I’m happy to introduce you to Liz of Happily Ever After Words! She takes personalized picture frames to another level!
Tell us about your shop!
I officially opened in May 2017 on Facebook; on Instagram 3 months later. I do have an Etsy shop, but I don’t promote it as much as FB & IG have been much more fruitful! How to describe my shop? That’s easy! My shop is a happy place! It’s a place where I get to create and use my imagination to make personalized/custom decor & gifts that tell stories. The gallery wall frames have a modern farmhouse and coastal cottage vibe. Think of the wood signs that are popular in home decor that have special sayings/quotes/song lyrics on the front. Well, they meet an up-cycled wood frame and have a baby. That’s what my shop makes! Gallery wall frames that tell a story! I can also use a customer’s special words to tell their story too. The wood frames used are saved from the landfill and I give them another life. Each upcycled frame is different, so it’s often like a treasure hunt when I go outsourcing for them.
Where can we find your shop?
How long have you been a shopkeeper?
Since May 2017, my shop has had a presence online. A couple or 3 times a year, I do venture out of my little office and workshop to do pop-up shops across the state at unique boutiques or markets so you may see me near you!
What is your strength as a shopkeeper?
That’s easy! My strength is definitely my imagination and having a passion to create something, anything! It is the outlet I needed for many years, yet I didn’t know that I needed it. Does that make sense? It’s literally therapeutic for me in many ways and saves me on copays. I’m not kidding!
I’m very social too and I consider this a strength also (a teacher wrote that on a report card once LOL, your daughter is very social ha!) But my husband calls it “over-communicating”. It’s easy for me to talk to people. I love getting to interact and having that personal connection when I’m at a pop-up shop or simply helping a customer create something. Also, I enjoy the business development side of my shop just as much as the creative aspect of it, so not being afraid to talk to strangers and reach outcomes easy for me. I would not have met many of the shopkeepers that feature my product if my mouth was shut! I love to reach out to unique shops and boutiques for possible collabs. Whether it be a pop-up shop, or the opportunity to provide fresh on-trend decor & gift options for their customers via wholesale or consignment options.
By far though, the best part of it all is that customers share very special reasons why they chose the sayings/quotes they do. I get to hear the “backstory” behind the gift and that is so amazing and humbling!
What is your weakness as a shopkeeper?
My weakness, ugh! Organization and time management, for sure. My weakness is a mirror image of what April of Pink + Frillos said in her spotlight! I love the freedom I have now to work in a happy and safe environment that I have the ability to control versus the micromanaged to an extreme corporate mess I was in for many years. This time it’s all ME! If this fails or succeeds, it’s all on me.
And as much as being the “boss” seems cool and all, I often need a little someone somewhere to reign me in once in a while to tell me to stay put in the office and get it organized from top to bottom. The creating side comes easy for me, the marketing and business development side too. But the organizing and staying organized coupled with time management? Not so much. I fully accept this will always be a work in progress for me and that’s okay.
What do you attribute most of your shop’s success to?
I believe most of my shop’s success is equally due to the product being unique, referrals, and social media! The combo of all these has allowed me to grow quickly.
What’s your top piece of advice to anyone who wants to open up a shop like yours?
The top pieces of advice I would give: do not go into debt to go into business. Yes, there will be some initial debt, but plan well so you are not so far underwater when you open that you will constantly need a life preserver!
The other bit of advice I often share with other online shops is “diversify”. When starting out don’t put all your eggs in one basket. For instance, don’t put all your time and energy into Etsy (or whatever the platform is you choose to start with). Diversify. Start a FB page too, get on Instagram, offer consignment options to the small local shops & boutiques that don’t buy wholesale, and do pop-up shops! There are so many other ways to reach customers to grow and get exposure.
I was so bored waiting for customers to find me on Etsy. So one day, I simply went to a local boutique and talked to the owner. That led to my first consignment relationship, and then everything progressed leading me to wholesale opportunities. I’m Italian and stubborn and my thought was, “If they are not coming to me, then I am going to them!” by getting my product out there, on the sales floor for customers to see. I am a bit hyper and easily bored so I just couldn’t stand waiting any longer. It worked!
Lastly, I have learned the most from my mistakes. So pay attention to your mistakes and pay attention to what’s not working and you will learn so much.
What’s your WHY?
Why? I needed to escape the corporate grind that was literally sucking the life out of me. After exhausting all of the FMLA protections, it allowed to me I realized there had to be more. I learned some valuable lessons. ME, MY life, and MY health is more important than the paycheck I was getting that was killing me. I had talked about doing this for some time and had the opportunity along with my sister to purchase a similar online business that fell through.
After the working environment worsened as the company grew and was bought out again, I knew there had to be more for me out there and away from this chaos. I had this fancy mind full of ideas and a non-stop imagination that needed to be free to do something in an environment opposite of what I had just exited. I found my happy, safe place where using my imagination is fostered daily. Bigger isn’t always better. I have found great joy and satisfaction working locally now, with small family-owned businesses across the state and with individual customers. Small and local for me has been the key to my success, health, and happiness.
What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
A massage and a pedicure! Such a nice treat when I need to simply exit from life and decompress for a couple hours. Self-care is important. I know that now and will continue to treat ME as much as I need too. Also, my biggest guilty pleasure has always been french fries from McDonald’s “cooked to order”!!! Once I discovered this is actually a thing I have never had stale fries since. It’s life changing at the drive-thru now. You’re welcome.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh my goodness! I was not the best student at all during high school. Socializing and simply getting high school behind me was all I wanted. I just wanted to live and be done with that stage of my life and I don’t know exactly, but remember visions of being a truck driver, lawyer, or a teacher. Clearly, I am none of those LOL! I’m a college graduate who has taken many turns and side tracks to get where I am far, far away from my field of study and I like where I am and who I am.
Do you have a special offer for Savvy Shopkeeper readers?
Mention you are part of the SAVVY family when ordering for 10% off (does not apply to wholesale).
The best place to find and place an order with Liz is on Facebook. Click here to visit her Facebook page and be sure to read the pinned post at the top for ordering instructions.