954
9 min 31 sec

Accidental Side Hustle Becomes Decorative Family Business

Tired of seeing others get credit for her designs, a Georgia graphic designer turns her talents into a business that now employs her whole family.
Arts & Crafts Family High Profit Product SEO

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What It's About

A creative outlet becomes a side hustle for the whole family.

Business Model
Arts & Crafts
Skills Required
Design & SEO
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Jessica says that it’s important to take your ego out of the equation when you’re building a side hustle like this. It’s okay to start out creating products that you like and would hang around your house, but after a certain point, your likes need to take the backseat to those of your customers. Listen to what they want, tweak your offerings to accommodate, and success will follow.

Fun Fact

When Woodstock Rustic first began shipping, they didn’t own a postal scale so Jessica would weigh herself, pick up the package to be shipped, and weight herself again in order to get the weight of the package. This stop-gap measure must have worked for a while because no one bought a scale for a long time.

Notes from Chris

Episode 954
Jessica Massey was working as a corporate graphic designer, and her art was being used for a variety of products including cards, calendars, and blankets. Many of her designs were “ghost designs” meaning they were credited to a person the company worked with who had name recognition or a large social media following. After years of walking into big box stores and seeing her designs being sold under someone else’s name, she wanted a change. Once she had a baby, Jessica left her job and began freelancing.

Outside the freelance work, she was also looking for a creative outlet, and a way to make a little extra money on the side. Woodstock Rustic was the outcome—a home decor brand that tapped into the decorating zeitgeist that favors the wood pallet aesthetic.

There was no business plan, just a way to have some fun and make money—the true definition of a side hustle! Woodstock Rustic started out in that most mythical setting for American success stories, the garage, surrounded by yard equipment and not-so-rustic garbage cans.

For her first commercial outing, Jessica took her designs to an art show and made $2,500 in a single weekend. Giddy with early success, she set up an Etsy account for the pieces that hadn’t sold. This proved to be far less successful. That account only saw a sale or two over a six month period. Before throwing in the towel, Jessica decided to give Etsy one last go.

She did some research and learned that she’d made every mistake possible when setting up her page. Jessica discovered the importance of social media marketing and SEO—especially how impactful keywords and titles can be.

For example, Woodstock Rustic sells a lot of gift items, and one of their biggest product lines is sympathy or memorial gifts. Prior to this point, Jessica hadn’t really taken into account how customers might end up landing on her page when they started their search in Google or Etsy.

In the beginning, she might have named something “Butterfly Gift Box”—when she’d actually rank much higher if they called it a “Sympathy Gift Box” and just let potential customers see for themselves that the theme was butterflies. No one was searching for “butterfly” specifically, they were entering “sympathy” into the search bar.

After a few small adjustments, orders really started rolling in. It seemed like such a simple fix, but it made a major difference.

Woodstock Rustic now offers a range of home decor items including wall decor, plant containers, and kid’s room decor that can be purchased through the company’s stand-alone website. Jessica still sells on Etsy where she has more than 4,000 sales, but wanted her own site that would be free of some of the constraints imposed by the platform.

The business is now so successful that there never seem to be enough hours in the day. Luckily, the team members that Jessica has brought together all bring a unique skill, whether it’s marketing, customer service, production management, carpentry, or accounting. It’s the way these skills come together to form a complete picture that creates the overall Woodstock story.

Although their beginnings were humble, with just $1,000 in startup costs Woodstock Rustic now has an annual profit in the low six figures almost four years later. Not a bad return on investment for this homegrown family business!

 
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Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"If possible, start small rather than jumping in head first. We started by renting a booth at an art show (which felt like a huge undertaking at the time), and we learned SO much from it. Just hearing feedback from the general public was priceless.​"
—Jessica Massey #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau