How Two Makers Use Spoonflower PRO for Business
Have you ever wondered if Spoonflower PRO is right for you? This premium membership service is a must-have for small business owners, frequent orderers, and anyone who loves Spoonflower. With perks like free Standard shipping, half-price expedited shipping and guaranteed turn-around time, among other helpful benefits, PRO has proven to be a key business component among our vibrant maker community. Today we’d like to introduce two makers who have turned their passion for creating into thriving full-time businesses, supported by Spoonflower PRO.
Meet Maker Ellen Giggenbach of Ellen G
Ellen is an illustrator who creates what she calls, “Joyful art made from digitally combining textured paper, graphic shapes and vibrant colours.” Ellen sells her unique brand of homewares, gifts and paper products through her Etsy shop and in her storefront located in New Zealand.
I would recommend PRO as it is a great service for anyone who is making and selling regularly. It offers support and savings helping to make a handmade business financially viable which is not always easy. – Ellen Giggenbach
Meet Maker Michelle Provencher of The Love Mich® Collection
Michelle is the creator of the Love Mich® Iced Coffee Cozy—a limited-edition beverage accessory that you’d be lucky to get your hands on. Her popular cozies sell out within hours of her quarterly releases and have even become a fashion accessory in New England where Michelle is located.
As a business, I decided that I wanted to source materials as much from the United States as I could. That can be more costly; however, the PRO membership helps offset those costs with discounted swatches, expedited production and free shipping! – Michelle Provencher
I fell in love with making goods when…
Ellen: I believe I’ve inherited my love of hand making from my mum and dad. After arriving in New Zealand from Germany, my father, a volcanologist and my mother a seamstress, designed our house and filled it with lovingly handmade treasures such as folk art carved furniture, groovy hand-sewn orange daisy curtains and 70’s hand-woven macrame. I enjoyed making products to sell even at a young age, I remember picking pebbles from the beach and painting them. I set up a mini shop on the side of the road, I can remember how great it felt making my first sale!
Michelle: I was just a little tyke! I always loved making things. My earliest sewing memory is hand sewing little bean bags during a school field trip. As I got older I experimented with different crafts ultimately falling in love with all the possibilities that come with being able to sew. As a teenager, I took apart purses and bags to see how they were made and tried my hand at some simple apparel. As I got older and friends asked me to make them things, I saw the possibility of creating a business from my handmade goods and the sky became the limit!
What was your inspiration for creating your handmade business?
Ellen: The inspiration for creating my handmade business came about when my husband and I took our big trip through Europe before we married. I discovered a little shop down an alley in Venice. It was filled with gorgeous prints featured on a fabulous variety of products. I remember sitting under a tree at our campground sketching my ideas and dreaming that this is what I wanted to do, I still have the drawings.
Michelle: I always knew I wanted to have my own fashion line but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there. I taught myself how to sew and figured if I’m going to own a fashion company, I better learn how to create what I envisioned! I strongly believe in putting in the work and knowing how each piece and process of your business works, hence why I love the handmade business. There is incredible satisfaction in knowing that you created something from your imagination and brought it to life with your own hands. I started with simple items like purses and bags, sold them to friends, hosted purse parties at friend’s homes and participated in all different vendor fairs. Early on in my business, circa 2008, I created and began to offer our now best-seller, the iced coffee cozy. I hustled our cozies for years before they became popular beyond my inner circle and now we create and sell thousands of them!
What’s in your maker toolbox?
Ellen: My toolbox comprises mainly of my Apple Mac for creating my designs in Photoshop (I’m self-taught and always learning), my Singer sewing machine to sew my cushions, bags, scarves and wall hangings, and my scalpel and cutting mat. Originally I created all my designs by hand cutting paper, now I scan the paper and digitally play with it till the colours and shapes balance perfectly.
Michelle: A Spoonflower Color Map! I am very specific about the aesthetic of the prints that we choose and confirming that the collections are cohesive, so knowing color tones and hues is essential to me. As far as actual tools, my industrial sewing machine is a lifesaver. I broke and burnt out so many cheap sewing machines over the years until I finally invested in something heavy-duty.
My proudest accomplishment over the last year is…
Ellen: Without a doubt, it’s my store here in New Zealand, Ellen G. It’s been open for nearly 4 years now and I’m so happy that I have successfully realized my dream from so many years ago. It has taken persistence, determination, accepting setbacks as learning, spending the time to make sure the financial side makes sense and most of all a huge desire to consistently develop new ideas.
Michelle: This year I hosted a customer appreciation event that we called the Love Mich Soiree and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. It’s one thing to have a business and regular customers, but it is important to me to also grow and foster a community and make human connections. Being able to thank and hug our community in person was so incredible and I am so proud that we pulled off such an amazing event!
My goals for the coming year are…
Ellen: To keep embracing new technology to grow my product range. Believe it or not, I don’t want to expand much more; I’ve had bigger businesses, with several staff members and have realized it’s not for me. As it is now, I’m able to create new designs weekly without having the business side take over, it’s heaven!
Michelle: To expand our product line beyond our signature coffee cozies while still clothing as many naked cups as possible.
How does Spoonflower PRO work for your business?
Ellen: PRO has been fantastic for my business. I can order smaller quantities regularly, meaning I don’t have to carry large amounts of stock. Plus, living in New Zealand and being able to have the fabric shipped rapidly at a reduced rate allows me to complete orders quickly and cost effectively.
Michelle: It is worth every penny. I order bulk quantities and a lot of samples so having a discount on those things is vital to my business. I also love that the production is faster than a non-PRO membership order because I usually wait until the very last minute to order something I need, oops!
My favorite Spoonflower product to work with is…
Ellen: Eco Canvas. It handles beautifully, especially for my wall hangings that need to look smooth and crisp, it doesn’t wrinkle easily or attract dirt, so customers can hang their wall hanging straight from being rolled up, being eco-friendly is a bonus too!
I’m also using the Celosia Velvet fabric more and more for cushions as my customers love the luxurious feel. I use the Linen Cotton Canvas for my tea towels, they’re a bit pricey but customers don’t hesitate to pay more for quality.
Michelle: Petal Signature Cotton. It is so versatile and can be used for so many different sewing projects.
Personal achievement or fun fact about yourself:
Ellen: My favourite word is joyful and I try to live it every day. For me, it’s taking the time to stop and enjoy the little delights that make my heart sing—the aroma of my morning coffee, seeing one of our beautiful native birds up close, stunning and unexpected colour combinations. I often wear far too many prints at once and I’ve reached the age when I really don’t care if I’m not on-trend. I think I’ve never truly grown up!
Michelle: I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies with the intention of going to law school but got a job as a paralegal instead. I worked full time as a paralegal and worked my handmade business during nights and weekends for almost 9 years before I was able to quit my full-time day job and devote all my time to my business!
Tips for shopping the Spoonflower Marketplace?
Michelle: Have an idea or color palette in mind before searching. The possibilities can be overwhelming if you aren’t sure what you are looking for. The drop-down menu options are helpful to search by a specific theme or color. Also, if you like designs from a specific designer, follow them so you can keep up with their latest designs!
Want to know more about Spoonflower PRO benefits? Click here.