I have always been passionate about designing and making meaningful gifts and keepsakes and was very fortunate to able to start my own business. Lauren Nicole Gifts (name after my niece) was started in 2004 and was a great way for me to have my own business, but still move around as an Army wife. My husband recently retired from the Army and we are now permanently located in Ouray, Colorado

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Small Business Feature: Personalized Sketches

Today’s feature is Maria from Personalized Sketches. She has an adorable shop as well as a blog, so be sure to visit her!

Tell us a little about yourself and your small business: I am a truly blessed, wife of 29+ yrs, married to a wonderful retired Army aviator, mom of 1 college Junior son, 1 dental school daughter, 1 doctor(Dentist) daughter and 1 doctor (Physician) son-in-law...& looking forward to future grandbabies! I am thankful for the Lord Jesus, my dear family, friends...a wonderful life. After being a SAHM, I'm now a licensed dental hygienist. (really love meeting those who come in for their pearly white cleanings!)

I love to sew, craft, cook, crochet, travel, quilt (I am a novice quilter) and I love, love, love to draw. I'm a self-taught artist, blessed that others are interested in the Personalized Sketches artwork I do...each one is drawn entirely with a name. I've been taking orders for these since 1985.

From the beginning, I have called the art I do~ Personalized Sketches. Each "sketch" is drawn entirely with a person's name. ANY image with ANY name. And I have always said "Personalized's All about You!" or "'s All about You!" It has been a couple of years since I started my blog, Etsy Shop and facebook art page. I appreciate soooo much all the blog friends I've met that I otherwise would not have met.

What inspired you to begin your small business and how did you get started? I first did one drawing with the name of my brother in was a gift, and as a newlywed, we were limited in our finances. I went to find a frame for it at the local arts and crafts store, and while there, some of the employees saw it and asked if I could draw other images with any name. That is how I started back in 1985 to take orders for these. And with my husband in the military, wemoved about every 3 years. So taking orders at the various shows on the military installation was what increased the number of orders, since many orders were for farewell gifts from different units. Throughout the years, I have many repeat customers and word of mouth advertising from those that have purchased or have been given the art. Besides farewell gifts, they have been given for birthdays, weddings, showers, appreciation gifts, graduations, retirements...etc...

Who or what has been your biggest source of support? My family, especially my husband... and again, I appreciate my customers for continuing to think of other gifts to give their family and friends.

Is this business something you’ve always dreamed of doing? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE doing the art that I do, so this business is something that I had not imagined when I first started doing them for people to purchase. Like I mentioned previously, I am so blessed that others are interested in them and it is fun to see what images and names that they would like to have drawn.

How do you strike a balance between your personal life and maintaining a successful small business? I was a stay at home mom for many years, so the art has been awesome to do, because I could do it any time (like when our children were in school). I was very involved at their schools and after-school activities and sports, but I was able to get art orders
completed throughout the day and evening. For the past 2 years, I have worked as a dental hygienist, so I usually do the art in the evenings. Our three are grown and with just my husband and I, I will do these while we are watching television together. I am able to pick my art pad and ink and do these any time and any where.

Where do you see your small business five years from now? Now that I have been on the internet with my blog, etsy shop and facebook page, I see an increase of orders from those that I would otherwise not have shown the Personalized Sketches to. I also see continued and constant flow of interest.

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