The So Vintage Chic Story
I've always been a go-getter (I was the small town lemonade stand kid that meant business). But as a new momma with two tiny kids, I was exhausted and home-bound. I crafted during nap times and had a lot of late-night dates with my sewing machine because I just needed something that wasn't spit-up and potty training. These were the beginning moments of So Vintage Chic, and I had absolutely no idea it was happening.
I've wanted to write about the story of my business for a while now. It started out almost by accident, but has transformed into one of the biggest, most difficult, most thrilling, and (probably above all!) most exhausting parts of my life. Whenever I'm feeling all the overwhelm, when it's feeling way over my head, I come back to this story. I remember the days when I was so tired with two little kids, and the house was a wreck, but I just had to do something creative during nap times and after bedtime. I was the Pinterest-obsessed mama who made all those mod podge canvas quotes and twine-wrapped letters. I had a scrappy sewing machine and would make my daughter little dolls and random things here and there. It was just fun for me. I started an Etsy shop called So Vintage Chic. I never expected it to be an official business name or a personal brand. My shop needed a name and that’s what I came up with that day. Obviously was a raging success. (KIDDING.) I maybe sold one thing every six months. It was not by any means a business! But I needed an outlet and that was it for a while.
Our Little Family - the Early Days of SVC
One day I decided to throw together a simple pillow on my machine. I had been seeing these amazing typography pillows pop up here and there and I wanted to see if I could DIY some. (Oh, another thing I haven’t mentioned… we had ZERO extra cash. I was a DIY addict because it was the only way my house was going to be decorated!) So I made a pillow. I made a stencil and painted some words on it. And all the sudden I started getting comments on it every time someone would come into my home. So I made more! I made them just for friends and relatives at first. People heard I was making pillows and I cranked them out as fast as I could with the little free time I had. And the pillows just kept selling themselves!
Vintage SVC Pillows - I still can't believe people paid me real money for these!
So my Etsy shop that sold a few things a year all of the sudden became my pillow store. I made an Instagram account right when that was blowing up as a method for growing an online business. I still say that I owe so much of my success to the sweet spot time frame that I hopped on Instagram. Today, everyone is advertising businesses on Instagram. It wasn’t necessarily like that when I started. It was still fairly new, and I hopped in just in time.
I worked my booty off for my first 5,000 followers. I participated in all the giveaways, researched all the strategies, and invested SO much time in growing my audience on Instagram. I knew that it was going to be the key to my success.
Looking back, that first year of So Vintage Chic was so fun. I was learning what I loved to do. I was getting to meet people and create things for their homes. I had something that was mine. It was the project I loved investing myself in, because it had to do with all the things I loved. People and homemade goods and design (Fun fact: I majored in Interior Design in college!) It was a purpose that I found for myself, other than just being a mom. As I write that it seems so funny, finding purpose in making pillows. For a long time when people would ask what I did for a living, I felt this weird shame thing inside me. I wanted to say something impressive and meaningful, but my answer was “I make pillows.”
Since then my perspective has changed a lot. As I grew my audience I found myself participating in some of life’s most meaningful events: new babies, love stories and marriage, even death. I found out that these pillows could mean so much more than I ever expected. People were buying pillows as a memorial for some of the most difficult times in their lives. It is always such an incredible (and bittersweet) gift to be invited into these stories.
Today things look a lot different than they used to! Some things have gotten much easier, like growing my Instagram or investing time in my work (all the praise hands for nannies!!). Some things are harder. I’ve found that some people are difficult to please and it’s impossible to meet every single person’s expectations. I’m okay with that now, but it honestly took me a while to get there!
I love my business, and I love what it’s grown into. I love that I never saw any of this coming. I only saw it as a hobby for the longest time. And I couldn’t have done any of it without my husband. He’s the brains behind the whole thing. He has always helped me hone in on what I really want for my business, and how to grow. He usually knows the next step for my business way before I do! Every six months or so we step back and evaluate. What am I loving? What do I hate doing all the time? What can I change or adjust? What do I need help with? Our most recent business strategy sesh resulted in this blog! Plus a lot of other exciting updates coming SOON!
hint: I think after four years it’s about time for a rebrand! Buckle your seatbelts.. a new name is coming!
My Sweet Tiny Babies!!
It will never feel like the perfect time to start something.
Do it anyways!
So there’s my story! My hope is that this inspires you to start something. If you’ve found something you love, go after it. Whether it turns into a business or not, it is so worth pursuing. You literally cannot fail. I started super small. I look back on my oldest pillows and I’m embarrassed that people paid me real money for them. But I started somewhere and I’m SO glad I did.
The SVC Tribe... four years later!
Things are a little busier around here but I wouldn't have it any other way!
What’s your thing? What would you start if you knew you couldn’t fail? What do you need to do to get started? If you have any questions about starting a business you can also ask that below! I would LOVE to hear about it and answer those questions in the comments below!
Super proud of you Kendra! I can’t wait to see what’s next for you and your business. XO From your Cousin-In-Law in Texas.
Loved reading your story and would love to chat more sometime! I just launched an IG for my artwork this past week and am getting ready to start a push to grow my following and launch a store! Your story is so inspiring and congrats on how far you have come! Hugs, Jessi
PS: I’m at @artbyjessimcneal if you’d like to take a peek! It’s just a baby but I’ll start promoting it to my circle soon once I have a few more posts! :)
Congratulations on your success! I’m enjoying the blog so far and can’t wait to see the rebrand and new name! Do you wish you would have renamed the business in the early days? I’m currently struggling with this decision and I’m not sure what to do! Etsy names are hard to come up with considering so many have been taken.
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April 20, 2017
You have the sweetest heart! I have spent my so called “lunch break” binge-reading your blogs! ;) I have been so happy with your pillows and so have all of my customers! You help make my business what it is! I love buying from small businesses because of things like this! So much heart in one simple pillow! Thanks for sharing & thanks for letting me be apart of your business! <3