Mary Geitz always loved crafting, and raised her three daughters with plenty of playtime focus on art and creativity. When Geitz remarried in the fall of 2014, she and her daughters created decor to match her rustic wedding theme. “It was so fun to craft together again and we received so many compliments,” she says. When she handcrafted many of the gifts she gave that holiday season, they were so well received that some recipients said she should start selling them.
“I thought about this for about a year, replaying all my thoughts over and over,” Geitz says. She consulted her brother, a successful entrepreneur, and her family and friends. In 2016 she took the first step toward opening her business, A Rustic Feeling, offering handcrafted decor items for home, gifts, and special occasions.
“When I met Valerie and Betsy, I had already launched my business but felt that I was running at a high speed filling orders and not paying attention to the business side,” Geitz says. “Now, I feel that they have helped me with the process of focusing attention to both sides, creating and business.” She has increased revenue and made plans to hire her first holiday season employee.
A Rustic Feeling has been noted as a top-selling Etsy storefront, and has gained a considerable following on social media. The company has also partnered with a subscription box company to share A Rustic Feeling’s products. Geitz continues to refine her focus on marketing to and serving the wedding industry.
“They have helped me with introductions for networking, and that has opened up a whole community of others that I can tap into to help with my business,” Geitz says.
Geitz endured a challenging first year as a small business owner. While her designs were selling quickly, she struggled to tend to aspects of the business like financials, social media, and marketing. Her brother’s death from cancer was a major setback, as Geitz needed to grieve but knew she couldn’t stay away from her business for too long.
She hung her brother’s picture up in her workshop, listed her goals beneath it, and “felt a little bit of the excitement come back,” she says.
“As an artist… you want to create, create, create, but as an entrepreneur you need to also focus on the business end,” Geitz admits. She first met volunteer mentor Valerie Fallon, but Fallon invited fellow mentor Betsy Post to join in to discuss marketing and social media. “Each session is filled with brainstorming, discussing the results from my ‘homework’ from the previous session,” Geitz says. “I really look forward to these sessions.”