Tell me about your career path and what lead you to become a small business owner in the coastal community.
I was born and raised in NJ, and graduated from Howell High School. After college, getting married, moving to Colorado and having two children, my husband was deployed with the Colorado National Guard. Our children and I moved back to the area to live with my parents while my husband was away. It was during this time that Daisy Lane Design was born. While the kids napped, I sewed. Little things here and there, mostly gifts for friends. And word spread. In 2008, I opened an Etsy shop and officially began this journey. When my husband’s deployment was over, our family moved back to Colorado for several years. However in 2013, we were able to make the move back to the east coast a permanent one. Since that time, I have worked to build up a client list here at The Jersey Shore, and have been so blessed by the people I have met, the shows I have been able to be a part of and the local businesses I have been able to partner with, such as Frame & Fiber in Point Pleasant, Shop b in Bradley Beach, and From the Garden in Freehold. I have also met a large number of amazing artisans at area craft shows and am truly honored to be a part of such a supportive community.
What role does being eco-friendly play in your business?
My favorite way to incorporate eco-friendly practices is the re-using of materials. This is a growing part of my business and a direction in which I am eagerly heading for future projects. T-shirt quilts, refashioning jackets and clothing into one-of-a-kind sentimental pieces, cutting up and patching together old denim jeans…all of this keeps things out of landfills and also meets a sentimental need for my customers. I have also been developing a line of reusable items that will help take the place consumable ones. Sandwich wraps, snack bags, bowl covers and fabric napkins can all be used, washed and reused numerous times – keeping their disposable counterparts out of the trash while saving money in the long run.
Finally, I try to use every piece and scrap of fabric that comes into my shop. I have bins for every size and shape of fabric scrap, and I try to incorporate as many bits and pieces as I can into future projects. When I can, I recycle boxes for shipping and use simple materials and strips of fabric for wrapping. It is easier on the environment, and adds a bit of interest to the item.
What can other members of the community do to ‘stay green’?
I think a lot of people in our area are very conscious of their impact on the environment. That is great. But we can always learn and do more. I think that the first place we can start is in our own home. More and more we are becoming a disposable society. But looking at the things we own in a new light, seeing how they may be reworked, repainted, reused – these are all ways that we can do to stay green.
What is your personal philosophy on being a successful member of the coastal community?
Getting involved with other businesses – sharing ideas, supporting one another, collaborating, and encouraging each other – these practices are all vital to being a successful member of the coastal community. Having face time with your customers is absolutely essential as well. Whether it is at a craft fair or farmer’s market, or just a physical presence at a brick and mortar store, customers like putting a face with a brand. They like to meet you and see the hands that make the handmade things. It is time well spent to make those connections, and very rewarding as well.
Why should Monmouth University students and other young people especially ‘shop small?’
Young people have a lot of influence and purchasing power. By shopping small and shopping locally, they have the opportunity to support their neighbors and encourage interesting and diverse growth in their communities. So many of the small businesses I have been associated with are extremely generous within their local community. When consumers help a local business, there is a ripple effect that impacts the entire area. And then, when young University students are ready to step out into the workforce, there are more opportunities for employment as well as for entrepreneurship.
Who has inspired/inspires you?
My kids inspire me. They are my biggest fans. They come alongside of me and help with the parts of the shop they can help with. They cheer me on and they keep my spirits up when things get tough. They even have some pretty good ideas. My son helped design and market one of my wallets and it was one of last summer’s best sellers.
Have you learned any important lessons from your experiences as a small business owner?
Owning a small business takes time, dedication and hard work. Most of all it takes a belief in yourself and your product. There are going to be times when that last bit is tough. It’s important to surround yourself with people who are going to build you up and support you, but are also going to tell you hard truths from time to time. Sometimes you just need a pep talk. Other times you need to do some self-reflection and make some changes. The trick is in knowing when you need which.
Thank you, Allison!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan of “The Coastal Collection.”
Susan, an Atlantic Highlands resident, handmakes the items that she sells, from cards to trees. She believes in the power of entrepreneurship and small business.
Susan’s creations are available all around the coastal area and at her Etsy store.