Eco friendly, functional, and beautiful are some words that come to mind when describing the fun accessories from Sew Beastly. Owner and Maker, Citlalli Sanchez, left her full time job to pursue her own small business and her courageous attitude has helped her gain success. Citlalli shares her story from abruptly making the move to the inspiration behind her products and offers up some awesome small business advice.
Name: Citlalli Sanchez
City: Irving, Texas
Store Owner Since: July 2011
Opened on Storenvy: January 2012
What is your favorite vacation destination? San Diego, CA. Hopefully my home someday!
What was the process like of leaving a full time job to pursue your own small business?
I’d like to say that I planned everything down to the last detail, but the truth is I actually knew very little about the industry when I left my full time job. I was a delivery driver for one of the biggest shipping companies in the world when I decided to pursue my handmade dream. I knew I eventually wanted to be a business owner; I was making plans and working towards leaving someday, but the truth of the matter is that I decided to just leave one day. Needless to say, it was abrupt, and a complete opposite world that I had just ventured into. I actually started to learn how to sew about five months before I left my job. I began dabbling in the handmade industry soon afterwards, but I truly didn’t know anyone associated with it. My blog was only being read by a handful of people who knew me personally. My shop didn’t open for business until about three months after quitting my job. I learned as I went, and boy, did I learn! Here’s some blog posts if you want to learn more about how my sewing journey got started, and how my business got it’s name.
What advice would you offer other small business owners?
First and foremost: Have the guts to follow your dream, but be realistic, and don’t expect to have success without doing the work. Be passionate about what you do! Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart; there will be days when you might feel like you’re not getting anywhere, but remember to look back at where you started and how far you’ve come. Stay away from the Debbie Downers, they will only kill your dreams. Try to look for like-minded people who support you and have your best interest at heart. I’ve been fortunate enough to have found Oh, my! Handmade Goodness, a community of creatives where I truly feel like I belong. I have found a community of like-minded people who are not only supportive, loving, and helpful, but people I can learn from. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, the more you learn the better off you will be. Whatever you do: never stop learning!
The best experiences: Being able to develop meaningful friendships and relationships with fellow creatives and customers that I would’ve never had the opportunity to meet if I had never started my handmade journey. Also, being able to discover my strengths and weaknesses as a person.
The most challenging: Moving past insecurities, obstacles, and weaknesses; both personal and professional. Working through them and staying optimistic and motivated without being discouraged can be quite difficult, but the promise of building a better me and a better business are always more tempting than giving up.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about running a business since you started?
Don’t give up, be patient! Perseverance is needed if you want to make your business successful. Don’t wait for the “perfect time,” there will never be the perfect time to do anything. Just go for it, and if it doesn’t work out; then at least you tried and you ultimately learned something from it.
I think most of it comes from growing up in a place where nature was all around me. The fact that a forest was my playground allowed me to appreciate what Mother Nature offers us. My parents also showed me how to get the most use out of everything and how not to be wasteful. This was definitely the driving force not only behind Sew Beastly itself, but for the Scrap Me Pretty Collection. Here’s a blog post if you want to read more about how this collection got started.
Sew Beastly’s mission has always been to be kind to Mother Earth. I have made sure to try to use as many repurposed, organic, and/or salvaged materials in my creations. I have added a middle layer that helps with durability and stability, and my favorite part is that it’s made from recycled plastic bottles. I like to go hunting for leather clothing that might have a few imperfections, and convert it into fun pouches. Another way to sprinkle sustainability into my brand is with the packaging being used for every order. I use paper products that are made from recycled sources, most of the bubble mailers used are compostable, and the new bio-cards included are made from plantable paper. This paper is embedded with wildflower seeds that will grow pretty much anywhere once planted. If you want more details about the packaging used, then here’s a great post for you to read.
I also want for Sew Beastly’s mission to inspire people to be a bit more mindful about the environment. Many people are not even sure of how a small change in their everyday lives can have a great impact on the environment. Even something as small as making sure your water bottles are going to the recycling bin instead of a dumpster makes a great difference. Think about how many bottles you saved from going to the landfill in one month, a year? Besides, you never know if one of those bottles you recycled went into making the material for the middle layer in one of our items! Here’s something I say often: “I don’t have any children, but I’d like for my nieces and nephew (and their children) to know what a forest looks like”.