How I became a business owner in 2017

How I became a business owner in 2017

Ah, a fresh, new year! I don’t know about you, but I feel particularly good about 2018. I have so many plans! But before I talk about my plans for this year – which will probably be a separate blogpost – I want to take you guys with me on a little flashback tour of 2017, and especially how my brand has grown into a business. Are you ready? It’s gonna be a long one!

Looking back on 2017, it’s amazing how many great things have happened to me. Things that have made me grow as a person, such as finally figuring out what I want to do for a living: design fulltime. Things that enrich my everyday life, such as buying our first house!

I am still working the same job as I was at the beginning of last year, but there’s a huge difference now. Last year, I was simply working and not knowing where it would lead for me. The only thing I really did know was that my current job wasn’t going to entertain me for much longer. So, what did I actually want to do? When the thought of opening a yarn store with my mom occurred to me, I thought I had found it. Yes, this is what I want to do! I started planning: looking for a location, looking for suppliers, spending time online finding tips on owning a yarnstore. I found out more and more that owning a yarnstore would leave me with very little spare time. But I didn’t care. For about half a year, I was adamant to make this yarnstore dream happen, because I thought it was my dream. Working with yarn fulltime, talking to other fibre enthusiasts, recording podcasts in my store… it all seemed so amazing to me! I don’t actually remember when I realized that this was not what I wanted to do with my life. Maybe I was talking to my fellow bloggers, maybe I was talking to actual yarn store owners… but it suddenly dawned on me that with all the ‘shop stuff’ I would need to do, I would have no time left to design. And that made me incredibly sad, because that’s what I like to do! And so I realized, the thing I should be fighting for is not this yarnstore dream, but a a dream to become a fulltime crochet and knitwear designer.

I remember at that moment, I felt so energized! It was as if it all clicked together: I want to become a fulltime designer! And just like that, I had a real purpose, a real dream. From this point on, I knew I had to step up my designing game and really make it work. One of the steps was to create a brand I was happy with, and I started brainstorming about my new business name, which would turn out to be New Leaf Designs. I had never put so much thought into my old name Crafty Queens, but I hadn’t felt the need to at the time, because it was just going to be some girl’s crafty blog. Now, I had to come up with a name for my business, which would have so much more impact on my life. You can probably imagine I spent a lot of hours coming up with my new brand identity.

Next up: registering at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. To be honest, this step freaked me out! I had been to the Chamber of Commerce when I first started selling my hand crocheted keychains a few years ago, and they pretty much laughed at me with my estimated income of 100 euros a year. I get it know, I probably would have thought the same: “Oh, such a cute little girl thinking she needs official documents for this!”. But still, I was pretty damn nervous stepping in that office again. Luckily it all went very smoothly and within 30 minutes, I was an official business owner!

When all that was done, I had to get my butt in gear and start working on my new website. A new shiny name on an official document was very nice and all, but there’s no point in having a new name without using it! A new website was very daunting as there were so many things I would like to improve, but didn’t know how to do myself. Luckily I found some very suitable peeps to help me figure out the behind-the-scenes stuff, so I could focus on what I wanted the website to look like. I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and I hope you are enjoying the new website as well!

Another step to realizing my dream was to find a parttime job instead of my fulltime job, so I could spend more time on New Leaf Designs. This was by far the hardest step. I had been working at my dayjob for 2,5 years, and knew that my boss wasn’t really fond of parttimers. Parttime contracts were usually only given for reasons of old age, health issues, or motherhood, and I didn’t fit any of those categories. But I had to try anyway, so I spoke to my manager. She was over the moon with my new endeavors. A little background information: I’ve studied Chinese at several universities and am working in sales/customer service. Some of the customers are Chinese and like to have their customer service in their mother language.  My manager knew from the start I was overqualified for the job, and that she could never have kept me motivated in my current position. She was always on the lookout for openings in other departments that might peek my interest, but with no luck so far. So she was really happy for me that I had found what I wanted to do – even though it meant I would have to leave the company eventually, and seriously, that just makes her the best manager ever! Unfortunately my boss wasn’t too happy about it and declined a couple of times. My manager fought hard for me – because quite frankly, if I wasn’t going to get the parttime position here, I would have to leave and search for a parttime position elsewhere! Finally my manager convinced my boss to agree with my 32-hour contract starting from January.

Now I had more time to work from home on my designs, I would need a suitable workplace. Luckily our house has 2 spare bedrooms, one of which I have been able to turn into my craft studio! With help from IKEA, I managed to create enough storage space for not only my yarn and WIPS, but also my crochet kit supplies, stationery, plastic bubble wrap and other office stuff. I am so happy with my new space and can’t wait to work many more Thursdays from my own studio! – pictures of my new studio are featured in this blogpost.

Saying all of that out loud – or writing it down, rather- makes me realize even more how amazing last year was, and I’m determined to make 2018 even better! Next time I’ll share my plans for the new year, stay tuned! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blogpost, I really appreciate it. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to read more about, like registering for Chamber of Commerce, opening a business bank account, or any other stuff like that, just let me know! Hope to see you next time!

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  1. Monique Bakker
    January 11, 2018 at 1:44 pm — Reply

    Hoi Carmen, Wat een fijne blog om te lezen, ik krijg er zelf energie van omdat je zo enthousiast bent! Ik zou inderdaad graag wat meer weten over hoe het ging bij de kamer van koophandel en de bank. Ik wil misschien ook (gedeeltelijk naast een bijna fulltime baan) voor mezelf willen beginnen, dus alle informatie hierover is welkom. Heel erg veel succes met NewLeafDesigns! Ik weet nu al bijna zeker dat als we over een jaar je blog over 2018 lezen dat alle wensen uitgekomen zijn. Ik gun het je van harte!

    • January 12, 2018 at 5:16 pm — Reply

      Hoi Monique, bedankt voor je reactie! Goed om te weten dat er vraag is naar meer van dit soort blogs, de feedback stel ik erg op prijs! Ik ben eens benieuwd hoe mijn terugblik volgend jaar wordt 😉

  2. January 11, 2018 at 9:51 pm — Reply

    Tof dat je hebt gevonden wat je wil doen. En ik heb een klein beetje het idee dat wij op het zelfde pad zitten. Ik ga je volgende blogs ook zeker in de gaten houden 🙂

    • January 12, 2018 at 5:18 pm — Reply

      Dankjewel Alexa! Oeh mooi om te horen, succes ook voor jou!

  3. January 20, 2018 at 2:30 pm — Reply

    Wow, what an exciting story. Good luck in your new design career 🙂

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How I became a business owner in 2017