Welcome to the first success story in our TOP 10 series featuring women from around the world who kick butt as entrepreneurs AND make a BIG difference in the lives of others (in no particular order)!
We've asked our Top10 women to answer a bunch of questions about their income, lifestyle and business strategies and in these posts we deliver the inside word on what we have found out. If you are new to the series, you can check out the criteria we have used to select our TOP 10 by checking out the introductory post
It is our great pleasure to introduce our first TOP 10 women entrepreneur, Kay Petal, craftswoman extraordinaire and founder of the fabulous FELT ALIVE community.
Who said that it was is impossible to make a decent living from your art?
Kay Petal is living proof that if you are determined enough, you can make a living doing what you love and yes, that means art's and crafts too! We have a bunch of art and crafter's in our online community and I am a regular attendee at crafter's markets in my community, so we thought Kay would be the perfect success story to debunk the myth that artist and creative types must always be poverty-stricken and destined to struggle.
Not only is Kay an absolute pleasure to work with (what fun to receive her emails) but she is a savvy entrepreneur to boot. Her website & blog scream creativity and fun, a perfect reflection of her brand, and she has built up a tribe of 1500-2000 loyal followers. Kay has a number of different income streams on the go, including live online felting workshops, a membership site and an online shop, all great examples of how you can use online tools to deliver your expertise in a way that leverages time well. Plus, you can sign up and interact on her active FELT ALIVE FORUM absolutely free, a great way to get all those passionate felters out there into her marketing funnel.
How much does Kay earn from doing what she loves?
Yes, I know you are dying to know how much Kay really earns from her business, in fact I bet that at least some of you are secretly wondering if this blog post is merely a poorly hidden attempt at self-promotion by two aspiring lifestyle business coaches (you cynic's you!).
So to prove you wrong and restore our credibility, I can say that Kay's personal income from her business (that's income NOT turnover), is in the $50-100K range (we thought asking our TOP 10 to place themselves in an income bracket instead of giving an exact number was less intrusive). In return, Kay works 30 -40 hours a week. Not bad for Year 5 of business huh?
And to top it all off, besides being a needle felting fanatic, Kay Petal is a survivor of a rare type of salivary gland cancer, an experience that has helped her to learn "the true importance of recognizing the things that make me happy. With the love and support from my hubby of 24 years, I am lucky enough to be able to focus on the things I love about life full time!" What an amazing woman.
On that note, it's time to hear more from Kay herself. Here's what Kay had to say about her lifestyle business, as well as her thoughts on how she is making a difference in the world….
How is your business empowering you to live the lifestyle of your dreams?
Having an online business has given me the freedom to take my business with me wherever I go. Once the business had a solid foundation, my husband and I gave up our real jobs and a comfortable lifestyle in our home in Alaska to follow our dream of living in a milder climate. After two years of operating the business while traveling/living/working in our rv full-time, we've settled in a beautiful valley in rural Oregon where the grass grows green all winter long. And now that we are settled, my dream of having a studio where I can display my art, teach workshops and sell supplies is coming true.
Knowing what you know now, what ONE thing would you do differently to achieve your goals FASTER and with LESS STRESS?
I would be careful NOT to get myself spread too thin online – I can't possibly keep up with all of the social groups and networks I've signed up for over the years. It's better to have a strong presence in a few places than to be scattered all over many.
How do you act on your commitment to ethical and sustainable business (aka your triple bottom line)?
I give back by freely offering my expertise and encouragement to people new to my craft. I feel that in doing this, I'm making a difference. I get so many emails from people telling me how I inspired them to try something new and that their lives have changed for the better. I also get many emails from people all around the world who are new fans of my art – thanking me for brightening their day after looking at the photos on my website. On a local level, I've found great joy in volunteering to teach my craft to high school kids. That's when I feel I'm giving back the most.
My business is based around wool which is a renewable resource – it grows back on the sheep every year. I purchase what I can from small farms but in the future I would love to be able to offer wool to my customers from small flocks that I knew were raised in the most humane of ways.
I own a busy online forum where members can freely advertise and promote their art and their businesses related to our craft. It gives back to my online community in many ways. And this year, I'm doing something big – I'm discontinuing an imported line of wool because I've found a domestic source that rivals the high quality imported wool my students and customers have come to know and love. This supports US farmers & wool mills and makes this craft more affordable for my customers.
What is the ONE thing that has contributed the most to your income growth?
Offering free video workshops on YouTube.
Any other tips or comments to share?
I get the most amazing emails every day from people I’ve inspired with my art and my teaching – but it’s nice to hear that my business model is also inspiring. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished in such a short 5 years since I first started learning my craft. It’s hard to believe that I actually am making a living doing what I love and have time to enjoy life – but I’ve found when you do what you love, the lines between work and life are blurry (in a good way, though.)
My husband gave up his career to support me in my business and amazingly enough, I’ve done a lot of what I do from the road – the last two years were spent traveling/living full-time in an RV with no destination in mind. It doesn’t feel like work to bring the dolls to the beach for a photo-shoot and spend the rest of the day playing in the waves with our dogs. Am I really working when I’m sitting by a campfire in Montana, doing my craft and blogging about my adventures?
I’ll admit, manufacturing my specialized craft tools under the rv awning had its challenges – so did chasing down wi-fi and cell phone signals to keep all of my online stuff going. I designed my Ning site and filmed my last two video workshops in the passenger seat of the RV! I’d love to answer your questionnaire and hopefully my story will make other women believe that it is possible. But it does take looking at things outside of that square box!
We'd like to say a big thank-you to Kay for taking the time to answer our questions. If you have been inspired by what Kay has shared, please share your thoughts or feedback in the comments box below. If you'd like to be find out more about how you can start building a profitable lifestyle business of your own, we're have a FREE TRAINING WEBINAR coming up on just that topic…we'd love you to join us!