Business Basics: The Birth of Gingiber

Last Month I had my 500th Etsy sale, and it got me thinking about how Gingiber began. I don't think that I have ever told the full story of Gingiber, so here's a blog post devoted to the birth of my business.

It might be a bit long, but bear with me :)

I had always been drawing. As a kiddo I would doodle on napkins, the margins of my Bible at church (don't tell my mother), and occasionally on my walls. When I went to college, I had no doubt in my mind about majoring in Art and Design. I crammed 2 degrees into my 3 years of college, got married, and continued to work at a Starbucks Coffee Shop simply because I needed a paycheck to support my husband and I.

I graduated from college in December of 2007, and was pregnant with Violet 2 months later. This changed the entire trajectory of our lives. Within a few months, Nathan and I picked up and moved to Springdale, AR, where his mother and brother lived. Nathan had been offered a nice fellowship to pursue his Ph.D in Mathematics at the University of Arkansas (please note: not our dream school). But, a baby on the way meant that income was what mattered. I was offered a management position at Starbucks in Fayetteville, AR, so the move seemed opportune.

note the sad Starbucks face :(

Neither one of us were super happy. We were excited about the baby on the way, but just a few months prior we were exploring opportunities to move overseas, living in Scotland. I had even filled out some applications for Master's Programs in Edinburgh. Now, family was what mattered. And I was focused on working my coffee loving butt off at Starbucks.

Yet, I really REALLY missed art and design. And I had heard of this online market for artists called Etsy. Honestly, I was really intimidated to put my artwork out on the web. Mainly because I was afraid of rejection. But, while sharing a pizza with 2 of my favorite Springfield friends, I remember discussing how I had been looking all over Etsy for some nursery art to fill our soon-to-be daughter's room, and finding nothing that suited my taste.

And then I said it out loud, "I am going to open up my own Etsy Shop filled with really great kid's art". The concept of Gingiber was born. And about that name, Gingiber. I have been using this moniker since my junior year of college, when a Publication and Design professor required each student to create a magazine about themselves. And this was the name I settled on. It is the Latin word for ginger, and I thought that it sounded kind of cute, so I went with it! When it was time to name my Etsy Shop, I stuck with it. And I still like it :)

In May of 2009, I opened up shop. I had my 1st sale a month later. It has taken 2+ years to finally work my way up to 500 sales.  But last year at this time, I had not even reached 100 sales. The past year has been the most satisfying and fulfilling year of my life creatively. And I am overwhelmingly happy!

I've done a lot of learning and growing since I opened up shop. I've changed day jobs so that I have more time to work on my art. I've tried and failed at different artistic ventures (PDF embroidery patterns, anyone?) but have also slowly carved out a niche for myself in this handmade corner of the world.

And guess what? I am incredibly hopeful for the future of my business. Gingiber is now a legit LLC (quarterly taxes, blargh). I am contributing monthly to my family's income, and really believe with all of my heart that someday I can grow Gingiber into a full time job.

Thank goodness for Etsy. And our handmade community. And an entire group of online friends who encourage one another to keep going. I am so thankful. And happy.

So that is how Gingiber came to be :) Thanks for reading.
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