Hello, hello! If you’ve been with me for awhile now you know this Get To Know series was created by myself in hopes of getting to know my fellow bloggers more and also in hopes that I could spread different bloggers around. Today our special guest is Renee! I originally met Renee a few months back when she asked me if I would like to try out her wall decals in return for a blog review on them, of course, I said yes! I wrote about my wall decal experience here, in case you want to check it out. Let’s get to know Renee a little bit better.
I so wish I had one!! All of my animals have about 5 a piece haha. My favorite little person (my good friends’ 4 year old) calls me “Nay-Nay”, and I absolutely adore it, but that’s the closest thing!
Country Currently Living In:
Let’s Get a Little Personal:
Favorite time of day to work?
I would say 10am – 2pm since that’s when I feel most focused. I tend to be more of an idea person than a doer per say, so I have found it works best for me to work very intensely with no distractions for a few hours at a time, and then take a 1 hour break and do it again. Those are definitely not the only hours I work but they are my favorite hours to work. You can pretty much find me sadly attached to my phone at all hours of the day answering customer questions, checking stats, and making new goals and projects for myself.
Favorite sized decal to work on?
The bigger the better! I am always trying to stretch the limits of how large I can make a decal. The largest one I have made to date was 48 inches tall X 65 inches wide. It needed to be put up in 5 pieces to make the total layout. I worked really hard on the instillation instructions because I didn’t want the customer to have any problems. I waited and waited to hear from her…sweating really. Praying that it went up easily and well with the instructions. Thankfully when I heard back, it had gone up beautifully and she was in love with it. I have been obsessed with making larger decals ever since.
I would really like to make a large Mandala next. I think it would look really neat and it would be so much easier than painting such an intricate pattern like that.
Favorite decal you’ve created?
Oh man! I have to admit that this is probably the most difficult question to answer. It almost feels like trying to pick a favorite child LOL. After thinking on it for a while though I really think this one is my favorite to date. It’s an amazing inspirational quote and I love the mix of fonts and relaxed playful nature of it. I always smile when someone orders it because I know the quote will help bring them happiness at times when they may need it most.
“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” Check it out here.
Favorite thing about your job?
That it’s never the same; I love that I haven’t had the same day twice since starting my business. I also really look forward to seeing which layouts and colors are chosen when orders are placed. I get to see how different the same layout can look when chosen in different colors. It never fails to brighten my day and amaze me.
When did you create Dandelion Decals?
My very first day was July 15, 2013; when I finally clicked Go Live on my Etsy shop account. I sold my first item on September 20, 2013 and I literally did a happy dance, hugged my husband and called my mom. Honestly, I did that for probably the first 100 orders LOL
Small backstory: It took me almost 8 months to build and open my Etsy shop. Previous to opening my shop I had never cut a single piece of vinyl in my life! I didn’t learn how to cut it until I purchased and received my commercial cutter. I had never even seen a Cricut or Silhouette cutter in real life; but once I learned of wall decals and used my first one I was obsessed!! I couldn’t stop thinking of ideas for them and ways to use them. I knew then and there that I was no longer a customer and instead was going to start my own business. I of course do NOT recommend the path I took but it does go to show that where there is a will there is a way! It’s so crazy to think back on how it all started!
How did you come up with the name for Dandelion Decals?
Over time really; my business name used to be Gifts With Memories but I soon found that was hard for people to remember. They also could never seem to remember if it was memory or memories LOL. I decided to rebrand my business and create a name that was easier to remember. I new alliteration would be good for recall and started a list of “D” words that could possibly pair well with the word “Decals”. In the end Dandelion Decals stood out to me the most and actually had a small personal connection since I have always thought that they are beautiful even though they are a weed.
That being said, I actually had some reserve about naming my business after a weed. After all, I worked hard to build a high quality business and I wasn’t sure if this new name would take away from that. In the end I decided that I loved it enough to keep it. PS one of my favorite quotes is about Dandelion’s – “Some see a weed, some see a wish.”
