Student Turns Passion For Crafting Into A Part-Time Job

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Sarah Hummel working on crafts

Through toilet paper rolls, glue, macaroni necklaces and paint, junior Sarah Hummel first fell in love with the art of crafting. For every birthday and anniversary, a grand sculpture of materials, created with love, was presented. Now, with the help of family and friends, Hummel has turned her passion for crafting into a part-time business run from the comfort of her cozy attic bedroom in her off-campus house.

“It’s always something I’ve wanted to do,” Hummel said. “But it took a little push from my older sister Maggie and a class project on personal branding to actually get things started.”

Hummel chose to use Etsy, a peer-to-peer e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as the platform for her business, SHE Designs STL. Items for sale include canvases, wood signs, cards, and “Open When” envelopes.

“The ‘Open When’ envelopes started almost as an accident and have since grown to be my bestseller,” she said. “My sister asked me to make a few when her boyfriend moved away for work and she just liked my handwriting. While I was making them, my aunt saw and was really curious how Etsy worked. So, I showed her how I put a listing together, published it, and didn’t think anything of it. The next day there was two orders.”

Unaware of the quick success the envelopes would bring, Hummel had to start scheduling her free time more efficiently, while ensuring a balance between school, babysitting, family, friends, and crafting.

“It’s a weird time management [thing] now because I have homework and work to do that someone actually paid me for,” Hummel said.

Because this is not a full-time job, Hummel is able to keep school a priority.

“If I have a lot of tests one week, I might only spend 10 hours working on things for the shop,” she said. “But, if it’s a slower week, I might spend up to four hours in one day.”

She also manages an Instagram account, SHE Designs STL, to advertise and complement the Etsy shop. Because it is set up as a business rather than a personal account, other businesses have been less reluctant to follow back. This has allowed her to enter the greater crafting community where she can learn and share with other passionate crafters.

Expanding her hobby into a business has presented her with a few new challenges. She has begun working with new materials and has had to learn how to track time actually spent working on projects. However, the hardest part to learn in all of this was how to set prices. A junior psychology major, Hummel had inadvertently avoided marketing classes, and had no other personal business experience to guide her through it.

“My mom and my sister helped me out with this. They told me that I needed to determine exactly what I spend on materials. It was easy for me to think I spent nothing making something if I already had the supplies, but I had to learn that even if I already have the pens, I still am using up the ink,” she said.

Putting herself in the customer’s shoes, she figured that cheaper shipping, good quality, and a reasonable price would attract the most customers, and so far, she has seen much success.

Reflecting on how her skills have improved over time and with her passion never turning into a chore, Hummel can see herself continuing the business forever and looks forward to adding new crafts to her shop.