Kelly Axtell is a new Mom, Incorporated. She saw us speak in Burlington, MA at the during our Mom, Incorporated Book Tour and has been working on her business ever since. Creations by Kelly is an Etsy shop that sells hand-made jewelry, baby blankets and hats.
MomIncorporated: How did you get started making jewelry and what materials do you use?
Kelly: Personally, I love earrings and the uniqueness of how an earring can make me feel complete. I use wire, beads of all shapes, sizes and textures (although sea glass is one of my favorites). I like to mix and match colors so that each piece has a different feel, whether it’s a dangle earring or a coiled wire earring. I am also doing some sewing of baby hats and blankets. This is a small piece of my business and just starting to explore this craft so I am very excited to see where this takes me!
MomIncorporated: What inspired you to turn Creations by Kelly into a business?
Kelly: The reasoning behind my business is to be able to donate money towards an association that does Hydrocephalus research. Hydrocephalus or “water on the brain”, as it is often referred to, is a chronic condition without a cure. Each piece that I create is handcrafted and put together by my own hands and therefore, no two pieces will be exactly alike, just the way no two kids with hydrocephalus are the alike.
For each purchase from me, I donate 10% to the Hydrocephalus Association, which continues to raise awareness and support research.
MomIncorporated: Why is that cause important to you?
Kelly: My daughter has this chronic condition and I am now in a place in my life that I want to “give back”. My daughter, Kaylee, was born pre-maturely, but healthy, in the summer of 2006. When she came home from the hospital, she was having trouble eating and had to be readmitted the following week due to dehydration (that summer was up over 90 degrees every day!) and feeding issues. She was observed in the NICU for a week and determined doing well enough to go home. Unfortunately, when we went into get her, my husband and I were brought into the “back room” where no parent wants to go with the doctor. We were told our sweet little girl had hydrocephalus and had to go into the city hospital to have a shunt placed to help the pressure subside on her brain. The ambulance to take her in was on its way!!!
Throughout the years, we have had very little complications due to her shunt placement, but we have had many other medical concerns with Kaylee, stemming form her hydrocephalus. I have always had it in my mind to figure out how I could “give back” to all those that have helped our little girl survive and thrive and that is how I came up with the idea for my store.
MomIncorporated: What do you envision for the future of Creations by Kelly?
Kelly: I would love to be able to grow it into a steady business with regular donations going out monthly to the Hydrocephalus Association. I am currently working on a new idea I have to create a special “hydro” bracelet; it would be a beautiful way to show support for those afflicted with this condition.
MomIncorporated: Have you experienced any challenges in setting up or running your business and if so, how did you overcome them?
Kelly: The biggest struggles were balancing starting the business with my full time job and my family and trying to figure out how my business can be unique against everyone else who creates items like mine. My husband and children have been very supportive during my creative times and I feel like utilizing tools that I have found will help grow the business.
Another big lesson I have learned- and this is something that is addressed in Mom, Incorporated – that it doesn’t happen overnight. It is very hard to turn a hobby into a business. It has been over a year already and I still feel like there is so much to learn. So, it has been a process but I feel like I am learning and the business is growing slowly but steadily.
MomIncorporated: How has Mom, Incorporated helped you set up or run your business from home?
Kelly: The tangibles from the book that you can immediately use are fantastic as they make you really focus on how you can actually put things together. It helped pull me out of the fantasy of “oh I can work from home and start my own business, it can’t be that hard” and encouraged me to take a good look at whether a home business is truly a good fit for me. It also helped me think of things I had not yet considered, like creating a space specifically for work to keep work/family separate, which I think is very important.
MomIncorporated: What advice would you give other women about starting a home-based business?
Kelly: To give yourself the permission of time. I think our culture has such a sense of immediacy to it that we think it should even apply to something we are trying for the first time. I remember selling first piece within the first 2 days in business and thinking, “wow, this is going to be a cake-walk.” Then I didn’t sell anything for another 3 months and reality struck: I have to keep working on it; my items won’t sell themselves!
Kelly was inspired by her child’s chronic condition to start a business as a way to give back. What inspired you to start your business?