Have you always been creative/artistic?
Yes, but I don’t think I always knew it at the time, if that makes sense. Most of my creativity comes/came from necessity versus funds LOL I would say it comes easily to me though which is why I hope to always work in some creative capacity. I should mention my mom here also, she “taught” me how to be creative and she is actually a really amazing sketch artist but she doesn’t let most people know that (sorry mom, outing you!)
How did you figure out a method of creating wall decals?
Can I be honest and say blood, sweat and tears? LOL
Really though, I am going to have to thank the Internet and some amazing forums and bloggers for this one! Through some long nights of “Google-ing” (that’s a word Lol) I was able to find some forums and blogs that were dedicated specifically to helping those in the vinyl industry. I was also able to watch tons of manufacturer videos (those were fun nights haha) from the company I purchased my cutter through. Those taught me the most about vinyl in general and how to use all the settings properly to get nice clean cuts.
There were a few key steps that none of the forums and bloggers seemed to want to show how to do and those parts I had to figure out through A LOT of trial and error. Insert the blood, sweat, and tears. Then it was basically marrying all of that information together to figure which of the methods worked best for me.
Do you work alone?
Yes, although very recently I was fortunate enough to gain the intermittent help of an admin that helps me keep my independent website up to date by pulling over new listings from Etsy as I put them up. She works remotely from her home on an as need basis, so we don’t get to gab about good TV or anything, like I sometimes wish we could. (One of the only part of having coworkers I miss. Shame on me haha)
What did you do before Dandelion Decals?
Prior to Dandelion Decals I worked 7 years at a Fortune 500 company in SC. I had a variety of job titles while I was there but I worked in Human Resources for 5.5 of the 7 years. In the end corporate life was not for me, but while there I learned invaluable information about accounting, project management, customer service and process improvement strategies that all still help me to this day. I am very thankful for my time there.
Let’s Get a Deeper Connection:
About Just You:
What is your background? (Nationality, schooling, current and former jobs)
I have completed High School and attended some college several times hehe. I never could decide what I actually wanted my major to be or to put it in another phrase “what I wanted to be when I grew up”. School was really hard for me because I have terrible focus issues so honestly going straight to work just seemed like the right path for me.
Similar to college I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do for a job and was literally willing to try anything. I guess you could say I was young and drunk on the fact that I could be anything I wanted to be! At one point I had 3 jobs, not because I needed 3 but I just loved having them. I realized then that maybe school just wasn’t for everyone or just not for right now and that working was what I loved. Previous to owning by own business I worked the counter at a dry cleaners, cleaned pools and had my own route, worked as a pharmacy technician, was both a waitress and a hostess, and during my corporate years I was a Compliance Coordinator. Now I own a wall decal business….how’s that for a life plan? My poor mom, I am sure my ADD adventures put her worry in overdrive but lucky for me she wants most for me to be happy J
What is your happiest moment in life?
When I am creating! When I am creating I am able to turn off the noise of the world and hear everything my brain is saying to me. Deep right? LOL Really though! As someone who suffers from severe Anxiety/Panic disorder I often feel overwhelmed by worry, stress and fear. Those three things make it almost impossible to be creative because in my mind I might “do it wrong”, “not make it perfect”, “not do it fast enough” or just that nobody will like it. But when I am able to just say, “right now is creative time and nothing else”, I feel freed from the everyday constraints of right and wrong, perfect or imperfect. I am happiest when I am creating
Do you have any hobbies?
I absolutely love to craft, DIY and overall “nest” in my home. I am pretty introverted and spend a lot of time at home “curating” my space to be comfortable and relaxing. I also love a good book and have recently become addicted to adult coloring. When I do venture out into the world beyond my doorstep I love to go hiking anywhere! I often feel the mountains is where my soul is most at home.
How do you like to spend a Sunday evening?
Relaxing! I like to spend Sunday evenings watching my 5 fur babies (2 dogs, 3 cats) lounge around; and just taking it all in
Is there anything else you wish to share with us about yourself?
