Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Janis Francis, Owner of The Humble Crate, Artisan Marketplace, located in Pickerington, OH, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have two sets of customers. First are my artisan/vendors. I have 70 Local Artisans/Makers/Vendors leasing space from me here at the shop. Second, are our off-the-street customers who shop for the perfect unique gifts that are handcrafted Locally here in Ohio.
Tell us about yourself
I have always wanted to own a store of some kind. When I was little, my aunt and uncle owned a store/gas station/diner in a small town - I loved visiting. Another uncle was an auctioneer, and I always loved watching him and seeing all of the items sold and how happy it made people. To make a very long story short - I was the Pickerington Farmers' Market Manager, met a lot of people, and decided it was time to seek out a location to house goods. First, it was going to be just me and my daughter, refurbishing furniture and making things. Then it evolved to me asking several of the Farmers' Market vendors if I opened a shop and if they would want to have their items featured in the indoor shop. The response was tremendous. So, here we are, almost 4 years later, still going strong! What motivates me each day is knowing how grateful the people in my community are that I opened the shop! Overwhelmingly, I am told they do not want to shop in big box stores and want to support locals. My shop is just the place for that! We have 70 vendors under one roof! Everything from Leather, Wood, Glass, Stained Glass, Textiles, Pottery, Jewelry, Novelty Items, Plants, Books from Local Authors, Specialty Gourmet Cottage Foods, and so much more!!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Providing small business owners with an opportunity to showcase their items in a shop where they may not have otherwise had a chance. Supporting these women and men is a pleasure and brings me joy every single day. Coordinating people to people while helping them find what they are looking for is incredibly satisfying.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Paperwork, for sure. If you can, hire someone to do the tasks you are not so good at or just don't have a passion for.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get all of your ducks in a row. I would go to your local Chamber of Commerce for assistance. I joined my Chamber, and it was extremely helpful, and I met a lot of fellow business owners. I am now on the Board of Directors of my local chamber. I joined another local organization (one of which I am now President ), Getting to know other business owners.
- Talk to your local city or township officials who may be helpful with you getting permits and checklists for starting a business.
- Get on all social media and get your name out there! Do (and learn how to) Facebook Live videos, Instagram Posts, and TikTok - and be consistent with your posts. The more you do, the more you will learn. They don't need to be perfect - in fact, if you make a mistake, so what! It makes you look more approachable and human.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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