Kelly is a long time friend of mine and she is a go-getter! She started her custom scrapbook business, Designs of Mine by KM, to allow her to be the wife and mother she always dreamed of while still adding to her family's finances. I'm impressed with Kelly because when looking for a cottage business, she started by brainstorming a list of the things she enjoys doing most. While taking into consideration start-up costs and the type of lifestyle she wanted, she figured out how to make doing what she loves make money. Read the interview to find out more.
You began as a teacher, then stay-at-home-mom. Can you tell us how your custom scrapbook business began?
When my son was born I happened upon summer scrapbooks in the clearance aisle. That night I made four pages and was hooked. Within a few weeks I had all his baby pictures caught up and within a few months I was looking for more things to scrap. I had a brilliant brainstorm and thought, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if people who don’t have the time or inclination could hire me to create their scrapbooks for them!”
As a former teacher I had no business training or experience at all. I relied on family and friends, books, and the Internet. The Internet provided untold resources, for free! From it I learned how to create a business plan, where to register with the state, information about taxes, building a website, and on and on. I quickly discovered my brilliant brainstorm was not a unique one and that there were hundreds of others already doing what I wanted to try. I joined a Yahoo! group and chatting with others is still one of my best learning tools.
Were your start-up costs expensive?
Not too bad. My husband and I took the money from our household account with the understanding that if I did some special projects he wanted I would not have to pay it back. So I began with no debt to our household or anyone else. I paid a few fees to the state to register, but thankfully I live in Missouri where these costs are minimal. I purchased a website template from a designer and paid an upfront fee to my web host to lower my monthly cost. These both turned out to be excellent investments. My first set of business cards was free (plus shipping) which was great.
I messed up by signing up with a wholesaler right off the bat. I thought it was okay because the minimum purchase order was within my budget. However, I was not yet creating projects for others and I could not keep up with the re-order requirements. The experience taught me a lot though! Budget for mistakes because you are human and you will make some.
What services do you offer and how did you choose them?
I provide custom made scrapbooks by the page. A customer may purchase one page, or order 20+ pages for an entire album. I also make “pre-made” pages where I design the page and the customer adds their own photos later. These are more cost effective for some clients and make great baby and wedding shower gifts.
Another popular services is photo sorting. I encourage my clients to bring me their shoeboxes, old albums, or CDs so I can sort photos for them. The most important thing to me is for people to enjoy their pictures, not allow them to decay in storage.
I also make cards, explosion albums, and a variety of other crafty projects. These set services I offer my clients are what I most enjoy creating. Also available, however, is a “custom project.” For an hourly fee I will design nearly any project. I have done 20 x 26 photo collages, funeral memorial boards, and someone recently contacted me about adding scrapbook embellishments to her business cards. I love the variety!
How do you manage your costs when you are working on a project?
Part of my work as a business owner is to be on top of my trade. I follow adds, coupon offers, and Internet promotions as a daily part of running my business. I stock up on the basics, such as tape runners and neutral colored cardstock, when I see a great sale; just like you advise for food in your grocery shrink newsletter! Because I follow the industry closely I am also more likely to know where to go when I need something now to finish a client’s project.
Tell us about the cost effectiveness of purchasing a custom scrapbook instead of making your own.
This is interesting to me because, for a first time scrapbooker, I feel that the cost is basically a wash. Here’s why.
The cost of materials is figured into my per page pricing, so yes, a client is paying for materials either way. The difference is I only charge for what is used. If you want to design a scrapbook page for your daughter’s prom you might buy prom-themed stickers but use only four of them. Perhaps you can use the rest on another project, but chances are you will never need prom stickers again! My business set up allows me to use those stickers on the next custom album, thus splitting the cost between two or more scrapbooks.
Tools are another major expense in scrapbooking. I own two die-cutting machines, an eyelet setter, several punches, two paper cutters, a circle cutter, multiple decorative scissors, a sticker maker, and I’m sure I’ll think of something else any minute now! You do not need all of these to make your own scrapbook, but you will need some.
By hiring me to do your scrapbooks, you save a lot of time, and time is money! I have a lot of experience which allows me to make a great page in less time than it would take a beginner to do the same page.
What about someone who is not a first time scrapbooker? What is the cost effectiveness for them?
I offer discounts when people bring me their own materials. For someone who is simply too busy to finish what they began, actually using those materials instead of letting them go to waste is a bonus all its own!
What does time management look like for you?
There are some jobs I cannot allow my toddler to be around. I would never work with someone’s photos when he is near! Actual page layouts are completed during his nap or after he goes to bed. There are many other aspects that I can attend to while he plays near-by. I can work on my website, chat with my Yahoo! group, balance the checkbook, check the sales ads, call clients etc., When I know what my goals for each day are I can quickly sit down and cross “check business e-mail” off my list, even if my little guy is only occupied for five minutes. Then I wait for the next five minute opportunity to accomplish the next goal!
Where can your scrapbook services be purchased?
My website is www.designsofminebykm.com. Many people prefer to “contact me” (from the left hand menu) before a purchase, which is great. Custom projects are all about giving you exactly what you want!
To receive a special discount for grocery shrink readers go to http://www.designsofminebykm.com?code=shrink.