Starting out 2017 “In the Hot Seat” series, we have Grace from Jessica Dolls.
Grace create super cute facial expressions dolls and have been selling them on her site since January 2015. The dolls come with changeable eyes, moths and other options.
I thought these fun and educational dolls, was a very unique and creative idea so I asked Grace to answer some questions for us.
I’m very excited to introduce Grace from Jessica Dolls…
1. Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello, I’m Grace, a mom of 2 girls and wife to a supportive awesome husband. I’ve always loved the idea of having my own business. Before I had kids, I was in accounting climbing the corporate ladder, even have my CPA. After I had kids and as a stay at home mom, it seemed like a good time to finally try having a business of my own.
2. How did you get into the online business world, what inspired you?
Because I was a stay at home mom, I wanted to do something from home so I can be flexible for my kids as they were very young still at the time. I’ve always been on the web since ’96 so it only made sense to have an online shop.
3. Could you briefly describe your blog or website?
My website is an online shop, made by WordPress with the Woocommerce plugin. I had a blog attached to it, but never really kept up with it. So mainly my site is an online shop for my dolls where people can purchase them.
4. How did you come up with the idea of your website or blog?
Initially, I started with Yummy Baby Gifts where I hand-rolled baby accessories like washcloths, socks, bibs, hats and bodysuits into shapes of food like lollipops, cupcakes, bonbons, sushi, and ice cream. This business didn’t catch on that great and a year and a half later I was trying to think what else I can do.
I was on Instagram a lot and saw that people who made dolls seem to do well but I didn’t want to do the same thing. I wanted something that can stand out.
I was looking at a picture of an owl one night and thought to myself, how cool would it be if those eyes could change. That was it!
For the next six months, I learned how to sew dolls (I barely know how to sew, everything I know about sewing was from grade 8) on the internet and designed my own dolls to have interchangeable eyes and mouths so that the dolls can make several facial expressions. I kept making them until I liked how they looked and my girls were my perfect testers of my prototypes.
5. What is it that drives you to work for yourself, running your own business?
The drives that keep me having my own business is being able to contribute to my family financially. I’ve always made a good amount of money and after being a mom, I felt lost and felt awful not being able to make money. It still bothers me today that I can’t make as much as I did before so this drive continues to push me to keep working on that!! J
6. What`s your best advice to find a balance between work, family, and life?
Gosh, this is a tough one for me. Realistically, if you want a business to succeed, your life is not going to be balanced as much as you want it to be. Being a business owner is a 24-hour job, but I do have my mom and wife duties too.
My girls go to school now, so I work at home while they’re gone, and when they’re home I’m pretty much busy with them and my husband til my girls go to bed. Then I may work a little more at night, and spend 2-3 hours after that with my husband watching tv or something.
I work on weekends too while my husband’s around, but if there’s something I should be doing with my family I do that, they always take priority but if we’re just hanging out at home, I’m most likely in my office until meal time or something.
7. How do you define success running your own website and online business?
I define success in terms of how much I can contribute to my family. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I was able to help pay for our Mexico vacation this past July and also with our household expenses. I’m getting there, but not quite there yet.
8. What’s the most frustrating part of running your own business?
Time. Never have enough time and I have a million things in my head all the time that I want to, need to do. I tried hiring someone to help me sew once and it was a disaster. Outsourcing didn’t seem feasible at this point, so it’s just me.
9. What’s the most positive aspect of running you own online business?
I’m doing my own thing. I’m very proud of being able to build my entire business(es) all on my own. There are many aspects when you start a business: taxes, licenses, website design, social media, business cards, product development, product packaging, branding, pricing, vendors, etc, etc, etc. I can be proud of all the things I’ve done on my own.
10. What skill have you learned along the way, that you find invaluable running your online business today?
Website development and design, I think without that, you can’t run an online business.
11. If you could travel back in time, to when you first started this online journey what advice would you give yourself?
Honestly, I would tell myself to run an affiliate marketing business or an online product and create passive income instead. Having handmade business is very time consuming and involved especially dolls, there are so many pieces to sew together and stuffing them. Once you make one, you have to make another. With an affiliate marketing business, you can make one blog post and can earn over and over again from that one post.
12. What do you see in the future for you and your business?
For my doll business, I see myself scaling it differently than what I first thought. My first thought was to scale it by having more people help me sew, or having them manufactured but that can be a huge investment.
To be in line with my goal of making passive income, the future for my doll business will be selling my patterns and training courses for it online.
Thank you, Grace for sharing your online journey with us!
Do you want some more exposure? See if “In the hot seat” is for you.