Light the candles, shout "HOORAY!" and toss the confetti... Freckles Creative Studio is THREE!!!
Time has flown by since the day I declared "I'm thinking about starting a stationery business" on Instagram.
I've been thinking back a LOT on what Freckles was in the beginning... and the truth is, it wasn't the Freckles you know and love today at all! Follow along the journey in this THREE part blog series...
Freckles started as "Natalie Ann Spencer", my name and not much else haha! This didn't explain at all what I was as a business, because quite frankly, I didn't even know. I hand-made a couple of cards for friends and co-workers, they acknowledged my talent and my excitement surrounding giving them those cards and 1 person, ONE, said... "you could make something out of this." (shout out Candace Walker!)
I'm a pretty ambitious, driven and hard-working person so that one comment lit some kind of fire inside me! I was bored at my job, a job that forced me to constantly think about the fact that I couldn't do this job successfully and have the personal life I wanted, successfully and happily. I started thinking about all of the possibilities working for myself could bring... and the big dreamer in me was using my bosses at the time as examples of my future (even though I was and am still VERY far from their successes).
This was all in February of 2014 and in the 2 weeks leading up to March 5th, I was busy! Creating designs that are laugh worthy to look at today, buying colored card stock and envelopes, printing cards and assembling sets - having fun! Just doing things... no plan for a business, I just knew that this was what I was spending my free time on currently.
By May, I had a website an Etsy shop and had recruited my mother as my photographer. I had a minimal amount of product stocked up (greeting cards, stationery sets and art prints) with a plan to produce as orders came in. Still no real plans to make this a legitimate business - just having fun. May 5th rolled around and my "card-making business" as my mother said was open for business.
PS my mother is involved in this beginning story a lot because... I was running my new "business" out of their house. Really doing the post-college-grad life right haha.
Over the next few months, I was LEARNING and HUSTLING. I'd go into work early so I could leave early and come home to work on my business. Constantly working, learning, experimenting and growing. Running an Etsy shop and filling minimal amounts of orders - still mostly doing this because I found it enjoyable. It was ENJOYABLE to work all the dang time... this is when I knew that I might be crazy. Crazy enough to build something amazing.
By August, I had been at what I thought was my "dream job" for 1 year. It wasn't for me long-term and once I had realized that my heart was OUT.
I had several talks with my previous "boss", Kellie Clements, owner of Modern Whimsy Interiors, about what I thought I was looking for in a job. I had always looked up to her and admired her life, both professionally and personally. At this time, I still thought my future was in home furnishings in some capacity so I accepted a lead stylist position with MW and moved back to Oklahoma.
Before the move, I changed the business name to Freckles Creative Studio by Natalie Ann Spencer (why, like why did my name NEED to be involved. No one knows me. I wanted to be associated with the business... even though I was because it was literally just me running it) (I get more into this in PART TWO).
PS notice the original "hello from Oklahoma" card!
I had some consistency with orders and was doing a fair amount of custom design work (invitations, business cards, etc.) so even though I knew it would be hard to fully replace my current income - I took the leap. (Hellllloooo mentality of a 25 year old - just do it and figure it out later)
The next year, I split my time between Freckles and Modern Whimsy. Working with design clients and hustling my business in any way possible. A LOT of the time, I was doing things that did not involve designing products and it was an enormous reality check to realize that a TINY portion of running a product business is actually designing the product.
I did my first craft show, Indie Trunk Show, and several others during that year. I snagged my first 3 wholesale accounts and learned how to efficiently use Instagram as a marketing tool. I was constantly updating my website, hand making product and still experimenting and learning.
September 2015, Kevin (my boyfriend of 7.5 years) and I took a trip to his family's cabin in Red River, New Mexico (one of my favorite places on earth). This trip was a pivotal turning point for Freckles. After a year of really hustling, doing and working for any job or client that came my way, I was burnt out. I had no real plan for growth, no real vision for the kind of business and life I wanted. I was just a girl who was running a "business"... still... 1.5 years later. I was anxious and antsy for more and was ready to really BUILD something sustainable.
Continue reading in PART TWO...