Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in handcrafts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mireille Stettler, Founder of Lotti Lily Design, located in Mississauga, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I design cards and gift boxes, and my customers are wonderfully supportive people who like giving gifts that they know are unique and made locally with love.

Tell us about yourself

Hello! I’m Mireille, owner of Lotti Lily Design, mother of two young kids, wife, yoga instructor, and nature lover.

When I was a teenager, I had a ski accident and ended up in bed for over a month. My mom’s friend knew I loved to paint, so she gave me blank cards, and I started to design them. I always loved making handmade birthday cards and greeting cards. Years later, after having been a stay-at-home mom for five years, I decided to start my own business. At first, I just sold my cards, and then my husband encouraged me to expand to gift boxes. He took several courses and became certified in making natural skin care products. Now we work together as a husband and wife team, creating one-of-a-kind spa gift boxes.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment is sticking with it. Running your own business comes with many ups and downs, and there have been times when I wasn’t sure if I should continue, but I kept going, and I’m proud that I have.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think the toughest part of being a business owner is the uncertainty. Etsy has strange algorithms, so one week it’s like crickets, and the next, it’s full throttle. Being a mom, I sometimes struggle to find the time to get it all done. It’s a lot of juggling and finding pockets of time and being organized so that when I do have a moment, I can get right to it. It can be challenging, the unpredictability of it all, but it’s also exciting.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don’t put things off. Get started today.
  2. Figure out your niche. Don’t try to copy others or compare yourself to fellow makers. You have something special to offer that no one else can do exactly like you. Focus on that strength.
  3. At first, you might be tempted to sell things for less because you think you still have things to learn. Don’t sell yourself short! Charge your worth and then add tax. You’ll always have people who think, “well, I can buy a card for a dollar at the thrift store.” Those are not your customers; target your marketing to the people who appreciate the value of what you do.
  4. Separate business and family time. It’s tempting to talk about the business all the time and have products all over the house. Make a clear schedule for shop talk and have one area where you store your product. Ideally, a room with a door so you can close it behind you.
  5. Believe in yourself and build up a support system of people who believe in you. (It doesn’t have to be a big group of people, but it helps if you don’t have to do it all on your own). I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of fellow makers that I’ve met at markets and on social media. Find your crew.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

There’s a quote from Robin Roberts that helped me a lot: “the secret to getting ahead is getting started”

Your ability to make something is a gift; share it with the world, and good luck, you got this!

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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