It all started when a trip to Lake Tahoe was forced. Forced to come up with something to do on the side and a name for it.
Take us back to you as a kid. I grew up in Central City, Iowa which is a pretty small town just north of Cedar Rapids. I have a brother and my parents still live in the same house I grew up in. I was one of those kids that signed up for anything and everything I could possibly do. Total benefit of living in a small town is that you can play 3 or 4 sports and go out for band and choir, too. I had the very typical, Iowa childhood full of camping trips, softball tournaments and catching lightening bugs at night.
Reflecting back, do you want something similar for your kids or different and why? I would love for my children to be their own boss, but...I think it's important they work a typical job, at some point in their life. They should know what it's like to work for someone else and commit to something else, other than their true passion. I'm not sure anyone can be a good leader or provide great service to a guest without first working in the real world under a real supervisor (good or bad!) or in a service industry. Am I glad my kids, especially my daughters, can see their mom pursue her dream and be a #girlboss? YES. 100%. I'll support them in whatever they decide.
What's keeping you busy? I've just expanded The Knotty Nail to the Omaha/Council Bluffs area so, marketing and booking workshops in that area is taking up a lot of my time. I am also moving into a studio at Mainframe Studios on August 1 so it's crunch time for me to purchase what I need to jazz the place up.
"I'm not sure anyone can be a good leader or provide great service to a guest without first working in the real world under a real supervisor (good or bad!) or in a service industry."
Walk us through the days leading up to starting your own thing? Oh, I wish I had some awesome story...but I was ready for a change in my career. I was working for a non-profit for 12 years and I was burnt out and not loving my current position. So, I went on vacation with my husband to Lake Tahoe and while we were there, I forced him to help me come up with something creative I could do for a career. We threw around every idea and came home with zero ideas. HA! When we were back home, as every good inspiring DIYer does, I had been scouring Pinterest for projects I would never do and I came across string art. So, that was it. We came up with the name while driving to our daughter's track meet and that's how it started.
"I was ready for a change in my career."
What have been the challenges? Who and what has helped? I worked full time while launching the business in July 2016 and by October, it was a full time job. I would go to work, come home, play/feed/wash the kids, and after bedtime, start working. Some nights, I was up until 1 am prepping for a workshop, answering emails, working on custom orders. My husband Andrew was the only reason why I didn't lose it. He'd cut wood, sand it, help me stain, set up events with me and listen to me babble on and on about ideas and stressful decisions. My parents sanded wood for me when I was in a pickle, too. I finally left my full time job in April 2017. What helped? I was so motivated to leave my job that I was determined to make it successful. Also, lots of coffee.
"We came up with the name while driving to our daughter's track meet and that's how it started."
Talk to us about a day-in-the-life of setting up your workshops? If someone wants to host a workshop, they email me and determine a date. Then, they go to my website and book the event. I send them all the details, including a link for their guests to pay online for their spot at the workshop. It's pretty slick. On the day of the workshop, load up my car with hammers, nails, string, wood and table protection (crucial!) and head over to the hostesses home to set up. Workshops take anywhere from 2-3 hours and there is zero sales pressure at the workshops. Everyone can come, make art, have a cocktail and enjoy themselves.
Someone is starting a project for the first time, what would you want to say to them? String art is the Pinterest project you will likely quit. Everyone thinks it's easy...until they start making it! My workshops are designed to motivate and encourage you to keep going and finish with a beautiful piece you'll ACTUALLY hang in your home. So, don't quit! It's worth it.
Someone wants to leave their job because they too are unhappy, what would you want to say to them as if you were talking to yourself again? I would tell them two things - get your ducks in a row and don't burn bridges. Before I quit my job, I needed to make sure I had a solid plan and security in place. This will look different for everyone, because, I had a husband, kids and a mortgage to worry about. So, figure out what that is for you and then make it happen. Don't burn bridges - amen, amen, amen. Please, don't leave your current employer in a blaze of glory. Give them notice, finish your work at 100% effort and then leave with grace. This employer could be your biggest cheerleader, your first customer, your word-of-mouth marketing dream. Take care of people and they'll take care of you.
"Get your ducks in a row and don't burn bridges."
Why Des Moines? Des Moines is our home. Just a few weeks ago, we were at the Downtown Farmer's Market and I turned my husband and said, "Des Moines really is a cool town." And he agreed. There is so much to do here. And, the people are so nice. I mean, I have been in a LOT of people's homes and met thousands of people at workshops and every single person is just as awesome as you'd expect from an Iowan.
Des Moines is growing. What’s one new thing that caught your eye? We have the coolest makers in this city. I mean, the talent is unbelievable! From graphic artists, painters, interior designers, clothing designers, whatever - the talent in this city is off the charts. Yes, you can scour Instagram for the perfect sign for your home but you can find someone right in this city who can make it for you and you can help support someone who is making a living with art.
If you could grant the Des Moines one wish what would it be and why? IKEA. Please.
Convince someone new to DSM your favorite place to go on your day off. My new love is DSM Brew. I am obsessed with iced coffee and they have coffee ice cubes, you guys. It's a game changer. This should be more than enough convincing.
The most underrated thing in DSM is ________. Why? Valley Junction. They have the coolest shops, from vintage finds or modern decor - they seriously have it all.
"The best part of owning this business has been the people."
What are you most proud of and why? I am happy that I have brought this new concept to Des Moines and it took off. The people of Des Moines have been SO accepting and welcoming to me, whether it's in their home, at their friend's workshop, a pop up workshop at an area business - seriously, everywhere. The best part of owning this business has been the people.
In three months what do you hope to accomplish? Successfully launch The Knotty Nail in Omaha and start to see momentum in the area, the grand opening of my new studio at Mainframe Studios, hopefully the beginning of September, and upgrading the packaging for my DIY string art kits.
"My goal is always a happy guest - anything less is not acceptable."
We have to ask now. What is a brand's packaging that you admire and why? I am in love with Heidi Swapp and all her products and packaging. She's kind of a big deal, in the world of crafting, and man, her packaging and style is on point. It's super current and trendy and it totally hits my target demographic.
What’s one thing people need to know you really care about? I care a lot about what people think about me and my business. If someone had a bad experience or was unhappy with their art, I would be devastated. My goal is always a happy guest - anything less is not acceptable. People are my most important asset to my business and I will always take care of my guests. :)