Friday, April 15, 2016

Crafty Interview with Avalon Sunshine

When we first moved from Ohio to the Chicago area, about 7 months ago, one of the first ladies I met was Erica from Avalon Sunshine.  We met at Starbucks and talked about our Etsy shops, our children, and just our daily lives.  It was a lot of fun, and it really helped me feel a little bit more at home in this huge suburb of Chicago.

As I was working on getting my blog up and running again I wanted to connect with other Makers.  I loved the idea of adding 'Crafty Interviews' to my space, and of course the first person I thought to ask was Erica!

Thankfully she loved the idea and graciously answered my questions.  She even went one step further and offered a fun giveaway from her Etsy shop.  Details are at the end of this post (don't skip ahead)! I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Erica, the maker behind Avalon Sunshine.  I live in the Chicago area with my husband and two boys, ages 7 & 9.   I have always loved making things and trying out different types of crafts and DIY.  Creating is what makes me feel alive and puts the sparkle in my days. 

2. What made you want to start Avalon Sunshine?

I worked a very high-stress job as a project manager with long, long hours.  When my kids were in preschool and 1st grade, I hit a point where my heart was hurting so much that something had to change.  They were growing up too fast and I wasn’t there enough. When I was physically there, my mind was so distracted by stress that I wasn’t mentally present.  I knew these were the years that my kids would build habits and values to carry through the rest of their lives, and I needed to be there for them.  So, with my husband’s support, I took a huge leap of faith and quit my job to start an Etsy shop.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your items?

Everything that I sell in my shop is something that I originally made for my own kids or as a gift for someone I love.  I put a lot of thought into gift-giving and celebrating special days in my own life.  Putting these treasures out into the world is a very exciting thing for me.  Only the very best items make it into my shop because I want my customers to know that they can find that perfect “little something special” in my Etsy store.  

In raising my two boys I have often found myself craving a step back to simpler times, away from technology, big plastic toys and the latest cartoon characters.  So my products tend to have the vibes of a simple childhood, inspired by creative play and imagination.  

4. What do you love most about owning your own craft business?

So many things to love!!!  I love the freedom that I have to design my own schedule.  I love the getting to make things every single day.  I love getting to help moms with party details and special gifts for their little ones. 

5. What does a typical day look like for you?

Once the kids are off to school, I head to my craft room in the basement.  In my house where I’m outnumbered by boys, I painted the walls bubble gum pink and it’s my favorite place in the house!  First, I answer emails and Etsy convos then get to work on my pending orders.  Almost all of my orders are personalized, so there is a pretty constant flow of new work to be done.  Once orders for the day are done, I spend the rest of my time working on new projects or growing my business until the kids get home from school.  

6. Where do you see your business going in the future?

I love selling on Etsy and will continue, but I also want to start my own website where I can sell my products and share some other mama-fun.  

As a mom, I know how easy it is to let kids entertain themselves with technology.  But limits are important and there is no substitute for the playful interaction between parents and kids. The playing and laughter build trust and it lets your kids know that they are loved and worthy of your time. That relationship will become even more important as kids grow older and make more of their own decisions.  I started sharing some easy play ideas on Instagram and want to expand this when I start my site.  These are not the Pinterest ideas that need 5,000 supplies and make an explosive mess.  Simple. Silly. Fun. (search #AvalonFunshine on Instagram to see the ideas that I have already shared and passed the fun-test in my house).

7. Would you share some of your favorite resources and shops?

There are so many resources on the Internet for handmade business owners and Etsy sellers, but finding people who you can trust and have a proven success record can be tough.  I listen to a LOT of webinars and periscopes and these 3 biz ladies know what’s going on and are fabulous teachers.   

Danielle at The Merriweather Council teaches handmade business owners how to optimize their online businesses and make the best decisions to lead to overall success and profitability.  I have purchased multiple courses and e-books from her that have been so valuable.  And, she has tons of free content on her website and periscopes that are worth checking out.  
@merriweatherc on Instagram
Merriweather Council @merriweatherc on Periscope

Nothing has made a bigger impact on my Etsy success than improving my SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  This means using the right key words that people are actually searching for on Etsy and putting them in the correct places in titles and tags so that people can easily find you.  The source that I used for this was a webinar from Dalia at Etsy Seller Mastermind.  She is an expert on this topic and teaches this in the simplest steps that anyone can follow.  And, she is on Periscope every single day discussing various topics for handmade business owners.
Dalia Abdalla @EtsySellerMastermind on Periscope

Shunta at Because of Zoe started a business selling bows and has been able to quit her job as an attorney to make a full-time career from her handmade business.  Now, she’s teaching other women how to create a successful handmade business.  She is on Periscope every day talking about a different topic.  I love that she puts a big focus on self-care (we need to remember to take care of ourselves too while we’re running a biz) and she’s a mom, so she gets the family-career balance that we all want.
Shunta @becauseofzoe on Periscope

8. Where can we find out more about your wonderful creations?

My favorite place to play is Instagram (@avalonsunshine) where you can see the fun custom orders that I make and see my new projects as they unfold. You can shop with me on Etsy at

9. Do your children play a part in your business?

I love crafting with my kids and they have found a huge love for perler beads (melty beads). When I was preparing for a Christmas craft show at the kids’s school, my older son wanted to make things out of perler beads to sell.  So, he got busy with a lot of Minecraft designs and we put them on backpack clips.  He made about 25 of them and has sold out 2 years in a row.  It’s been a fun learning experience for him to create, talk to customers, pay for the supplies and enjoy the profits. 

Thank you so much for your time, Erica.  I can't wait to check out her favorite resources.  If you have any questions for, please leave them in the comment section.

Erica has been very generous to offer a giveaway 
from her shop Avalon Sunshine.  

Click on over to her shop and take a look at the cute cake toppers.  The winner can choose any color combination and any personalization up to 25 letters.  I am doing a rafflecopter giveaway, so just follow the prompts.  Winner will be chosen and notified by email.  Contest closes May 1, 2016.  Good luck :)  If you need one sooner, place an order with her today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(contest is closed)

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