Handmade By Dawn means many things to me. It’s a personal creative outlet, a labor of love, a provider of necessary supplemental income, a source of socialization, and even at one point a business learning opportunity/fundraiser for Girl Scouts.
In truth, the seeds for Handmade By Dawn were unknowingly planted in 1975. At age 16, I was laid up from surgery with Christmas looming and no money to buy gifts for friends and family. Having worked since age 14, it was stressful to be broke at that time of year. Unhappy at the prospect of not giving gifts at all I sifted through my craft supplies and happily created small felt stocking ornaments decorated with sequins, beads, and embroidery for everyone on my list. Little did I know that I was starting a tradition that continues to this day.
As the decades passed I was often encouraged to sell the ornaments I designed. After helping my daughter’s Girl Scout troop raise money for a trip by teaching them how to make and sell handmade Christmas ornaments, and also teaching them how to run a small manufacturing business which met a requirement toward their Gold Award, I discovered that I truly enjoyed the craft show experience.
Handmade By Dawn was officially started in 2007 as a way to keep my family afloat. The year before I had been forced to apply for disability due to recurring health issues since 1975. I was no longer capable of meeting my clients’ advertising, graphic design, and printing needs in a timely manner. As I phased out the advertising agency I started in 1993, I focused more on designing ornaments and doing craft shows. It was critical income during the 3-years it took to receive my disability benefits. After that it covered the expenses the benefits didn’t such as product materials, booth fees, web hosting, medical expenses, car and house repairs, and vet bills.
Then, along came COVID. I usually book10-14 craft shows every fall. Most are hosted by schools, churches, and other non-profits as fundraisers. With the demands of social distancing their events can’t take place. No shows, no supplemental income for me or profits to cover business and extra expenses next year
It has always been part of my business plan to eventually generate 25-35% of my annual sales through online orders. Due to the unique and varied nature of the Christmas ornaments I create, in person shopping will always be my best selling outlet. However, without any craft shows this year the time to act to increase my online presence is now. It costs more for a secure website. It takes time to add more than 80 different ornaments to a website, even a fraction of their variations, take and add photos, and all the details for each.
The goal for this GoFundMe/Crowdfunding is to raise a little capital to let me hire a student or someone local to help populate the new web site, to pay for the materials to create new ornaments, and to cover booth fees for 2021. These are the expenses usually covered by a current year’s profits. By raising $500, or more, I can apply for a matching grant of $500 which combined will help my small business generate some online sales this year and squeak by until my 2021 selling season
For the record, Handmade By Dawn isn’t just about the extra money. When I see someone’s face light up as they pick up an ornament it makes me happy. Customers frequently share their stories about why particular ornaments spark special memories of someone or a Christmas past. On more than one occasion I’ve shared hugs and a few tears of the happy kind with customers. It’s aboutwhen I know my handmade Christmas ornaments have made someone happy and their Christmas merrier because of what I make.
I thank you for taking the time to read my story and hopefully for your kind generosity.
- Cassandra Pleasent
- Kevin Smith
- Elizabeth Olivares-Estes
- Jenny Calvin