|Photos by Beck Diefenbach|
I asked Niki a few questions and here are her answers. If you have some free time you should dive into her Pinterest boards - it was a nice glimpse into her universe and I kind of want to live there. Take it away, Niki.......
When did you open up your Etsy shop?
My Etsy shop opened on August 14th 2011, but I began illustrating song lyrics while studying abroad in France around 2006. Upon returning to my normal BA studies at Seattle U I started compiling tons of notes & playlists containing songs that inspired me, along with some sketches. Once settled back in SF I started carving stamps, converted my tiny apartment into a home workshop and foreignspell really got going.
Is foreignspell a full time business for you?
Nope - while that would be super great, my full time job (that I also love) is with Zinio in downtown San Francisco. I enjoy the challenge of this juggling act and it provides two very awesome forms of stability. Not even sure what I would do with all the free time I'd have if foreignspell were my one career!
What was something unexpected that happened to your business this year?
My items found homes in Japan! A wonderful Japanese distributor discovered my work online and they've made a few large orders. Working with them has taught me a great deal about time & inventory management and acted as a reminder to keep my focus from becoming too narrow. I also loved experiencing a brand new business perspective. I feel incredibly lucky - it's been amazing working with them. Never could I have imagined that my art would travel so far!
Are you a goal setter or more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of business owner?
I definitely set goals and make plans, but oftentimes find foreignspell evolving in ways I never would have predicted. It's important to set goals as long as you don't let them hinder you from taking advantage of unexpected opportunities that come along!
What kind of analytics do you use when tracking your business' success, if any?
I use the built in analytics in Etsy & Squarespace. I also have an excel doc that I really should update more often...
Biggest challenge for you this past year?
Definitely time management! Right now my cat has her sleepy paw on my hand as I type and my boyfriend has been asleep for a few hours already. Coming home after an 8 hour day and working another bunch of hours without paying attention to the people (or pets) (or chores!!) in my life as much as I should is a big challenge. There are times when work for foreignspell doesn't really feel like work, so I hope to integrate that more in the future. For example : In preparation for three upcoming craft shows, two of my longtime friends came over and we made a fun night of prepping merchandise - complete with Mission Chinese Food, eggnog, & music! It's a little tough sometimes, but I really do love every moment of it and the support my loved ones provide is immeasurable!
Looking forward to 2013 - what are some things you hope for your business?
I hope my art & cards find themselves in more shops around the Bay Area. Working with shop owners has been so much fun and I love discovering new places to find unique items! In general, it seems that I need to market foreignspell better and try not to get too caught up in production without leaving time for growth. I am so so happy though - even if things remained just like this I will continue feeling super lucky!
To find out more about Niki and to buy her cards - check out these links:
facebook business page
Thanks so much, Niki. I think that your time management challenge is something that a lot of people can relate to. I remember doing photography part time/working full time and those 80 hour weeks nearly killed me. I hope that your business grows as much as you're able to sustain it and if you want to go full time, there's tons of us out there that will be rooting you on! San Francisco is such an incredible place for these types of dreams to come true.
If you ever want to be featured on the Awfully Grand blog, you totally can, just head over to the submission tab on our blog and voila. You too could have a fabulous feature like this one.
Sarah & Lisa