Happy 2016, readers. We are back from a much needed Maker’s Holiday break and today we are introducing you to another one of our talented group.
Meet Heather MacMichael of Hadley Designs based out of Quispamsis, NB. Heather is a self-taught crocheter who has recently relaunched her shop, which previously operated under the name Creatively Canadian Made. Faced with numerable challenges in her personal and family life, and busy raising a large and happy family, Heather still found her passion and found a way to build a business on it. Heather’s story is one of true perseverance in the face of challenge, and I find her drive to succeed truly inspiring.
Please start by giving us a brief bio and introduction to you and your shop.
Hi guys! My name is Heather. I am a 30 year old married, mother of four children (aged 3, 5, 7 & 9; two girls and two boys). I enjoy creating things, decorating &designing, fashion, listening to country music, spending time with my family, traveling & caring for our pets. I run my crochet Etsy shop full time now from a studio in our home here in New Brunswick, Canada, while I am home full time with our youngest child. I make items for all ages, from hats to clothing, to gifts &photography props.
How did you get your start, and how did you find Etsy?
The very first things I crocheted were hats for our daughters, who at the time were 6 months and 2 ½ years old. I knew how to sew and have always been a crafty, artsy person, but I never knew how to crochet and I was terrible at knitting.
I had known of Etsy through doing some online shopping for cloth diapers and baby things. I was always admiring all the other talented businesses on here.
I started playing around with learning how to make crochet hats for our girls, self teaching through Youtube! I picked it up pretty quickly! I loved seeing what I was able to create and began making more.
Shortly after, I started selling hats locally through Kijiji and Facebook, and then eventually opened my first Etsy shop – Hats by Heather. One sale would snowball into paying to create the next order and so on. I was an expert at being frugal in our own life and now business, I learned how to start small and grow from there!
As I learned more skills I started branching out making more than just hats and getting better with my creativity. I closed the first shop and started up Creatively Canadian Made on January 1st 2012 on Etsy, starting brand new and now offering more crochet items than solely hats.
I learned a great deal business wise with my time working with Creatively Canadian Made. I continued on with that from 2012-2015. At the end of 2015 I renamed my business Hadley Designs Canada with a new vision in mind for 2016. It has evolved into something I am now really proud of. I have put a lot of time and dedication into it. I have learned my favorite things to make and other things not so much. I have learned what reflects me and I am establishing a brand that I am very proud of!
You are a mom of four! How do you find the time to run a successful business?
The most important thing here for me has been perseverance! It can be slow going, but every little step forward is a small success. Every small success gives new confidence that if I can keep going and pushing myself, learning more, trying more and doing more – eventually the hard work pays off. It may have taken me longer to get where I want to be – but I can honestly say 2015 was a huge turn around for me business wise, a lot just clicked and it is going very well now. I am comfortably steady now and I am really proud of my achievements. I have new goals and now with 3 of our children in elementary school I am starting to have more time and energy to put more back into my business that before was simply just harder to do.
I have a very long and complicated story of myself and our family and how this all played out. But let’s see if I can make it pretty brief. I have been a licensed aesthetician, aromatherapist and nail technician since 2004. My husband and I will be married 9 years this summer (But we have known each other 19 years). At the end of 2006 our first daughter was born and by September 2007 I had begun my own mobile spa business. We put my husband through college and he has been working very hard to get to where he is now and he loves his job more than ever. These 9 years were very condensed with events and challenges, we havegone through a LOT, we can’t even comprehend it all! And yet we are stronger than ever. Rough high risk pregnancies; Miscarried our third pregnancy at 3 months; hospitalizations from mono & kidney stones during my second pregnancy; 2 emergency c-sections that lead to all 4 children being born via c-sections. We were advised against a third, let alone fourth, because the second delivery was not a good one. My husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer only two weeks after we found out we were expecting our fourth baby. He had a successful surgery and has been clear ever since. He keeps up with blood work and cat scans still on a regular basis. Weeks after his diagnosis his grandmother passed away from breast cancer. There just always seemed to be something going on. Due to the cancer, my husband’s immune system changed and he developed a deadly allergy to shell fish (which he had eaten all his life). This surprised us one night when he very quickly went into anaphylactic shock after having shrimp (I was a week away from delivering our fourth baby at this time). I have a bad relationship with hospitals and I fainted after our ambulance ride and spent the evening in the maternity ward while he spent his evening in the ER. Doctors said he was very, very lucky that night. Fast forward a few years and my husband almost lost 3 fingers from a snow blower accident; he has since, with therapy and multiple surgeries, regained almost 90% mobility. This was the last day I worked my spa business, which by this time was now a stationary spa in a studio in our second home. I babysat for various families during the day at home, from the time our first daughter was 1 months old onward, to stay home with our children. I would run my spa in the evenings and on weekends. In addition to babysitting, family life and the spa; from 2007 onward I ran my Etsy shop in any spare time we could find. My shop has evolved to what it is now.
