October 22, 2011

Business Basics: The Birth of Gingiber

Last Month I had my 500th Etsy sale, and it got me thinking about how Gingiber began. I don't think that I have ever told the full story of Gingiber, so here's a blog post devoted to the birth of my business.

It might be a bit long, but bear with me :)

I had always been drawing. As a kiddo I would doodle on napkins, the margins of my Bible at church (don't tell my mother), and occasionally on my walls. When I went to college, I had no doubt in my mind about majoring in Art and Design. I crammed 2 degrees into my 3 years of college, got married, and continued to work at a Starbucks Coffee Shop simply because I needed a paycheck to support my husband and I.

I graduated from college in December of 2007, and was pregnant with Violet 2 months later. This changed the entire trajectory of our lives. Within a few months, Nathan and I picked up and moved to Springdale, AR, where his mother and brother lived. Nathan had been offered a nice fellowship to pursue his Ph.D in Mathematics at the University of Arkansas (please note: not our dream school). But, a baby on the way meant that income was what mattered. I was offered a management position at Starbucks in Fayetteville, AR, so the move seemed opportune.

note the sad Starbucks face :(

Neither one of us were super happy. We were excited about the baby on the way, but just a few months prior we were exploring opportunities to move overseas, living in Scotland. I had even filled out some applications for Master's Programs in Edinburgh. Now, family was what mattered. And I was focused on working my coffee loving butt off at Starbucks.

Yet, I really REALLY missed art and design. And I had heard of this online market for artists called Etsy. Honestly, I was really intimidated to put my artwork out on the web. Mainly because I was afraid of rejection. But, while sharing a pizza with 2 of my favorite Springfield friends, I remember discussing how I had been looking all over Etsy for some nursery art to fill our soon-to-be daughter's room, and finding nothing that suited my taste.

And then I said it out loud, "I am going to open up my own Etsy Shop filled with really great kid's art". The concept of Gingiber was born. And about that name, Gingiber. I have been using this moniker since my junior year of college, when a Publication and Design professor required each student to create a magazine about themselves. And this was the name I settled on. It is the Latin word for ginger, and I thought that it sounded kind of cute, so I went with it! When it was time to name my Etsy Shop, I stuck with it. And I still like it :)

In May of 2009, I opened up shop. I had my 1st sale a month later. It has taken 2+ years to finally work my way up to 500 sales.  But last year at this time, I had not even reached 100 sales. The past year has been the most satisfying and fulfilling year of my life creatively. And I am overwhelmingly happy!

I've done a lot of learning and growing since I opened up shop. I've changed day jobs so that I have more time to work on my art. I've tried and failed at different artistic ventures (PDF embroidery patterns, anyone?) but have also slowly carved out a niche for myself in this handmade corner of the world.

And guess what? I am incredibly hopeful for the future of my business. Gingiber is now a legit LLC (quarterly taxes, blargh). I am contributing monthly to my family's income, and really believe with all of my heart that someday I can grow Gingiber into a full time job.

Thank goodness for Etsy. And our handmade community. And an entire group of online friends who encourage one another to keep going. I am so thankful. And happy.

So that is how Gingiber came to be :) Thanks for reading.


Mri said...

You make BEAUTIFUL things!
I love your work <3

xxx, Mri


Faith said...

You rock! I'm so happy for your success (squee!). I've always wondered about that LLC stuff, I'm only registered as a sole proprietor (still, quarterly taxes, blargh).

Here's to the next 500 sales!

Sarbear said...

Thanks for the back story. It's always interesting to hear more of the details. And congratulations on 500 sales! :)


greta @ topography said...

What a great story, congratulations! Off to look at your store again now :)

Casey said...

Congrats! I loved seeing your stuff in person last year at the NWA boutique show. It was my favorite booth! I love the new bear and cat prints, too!

insideoutjill said...

Congratulations! Your work is lovely. I'm very happy for you and my hope for you is that it will continue to grow.

Sarah Roads said...

Loved reading your story. Congrats on your success, I'm sure there will be much more to come!

Gingiber said...

Thanks, everyone!

JenniferWriter said...

Hello and congrats—both on 500 sales on Etsy and Lucy's anticipated arrival. I just discovered you via Dooce and my twin sis has already promised to give me your fox calendar for Christmas. I love your work and I am so happy to have found you. Wishing you all the best!

Anonymous said...

Your story is so inspirational. The honesty and attitude is very contageous. Many people's lives take them in new directions but you had drive and opptimism. I am a struggling twenty something grad student overseas(trust me you really didn't miss out on all that much other than a pretty window view and tears, lots of tears). My Etsy shop seems like I might gain a sense of control and creativity though it will take a lot of work! Many young people (especially in the south) think of weddings like another birthday party yet don't want the responsibility of children. Your supportive young family is genuine and inspiring. Thank you.

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