I was raised by a strong, ingenious and resourceful single mom. My mother always encouraged me to live without boundaries and to barrel down any creative path in life I wanted. If it wasn’t for her strength, tenacity, and support, I wouldn’t have such a fulfilling and interesting life. (You can read more about my mom in the story I submitted to ScoutieGirl’s Kick the Door Down eZine.) I knew I wasn’t the only one who had their mother to thank for their success. I put a call out for stories from the Etsy community, describing how their mom, grandma, aunt, or mother-in-law played a part in their accomplishments. I received nearly 200 responses. Here are just a few. I’ve put together all of the stories in this downloadable PDF.
Kristal of RikRak: “I am so lucky that my wonderful mom teaches me, by her fabulous example, how to be a creative problem solver, a great brainstormer, encourages me to create on a daily basis and always inspires me to be a thankful and appreciative soul. These are all attributes that have directly influenced my daily business growth.
“As we all know, running a little business single-handedly can be tough, grueling, hard work. Dealing with folks in all aspects of business can be rough, whether you’re a corporate giant or a new-to-Etsy seedling!
“I always see kindness first in my mom. This gives me great perspective. I always try to keep that foremost in my work: in what i make for my shop, how I interact with my clients, my daily work blog posts, what I write in the social media cyberworld, how I (hopefully) react when things aren’t as I had thought/hoped/planned. It isn’t always easy, is it? But my mom’s grace amid tough times teaches me kindness is worth it!”
Big smiles, Kristal and her mother
Primelia of Monkeyontheroof: “My Grandma always said, ‘Everything can be worked out with kind words.’ I keep this thought in my head all the time when communicating with my customers. I answer every Convo promptly, keep an upbeat tone, thank every customer right off the top for visiting our shop, praise everyone who includes us in their Treasury and always leave feedback with a personal kind note.”
A family photo from Primelia
Kathy of KathyPanton: “My mum died from ovarian cancer nearly three years ago, but there are three words that she told me a few months before she died that resonate in my head: ‘You are strong.’ She said it with such gusto that I can still hear her saying it now. I hear her saying it whenever I am having trouble or lacking confidence in my Etsy business, as well as in life.”
Kathy and her mom, Marion
Ginna of vespertinecafe: “When I was at college for sculpture I had a difficult time figuring out what my art should be ‘about.’ So many of my friends were tackling social injustice, war, September 11, etc., but all of my work was just about nature, color, and form. I called my mom and explained that I was feeling my work lacked a purpose and her response has been a touchstone for me ever since. She said, ‘Does beauty need a reason?’ I went forward from that day more focused on craft because it allowed me to explore beauty and to realize what an important thing it is in the world right now. I now have my own brick and mortar store in my hometown where I sell my work as well as hers, my friends’, and other artists from my area, as well as some I’ve met on Etsy.”
Ginna and her mom in Venice
Tara of ScoutieGirlBlog: “Now, my mom isn’t a lawyer or a doctor or even an assistant with a steady job. She was a seamstress who worked from home and was her own boss (a luxury that was her own making). She learned to never accept ‘no’ — or ‘too busy’ — as an answer. I learned that I could have whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted to go as long as I was creative about it. I learned that when you gave a lot you got a hell of a lot more back in return. I learned that if you embrace abundance, you’ll be more abundant than you can imagine!”
Tara with her mom, Rosanna
Robie of Parsimony: “My grandmother (now 93 and sewing for 86 years) has taught me that you never know if you can do something until you do it. She used to make wedding dresses and bridal party dresses back in the 1950s. As I was learning to sew and still insecure about my skills, I asked her how she knew she was ready to make a wedding dress. She replied, ‘By accepting the order.’ She created her first wedding dress trembling in fear, but made it perfectly, nonetheless. She went on to share with me that you never get better until you take on tasks higher than your current experience. It paid off for her and it has paid off for me. Thanks, MeMaw. I love you!”
Robie with her MeMaw Alma and Aunt Bonnie
Chrystal of Chrystalyn: “I’ve learned so many important lessons related to business from my mother. However, one of the most important is to not be afraid to do what others are not. It’s one thing to ride a wave or trend and know when and how to cash in, but I think some people’s ideas are just ahead of the game (as many of mine have been). If that is the case, don’t stop until you’re playing the game. Eventually, if there’s enough passion and perseverance, you will be successful.”
Photo of Chrystal and her mom, Melody
Melinda of Vintagefriends: “Lita, my mother, learned to dumpster dive at the Goodwill in 1957. I was two years old. It was soon obvious she had a natural gift for finding real treasures inside the thrift stores.
“Pushing my stroller with her right hand, she could walk down the aisles of clothes racks, letting the fingertips of her left hand feel the details. Silk? Wool? Cashmere? Linen? She was always right.
“Later in life, my mom became ill for a number of years, but every time we got together, we’d ‘hit the thrifts’ and have a marvelous time. She passed away two years ago, still young and still astonished by the miracle of life. I miss her so much, but she left me many of her old treasures.”
Melinda and her mother, Lita
Char of delightdesignbiz: “My mother was the ultimate ‘work-at-home mompreneuer’ when we were growing up, back before it was cool to be such a thing. She started crafting in the early 1970s when my brothers and sister and I were still very little. I honestly can’t remember a time when she wasn’t crafting or making money with her talents. I know that she is the reason I’m able to stay at home with my three children, run a successful business, and homeschool, too! Her inspiration, encouragement, tenacity, work ethic… I can’t say thank you enough for those traits she passed on.
