Today is Maker Monday (ok, every Monday is Maker Monday), and also Day 1 of the Indie Business Network 30-day blog challenge, so what perfect timing to talk about my history of loving to make stuff, and how I came to make natural skin care products full time.
I've been a maker since I was a child.
I used to hand-sew custom Barbie clothes, and I learned to knit and crochet at a young age (only to forget, and later learn again). I loved, and still love, anything crafty. Drawing, cross-stitching, macrame. Although I was too young for actual baking, I created a mud-pie bakery called Cakeland in my backyard. I wanted to try making anything and everything I could.
In my late single-digits to early teens, I was all about the friendship bracelet craze. I still remember all the stitches as if my hands had memories. In my later teens, sewing and beading became my favorite. I recently discovered these two patchwork skirts while cleaning out a closet. I made them when I was 19!
I've always known I wanted to make things for a living, though it took me a long time to figure out exactly what.
In my late teens, I made and sold patchwork hats and peyote stitched beaded wraps for dreads to a shop in Boston. In my early 20s I sold my handmade jewelry on the streets of Galway, Ireland. I worked as a barista for 10 years, enjoying the gratification of making creative coffee drinks. And, in the middle of that 10-year span, in my mid 20s, I started making Wunder Budder.
For several years I was distracted by traditional college and working, only making Wunder Budder part time. I didn't have the confidence I needed to make it a full-time business, but making skincare and aromatherapy blends was what I would turn to in times of high stress (which was pretty much constant as a full-time science-major adult student). Eventually, I realized that if making something was relieving my stress, I should be making that thing full time!
So, long story extremely short, I turned my favorite hobby into a full-time job.
It's not always easy, but it is always gratifying to make things, especially when people love what I make. The best days are when I get repeat customers, or a note from someone who had to tell me how much they loved a Wunder Budder they just used or how it made a difference in their life.
But really, every day I get to make something is the best day.
What are some things you like to make?
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I'm taking part in an Instagram Challenge called March Meet the Maker. Joanne Hawker started this challenge in 2016, but I only heard of it this year and jumped in late, just a couple days ago. Joanne set up each day with a different prompt, and makers share photos and stories related to that prompt. Today's prompt is "design process", and since this is my favorite part of my job, I wanted to share more than an Instagram post would allow.
Each type of product I make has a slightly different design process, depending on whether it's a lip balm and I'm creating new scents, or it's an aromatherapy blend where the ingredients are therapeutic, or it's a limited edition body product that is completely new. But they all start the same - an idea. Usually followed by the question, "how can I make this scent with just natural ingredients?"
Two years ago, I was browsing in a bookstore, and I picked up a book on their bestsellers table. I liked the way the book looked and felt in my hands, and I made a split second decision to buy it just before they closed, completely unaware that what I felt was what the book was about - an item sparking joy in myself. The book was Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Though the KonMari Method is about following your heart, not necessarily your instincts, I'm so glad I picked up that book!
I love stuff. I love to collect things, especially old things. I love the memories they hold, the connections they remind me of, and the history they contain. I am comforted by always having useful things around in case I need them. It's rare I ever leave my house without a bag (although I do try to challenge myself sometimes).
Over the last couple of months, I've been joining new groups and meeting a lot of new people, especially other women in business. When asked what I do for work, I usually end up stumbling over my words a bit, unable to decide between a few different ways to answer.
I make lip balm is a good, basic answer but not the whole story.
I'm a herbalist* and aromatherapist and I make products is a better description of what I do, but it feels like I'm selling my brand short.
I own a small natural skincare and aromatherapy company is my favorite straightforward answer, but it's often met with questions like these:
"Like day creams and night creams?"
"Do you make under eye serums?"
"Do you have something for these wrinkles, haha?"