Uh-oh, then it might be a book LOL Can you tell this introvert is also a chatty cathy? J
About You and Your Business:
Did you ever work a 9 to 5 and have Dandelion Decals on the side as more of a hobby?
No, thank goodness! I say that because I did try a business that I called Unique Boutique before I started Dandelion Decals while still working my 9-5. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I sold unique gift items that other people made and I helped sell them for a commission. I had a website and a kiosk at the mall that worked from 5-10 every night after work and it drained me pretty quickly. It’s that learning lesson that helped me realize I would need to take the big leap and leave my 9-5 if I wanted to make Dandelion Decals work.
Honestly, what sensation did you feel when you left your 9 to 5?
Pure Joy! I wasn’t scared at all. It felt completely liberating and freeing. I remember so many people being scared/worried for me. Although I knew where they were coming from a good place, I just couldn’t hear of it! I knew how passionate I felt about my business and failure just wasn’t an option. So what was there to be worried about? J
What was the most difficult part about leaving a steady job?
Part of the answer is in the question, steadiness. It was really difficult to leave routine and steadiness; not just pay wise but how my days functioned. Suddenly everything was up for “discussion”. Pay wise if I wanted to get paid I had to make it appear from thin air all on my own. If you ever want to prove to yourself that you are a self-motivated person, quite your day job LOL
Did you ever feel doubtful of Dandelion Decals?
YES! The hard truth is that sometimes I still do. With any business but especially an Internet business you have to create your own traffic, sales and interest so when business is down I can be quick to get scared. In the end though I know I always give 1000% to everything I do and I still feel like why should I give that away to another company when I could instead put it into my own.
Can you share some hardships you’ve had with the company or with the decals themselves?
Absolutely! There are plenty of them. The first one that comes to mind was one that almost put my business under. I had to refund over 30 orders due to bad transfer tape plus wasn’t able to return the $100+ roll of said transfer tape. The financial burden of loosing hundreds of dollars at once and still needing to buy a new roll of transfer tape definitely had me in tears.
I have also been frustrated a few times when receiving emails from others about violating their design patents. This is a tricky thing in the world of public domain quotes and almost impossible to know if you have created a design that somehow infringes on someone else’s…but it is something I have to deal with.
I have spent way too much money on professional help or training that didn’t pan out at all. Some people are great at marketing themselves and nothing else…huge learning lesson. Since I have yet to find a “marketing” professional to actually help my business at all I have also wasted additional money trying to figure out marketing on my own.
One of the last ones I can think of was one that I HAD to overcome if I wanted my business to not only survive but thrive. I needed to make application instructions that 95% of people would be able to understand. Since some people are visual and some are text learners I decided to create instructions that included both. It took me a really long time to make instructions but in my industry if the customer cannot get their decal on the wall then what’s the point?
How does it feel to be the proud owner of Dandelion Decals?
AMAZING! Even on the really hard days it still feels amazing. I have to stop all the time and remind myself that I am living my dream because my brain is so used to chasing my dreams. I have gotten great at seeing silver linings and I will keep giving my business everything I have until I can’t see them anymore and I am hopeful that day never comes.
About Your Decals:
What exactly are wall decals?
Removable wall decals are made from vinyl. Vinyl is a thin yet durable material about the thickness of 2 coats of paint. There are three kinds of vinyl really: Removable Vinyl (e.g. wall decals), Permanent Vinyl (e.g. car decals) and Heat Transfer Vinyl (e.g. T-shirts). My wall decals come in a matte finish and look “hand painted” once applied. Wall decals are removable without damage to walls but they are not reusable. My decals are die cut which means they do not have a “background”. Although the Permanent vinyl is best for long term outdoor projects I often use the removable wall decal vinyl to do temporary outdoor projects. One of my favorites was this past fall where I used vinyl to create a fall display that I then turned into a Halloween display in October.
