Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts and crafts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Summer Brunton-Elliott, Owner of Summerbug Crafts, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hi, I'm Summer! I am the owner and crochet designer of Summerbug Crafts! My goal at Summerbug Crafts is to create a kind community of others who love crochet plushies (amigurumi) and provide patterns and tips. The crochet patterns at Summerbug Crafts focus on cute designs and pop-culture characters that may be difficult to find instructions on how to make otherwise.
Tell us about yourself
In my early 20s, I was lost about who I was and what I wanted to do with my life, and I was trying a bunch of different things. Summerbug Crafts originally started as an Etsy shop that sold home décor items I painted. Eventually, I discovered crochet, began writing patterns, and realized I could sell them as digital downloads on Etsy. I continued doing this on and off for several years. Once the pandemic hit, I had a lot of free time on my hands both at work and at home and decided to throw myself into Summerbug Crafts completely. I learned how to design a website, posted my pop-culture patterns for free, wrote some blogs about crochet, and continued to sell the odd pattern. It's been a slow burn for sure, and taken a while to get where it is, but every time I see someone on Instagram share something they've made from my patterns, it sparks a fire in me to stick with it. For example, around Christmas, I had a mom tag me in a photo of a Baymax she made for her son from one of my free patterns and how much he loved it. That's what keeps me going. Now I love watching the growth of my business, even if it is slower than some you see online.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment would probably be that I am 100% self-taught. I taught myself how to crochet, write patterns, build a website, and manage my social media. I am a one-woman show. I am proud of that. My family and friends have helped with advice and opinions and covered my booth at craft shows. I always welcome any tips I can get from other business owners and crochet artists. Mind you; I've made a lot of mistakes. Honestly, sometimes I still don't know what I'm doing, but that's what keeps it interesting. Keeps everything challenging. Seeing the joy my plushies and patterns bring others is my biggest accomplishment.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Nothing is certain. It takes a lot of work, and the work is never over. There is ALWAYS something to do to improve yourself, your products, your website, or your social media. You will always be working. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, and burnout can prevent you from putting out the best work you could be.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't expect to go viral and be successful immediately, especially if you are in a niche market. Going viral involves a lot of luck and having a product that speaks to a global audience.
- Learn about SEO & implement it in your website. This will keep your business growing even when you aren't adding new products or marketing yourself. Creating natural backlinks and using keywords that Google recognizes will get you consistent natural traffic after a while. This will keep you relevant long after a viral video.
- Use Pinterest. Most of my customers continue to find me through pins I made two years ago. Do not underestimate the power of social media and having good photos.
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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