspiration in starting your own business?
This might sound bad – but it was me! I have this thing inside me that demands to be creative and when I am not exercising that thing, I start to get fidgety and weird. I am constantly trying to shut the thing up. Starting my own business was and is, a way to tame the thing.
What was your biggest fear?
Not making enough money was and is my biggest fear – I don’t want to end up eating baked potatoes with a cardboard fork in a railroad style apartment with no heat in downtown Jersey City!
Did you have any big setbacks?
No, I really haven’t! I just keep following doors and windows as they open. Having no setbacks is how I know I am doing the right thing.
Did you have to take out any loans? Can you share any advice or tips on that?
I haven’t taken out any loans, right now I run shop from our spare bedroom and make ends meet by using money I make from one sale to cover the costs of the next. I am growing so quickly that I am one day going to have to take out a loan to buy big fancy machines and of course a place to house those machines. I am also going to need a staff, I won’t be able to continue this as a one woman shop in my spare bedroom for much longer. When I do take out a loan, I’ll let you know how it goes.
What sort of thing happened to let you know you were on the right track?
It’s funny, I question if I am on the right track ALL the time and just when I start to get weird and doubt sets in something happens to put the wind back in my sail. A customer will leave me awesome feedback, someone will feature my work on their blog, Martha will call and ask me to be a guest on her show…okay that hasn’t happened yet but I sit here with a hound on my lap waiting for that phone to ring!
Where do you sell your goods?
Etsy has been the best place for me! I have a website but I have been so busy that I haven’t updated it in so long (case in point that I need staff).
What are the pros and cons of selling that way? Did you ever try any other way?
The pros: Etsy is an amazing community of artists who are truly supportive of me as an artist! I can get so much encouragement, tips and ideas from the strong support group I have built there. It’s also very easy and not very time consuming to set up a “shop”. The cons are that there are hundreds of other people on the site who make things out of paper. Without putting a real face to your shop and work, it can be very hard to be seen. It’s like walking into a casting call and seeing 700 other people there who look just like you. I also have a pretty big word of mouth following here in NJ – I get emails all the time from friends of friends who used me! I haven’t tried any other way of selling but would love to do some shows someday!
What is the most rewarding aspect to being your own boss?
My big boss paycheck! Not really, that doesn’t exist yet. The most rewarding part about being my own boss is that I get to set the rules, I get to watch my daughter grow up, I am not staring at a cubicle wall somewhere and that creative monster thing is quiet.
What is the hardest thing about being your own boss?
I am the boss, designer, worker bee, marketing manager, PR department, Human Resources…. That’s the hardest part. Sometimes the designer has some amazing ideas in her head that she wants to work on but the worker bee has 5 orders to get done before Christmas! Those two are always at odds, so HR has to get involved, which really ticks the boss off. : )
Where would you like to see yourself and your business in the next 5 years?
There is this nagging voice in my head that keeps telling me I need to go back to work in a real job and that this is all just child’s play. I’d like to shut that voice up and get on with it. In 5 years I’d love to be moved into some kind of real studio, with real machines!!
In 20 years?
I hope to have a staff and a building and a couple of guests spots on Martha’s show, or maybe my own show!
Anything else you’d like to say?
Call me Martha! ; )
Do you have a business you’d like featured on G.L.O.C.? contactgloc[at]gmail.com