Link to DIY Blog post here.
What surfaces can your decals be applied to?
Any flat or slightly textured surface really. I love finding new things to place vinyl on. Some of my favorites include:
- Walls including painted wood paneling
- Laptops/Cell Phones
- Glass Wear
- Old Windows
What was the first decal you created?
I want to say it was the Cheshire Cat’s face with that classic grin LOL
Was it easy for you to create your own removable vinyl decal?
Hmm, I want to say yes and no on this one. Yes, because once it was all set up it was pretty easy. No, because to get set up took me months! I had to figure out how to make my design software send files to my cutter, set up and calibrate my cutter, figure out how to apply transfer tape to large decals (which the internet gave me zero help with), and then that small task of teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator and create designs. However, now that my process and equipment is all set up, I find it to be relatively easy. I really think most of the difficulties I encounter are due to the fact that I deal with such large decals versus ones that are only 12 or so inches wide.
Have you ever been so frustrated with a decal that you’ve had to walk away from it?
Yes, more than once! Some decals are really hard to “weed”. (Weeding is the process to remove the excess vinyl and leave the produced decal behind) Either end of the spectrum can be frustrating at times…really small decals or really large ones. Medium sized is the goldilocks sweet spot.
What tips or advice would you give someone that wishes to start up their own company?
- Don’t take on others worry for you as your own. They mean well of course and only know that owning a business is one of the hardest career choices you can make. I am going to “assume” though that if you have made it to the point where you have decided to take the risk then you have thought about what it will take to get where you want to go. So instead take comfort in a quote from Disney, “Why worry? If you have done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better” – End advice, don’t waste your energy on worry, just do.
- Don’t take money out of your business for a WHILE. Put it back into your business so that you can grow new product lines, advertise, grow, buy better tools for your trade etc. all which will take money.
- Make a daily routine for yourself ASAP. Set working hours, tasks for the day, breaks etc.
- Find ways to motivate yourself. Make it a game. I wont’ take a break until X, Y, Z is done. Or if I finish X,Y,Z then I can have….
- Never have days where you are not busy. When you have no work then create work for yourself. Start marketing, hit the pavement, make items, look for the vendor shows etc.
- Take advantage of being your own boss every now and then to remind yourself of why you choose this busier but somehow more relaxed lifestyle.
- Never throw money at a problem. Even if you have the money, pretend you don’t; there is almost always another way. This way when a problem comes your way that you truly cannot solve you will have the money to get the help you need.
- Lastly, be prepared for unsolicited advice. Owning your business is so much like having a child. Unsolicited advice on what you should do, things you should make etc. will come hurling at you from everyone that knows you. They cannot help it! They mean well of course and well truth be told…it’s just soo easy to give advice LOL. We are all guilty. You may be thinking Renee how can it be bad for people to give me ideas and advice? Well, the ideas and advice that come at you will not always make sense for your business and trust me when I say it take no time at all to get completely burnt out explaining to everyone why this or that idea just isn’t for you. Some ideas may even sound great but just be careful to stay focused on your original business plan and ideas.
For example, I get ideas all the time on things I technically could make using vinyl; however, my focus is on large wall decals and I have to keep that in mind every time I get a message about a cool Yeti cup design someone saw and thought might be a good idea for my business.
So as I said just know how to stick to your original plans and stay focused but also take time to be grateful that you are on so many people’s minds that only wish you well! What a wonderful thing!!
Woahhhhhhh, how amazing and detailed were Renee’s answers?! Not only did she share some great experiences and give us some great advice but she was so open about her success and failures too! Thank you so so very much Renee for taking the time out of your day to fill out my interview and for being so detailed, raw, and honest. I greatly appreciate your participation and I look forward to sharing your decals, your business and you!
Interested in Purchasing a Decal?
If you want to buy a decal go here. Great news! If you purchase a decal and use the code BEAFREE20 you get 20% off your order!!! What are you waiting for? Go buy a decal and spruce up your home today!