Turning Your Creative Hobby Into a Business:: A Darling Day

Today I have another installment in the creative business series. To catch up on previous installments, click here.  Today’s business owner is also in the wedding industry. I met Jessica from A Darling Day back when we were about to get our engagement pictures taken. I wanted to rent several props to use in our photos, including a tandem bike {which you can see here}.

A Darling Day is a duel business, part vintage rentals and event styling and part wedding photography. She has a unique business which I immediately loved and loved all the fun vintage rentals she had to offer.

Turning Your Creative Hobby Into a Business- A Darling Day

Jessica was amazing to work with and so professional that I thought it would be fun to hear from her on how she started such a unique business. Jessica is someone who understands the importance of branding and puts her creative stamp on every aspect of her business. For those with a creative passion or a dream that doesn’t fit within a certain ‘box’ this post is for you.

1. Prior to having your own vintage rental and styling business, what were you doing? I went to college at Savannah College of Art and Design, where I majored in fashion design. I worked as the clothing buying for a franchise company called Go Fish at their corporate office in Brunswick, GA. Though the experience ultimately taught me that retail wasn’t for me, I learned so much through that process. I learned what it was like to run a multi-faceted business, wear a lot of hats {figuratively…I look horrible in hats}, manage employees and make hard decisions. And I was able to travel all over the world, which I am sure changed me and challenged me in ways I never even realized.

A Darling Day Vintage Rentals

2. What led you start A Darling Day? I have always wanted to own my own business. I was never sure just what it would look like, but I knew I wanted to work for myself and create a business where I could have control over every aspect. A Darling Day has shape-shifted a few times before landing where it is now, and I have a feeling it will continue to grow and change shape in the future, too.

3. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to set out on their own? There is a fine line between wisdom and fear. Yes, it is so important to be wise and have a plan before making a big life change, but it is equally important to have faith in what you are doing and take a chance. I’ve worn the same bracelet for a couple years now, and it says, “fortune favors the brave.” To me it means that when you take a leap of faith, even though it is scary, you’re putting yourself in a position to let big things happen. If you never take that step, fortune can’t find you; you have to make the first move.

My husband and I just moved to Greenville last spring. It was a big act of faith because we were both going to be working for ourselves after the move {my husband started ThoroughFARE food truck}. It was scary, but both of our businesses have grown more in the last 6 months than we had even hoped for. And it started with taking a chance and putting ourselves in a position where our businesses could grow.

A Darling Day Vintage Rentals

4. Toughest part of running your own business? You have to stay disciplined. One of the benefits of owning your own business is the ability to set your own schedule. Want to take a Tuesday morning off? No problem. That part is awesome. But setting a work schedule and sticking to it is essential. The other tricky part is marketing. It falls entirely on you to promote your business and your brand. There are so many options out there for advertising, especially in the wedding industry. Should I do a bridal show? Advertise on a blog? Get studio space? Hire somone to help me with my SEO? I have tried a lot of different things, with varying degrees of success. It can be frustrating to put money into something that doesn’t work. It takes time to find out what works best for you and your unique business.

5. How long did you pursue your creative interests on the side before turning it into a full-time business? Throughout the entire time I worked for the clothing company, I pursued my own interest on the side. I tried a lot of different things and ran through a lot of different ideas. After we got married, my husband took a new job and we moved to a small town in middle Georgia. During this time, my husband and I were able to work it out where his job could pay our expenses while I took time to grow my business without financial pressure. We lived there for 2.5 years before we took that leap of faith and moved to Greenville last spring, both of us working for ourselves.

A Darling Day Vintage Rentals

6. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to turn their hobby into a paying job? Look at your hobby objectively. Is it growing? Is there demand in the market for what you are creating or providing? Is there a way you could target multiple audiences with the same product or service? Are there additional products or services you could add to your business to create more streams of revenue?

I think one reason why A Darling Day works is because it has two different aspects and two different sources of revenue. I have the wedding photography and the boutique rentals. They target the same market {brides}, but provide separate services.

Another piece of advice is to limit your financial commitments. Can you work out of your home? Then don’t lease a space to work from. Taking on too much debt or financial commitment up front can make it hard to succeed.

7. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned along the way? Some people aren’t going to like what you do. A bride may make an inquiry to my services and then I never hear back from her. Sigh. As people in the creative fields, we put a lot of ourselves into our work, so it is hard to not take it personally.

A Darling Day Vintage Rentals

8. Do you ever run out of creative juice? There are times when I feel worn out, and times when I lose joy for the work I’m doing and it feels like, well, work. One thing I do is to pray for creativity. I believe that we are created in the image of the Great Creator, and are meant to create and be creative ourselves. This might sound a little weird, but before doing creative work or when I’m feeling particularly uncreative, I pray to be used as a tool for the Creator’s creativity, to see things in a new way and create something beautiful. Meditating on the belief that the source of creativity is limitless helps to encourage me when I’m feeling tapped out.

9. How do you continue to stay inspired and motivated? It is a sensory overload world we are living in, which is both good and bad. It is good in the way that images can help fuel our creativity, since that right side of our brain is so sensory. It is bad in the way that a lot of design begins to feel stale. “I’ve seen that on Pinterest,” we say. Nothing seems original. So, I try to draw inspiration in two ways, one being image-focused and one being activity-focused. When it comes to {visually} collecting images, I follow the work/blogs of people doing work very different than mine: a jeweler, a painter, a graphic designer, a florist, etc. Gaining inspiration from designers in a different field of work helps my work feel more authentic, and limits the temptations to compare my work to the work of others. I also try to draw inspiration from activities: a long walk, a trip to my favorite thrift store, an art show, a great meal, etc. Taking notice of the small things in the present and enjoying them really helps fuel me for creative work later.

A Darling Day Vintage Rentals

10. What’s one thing you do to push yourself creatively? I set lofty goals for myself. Some big, some small. Some immediate, some for the future. As a chronic list-maker, my goal list is always under my to-do list. I think that helps keep me focused, and reminds me that the little things I am doing are helping me get to the bigger things.

All images courtesy of A Darling Day.

I’m so inspired by the risks Jessica is willing to take and the goals she sets for herself. If you are afraid to take that step, hopefully Jessica has inspired you to take that first step to let fortune find you.

If you are in the Greenville area, be sure to check out Jessica and her husband’s food truck, ThoroughFARE. I’ve personally had it, and it’s delicious! Good ole comfort food at its finest. You can see some of Jessica’s previous photography work here and her full line of vintage rentals here. To keep up to date with A Darling Day, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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