33k+ Orders on Etsy – Jill from ForStrangeWomen Shares her Insights

There must be times when you had to take a bold decision or a step that most likely would change your course entirely. Your ideas may not always fall in line with what’s out there and what appears then is a path full of risks and chances. Doing things out-of-the-box might come at a price but if you believe in yourself, nothing is big enough to get in between you and your dream.

It’s okay to think different. It’s more than just okay.

This is what our next conversation in the series with another successful small business teaches us. Meet Jill from For Strange Women, who had a vision so unique but she never let fear get in the way. Read on to know more.

Your shop has such a magical feel to it. And, congratulations on that huge number of sales! So, how did you come up with your shop idea?

Thank you! I am a multi-passionate artist so at the time I began my Etsy shop, I was doing so many different things. It was the platform of Etsy itself that inspired me to make an indie perfume line, because there were not many other people doing it at the time (2008) and there was so much that I wanted to create visually and conceptually around it that did not yet exist. I had been blending botanical perfumes for myself and friends, and I just naturally transitioned into this indie brand.

Jill (in the middle) with Tara (left) and Ash (right)
Jill (in the middle) with Tara (left) and Ash (right)
When you started off, did it go smooth or not as easy?

It started off smoothly but it was very small. I had no business plan or ambition to do anything beyond Etsy. I was just learning as much as I could about the perfume world, the business world, and using the internet to connect with others who have an appreciation for the same things that I love. Then in the third year I had a lot of press that I was not ready for – then it was not so easy!

I used to work 60+ hours a week, and I wasn’t taking care of myself. It wasn’t worth it. If I am well rested, focused, centered, and have had a break from working, I get just as much done in those 20 hours as I used to get done in 60.

Tell us about some roadblocks you faced in your journey. How did you overcome them?

Most roadblocks come when I would lose track of my original intentions. There were a lot of things that other people were telling me I needed to be doing and the truth is none of them completely understood the scope of the work I do, its limitations, and my priorities. I had few mentors or people I could talk to about my work. I think this sense of isolation led to some problems, but eventually I learned better ways to clearly communicate, which led to developing a team that I can depend on, and lead based on clear intentions.

The 'For Strange Women' workstation
How was your childhood like? Did it shape you in a way that resulted in your shop?

I loved dance and music growing up and I still do. My brand is very much influenced by the musicians and interpretations of music through dance that I am so familiar with. I grew up in a mostly rural area, so I’m sure this enhanced my appreciation for nature and animals as well as it allowed my creativity and imagination to develop. I have parents who allowed me to be myself, without very much pressure to fulfill their expectations. They didn’t really know what to expect. And I think this also created the freedom I feel to do whatever I want to do without fear or doubt. This can sometimes be very beneficial to me, and sometimes it gets me in trouble. 🙂

You must be following some habits that have helped you be this successful today. Please tell us what they are.

I read that book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” when I was 22 and I can actually say in terms of successful habits, I do follow these and they work. I also think it is really important to identify and remove sources of anxiety and learn to overcome anxiety/depression issues, as these lead to that last-minute procrastination problem that many people have. When you realize that everything that holds people back from doing what they want to do is fear manifested into anxiety/depression, you can begin to work through all the fear. The best way to work through this for me is to write down all the things I say to myself or others that I use as excuses and then write out why these things are not actually true. When I admit that my fears aren’t real they don’t control my subconscious, my choices, or my behavior anymore.

Jill (left) and Tara (right)
Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?

“The avant-garde is in the garden, Beauty is in the mountains, Freedom lives deep in the forest, Where the roots of trees grow lawless”

– Luis Mojica

I have parents who allowed me to be myself, without very much pressure to fulfill their expectations. They didn’t really know what to expect. And I think this also created the freedom I feel to do whatever I want to do without fear or doubt.

What is the key to a customer’s heart? Please share what you think.

I think showing that you care about what you do is the way to connect with your customers. People are intuitive and they are smart and they have so many options in this globalized, internet-connected world. The true energy, motives, and originality that you infuse into your work shows. Your dedication and genuine interest in helping your customers is easy for them to see as well.

How do you organize your time and what keeps you on schedule?

I have a studio that is separate from my home. I work structured hours at the studio, which is about 20 hours/week. It helps a LOT to have studio assistants that sort of serve as my “babysitter”- they hold me accountable to showing up and working. I am able to get a lot of focused work done in this time and although there are some exceptions, I learned to not take my laptop home anymore either. I believe that work will expand to fill as much time as you give it. I used to work 60+ hours a week, and I wasn’t taking care of myself. It wasn’t worth it. If I am well rested, focused, centered, and have had a break from working, I get just as much done in those 20 hours as I used to get done in 60. Having less hours scheduled to work actually helps with prioritizing my time.

This one needs special attention. What, according to you, makes people not succeed?

FEAR, drug/alcohol habits, all kinds of media programming, societal structures, parental pressure.

When I admit that my fears aren’t real they don’t control my subconscious, my choices, or my behavior anymore.

Last but certainly not the least, do you have a belief that has helped you get through almost everything?

One is that nothing that we are experiencing is real. I realize it is a dissociative strategy but taking life too seriously is the alternative. I look at life as an experience in different ways. What is this thing we are doing anyway? A joke? A game? Higher Education? An opportunity to create your own adventure? And I also take a special interest in my dreams, as they may be just as “real” as our waking life.

Loved the post? Check out our previous conversation with another successful Etsy seller here. Let us know what you think about this shop in the comments below! We’d love to know your opinions.

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