And here we were survivors of all this craziness! Yet we managed to have four, very happy, healthy and understanding, strong young children and we are happy with our accomplishments despite all that has been thrown at us!
As if we didn’t already have drive to achieve our dreams beforehand, after all this we really truly did! A lot of people know – having a new baby, a family, make you see your future in a different light. Having cancer and other bad experiences makes you see everything a lot more clearly too. Little hurdles really don’t seem like such a big deal anymore. “Not having time” just wasn’t a good enough excuse not to do something I really enjoyed.
So back to the question on how I was able to do this being a mom of four, and finding time, etc…
1. Perseverance and taking baby steps – I never gave up.
2. Having a regular routine & schedule has always been important with us.
3. Being flexible and adapting as things change, and always expecting the unexpected!
4. Trying. That’s the biggest. Simply put, if you don’t try, nothing will happen. You create your outcome. Putting yourself out there is a big thing. For many people it’s a really scary thing. I may have had a lot of responsibilities, but whenever I was able to, whenever I could find time… I tried. I could have given up and said why am I even trying to do this, I have four kids and a ton going on. But what type of an example is that? Being a work from home mom has taught our children how hard people have to work to support their families – they are the most appreciative kids ever. I have just been lucky to be able to have done this in their presence.
5. Set goals. People have dreams but you have to make them goals, small achievable goals at first even… and keep trying for them, or else all they will stay is a dream. Goals are dreams but with deadlines. I had to keep focusing on my goals, doing this, again, made me find the time to get to where I wanted to be.
6. It wasn’t all me. I run my business but it is also thanks to my husband and children. Us working together as a family. I support my husband with his job and he does the same with mine. We had a lot against us and we just had to stay positive. We got really good at this one (It was also thanks to everyone who supported me along the way including all my customers who love my work and the homemade community in general!)
7. Staying inspired. By being inspired by other artists, female business owners, work from home moms, etc… I was able to see that it is all possible and can be done. Being creative is my outlet. I truly enjoy what I do. I love being an entrepreneur. I love that I make people happy with things I have made and that many people will keep these heirlooms for years to come for their children.
Being a hand-maker yourself, do you have a hand-made treasure that you most
My mother did a lot of smocked dresses for me as a baby that she held onto and knit clothing too, that we were able to wear on our daughters when they were little.
My father is a talented wood worker as a hobbyist, when I was younger he made me a really cool wall mounted bubble gum machine with a plexiglass front. The inside has wood burnt detail in it and he burnt a little message on the backside as well. I still have this and my kids think it is the coolest.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 year’s time? And do you have
any exciting plans that we can look forward to seeing in the coming year?
In 5 years I hope to be doing really well – Maybe running a brick and mortar boutique/store in my community, along with my online website.
The goal for now is to continue to be steady so I am in a comfortable place by the time our 4th is in kindergarten in 2017. I am in the process of editing a website to launch hopefully later this year. I hope this brand rep step goes amazing! I am really excited about that.
I want to expand my product line. I am getting back into sewing and adding some new items into my shop. I want more fashions and clothing added. Also having some more pattern downloads available in my shop. Many of my items have been from my own designed patterns and I would love to get more of these published & available for other crocheters.
This year I am also concentrating on adding more selection to my swim wear line! I am going to work harder at getting my shop promoted and putting myself out there to drive more traffic into the shop. I also hope this year to carry some items in a few local shops!
At the beginning of the year on my first day back to work after vacation, I wrote down a list of things I want to do. Quick things; things I have been putting off; things I have been too scared to try; things that needed to get done; even some far-fetched big things that I will have to slowly check off the list one by one as money permits; I noted it all down on this list. I have checked quite a few off already and it’s empowering seeing the progress and that it is only the 11th day of the year! I guess I am quite excited to see where this will be in 5 years! But at the same time I don’t want to wish the present away, things are going really good!
Good luck with your goals, Heather. And thank you very much for sharing your story here with us today.
Remember to click over to visit Heather’s etsy shop, HadleyDesignsCA, or click any of the above images to see more details.