Let's get spoopy this Halloween and meet Nicole, Founder of Jelly Bird Signs! Nicole began making signs for her own personal use and soon realized that her creativity could be used to decorate homes across the country as well as to help spread the one thing that inspires her the most, her faith. Now, with the help of her husband and working out of her own studio, Jelly Bird Designs has become a thriving business with every single one of their signs selling out within minutes of hitting her shop. Read on to learn more about how they got started, their biggest failure, and where they see their business in the upcoming years.
1. How did Jelly Bird Designs get its start?
Jelly Bird Signs started out the same way I feel most of us makers got our start: I had a need for a handcrafted item and I set out to try and make it on my own. Starting with a sign for a Hunger Games-themed dessert table for my sister and continuing with adding signs to our own walls, the idea to create a shop quickly became a reality when we realized how easy it was just to post on Etsy and it all just went from there.
2. What inspires your work the most?
Absolutely hands down my faith and the part it plays in my life. Though, originally, our sign shop was all-encompassing, the further I developed my craft, the more I realized I sought to create pieces that called to me on a deeper level.
3. What is your favorite piece you have made and how did you develop the idea for it?
Oh my goodness, that’s so tough to say. I would have to say that at the moment my absolute favorite is a small piece with florals and a cross that uses a part of Romans 1:16: “I am unashamed” (referring to being unashamed of the gospel). This design was partially inspired by having walked in Christ for ten years and feeling like it has truly only been in the past year that I’ve really felt my faith grow into something I’ve never experienced (something very powerful and compelling). This design was also inspired by an amazing tattoo I saw by Christian tattoo artist Jon Hall using a pocket watch and “unashamed” on a banner that wrapped around the design.
4. Has there ever been a part of your business that was a disaster? If so, what happened and how did you remedy it?
YES. This is a bit touchy, especially since it’s almost controversial to do such a thing, but for me, custom orders are (or rather, can be) the absolute bane of my existence, and that’s all we did from July 2012-December 2014. It literally broke me – panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed, tears, feeling like an utter failure; it was one of the most chaotic times in my life. It set my family in turmoil. It’s hard to express to customers the full purpose behind why we no longer do custom orders (it seems only natural that we would take them since most every single shop does in one form or another), but the pure matter of fact is that if I’m putting my priorities in order (with family coming first), then this is how our shop needs to run (exclusively ready-to-ship). And that’s that.
5. Is it tough being your own boss or is it the easiest job you’ve ever had?
Oh gosh no question it’s the easiest yet most difficult job I’ve ever had. Being in control of every aspect of my shop is extremely important to me – I have my hands in every function from cutting the raw wood initially to packaging the finished sign to ship. I love feeling free to pursue my ideas for where we should run with the shop and the ability to be flexible with my work schedule. Creating with my own hands is by far the rewarding job. That being said, there is so much responsibility that comes along with, and that in and of itself can be incredibly daunting. Knowing that everything relies on me and my abilities to manage my time effectively, be organized and efficient, delegate, etc., can be a little scary at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
6. Name one job that you wish you could hire out to someone else.
SHIPPING. Next question.
7. Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you have any major goals for your business?
This is a scary question. I’m either a millionaire with my own TV show and a slew of workers in a giant showroom, or flat broke reminiscing about the good ol’ days when we had a sign shop. Haha! No, but seriously, I hope to continue advancing at a manageable pace (I feel like the tortoise sometimes – slow and steady wins the race!) but most importantly sticking true to our original business model. I have no desire for mass production; each of these pieces is so painstakingly handcrafted with love, and to take that away by having a slew of workers creating my signs just so everyone could have a Jelly Bird defeats the purpose of our shop and our ministry. These pieces are meant to be treasures, not everyday commodities.
8. Any advice to those out there wishing to start their own handmade business?
You’re either all in or you’re out. If you’re gonna do it, DO IT. Work hard. Do your research. Show integrity. Find your niche and run with it. I say each of these things from my own experience and mistakes. My shop verse, 1 Thessalonians 4:11, perfectly captures my thoughts on this topic: "Lead a quiet life and work with your hands."
9. Who is your favorite handmade maker at the moment?
Oh come on!! You want me to choose ONE? That’s insane! Gosh. OK. I’m gonna be a bit rebellious and give you two because asking for only one is just cruel. There are some amazing things happening over at @WalrusandToad that just are really fantastic – Tarra’s flair for painting quirky little bits of whimsy is so fun to see! That, and every gosh darn thing Meghan posts at @JuneberryStitches makes me go all crazy heart eyes.
Jelly Bird Signs is giving away a "Discover beauty in everyone" hand painted sign & Gulush Threads is giving away a $20 shop credit.
To enter, leave a comment below letting us know which sign you would get from Jelly Bird Signs and for an additional entry, head on over to Gulush Threads IG and like the giveaway photo. Don’t forget to follow both @gulushthreads and @jellybirdsigns on IG to be entered!
Giveaway ends Monday, November 2nd at midnight CT with winner announced on Tuesday, November 3rd right here on The Gulush Blog.
Much love and Good Luck,
Winner of giveaway: Jackie Ray
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