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The Story of Craft Theory

Meredith Russell

 

Well I can say that it’s definitely been a journey to get to the Craft Theory we know and love today. I honestly didn’t even set out to start a business, it just kind of happened. Not a great origin story, I know, but we can’t all be a super hero.

My first fluid painting

I thought to myself that there must be a better way to create this art and achieve better (and consistent) results. So… like all millennials, I went to YouTube and typed in a few keywords. A couple of hours (lets be honest, it was like days later) and I felt qualified as an expert in fluid painting. 

After spending a questionable amount on supplies, I was ready to put all my knowledge into practice. The first few paintings weren’t the best I’d seen, but they weren’t bad either. And it’s probably a good thing because I was totally hooked. As somebody who’s always wanted to be creative but didn’t have good hand-eye coordination (I can’t draw! shhhh…) I felt like I had finally found my outlet. 

All the excitement and build up lead to me telling a few friends and co-workers and showing them all the pictures. One of them asked if she could buy one (!) and the business side of my brain went a little crazy after that. I looked into how I could repurpose all the paint that spilled off the edges of the paintings (hello jewelry and keychains), filed a business license, and signed up for my first show. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time and money building up my inventory for that first show. 

My first booth set up

In April of 2019 I attended my first live show in Tacoma and made back most of the money I had spent (Thank God!). Because again, I was completely hooked on not just painting and creating, but also sharing my love of colors with other people. Talking to them about what they liked, what they wanted to see in the future, and who the item was for was amazing and incredibly intriguing for me. So much so that a month later I gave notice to my corporate job and signed up for multiple farmers markets. 

Again, I had to build up inventory and I spent the summer working 4-5 markets a week and frantically making more product in the evenings and days I wasn’t at markets. I also started my website and social media channels in the hopes to capture more eyeballs and get repeat customers. The slow season during the fall was a blessing for me because I was able to get caught up on all the things that I just didn’t have time for during the summer. I also decided to expand and finally lease a space where I could teach classes and host other teachers and groups. 

Booth Dec 2019

With the expansion, I knew I also wanted a new name and new branding for my company. I had originally named my business The Belleza Laboratory which had meaning for me, but none of my customers could say or spell it. I also felt it would be limiting moving forward so I worked with Lucere Design to create the new Craft Theory branding and feel. In December of 2019 I was in the process of lease agreements and was days away from signing on a space in Lakewood. I then learned that my Army Reserve unit was up for a mobilization and my name was on the short list. I was devastated. I thought that I was going to lose everything that I had worked so hard for. 

What a blessing in disguise that was! After watching MANY of my small business friends struggle this year due to COVID-19 I am so thankful and blessed to be able to continue working on my business while also receiving a full-time income from the Army. I hope to continue growing Craft Theory even through the pandemic and not being able to attend any shows. I miss talking to customers at farmers markets and craft fairs, but I am continuing to work on providing great products and customer service through this online platform. And, if you want to see my products in person check out my Retail Locations page for a list of stores that my products are featured in. 

Thanks for reading!


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