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Learn how vendor Erin Nesbit is using her love of puns to spread positivity and laughter with her store Hello Mosswood
Tell us your story! What inspired you to create your store?
So, for my entire life, I’ve always needed some type of creative outlet. Usually, it was singing, though when I was younger I did draw a lot as well. Up until a couple of years ago, that outlet was readily available to me in the form of weekly choir rehearsals and singing in church every Sunday. But after I had our last baby (#5), there was no way I could ask my husband to wrangle them all by himself in the pew at Mass every Sunday. It was physically impossible. So, I had to take a hiatus.
However, time away from my only creative outlet definitely took its toll. I started to get depressed, and I didn’t want it to get any worse. I knew that I just HAD to find something else to fulfill that need. My heart just isn’t complete without it. I had a die-cut machine that I’d hardly even tinkered with, so I started designing different things to cut on it. I finally ended up on note cards of all things. I designed them, and made sets of them, but had no idea what to actually do with them. So, I decided to open up a shop to sell my note card sets. Though, that’s not even what I sell in my store anymore! Close, but no cigar!
Tell us about your products? Why did you choose the products and where did you learn your craft?
After a few months of note cards, I just felt drawn to create something else. My note cards were pretty, and while I enjoyed making them, they just weren’t….”me.” I didn’t feel like I could see myself in my products, so I felt I needed a change. I sat back for a little while, and just did a little soul searching. What makes me…me? If I were to try and see myself in a product, what would I be looking for?
I eventually came up with greeting cards! But in way that I didn’t feel like I just sell greeting cards. I wanted to sell clean, innocent humor and positivity. In the world of funny greeting cards, I have found that it has begun to be overrun by crude, often degrading, humor. I started having a hard time sometimes finding what I wanted in a greeting card. And I could forget about bringing my kids to pick out a card from them, as I would never know what they’d see on a random card!
My aim was (and is still) to also offer to the public lighthearted humor in the form of cute, bright graphics and loads of puns (Because who doesn’t like puns? Boring people, that’s who!). Growing up, and even more so now, my family tries to “out-pun” each other, just to see who could come up with the best. So, puns hold a special place in my heart. I want to bring back chuckles and positivity, but at no one else’s expense. Just good, clean, innocent jokes that bring people joy, even if only momentarily. The more chuckles and eyerolls, the better! I even wanted the graphics to be smile-inducing on their own, so I decided to draw my own. I felt the best way to portray my intent for my cards would be if I designed and drew my characters myself. I like to think of my characters as being almost child-like in their innocence, but not childish, if that makes any sense.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s a real learning curve to my craft. It’s just my ideas being put to paper…or cardstock, I should say. Haha!
What’s your favorite part of the making process?
Oh, that’s easy. It’s coming up with the puns and drawing the characters. It’s so much fun!
How do you stay motivated?
At any time I lose my motivation, which rarely happens, I revert back to why I’m doing what I’m doing, and ask myself if I enjoy what I’m doing. It directs my attention to another perspective. The answer, so far, has always been YES! The minute I no longer enjoy what I’m doing is the minute I stop what I’m doing, since that was the whole point of starting in the first place!
There are other times when, if I’m not getting as many sales as I’d like, but see my competition doing fantastically, I might get a bit moody. But then I take a step back, and suddenly feel like I look like a petulant child pouting in the corner. Look, I have enough children in my household already. I do NOT need to start acting like one myself! So I shift my mindset (there’s that positivity at work!), silently applaud my competition, because I genuinely am happy for them and the success they’ve found, and move on to my own business.
What is your favorite product you make or material you work with and why?
Well, since all I make is greeting cards as of now, I’ll say “Greeting cards for $500, Alex.”
As to the “why”, well, a greeting card can do, and be, so much! It’s not just a folded-up piece of paper. That folded-up piece of paper not only makes people smile, it also contains some heartfelt words from a loved one. And they’re given both for every reason and for no reason at all! Just because! Those heartfelt words can be about anything. People love knowing someone is thinking about them. And that they care enough to mail something personal to them. I love knowing that one of my cards helps bridge a gap between two people. Even though those two people are far away, they’ve still held the exact same card in their hands. That’s a personal connection.
Where do you turn for inspiration? What is your creative process like?
My creative process is probably not like most. The puns are the backbone to my cards, so they have to be good. And I never know when one will hit me, so I literally have a running list on my phone of pun ideas. When I’m out somewhere, and one will cross my mind, I have somewhere to put it. Because I will NOT remember it later! Late at night, one will pop in my head, and I’ll put it in my phone. After I have a few on my list, I do just sit sometimes and roll these pun ideas off my husband and my oldest daughter. They don’t know it, but their reactions dictate whether something’s a keeper or not. Eyerolls with an “OMG”, headshakes with a smile/chuckle, and outright laughter are signs of definite keepers!
What are you hoping to accomplish through Just Artisan?
I’m hoping to get more of my creations out to the world. The world needs so much kindness and positivity right now. I’m hoping Just Artisan can help me spread more of it out there!
What does success look like to you?
Initially, I was doing this just for a hobby, so if you would have asked me that a year ago, I’d probably tell you that I’d see success where I am now. My business is self-sustaining. When all you’re looking for is a hobby, I’d say a self-sustaining hobby would be success!
However, now that I’ve been in this for a year now, I’m wanting this to be more than just a hobby. My success would be to be able to make enough money to quit my day job to do something I love doing. There’s no set dollar amount to me that equates to success. It’s more about accomplishments for me.
What else would you like to share?
Well, I was gonna share a vegetable joke, but it’s too corny. (Aw come on, you had to know I’d fit at least one in here somewhere!)
Honestly, though, I do want to thank everyone who has supported this crazy venture of mine. Not just family and friends, though they’ve all been wonderful, my husband particularly. He is actually the one that told me “Just go for it!” when I expressed interest in wanting to open a store. And his support has not wavered one bit. He’s proud of me, and my kids are proud of me. They get just as excited as I do when I make a sale! What’s better than that?! I love my family dearly. I thank God for giving me so many wonderful people in my life! But I do want to thank anyone who has been a customer of mine. I’ve met so many lovely people doing this that it makes me want to keep doing this even more.
And I do want to thank the amazing people at Just Artisan, who are giving so much to be able to offer a marketplace to artists and creatives to share their wares with the world.