Lynn Bruno has seen a lot of pink in her day.
With three girls under the age of 10, life’s all about dolls, dresses, princesses, and most recently, hair bows and Etsy. Three years ago, when the Glenview mom got tired of spending so much money on hair accessories, she decided to try making them on her own.
“I’ve sewn and crafted things all my life,” says 39 year-old Bruno, “So, when my third daughter came along, I said, ‘Surely I can figure this out.’”
But Bruno did more than figure it out. She turned her craft into Tre Sorelle (which means three sisters in Italian), an Etsy business that she says has quadrupled in the last year.
“I started selling to my neighbors and they began asking me to do home shows,” she says.
Bruno says sales began to explode when she participated in the Glenview Holly Fair, a huge shopping event that’s held every year during the holiday season.
“I had to make all the inventory over the summer, thousands of bows, hair clips, headbands, and pony tail holders.”
Bruno, who holds a degree in interior design, hand makes everything herself and estimates that she spends at least 5 hours a day, every day. She now takes orders on her Etsy website, and sells to local boutiques in the area, such as Country Classics and Pigtails & Crewcuts. She also has a few accounts in other states.
“This was a self-esteem thing,” she says, “I’m not paying the mortgage with it yet, but I have a nice nest egg set aside for myself. I don’t have to ask my husband for anything. If I want a pair of boots I can just go get them. And I’m contributing to our household income.”
Another huge benefit that has come from Tre Sorrelle is the example she’s setting for her girls.
“I want to show them that they need to pitch in and do something and be productive.”
Bruno says she almost threw in the towel a couple of times because things got overwhelming and she felt like she was neglecting her family—not cooking dinners as much, and not having her house as clean as she’d like. She says the support of her husband helped a lot.
“He made me feel like it was okay to keep going. Once he saw the money and it wasn’t just twenty bucks in my pocket, he said, ‘this isn’t so bad.’”
Bruno says regardless of the money she’s made, the pride she’s gained from being able to juggle motherhood and a career is very fulfilling.
“When I see little girls wearing my bows in their hair, and they look so cute, and they don’t even know that I’m the one who made it, that makes me the proudest.”
Tips for other crafty mompreneurs:
- There’s a huge learning curve. Give yourself time and space to make mistakes before you go out and try to sell anything.
- Take photographs of your items on a simple white background in natural daylight and don’t include your kids in the photos. No one thinks your kids are as cute as you do and it will only detract from your item!
- Get a really cute logo and name for your business. Hire someone to design your graphics.
- Watch your pricing. Don’t overprice things until you have built up a good clientele and don’t undercut your prices just to make a few sales.
Have a great idea, but not sure what to do next? Read about how to secure a patent for mompreneurs.