Continuing our interview series Shopping Small (With Big Heart), I am eager to be introducing you to Sara Knight owner of Iowa Planner Girl on Etsy.
Studio Elaine ~ What is your background before being your own boss, or do you work both a 9 to 5 and run your own business?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I am a part time school bus driver. I’ve been doing this for 20 years since our kids were just itty bitty. I liked being able to keep them out of daycare and make a little extra money. I had all the days off they had off when they were in school, including summers. We have 3 kids, which are all in college now. One daughter & twin boys. I still continue to drive a school bus. I love my bus kids.
Studio Elaine ~ What first inspired and motivated you to open your own business?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ Planning is always something I’ve done since I was little, but it wasn’t until the last few years it has become more of an art for me. I scrapbooked for years, but as the kids graduated high school there weren’t as many pictures as before. So this is where the art part of planning lured me in. Also, I have a huge love of floral prints. That is what led me to creating my own stickers. I was able to find many floral stickers but not many that were the bold color floral prints, which is my favorite! So I designed my own & had a lot of girls ask to purchase for themselves & tell me I should sell them, so eventually that’s what I did. I only design sets I would use myself.
Studio Elaine ~ What does a day in the life look like? Walk us a little through the juggling act of balancing your business and home.
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I get up very early to drive school bus. I have to be to work by 6am. My route leaves the bus yard at 6:25. I finish my first route at 8:15am. I then have a break until 10:30am. I usually use this time to process orders, work on projects or do household tasks. I leave again at 10:30am and don’t return home again until 4:30pm. Outside of work, I am active in church. So many evenings I have various activities where I serve there. Also, two nights a week I go to a zumba exercise class. So I don’t always have much free time. I try to work on business items on Tuesday, Thursday and weekends. It varies, but juggling regular life with business life is always a challenge. Planning ahead is always beneficial. I also believe that whatever I do I’m working for the Lord, my Savior. He is in control at all times. So I might have a plan but ultimately the Lord controls all in my life. And I strive to give Him the glory in every aspect of my life.
Studio Elaine ~ How has social media impacted your business and how you conduct business?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I love art projects. I have always been a planner since as far back as I can remember. Through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest I came across the art of planning. It was an instant match. It wasn’t long after I started designing my own stickers & the girls on social media asked me to sell. So that’s how I fell into it all. I love the art of designing & I love planning, so it’s a win win.
Studio Elaine ~ Looking back at how you first started as a small business owner, what would you have done differently, knowing what you know now?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ Spent more time organizing the true cost of my design. Also, plan for errors. Some items have cost me much more to make than I ever made on sales. You learn as you go. I think sometimes it takes time to find your niche. For me, it’s vintage florals. I would describe myself as an old soul so this style totally fits me. I especially love vintage floral hankies.
Studio Elaine ~ What made selling on Etsy appealing to you vs. starting your own online ecommerce site?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I was already very familiar with Etsy from the years of purchasing. It is easy to use and understand. So it was a natural choice for me.
Studio Elaine ~ Obviously I love your shop and items, what are you most proud of in your shop, and where do you find your creativity and inspiration?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ For sure my vintage hanky clips. I originally wanted to design stickers from hanky designs but I didn’t want to run into copyright infringement and couldn’t afford to invest the money into the legal end of it. So I had this huge collection of hankies (close to 100) and wanted to use them in planning somehow. So I decided to make hanky clips. I call my line hello hankies. They are so cute to me. The hardest part is not keeping them all for myself haha! But I love them. I also have hanky charms. And I of course love my floral stickers. I know many people have a variety of patterns but I just wanted all floral patterns. So that’s what I designed. My favorite are the shabby chic vintage designs. I just can’t get enough of them. I have so many plans for the future. Mainly designing sets that will encourage others in the Word. I love seeing scripture in my planner everyday. So that’s what I want to share with others and encourage them as well.
Studio Elaine ~ You are obviously very creative and talented, besides the items you create for your shop, what are some of your other talents, and what alternate creative outlets do you pursue?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I spent the last five years pursuing photography. I would take senior pictures for friends and family. I have felt called to serve God through this. So even though I had a business (Sara Knight Photography – saraknightphotography.com) I always felt it was more of a ministry than a business. My photography mission was based on the Bible verse 1 Peter 4:10 – Each of us should use whatever gift we receive to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in it’s various forms. I learned so much about design from photography as well. I am able to use my skills from photoshop to design sticker sets and to edit pictures for instagram. Also, being a former scrapbooker, I feel like decorating my planner is very similar to that. I had been missing scrapbooking when my children graduated high school. So this was a perfect alternative. I am in love with creative planning!
Studio Elaine ~ Why do you feel shopping small is important?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ There are so many talented people creating so many different things. I love that we are each unique. It is so fun to me to mix all these items from such talented people into my planner to create my own style. Love it!! So it’s super awesome having these one of a kind unique items made by others that you will not find everywhere. And whatever that persons mission is you can support them. It’s so much more personal than buying commercial and I love that!
Studio Elaine ~ How do you feel the role of women as small business owners has impacted you, and what do you think the major challenge as a woman in business has been for you?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I love supporting other women in business. I especially love women that are trying to make a little extra money to be able to stay home with their kids. Every situation is different but in my life I wanted to help contribute, but also wanted to be there for our kids so it has been a win win for us.
Studio Elaine ~ What do you want our readers to specifically know about you and your shop?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ First and foremost, I love the Lord and it’s my desire to live for Him and bring glory to His name. Also, I love to create items that are cheery & make others happy. My goal this year is to incorporate Christ into my designs. I would love to encourage others in Him as well.
Studio Elaine ~ What advice would you give to anyone out there, who thinks they might want to open their own small business?
Iowa Planner Girl ~ I would say to have an organizational plan and a financial plan. Keep track of all records so you know exactly what items cost you in the end. It’s actually much easier to lose money on items than you think. You have to factor it all in. Question if the profit is worth your time. As awesome as your product is, if it doesn’t make you money, is it worth it?
Studio Elaine ~ I would like to thank Sara for taking time out of her schedule to participate in our interview series. The items she creates for her shop or retro, charming and bring a smile to my heart every time I see them. Her vintage florals are simply darling, as is her sharing spirit. If you get the opportunity please visit her Instagram feed and Etsy shop by using the links below. She’s currently working on a new batch of “Hello Hankie” clips, so be on the lookout for those coming soon!