We caught up with Whitney Surane of Madly Wish after seeing this lovely article from Red Tricycle. We are both located in the Chicago-land area so it was great to catch up with her and hear how she runs her craft business in the Windy City. Whitney has a line of sewn baby items that people love and you can read more about her on her blog. Be sure to visit her Etsy store as well!
What inspired you to begin your business?
I was on bed rest with my fourth babe in the fall of 2011. Shortly after she was born I was laid off. Frustrated and not really sure what direction I was going to take professionally, I turned to my sewing machine and made a rag quilt for my new baby girl. I started to receive compliments on it from strangers and decided to give the shop a whirl.
What’s the story behind your business name, Madly Wish?
madly wish is an anagram for the names of 2 of my babes, my husband and I. I came up with it years ago, before I even thought about starting a business, and then it just kinda stuck. The dragonfly in my logo is tremendously significant. A dragonfly is a symbol of change, adaptability and living in the moment. Something I always strive for.
How long did it take for your business to really kick-off?
I’ve had moderate success thus far. My first year I participated in 27 different craft markets around Chicagoland and I learned so much. I started receiving custom orders and really learning my craft. After that first year I had a better sense of where I wanted to take the shop, but there’s always room for change and growth.
Any tips for juggling family and business life?
Whew! Family and business. I really do feel like a clown sometimes! Today I have 5 babes under 9 and it’s really tough. Working from home is NOT for the birds. It takes so much more dedication and focus. Plus, there’s little people who need me and demand attention. Nap time is huge for me. I enter robot mode when the youngest babes go down. Whether it’s meal prep, house cleaning or working….I have to maximize my efforts during that short period of downtime. Bedtime is also useful!
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that this is my job. My husband reminds me that I don’t get paid to clean the house. So, some things fall by the wayside so I can get other things done. Even though we try to be everything to everyone ALL. THE. TIME. it’s just not possible. And that is OK! So, I prioritize.
What is the most challenging part of running a business?
The most challenging part of running a business, for me, has been realizing just how much there is to learn. It’s not enough to make an awesome quilt and list it on Etsy. It’s all about marketing. I’d be waiting forever for a sale if that was all I thought I needed to do. Social media is HUGE! You’ve got to put yourself out there and promote yourself. Be personal and be proud of your work. I started my blog, madlywish.com, for that very reason.
What are the perks of selling your handmade items online?
The great perk to selling online is that I am home with my family. I get to see them everyday and be available for school trips and parties. Hands down, there’s nothing better to me!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to start their own handmade business?
One piece of advice: Be you! It’s easy to get lost in the sea of shops and items out there. But no one will make exactly what you make or do it the way you do. Don’t force your creativity. Let it come organically. And above all, don’t compare yourself to others. That alone will keep you from succeeding!
We loved chatting with Whitney about her handmade business! Do you have any business tips to share with us?
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