The magazine closed its doors for good in October 2008, like many businesses did that year, and I was left unemployed for a month until I started a brief position at a warehouse that oversaw the websites for artists like Mary Engelbreit, Jim Shore, and Debbie Mumm. It was during my time there that what might have been a partnership fizzled, and I started to develop Clever Betty into my own business.
I started sketching ideas for products. I took a few e-courses from business-y bloggers. (Crazily enough, one from someone who later became one of my professors at MICA.) I tossed out the idea to screen print my own fabric in Sean's basement and decided I'd give re-purposed fabrics a shot. I finally opened the shop in early 2010. Obviously I'm nothing if not a planner to have spent that much time prepping before even opening my doors!
I moved on from that warehouse job pretty quickly, but as much as I hate to admit, (let's just say it wouldn't make the top 10 list of favorite jobs I've had in my life...and I've had less than 10) I learned quite a bit about owning an e-commerce business during the short time I spent there. Of course I didn't really see that until after I moved on to working as a designer at a local university, where I stayed for 3 years.
About halfway through that stay I started to get really bored with my job, and realized that I was really enjoying coming home to work with my little Etsy shop. I did a few local craft shows. I got engaged and moved in with my fiance.
We had lots of discussions about the future of my business, and my career. I questioned being a graphic designer all together. I decided Clever Betty was worth continuing to pursue. And being the planner that I am, I knew I wouldn't be comfortable just diving into it full-time.
So I applied to grad school. I got accepted, and went to grad school while still working and planning a wedding. I reevaluated Clever Betty, and found myself drawn back to fabric design... only this time, I cut out the whole "printing it myself" step. (I have my designs printed digitally instead of screen printing by hand...they're very much like any quilting weight fabrics you would find in your local fabric store.) I developed Clever Betty as my future career throughout the program. I wrote a business plan. I earned a Master's degree in BAD. (Check the website if you don't believe me!) And I promptly quit my day job at the same time.
Follow all that? If not... here's a little visual timeline for you:
checked it out?