Client attraction. Business growth. Pretty profits.
Jess Van Den is a creative entrepreneur who’s passionate about crafting a DIY lifestyle. She makes eco-conscious, modern sterling silver jewellery under the label Epheriell, edits and publishes *bespoke* zine, creates for Vintette Collection, and also blogs daily at Epheriell Designs about craft, creativity, life, and business.
We chatted to this very busy lady to learn about being an entrepreneurial crafter.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your businesses.
I’m an accidental entrepreneur! Seriously. I was a teacher/science communicator/manager in past career incarnations, and a few years ago, I took up knitting as a hobby after reading The Friday Night Knitting Club while on holiday in Fiji.
That quickly led me to making beaded jewellery. I enjoyed working with my hands so deeply! All my life and work before this had been academic, and the satisfaction I gained from making an actual object with my hands was immense.
Due to a few quirks in the path, I ended up working on my business full-time… and now it is not only my full-time job, but my husband stays at home and helps me, too.
2. Is there a typical day in the life of Jess Van Den? What does it look like?
Hmm, well, because I do a few different things, each day is a little different. But lets go with a day when I make Epheriell jewellery! Most days I’ll be roused by my lovely husband Nick, when he puts a cup of tea down on my bedside table. It takes me a bit of time to wake up in the morning, so the tea is manditory! I’ll then check e-mails and deal with anything urgent (like renewing items that have sold in my Etsy or madeit shops).
I then spend 20 minutes on the exercise bike while reading a novel on my kindle. I’m a voracious reader, and it’s not uncommon for me to read a whole novel each day. After that I shower, have some sort of breakfast, and spend a bit more time on the computer.
I’ll then move over to my bench, and start making my latest orders. I’ll move between the bench and my computer desk throughout the day, chatting on twitter, checking e-mail etc.
Nick and I will sit down together and have our main meal of the day – lunch – around 12:30 or so, and I’ll take a bit of a break, perhaps read some more of my novel. He’s an awesome cook (and is in charge of all cooking/shopping etc) – we’re currently working our way through Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals cookbook!
Around 2-3 in the afternoon, I’ll pack up all the orders I’ve completed, and give them to Nick. He’ll head out to the post office for me, so I can keep working.
I’ll do some sort of exercise in the afternoon – whether going for a run, some yoga, or some sort of strength training. Working from home, in a sedentary job, I REALLY notice the difference in my body when I don’t exercise. It really is vital to keep me feeling my best.
In the evening we’ll have a light dinner – usually some sort of big salad with plenty of protein. Then I’ll either hop on the computer and do some more work – like writing a blog post or two – or read a little more. Sometimes we’ll pull up an episode of something to watch on the TV. And then it’s time for bed, around 11-12.
3. How does having your own business improve your life?
It’s beyond wonderful. I don’t have to commute, I don’t have a boss telling me what to do, I can set my own schedule. If I need to take a day off, I do. If I want to sleep in, I do. If we want to go the beach, we go.
But perhaps most important of all – I can do the work I love and am passionate about. I’m not pushing myself to do work I dislike. Oh sure, there are times when I’m making the same pair of earrings for the 100th time that I get a little bored, but those tiny flickers of boredom, stress or frustration are 100 times less than any other job I’ve ever had.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
4. How do you work smarter, not harder?
Well, I think one of the most important things I’ve ever done was to let go. I’m a bit of a control freak, so handing some aspects of the business over to other people was hard – but SO worth it.
Nick does all the bookkeeping these days, as well as liaising with our printers for *bespoke*, and numerous other ‘tedious’ jobs. The man is a saint, I swear. I also hired a VA to help me to run the *bespoke* blog a while ago, and it’s such a load off my mind!
Don’t try to do it all yourself would be the core message here.
5. You recently travelled overseas and made the decision to close your Epheriell and Vintette stores while away. Has your traffic and sales been lower, the same or higher than average since reopening? Why do you think that is?
Whenever you close, it often takes a little time to build up momentum again. But I re-opened in August and September was my best month for sales ever – so if you’ve been in business a while you shouldn’t suffer too much from closing for a holiday! It’s all about having a loyal customer base, as well as knowing all the tricks to kick-start sales again.
6. I’m currently reading you ebooks How I Went From Nothing…To A Sale A Day Online and Etsy Success Stories…Tips and Strategies From Seven Top Sellers. Is it easy to write an ebook? What’s simple and what is challenging?
The most challenging part of writing an e-book is finishing!
I have SO many ideas for e-books, courses, etc… but I’m so busy with the day-to-day of my business, it can be very challenging to carve out the time to do these sorts of things. I think coming up with a concept is the simplest thing, but actually putting it down and polishing it all up is the hardest part.
7. What is the hardest part of owning your own businesses?
I’d have to say cashflow. There’s no salary landing in your bank account each fortnight. The amount of money you make is directly proportional to the amount of work you put into your business. And it has to be the RIGHT work, too.
Sometimes the pressure of being the ‘breadwinner’ is tough, but I try to use that pressure to spur me onto bigger and better things.
8. Do you have a mentor or inspirational businessperson you look up to? Who?
I love my friend Tara Gentile – she’s done amazing things in such a short period of time! I read Seth Godin’s blog religiously. Mostly, though, I’m inspired by the plethora of amazing women out there who are making a go of their own indie businesses. Especially those who have children, whew, I don’t know how they do it!!
9. What is next on the agenda for Jess Van Den?
I want to keep growing *bespoke* zine and my jewellery brand Epheriell. I’ve got big plans for some pretty awesome e-courses… so hopefully I’ll carve out the time to get them written in the new year!
Most importantly though – I want to keep living and enjoying every day, doing what I love. What more could you ask for?
10. The best way to contact Jess Van Den is….
On twitter, of course! I’m @JessVanDen. You’ll always get a pretty quick reply over there. If you’ve got something a little more in-depth to talk to me about, shoot me an e-mail – jessica AT epherielldesigns.com
A big thank you to Jess Van Den for sharing her fun and amazing business success story! What an inspiration for all us closet crafters!
Have you considered starting a crafty business? Share your story with us!