Good morning friends! Today I’m talking with Rita of Crafty Life in Style, a wonderful creative small business owner who does events all over metro Detroit. I first found her on Instagram when she was the only other person using the #metrodetroitmaker, and we met for the first time in person just yesterday at the Shed 5 Flea in Eastern Market (stay tuned for my review of that event next week). Her best friend is definitely on point in describing her as fun, and I love the spirit of support that she has for small, creative business. I can’t wait to get to know her better as we continue to do events together as furniture vendors and creatives. Read on for more about Rita and her husband Bill, and Crafty Life in Style!
mdm: Let’s start off with the dreaded question. What do you do?
Rita: Hello! First off, I wear many hats! I’ve been married 27 wonderful years to Bill! I am a spouse, wife, mother and friend to many! I’ve worked full time in Program Management for the past 17 years and I’m looking forward to retiring in the next 3 years to do what I love…CREATE!”
mdm: How did you get started doing what you’re doing?
Rita: I’ve always had a flair for creative things and enjoy home decorating. A few years back, I began an endeavor with another business partner and well, things just didn’t work out. My husband Bill was involved in the business and after circumstances changed, Crafty Life In Style became our baby, our passion!
mdm: Why do you do what you?
Rita: There are many reasons I do what I do…the main one is CREATING, making things, crafting décor and gifts that bring joy and happiness to others. I love taking things that have been discarded or thrown away and breathing new life into them, whether through upcycling (putting old and new objects together) or creating something entirely new. Crafty Life In Style has 2 sides. One is creating gifts and helping our customers get the perfect unique gifts for their gift giving occasion. The second is up-cycling vintage wood furniture by either painting or refinishing/staining. We also create seasonal items of home decor that tie in with our furniture remakes. My husband Bill is a woodworker, he repairs and refinishes furniture but also has awesome furniture building skills. He has been retired for 4 years now and I’m so appreciative of the blending of our creative skills! Our biggest challenge is that I’m still working 9-5! Crafty Life In Style is doing well now, and I can only imagine what it would be if I could consistently devote more time to our business. We are working hard to get to the time when we can solely do what we love full time!
mdm: What does your typical day look like?
Rita: There are no typical days! For the most part, I get up and work 9-5. During that time Bill works on scheduled projects and has certain things done by the time I get home from work. Then, I work and put my touch on and finish projects he prepared for me. Oh don’t worry, we have many late nights and burning the midnight oil before shows/markets! Sometimes things do not go as planned, but that’s life! We keep on going to the next big thing on our horizon.
mdm: Do you have a dedicated work space? What is it like? How is it different from your ideal work space?
Rita: Well, we have 2 work spaces, the wood shop and then the basement. Our office desk has turned into my work space. It’s not ideal, but it works for now. In the future our retirement home will have everything we need and then some!
mdm: What is one short-term goal that you have?
Rita: One short term goal I have is to build inventory. It’s been tough prepping for shows/markets and keeping 2 stores full with our products.
mdm: What is one long-term goal that you have?
Rita: The main long term goal I have is to get my bills paid off, so I can build more of retirement nest egg!
mdm: How do you go about setting goals for yourself?
Rita: I’m not a put down on paper type of goal setter, but I do have a paper calendar that I write everything down in. It’s my life line. It’s like a map of where we’ve been and where we are going to.
mdm: What is your favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?
Rita: I love seeing our customers reactions to our products! I love hearing how much they love them or how much the person they gave the gift to loved it. We hear all the time how unique our products are and how well made/finished they are. Brings joy to my heart!
mdm: What has been your most successful product, post, event, strategy, or interaction? How do you celebrate your successes?
Rita: One of our most successful events this year has been the Armada Lavender Fest, just recently held this past July. It was a three day event at Blake’s Farms. We had a steady stream of customers, loved seeing and hearing everyone’s reactions to our display. We actually sold out of all our furniture pieces except one! I would definitely say that it was a successful event. Part of that success was due to the constant promoting the event coordinators did as well as our own promotions on Instagram. We constantly are promoting events we will be at throughout the year. To celebrate, Bill and I took a short break from creating and headed out to Saugatuck for a little getaway! It’s always good to get away and recharge those creative juices!
mdm: What was the least successful product, post, event, strategy, or interaction? What did you learn?
Rita: I’ve had to refrain from doing smaller events with lesser known promoters. Our strategy before was to fill our calendar with many events. This has not been a great strategy; it’s actually very stressful. We now know that with the right events for your product, more isn’t better. We are more discerning now, and do the events that are the right fit for the customers attending.
mdm: What is your top piece of advice for a #metrodetroitmaker just starting out who does what you do?
Rita: I would say, have a plan. Network with other makers and creative small businesses, you can learn a lot from what others have done before you. We have such a network of fellow makers, we all support each other in our businesses. Also, I rarely go to retail stores; always shop with a fellow creative maker!
mdm: What is something that scares or intimidates you about being a creative entrepreneur?
Rita: Ahh! I’m always afraid that people will not like our creations! Which is totally unfounded! We try to get ideas from our followers through surveys or we listen to their comments while they shop our booths.
mdm: What is something that inspires you?
Rita: Nature! Thrift shopping, antique hunting, picking! I love finding great pieces and then formulating my plan for up-cycling even before it hits the back of our van!
mdm: How would your best friend describe you in one word?
mdm: You have one hour of “me” time, and, miraculously, every goal you’ve set in your business for that day is complete. What do you do?
Rita: Get a pedicure!
mdm: What is one thing that you wish you could tell every customer, reader, or student of yours about?
Rita: Do what makes YOU happy!
mdm: What is the question that you are asked most often in your creative business?
Rita: How do you come up with ideas to create things? or How do you do that (make certain items)?
mdm: Where are you online (or what events do you have coming up)?
Our next event is September 17th: The Finders Keepers Vintage Market at the Chelsea Community Fairground in Chelsea, MI.
mdm: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
Rita: Text or call/ 313-815-2535 or message through Facebook.
Thanks for reading, friends! I hope you enjoyed meeting Rita as much as I did! Click here to read last week’s Meet Your Maker, and feel free to leave any comments below!