Made By Her Turns 1!
Here’s Where We Came From…
Made By Her Original Logo
On March 2, 2021, the Made By Her Marketplace for female artists and artisans went Live. But that obviously wasn't the first day of our history so I wanted to share where it all began as we look back on the last year...
The story of Made By Her actually began in the fall of 2019. My son, whom I'd been a stay at home mother for since he was born, started Kindergarten and I was feeling like an empty-nester.
Me and my son, 2021
I had always been a pretty creative person, and good at keeping myself busy, so I decided to try something new. I used to build custom decorative blanket ladders a few years before when my family and I were living in a house with space for woodworking but, at the time he started school, we had downsized to a small apartment until we found our next house and I knew woodworking wasn't an option in an apartment complex.
I decided to start painting and drawing and using the designs for screen printing shirts. After getting through the learning curve and dialing in the screen patterns I wanted to use, I thought of selling them online. I'd sold my blanket ladders on Etsy and figured I'd start there. I'd gotten out of touch with how it all worked and hadn't browsed their site in a while but it was a starting point.
A few weeks later, I started browsing Etsy for a gift I wanted to get but it was then I noticed that their vibe had seemed to change. It no longer felt like a special place to go to find one-of-a-kind items but an endless search for quality. When I finally did find something I liked, it was made overseas. I changed the setting to only come from the United States but still only seemed to find sponsored items that really didn't fit what I was looking for. I started wondering how my shirts would ever stand out.
The next day I visited a local outdoor arts and craft show, The Sawdust Festival, in Laguna Beach, California and thought, "now this is the type of stuff I was looking for online."
Everything was very well crafted and artisan-made and the outdoor setting put the dreaminess level over the top. It was then that I started dreaming of creating my own website for artists but, for some reason, I gravitated toward making it a women-only platform. I wanted the feminine energy and, especially since female artists always seemed to have an added level of commitment and detailed focus on their products, packaging, and customer service, I wanted their efforts to stand out. The name "Made By Her" came to mind and I started looking for web developers.
I was actually able to find one right away (which is very uncommon from what I've heard) but I liked the work he did and, over many conversations, we seemed to work well together and it felt like he understood the direction I wanted to go in with the platform. Development began in February of 2020. When COVID hit, I thought of putting the whole thing off but, as we saw that everything was switching to online shopping, I decided to keep going.
We worked on the site as much as we could and were set to launch in August of 2020. Last minute issues started popping up and, despite all my efforts to get it off the ground, September rolled around and I knew we were running out of time before the holiday shopping was in full swing. On September 14th, I discovered I was pregnant with my husband's and my second child. This was a total shock. We weren't planning on having any more kids but those two pink lines said otherwise. I remember thinking, "holy cow, I'm trying to get a new business off the ground and now we have a new baby coming into the world as well... (deep breath) it's okay, I can do this." On September 15th, I got a call from my dad saying he was going to the hospital. He'd been sick for months and had finally been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure.
It was then I had my first panic attack in probably 10 years. Everything felt like boulders coming down and I just knew that if I tried to keep all of that on my plate, something was going to fall off and break and each was too precious to me to let that happen. I knew that we couldn't push the launch to the following month because, with marketing, you have to start almost 2-3 months early for the holidays. If we didn't launch within the week, we'd have to wait until after the new year. I took 24 hours to think about it (although there wasn't much time for reflecting with calls from doctors coming in every hour). It became very clear that there was no way I could give the attention a launch really needed. I called my web developer and decided to push the launch to early 2021. (My dad passed away on November 14th.)
I knew I'd made the right decision to hold off. We made it through the holidays but there was still this little being that I was growing inside of me that was going to need me too. I couldn't help it though, something told me it was all going to be okay and, if we launched early enough in the year, we could be up and running by the time our little one arrived. My web developer and I got back to business in January and something about March 2nd, 2021 stood out because it felt like a countdown, 3/2/21... 3, 2, 1, go. And so it became the launch date of Made By Her!
We already had 50 vendors by the time we launched and grew to over 200 by the end of the year. Also, our little girl was born in May and she was the calmest, sweetest baby I ever could have asked for. She would just lay on my stomach or sleep in my arms as I worked.
Things were going well, the holidays were coming up, I kept telling myself, "this is it." But things started happening with the site. Links would break, sellers started having issues with basic functionality, and my web developer started getting harder and harder to get ahold of. Then, at the end of November, everything stopped. I found out our Facebook Ads account got hacked and they froze all of our marketing. I was on the phone and emailing anyone and everyone I could to try and get it cleared up but all I was told was, "your account is under review for your own protection, we'll let you know when it's fixed"... it didn't open up again until December 20th.
We'd lost an entire month. I'd hired a marketing team back in October to manage Google and Pinterest Advertising but, their ads were still learning the audience and not effective yet. By the time Christmas came, everyone was done with their shopping and my web developer had gone away on holiday (without fixing any issues before he went).
Despite the cheerfulness of the season, I felt crushed, deflated, and ready to take matters into my own hands. I enjoyed a beautiful holiday with my family, celebrated our little girl's first Christmas...
...but the very next day, while many were still wallowing in the after-Christmas glow, I got to work. I decided I wanted full control over the marketplace and made it my holiday project to re-create the whole thing myself by New Years. We had beta testers help after the new year and now we’re on a whole new site with so many new features (for both buyers and sellers) and growing every week with new artists joining us
There have been quite a few moments when I wonder if this is all worth it... is this really something I want to keep pursuing... is it worth all the late nights and countless hours researching, editing, and learning. Then I'll visit a local art show or discover a new artist who I feel like I could buy every single piece from who wants to sell with us and I think, "yep, it's absolutely worth it, let's blow this thing out of the water."
So thank you to all of you. Each person who has ever liked one of our photos or stories, commented on how beautiful our artists' work is, joined our newsletter, or, even more, purchased something from our marketplace. I see each and every one of you and can't thank you enough for your support.
Here's to many more years to come!