What It's About
Artist goes from part-time to full-time in four months making rustic wall hangings.
Words of Wisdom
Here's a practical tip: CJ’s price points are determined by three factors: the size and difficulty of each piece, the materials needed, and then her time. You can find standard calculators online (like this one!) to help you determine the wholesale price of handmade goods. She’d then double that wholesale price for retail sales.
CJ transitioned her part-time hustle into her full-time hustle after only four months into starting it! She ended her remaining financial obligations and as CJ put it, “jumped off the cliff,” so that she would be hyper-focused in making this new business venture work for her.
Notes from Chris
In Spokane, Washington, CJ Morrison runs her own business hand-crafting unique items made from wood. She builds her pieces in her garage—typically wooden wall art, geometric shelving, and tables—then sells them online and through wholesale accounts. This is now a very successful endeavor, bringing in a full-time income … but, of course, it wasn’t always that way. Before starting this side hustle, CJ (and her former partner Joe—who have since parted ways on good terms) were working on other projects, including reselling vintage furniture. While meeting up with people and selling out of her car was fun, it was also unpredictable. CJ craved something more reliable. She also didn’t want to just be a reseller; she wanted to make something. Drawing on their vintage furniture arbitrage exploits, CJ and Joe started thinking about ways to use their creative capacities to enhance people’s homes. The idea they chose sprang to life after visiting a friend who had a handmade geometric inlay coffee table. Upon seeing that tabletop, and thinking they could pull off something on par with their friend’s table, they bought a couple of saws and converted their one car garage into a wood shop. They found some reclaimed wood at a lumberyard and got busy designing. Then, they created their first collection of 12 pieces—art hangings, trays, and tabletops. It’s worth noting that CJ had zero experience with woodworking outside watching her dad work with tools when she was younger. Joe grew up with a father who was a contractor and learned woodworking from him—but he’d never built any furniture or home goods either. Together, they learned to use some tools as CJ jumped right in with drawing and creating designs. Basically, learning on the fly. Serendipity arrived when a woman who owned a gallery came to buy a set of vintage side tables and noticed CJ’s collection of wooden wall art panels. This encounter led to their work being displayed at the woman’s gallery. It was key to getting exposure in the very first month of starting Roaming Roots. Because they both lived and worked together, CJ and Joe were almost never apart. Their relationship didn’t make it through the stressors of a home-based business and the intensity of the schedule. There was a time when they were working 7 days a week, 10 hrs a day to keep up with the demand for their pieces. They eventually went their separate ways and she took over the business completely, doing everything from creating, to shipping, to all the "behind the scenes" technical work. She also says if she could go back, she would set more healthy boundaries around her schedule, and change how much time they spent together. But she’s also made peace with the breakup and believes they’re both on better paths now than if they’d stayed together. Ths business is now earning between $2,000 - $8,000 a month depending on the time of year. CJ is learning new techniques to create more forms of art and wood décor. She eventually plans to return to school to become a licensed counselor. But for now, there’s a new collection of wall hangings and an interview with her local newspaper that require her attention!
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Roaming Roots: You don't have to roam far to find CJ's goods—check out her full lineup here!
- SUMO | How to Price Your Product: Here's a guide to help you determine the best price for what you have to offer
- HVAC Craftsman Carves Out Woodworking Income: This heating and air company sales rep had all but given up on his childhood love of woodworking. But after a six-year break and a random Instagram post, he found his interest rekindling
- Firefighter Uses Chainsaw for Jumbo-Sized Woodworking: Taking advantage of some downtime, this Alberta firefighter picks up a chainsaw and begins carving out life-sized wooden bears. He sells his creations to universities, restaurants, and anyone who wants a unique (and large!) handcrafted item
- New Dad Starts Woodworking Hustle While Infant Son Naps: An ad executive and new dad pursues a creative outlet, making handcrafted ladders during his son’s naptimes
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