“My mother had plenty of advice, and I have learned so many lessons from her over the years, but I’d say the best advice is the cliche, ‘Love what you do.’ It doesn’t feel like work when it’s fun, and you can get paid for it, too? Bonus!” (Char’s mom is Cheryl from Mycraftbooth).
Char and her mom Cheryl in handmade pilgrim outfits!
John of Roguepandaindustries: “The night before I left for my semester of study in Cape Town, South Africa, my mother pulled me aside and gave me a two dollar bill. ‘What’s this for?’, I asked. ‘Fold it up real tight and stuff it way down deep in your wallet. That way wherever you go, you’ll never be broke,’ was her answer. This was coming from a woman who grew up dirt poor, a coal miner’s daughter in Latrobe, PA who worked her way through undergrad and med school. The lesson I learned from this is that you’re never so down and out that you can’t get back on your feet — but also, don’t think the high times will last forever.”
John and his mother, Shirley Ann
Charan of creativewithclay: “When I was a kid my mom ran a boutique store in India specializing in clothes for brides and bridesmaids. She dragged me along whenever she needed help. I never really enjoyed doing the billing or taking orders for dyeing fabric, etc., but she told me to just do it and there will be something I will gain from it. What fascinated me was the color in fabric and helping people choose matching or contrasting colors for their outfits. I enjoyed helping them decide what embroidery designs to pick and working with tailors to give them new ideas and patterns.”
Photo of Charan with her mother
Sherry of SherryTruit: “My grandma, Sunna ,was my favorite person in the world. She was also the first person who realized how much I loved craft and nurtured it. I went to college to please my parents, but my grandmother always told me to ‘Follow your dreams, and no one else’s.’
Photo of Sherry and her grandma, Sunna
Kim of notyourmamasmix: “My great-grandmother taught me the wisdom of weaving stories into tatting, knitting, and crochet — ultimately, the love of working with yarn and thread and producing something beautiful from it. Long after the artist is gone, the art remains. It should tell a story and always does if we only take the time to listen to it.”
Cara of stonesofhealing2: “When I was still a baby my mom started her own business and successfully ran it from our home for the duration of my childhood. She did this purely so that she could set her own hours and be with me as much as possible. I am proud to be repeating history — I am a successful WAHM (work-at-home mom) and I am so blessed to be able to take care of my baby myself. If she hadn’t shown me this was possible, I don’t know that I ever would have tried it. I am thankful every day to have such a strong, independent and inspiring role model as my mother.”
Photo of Cara and her mom, Alexis
Kate of TheSteelFork: “My mother was so practical and straightforward about money. Everyone was entitled to it, she thought, provided they earned it. Her attitude made it easier for me to price my artisan wares. While making my things is creative, the transaction is pure business. No hurt feelings! This approach has also helped when I’m working with subcontractors and vendors — I try to encourage money talk up front, just to show that it’s not a taboo topic. I think we call this ‘transparency’ now, but for my mom is was just good sense.”
Kate and her mom, Rebecca Francis
Mary Ellen of MaryZoom: “As I grew up and began crafting as a hobby — then as a business — I would often become discouraged when a seemingly unsolvable problem would arise. My mom’s answer? ‘There’s always a solution.’ We would put our heads together, and there would be! Amazing!”
Bobbie of ShimmeringSky: “My mom’s been gone for almost four years now, but she still influences me every day. She was a master knitter who owned her own seasonal home-based business selling handknit children’s sweaters. The ways she managed her business shaped how I make decisions about my business: start small and grow slowly, keep the supplies and overhead low, the prices reasonable (without starving!) and the quality the highest. I also saw firsthand how word-of-mouth advertising about a high quality product can make all the difference to a business. My mom never placed an ad or made a brochure — people just found her.
Bobbie in a handknit sweater by mom
Brig of BrigaBauble: “When I started doing craft fairs a couple of years ago I found that my gift for gab was always taking a break when customers came by my table. However, the first craft fair my mom worked with me was, for me, an amazing success. My mother was selling my baubles like some sort of supernatural QVC host (without the tackiness).
“I watched as my mom played the role of ‘proud mama’ to one customer, describing the pieces of mine that she wears and why she loves them. Two minutes later, she was the gift giving guru, advising customers on how to shop for the perfect gift. Mid-way into the show my mother and I were playing off of each other like a modern mother/daughter Abbott & Costello.
“From that first craft fair, and all of those that my mom has had time to attend with me, I learned from my mom how to turn my gift for gab into a selling tool without being annoying or pushy, and to have a blast while doing it.”
Brig (the baby) with older sis Katrin, mom Joanie and grandfather Gene
Sandy of EverydayEcoTreasures: “My mom taught me that it’s dangerous to take myself (or the greatest extension of myself heretofore, my crafting business) too seriously. The joy gets sucked out and it’s no longer worth it. More accurately, actually, she showed me how much more fun it was to allow yourself to enjoy your chores. I can easily convince myself that I ‘need to focus’ and stop having so much fun. ‘Work isn’t fun,’ I tell myself: ‘It’s work.’ But you know, Mom taught me that I get to decide what is work and what is fun. She’s someone who you just can’t help but like. She always sees that things are pretty darn awesome and just getting better.”
Sandy and her mom, Patty
Happy Mother’s Day, Etsy moms! Where would we be without you?
Read the rest of the tips from moms here.
P.S. Hi Mom! I love you!