If you’re a parent who dreams of starting your own business but feel discouraged by time and money, you can relate to mompreneur and tuned in parent Tyffany Johnson. Tyffany never found the time or money, so she just did it! With only $100 and a borrowed camera, she started The Paper Hug Factory in 2011. Today, Tyffany shares practical tips and tricks for aspiring parent entrepreneurs.
Tyffany—or “Tyff” as her friends call her—mother to her eight-year-old “SONshine,” as she calls him, and wife to her husband and “true partner on this life journey,” is one of those people bursting with creativity. She loves dancing (she even belonged to a dance company in Houston for nearly a decade), drawing, customizing gifts for people; and has been since she was a child. As Tyff recounts below, the idea for her personalized greeting card company, The Paper Hug Factory, was born, unbeknownst to tiny Tyff, when she was a little girl making handmade cards for loved ones.
It was in the second grade that I discovered that I loved to make birthday cards for people. I had never fathomed starting a greeting card business when I was younger, but when I was pregnant with my son, I thought about it all the time. During my pregnancy, I took some graphic design classes, invested a lot of time learning about paper, cardstock, envelopes, adhesives and shipping costs and really explored the idea of establishing a business. In 2011, I launched “The Paper Hug Factory” on Etsy, an online marketplace to buy and sell handmade or vintage items, art, and supplies.
How Tyffany Started Her Own Business with Only $100
With little experience in graphic design, little to no knowledge of marketing, and only $100, Tyff found a way to make her daydream happen. However, it wasn’t without planning, research, obstacles, and challenges.
Obstacles Parent Entrepreneurs May Encounter and How to Overcome Them
Finding Your Niche: When Tyff started out, she was unsure how to mass produce her cards since graphic design was not her niche. Once she realized that hand-crafted paper designs were her specialty, things began to flow: creativity, cards, orders, business. She had found her niche!
Marketing Your Product or Service: If you have a great product or service but don’t know how to tell the world about it, then it’s pointless; this was Tyff’s quandary. She didn’t know much about marketing or building a website, and she didn’t have money to hire anyone to do it for her. Therefore, she had to find a way around it. And she did! Enter Etsy. Since her product was handmade, Etsy and its built-in marketing, customers, and search engine was a perfect fit for Tyff. Obstacle overcome!
For those of you who do not fit the handmade and/or vintage Etsy market, feel free to write us about your marketing questions. Our marketing tuned in parents would be happy to offer guidance.
Deciding to Go For It: When do you take the plunge? After Tyff chose the name of her company and had her logo designed, she knew launch day was approaching but wasn’t sure how or when to do it. With only that pithy $100 for materials and supplies, she decided to borrow, instead of buy, a camera for product photos. She then uploaded product shots to Etsy and Facebook and went for it! It wasn’t long before people started buying her “paper hugs,” even from other countries! That alone was encouragement enough that she had made the right decision. Tyff’s been creating custom hugs for people around the world since launch day in November 2011.
Tyff’s Tips for You to Start Your Own Business
Tyff keeps it simple with these three tips:
- Make a plan and follow it.
- Do your research—materials, pricing, and know your competition.
- Set several small goals, complete them, and repeat.
Tyff emphasizes, “It is extremely rewarding to know that you own your own business. When people pay money for a product or service that you offer, you feel accomplished and valued … I’ve changed … I’ve become more confident. The greatest lesson that I’ve learned is that [as Desmond Tutu once said] ‘There is only one way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time.’”
If you enjoyed Tyff’s feature, please drop her a line in the comments, and if you want to see more of her creative paper hugs, check them out here!
If you’re considering starting your own business, we also recommend “5 (More) Tips for Parent Entrepreneurs.”