I hope you are having a great day and are finding time to enjoy the holiday season!
Today, I have my good friend Danielle who has recently started an Etsy shop called Dream and Brush.
Danielle specializes in digital hand-lettering art, color-block portraits, and has recently started offering some decor pieces as well. What started out as a hobby to keep her busy during the stay at home orders earlier in the year, quickly became something more.
According to Danielle, “I started my business in September of this year, so just a few months ago! I started off with making an Instagram account for all of my hand-lettering designs and friends started asking me if I ever planned on selling my work. After I felt like I was at a better place creatively, I opened my Etsy shop just in time for Fall. Since then, I have launched a holiday collection as well as multiple custom offerings. I’m having so much fun with it, and that’s what keeps me motivated.”
“What makes me unique is my lettering style. Lettering and calligraphy has become a larger community since quarantine, but so many artists say that there is a place for everyone, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Most of my pieces are based around fandoms (Marvel, Star Wars, Disney, Broadway) as well as mental health and motivation.”
Danielle has previously had entrepreneurial aspirations through other shops in the past. “I had an Etsy shop back in college where I made and sold Disney-themed bows, when that was the latest and greatest thing. While I was not that successful, and did not do it for very long, I still had fun and loved how easy it was to work the website. I knew a lot of lettering artists also used Etsy, so it was a perfect move for me to make.”
“When I first started lettering, I never planned on opening an Etsy shop. I also never thought I would dive into more drawing along with lettering, but am so glad I have. Long-term, I would love to be able to fully support myself doing this, because I love it so much. Short-term goals are to keep making content I love and to start creating more physical pieces in the future that I can ship to customers.”
This project means a lot to Danielle personally, as well. “My business has grown my confidence as an artist. If you told me a year or even six months ago that I’d be making art that people would actually buy, I would have laughed. Also, since being laid off from my job, the extra income has been a huge blessing.”
Even though she loves the process of creating, Danielle noted that every business has its challenges. “There have been some pieces I made that have not sold at all, which is discouraging. I had plans for custom ornaments, and all the supplies are now sitting in a drawer and I have yet to sell a single ornament. I also released my holiday pieces during multiple days, and it decreased a lot of my Instagram engagement since it felt like I was just selling and selling instead of just making pretty things. It’s definitely something I’ve learned from and plan to improve next time.”
“I wish I knew more about Etsy SEO as well as better ways to display my products before launching my shop. I’ve definitely made countless changes to my listings in order to make them perform better, which has worked. I also wish I knew that it doesn’t matter how many social media followers you have when you start out, because you can grow you shop and your social media together at the same time.”
Danielle offers something that has helped her keep perspective when things become challenging. “Stepping away from the Internet for a bit helps me refocus. I’ll turn off my phone and just open my iPad and draw or letter whatever comes to mind. This puts me back in the place of why I do what I do. At the end of the day it’s not always about the views or sales, it’s just about me getting better at a hobby I truly love.”
While mostly focusing on a lot of word-of-mouth and social media marketing, Danielle has also gained perspective on finding a supportive community. “When the Disney layoff announcement happened, that was actually what doubled my Instagram following because a few bloggers added my shop to a huge Google Doc full of other furloughed and laid off Cast Members. It’s crazy to think that such a sad life-change for me actually benefited my business.”
Danielle decided to give back to some of the community that has been supportive of her passion. “One way I’ve impacted the community is during Giving Tuesday, I decided to donate a portion of my sales made from my Etsy shop as well as $1 per new Instagram follower that day to Cast Member Pantry, which provides food to furloughed and laid off Cast Members. I love how they’ve been supporting the community and I really wanted to give back to them.”
“If the events of this year, like quarantine and losing my job, did not happen, I most likely would not have even started this shop. I tried to learn hand-lettering last year, but failed miserably. Having that extra time and a need for a creative outlet is what led to all of this.
I was surprised when a blogger I follow made a purchase from my shop! Also, someone who never followed my Instagram found my shop through Etsy, made a purchase for a custom order, and now follows my account! Those little surprises reminded me that people do genuinely like what I have created.
My first tip when starting a business is to be financially smart. I didn’t have two pennies to rub together when starting this, so that is why I decided to make digital pieces to avoid spending money on shipping, a printer, shipment products, etc., that I did not have. Second, and more importantly, do not listen to the ‘haters.’ If people in your life are telling you that this is a dumb idea and that it won’t succeed, tune them out and prove them wrong. Lastly, be yourself and do not copy other artists’ work. Your unique style and way of creating is what is going to draw others to your shop, not a copy of someone else.”
Thank you so much, Danielle, for sharing your story and your art with us!
The last piece is a custom hand-lettered quote inspired by Cinderella that I purchased through Danielle’s shop and I could not be happier with how it turned out.
If you would like to purchase anything from Danielle yourself please click the link below!
Also, please follow Danielle on social media for awesome updates and behind-the-scenes looks at her process!
Thanks again for reading.
If you have a small business and would like to be featured, please email me!
Remember to support small businesses and go find your new dream!