During the recession and times of high unemployment one of the most common pieces of advice is to try turning your hobby into money. Wanda Cleaveland has done just that. She cares for three children, manages her husband’s air conditioning company, and still finds time to run her own full time business. She has taken what she most loves to do and turned it into a money making venture.
Art is a way of life for Cleaveland. She has always maintained creative hobbies, such as cross stitching and needle point. Right now, she is focused on ceramics. She enjoys the relaxation that comes with the creation of each new piece. After years of enjoying her hobbies, she decided to take her artistic talent to the next level. In 2007, she purchased a ceramics store from the previous owner who was running into financial problems.
“I loved ceramics so much and knew many others did also, so I could not let the store close,” she says. After renaming the store “Ceramics N’ More,” she quickly got to work on putting the name out there. She built a website and began selling finished and unfinished ceramics online.
At the store she teaches ceramic classes, and hosts birthday parties for children. She loves being able to share her interests and creative pursuits with others.
Seeing the Big Picture
Aside from keeping her customers happy, Cleaveland has to worry about getting new ones in the door. “Advertising is my biggest responsibility; I have to keep getting the word out about my store and what is offered,” she says. But advertising isn’t cheap. She focuses on low cost methods, such as managing her website and Facebook pages. She also uses word of mouth advertising to bring in customers. Because she is such a sociable person, every one she meets is familiar with her business before the conversation is over. Friends tell friends who bring more friends into the store to learn new ceramic techniques or to paint their first pieces and discover the joy in creating their own art.
Cleaveland sometimes finds the business to be demanding. She finds that communication is the most important skill when starting out. Not only does she use this skill to bring in customers, but finds it is critical component when it comes to completing orders on time. “You need to know what your customer wants on any given day,” she says. She loves being her own boss and having a job that is also her hobby. She dreams of taking her business nationwide and sharing her love for art with everyone in the U.S.
She knows that there are many others who have tried and failed at running their own businesses, but believes that if you love something enough you will try until you get it right. “Opening a business takes complete dedication. You should give yourself a few years to make a name for yourself. Don’t give up: it’s so important to stay with your dream.”
Finding what you love is easy and working for it is even better. There comes a time when you have to grow up and get a job that will put food on the table, but is that worth settling for something that you don’t enjoy doing? Some might say that starting your own business is risky, but some may also say that taking chances is the only way to figure out the answer to the infamous question: “What if?” What if you took the time to plan out your future and decide to turn what you love doing into something that pays the bills?
Sure, it’s easy to say you want something to succeed but the hard part is figuring out how to make it a success. Only you will make the call to see it through.