When life throws lemons, do what Barbara from ‘Creativity Happens’ did!

Life has a million ways to catch us by surprise and throw adversities when we least expect them. But it’s all a part of the plan. The good, the bad and everything in between is what constitutes ‘life’. Without the bad, how else are we going to appreciate the good?!

There are two ways to deal with the bad. You can either sit and crib about it or you can actually do something to get out of it.

For our next conversation with a small business, meet Barbara from Creativity Happens, who treated her biggest affliction as a driving force to give shape to her dreams. Read on!

'Creativity Happens' shop on Etsy
'Creativity Happens' shop on Etsy
Congratulations on doing so well! Please tell us, what is your shop about?

Thank you! Creativity Happens designs ceramics ranging from custom yarn bowls to quirky home goods so fans can show their individuality.  

Barbara creating her popular ceramics
Your ceramic goods look so fine! How did you come up with the whole idea?

My gifted creativity began as a child in the basement of my Long Island, NY home by crafting gifts for my large Italian family. While in the US Navy, my travels brought me to Charleston, SC where I fell in love with the beaches and the cal community of fine arts and where I now call home.

Years later, I found myself faced with a serious medical diagnosis that reminded me how precious life is. Inspired by life, and my desire to pursue my love of ceramics, I brushed off my smock and got to work! Some say I didn’t realize the severity of my cancer, but I say otherwise. Setting up shop in my garage I took a leap of faith and invested my savings in a kiln. I believe by staying in my “happy place”, I found the strength needed to survive. On that day, ‘Creativity Happens’ was born and is now eight years strong.

Is there a schedule you stick to? How do you organize your time?

My background from both the US Navy and the Fire Department help with a strict schedule. I have over 10 years between the two companies in the Logistics Division. I’ve learned to segment my workload. Typically, I work in 4-hour increments. I will paint for 4 hours, pack orders for 4 hours, clean greenware, order supplies, and so on. It keeps the day interesting yes, and productive.

You might have faced some difficulties while setting up your shop or through the journey. Please tell us about it.

Most of the difficulties come from what I didn’t know. While we might be masters in our craft, there is a whole world out there in relation to selling our goods. It would be nice if we could just make ceramics and do nothing else, but that’s not a part of the plan if success is the goal. Suddenly, we need to learn SEO, photography, copywriting, taxes, bookkeeping, inventory tracking, and all the other parts & pieces that pop up, learning to balance and wear all the hats I would have to say was and is, the most challenging part of this journey. Just know, it sounds scarier than it actually is. By doing one piece at a time, in small and chewable bites, I’ve been able to get it all done.

In business and in life, things don’t go perfectly with the plan. Rather than waste time complaining or having a pity party, try to figure out a speedy solution. Adapt to the situation & overcome any obstacles, because they will happen, so being ready is paramount.

What are some of your long term goals? We’d be glad if you could share with us!

Sure, great question. Currently in beta testing Creativity Happens mobile app is going great. After another update or two, it will be released to the public. http://bit.ly/CreativityHappensApp

Which is your favorite movie and what do you like about it? If you’re not a movie person, tell us about your favorite book.

‘Pretty Woman’, of course! Going from struggling to winning because of her personality and that gives hope. She had dreams without direction and sometimes we just need a mentor to have confidence in us or our products to provide the push we need. Personality goes a long way.

How do you keep your customers happy and satisfied? We know they love you!

My favorite subject, my customers! People Matter! No matter how good our service, product, marketing, branding is, it is nothing without the people. Yes, what we do, matters, but without the people to produce them for our business, it just doesn’t exist. So I treat them like the heroes they are.

I found myself faced with a serious medical diagnosis that reminded me how precious life is. Inspired by life, and my desire to pursue my love of ceramics, I brushed off my smock and got to work! Some say I didn’t realize the severity of my cancer, but I say otherwise. Setting up shop in my garage I took a leap of faith and invested my savings in a kiln.

Is there a belief you have been following and that has always worked for you?

I have several; my top two are “adapt & overcome” and “break the golden rule”.

In business and in life, things don’t go perfectly with the plan. Rather than waste time complaining or having a pity party, try to figure out a speedy solution. Adapt to the situation & overcome any obstacles, because they will happen, so being ready is paramount.

I don’t really break the golden rule, I just kinda tweak it! The Golden Rule says, “treat people as you want to be treated”. I treat them better! I’ve noticed over the years, as an Entrepreneur, I am more tolerant of bad service. I know the struggles of running a home-based business and trying to balance family, friends, and self. So, we meet people where they are and strive to make them happy by doing what they need. Everybody has their own set of expectations.

Tell us, why do you think people are likely not to succeed?

I think everyone can succeed, however sometimes it takes longer than expected. In a world of instant gratification, starting a business doesn’t typically provide that. Slow & steady wins the race and gives you time to build a strong foundation. Because the truth is, we don’t know what we don’t know, and when starting a business we are faced with hundreds of other aspects we need to learn.

Lastly, what is the one thing you’re most proud of?

I’m very pleased with the progress ‘Creativity Happens’ has made over the past eight years and the friends I’ve made along the way. I was anxious but ready to quit my job & make ceramics my full-time career and that’s been going great!

Last year, I was able to add another kiln to increase production and it’s been a fantastic investment. My daughter helps with packing and shipping and I can now pay her a real wage.

When my dad passed away, his Will disclosed that he wanted me to make his urn. I’d never made an urn and I was unaware of this wish of his. That was a very proud moment in my 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.

*Also, you can enjoy a 20% discount on her Etsy store using the coupon GEMMARTUSA20, or simply click on the link.

CreativityHappens?coupon=GEMMARTUSA20

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