I tend to shoot, and then aim later. Truth be told the whole business of Paisley Grace Makery (formally Paisley Grace Designs) has been a prime example of this tendency. I don't regret a single moment in the business, but let's face it, I HAD to start this business fast and furious. It was January of 2015-I was 8.5 months pregnant and Lia Sophia (the company I worked for the past 5 years and built a team of 95 amazing women) had closed in December. We were left with no income from me and crunching numbers to make my husband's salary cover the bills.
So January came and I found myself with a lot of time that I wasn't used to. I soaked up time with my 22 month old daughter, Paisley Grace... but when she was napping I found myself with idle hands. I went back to my love of art and creating things and started playing with my small plotter to create Vinyl decals and shirts. After some inspiration from my friend Abby who had been free hand painting on wood signs in Ohio, a new idea was born. I wanted to combine my love of the women I had met at Lia Sophia parties with a business all my own-- to bring creativity to people's homes and give them something to walk away with.
I have always firmly believed that we were created by a creator to CREATE. I had seen first hand from our countless "Pinterest Parties" with my friend Jennie , that when people could put something into this world that wasn't there before it sparked an inner desire.
So, the idea was born... it was time to buy a table saw, plotter, air compressor and nailer.... and thankfully my trusting husband went along with my plan (not without some hesitation). Of course, sawing wood with a HUGE belly was not in the cards, so I had to get some help in the meantime!So we started along and I made any vinyl decal and started dabbling with wood signs as I neared my delivery date. Let's face it. I had major Pregger Brain at this time... so trying to come up with a creative name for a business that I really didn't quite know what it was going to turn into seemed impossible. So I went with the one bit of creativity I had-- my daughter's name.. Paisley Grace... and then... uh... well... I guess I'm designing things... so .... PAISLEY GRACE DESIGNS it is! On January 17th we established the business.
Here was the problem: We had no extra money. I could only build from what I had... so I bought $10 worth of vinyl... made a couple decals and had $30. I bought a small piece of wood for $25... made a few small signs... now I had $40. Get it? There wasn't an advertising budget, or money to spend on someone to do a logo for me. I had to teach myself everything from the ground up... and lots of You Tube Videos.
On January 29th, our son Tucker John was born. We were completely in love and everything seemed 100% normal. We came home from the hospital, only to find ourselves BACK in the hospital 3 days later as Tucker was diagnosed with MRSA in his bloodstream. We spent 10 long days (including my 30th birthday) in Wolfson's Children's Hospital ... with an amazing group of nurses. The days were long, and my sweet husband brought up my laptop... and out of that th
e first "LOGO" of Paisley Grace Desgns was born. The double infinity to represent both kids.
Fast forward to March of 2015, I had recovered and found a semblance of a routine. I had been painting signs for friends and past customers along the way, but it was time to launch the parties I had dreamed of. I had a few close friends over to the house for a trial run, and posted pictures! Before I knew it we were off to the races doing Home parties with Paisley Grace Designs. Along the way I got a little better with some design programs and the logo morphed... to Painting by DeSIGN. (clever right?).
We continued along and my amazing husband spent almost every night in the garage with me at 10pm1am cutting wood for the weekend's parties after the babies went to bed (Sorry neighbors!). We truly were burning both ends of the candle, but slowly I was regaining some income.
In February of 2016, almost one year later I was exhausted from hauling wood all over Jacksonville. Our garage had been overtaken by sawdust and we were running out of room. I came to Matt one afternoon and told him I dreamed of opening a brick and mortar studio. We had no idea if it was going to work....after all.. the whole business had been built on bringing parties TO our guests... not them coming to US! After many weeks of convincing, Matt sat down with me and we worked out a budget and agreed we could support an one year lease.
In March, I found the studio on Parliament Drive. It was NOT in budget and it was a 3 year lease. The quote "What if I Fall? Oh my Darling, but What if you FLY?" rang in my ears. I knew I had to go for it! And so, I signed the lease, with my friend Jennifer by my side wrangling Paisley and Tucker. I had NO idea how I was going to fill 2200 square feet of space.
Out of this, came the 3rd logo... Mostly because I needed something to put on the tables and the wall! I never really loved the "girlie-ness" of it, but it worked...and there was no time to think. We had 6 tables, a pallet wall and floors to put in before our March 24th opening!
The next year and a half are almost a blur. I spent many weeks working between 60-80 hours a week, but loved every moment. The kids had a whole room in the back for their playroom, and spent a lot of time up at the studio with me. I can't express my appreciation and love for all of our clients who came in to paint with us, and then brought back more friends and family to paint with us.
As we celebrated our 2nd year in the studio, it really finally started to feel like a business. We had a small team of 4-5 instructors, who loved teaching as much as I did. As we grew I was able to hire more hours to help with the behind the scenes operations and it gave me more time to learn design programs and assess the business. I started to feel a longing to change our overall name to reflect more of what we DID... which was CREATING and MAKING things all day long! I felt like Designs made us sound more like an interior design studio than a DIY workshop! This is when I changed the logo to the PGD Makery with a Paintbrush. I liked it... but man! It was a mouthful to say... "Welcome to Paisley Grace Designs Makery, how can I help you?"
And then this magical moment happened... It's not monumental, and truly doesn't change much of what we do in our day to day....but we were nominated and WON the SBA Women Owned Small Business of the Year for the State of Florida. I'm not one for pomp and circumstance (ask my husband, the stress of going to the awards luncheon probably surpassed the stress of going to the hospital to have a baby), but on a certain level, I think it gave me the validation I needed that after 3 years, we truly had built a business. My READY, FIRE, AIM tendency paid off after all.
I didn't go into Paisley Grace Designs with a 3 page business plan and a loan to secure the assets. I built it as we went, a true grassroots effort I suppose. Even though the days were long, it always felt like the hobby that made money...and took a lot of work. So, receiving the title from the Small Business Association was almost like a wake up call. This wasn't something that I had to just survive in anymore... it was time the THRIVE! And it's time to dream of the next chapter of Paisley Grace.... a second studio.
With the plans in the work to open our second location, I knew I wanted to finalize the stress of the logo that I had wrestled with for the past 3 years. So I did the hardest thing for me...I hired someone to do the work for me. My college friend, Jamie Galley, owns an amazing branding business build for makers.... Just Make Things. So even though I had learned a ton about design in the past 3 years, and have an amazing graphic artist on staff (JENNIE WE LOVE YOU!!)... I wanted someone OUTSIDE the business to assess where we were and help us determine the next steps.
Jamie didn't just come up with a logo and send it to me. She made me go through PAGES of soul-searching prompts to discover what our brand truly was... the part of the business I never had the time to focus on. Going into the discussions with Jamie, I didn't even know if we were going to keep "Paisley Grace" as part of the name, since I didn't want to have a daughter who hated me for using her name. However after many nights of soul searching we realized that the business was born out of GRACE (much like my little girl was) and it's part of our roots. Our only change was to drop the "Designs" and go with the root of what we do... we MAKE things.... and therefore... we are a MAKERY.
And so, moving forward... the caterpillar of a buisness who ate through 1 messy garage, took over a 2200 space, gobbled up 4 temporary logos, has now turned into a beautiful butterfly... PAISLEY GRACE MAKERY.... and it is time to FLY!