If you were expecting an actual arcade, I'm sorry.
Ecommerce Arcade is where your story is illuminated as a creative entrepreneur. Where you get to wear your heart on your sleeve. Where you can craft with abandon, ask any question without judgement, and know that you're in good hands with someone who has been there.
This might look like a brand new company, but it's the culmination of the work I've been doing with fellow creatives for over two years.
Many (many) years ago, I worked in the corporate world for a national retailer. I had positions in a variety of departments, including some tenure as a buyer for home decor, then toys, but my favorite place while there was the product development and private label branding department.
It was there where I not only realized I had an eye for design, but that my creativity was valid and welcomed. I also discovered I had the ability to take projects with tons of moving parts over the finish line or streamline a process involving many departments and creative minds.
But the corporate environment was not for me, and I left to grow my handmade business that I started after the birth of my son.
Fast-forward a few years and another position as a buyer for a fabric store, another child, AND a move to the Oregon Coast, I was so excited to be joining the team of a dream agency as their Project Manager. It was there I realized that I really enjoyed working with creative entrepreneurs.
I had been mentoring and offering consultations for many years since starting my handmade business in 2011, as I was blessed to have folks in creative circles who wanted someone to bounce ideas off of, or they needed someone to not see the forest for the trees (which is hard to do when you're wearing all the hats!).
In the span of six years, my handmade business had grown from wee Etsy shop where I sold handfuls of Boppy pillow covers to a full-fledged product line, and I was selling in-person at some of the most competitive juried craft shows, and was selling wholesale to stores I had dreams of finding my goods stocked in.
But running a business with all those components where you're literally making ALL the products PLUS working a full-time remote job was a lot. I spent many weeknight evenings in the studio, often until midnight. Many weekends were built around selling at shows. I was on a bullet train to Burnout Town.
And I was already a frequent visitor with a full passport.
Did I slow down?
Did I ever stop?
But only because it became a life or death situation.
2019 was turning out to be a pretty decent year, despite some painful losses in my family. I attended Craftcation (a conference for creatives and entrepreneurs) and got to connect with my people, my husband and I got to go to Maui for the first time to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, I was bringing in consistent revenue through shows, wholesale, and by marketing my business.
Things were coming up Milhouse!
Then, in August, I discovered a lump in my breast, which turned out to be triple positive invasive ductal carcinoma, aka triple positive breast cancer.
I had just turned 37.
W. T. F.
So everything in my career had to slow down- way down. I cancelled holiday shows. I cancelled wholesale orders. I started a Patreon. I went part-time at the agency, then eventually resigned. The side effects from treatment took me down completely in December 2019. I went through 18 months of treatment which included chemo, surgery, radiation, another surgery, and then more chemo (and a bunch of other health crud I won't get into here).
So when the pandemic hit in March 2020, I had gone through surgery and was in the middle of radiation. We had already been hunkering down and opting to not go many places because I had literally no immune system. So when all the lockdowns started, it felt like I was in the pool first and telling everyone else, "come on in! The water's fine!"
But I digress.
My own personal pivot happened a bit before The Great Resignation started, and that's only because I was a few months ahead of everyone.
Once I was through the worst part of treatment, I slowly started to get back on the production horse.
Only I realized that I was still very, very, very burned out.
Thankfully also during that timeframe I had been working with clients on a very unofficial basis on their branding, their websites, and their emails, and discovered I really missed working either one on one or in very small groups of fellow creative folks.
I opted to use the time of the peak part of the pandemic to brush up on the things I didn't know enough about or didn't feel confident offering to people- the tech side of design.
While I designed the brand identity and website for my handmade business, it was through a lot of trial and error, and (probably) not using best practices.
It was the best educational decision I had made in a long time.
I had always enjoyed the concept of design, but I always felt "branding adjacent." I got to help develop branding concepts, but actually putting pen to paper (or pixels to artboard, haha) was challenging.
As of this post, I've got five branding projects in my portfolio, which pairs so nicely with a new website or a new email setup for a client, doesn't it?
Last year I worked on my project processes and client experience, as those were things that were foundational to get this bonkers rocket launched right.
This year was all about making that massive pivot happen.
I announced the closure of my handmade business after 12 years in business. I designed the branding for Ecommerce Arcade. I designed the branding for hollymarshmallow, my new brand for illustration and illustrated goods. I painstakingly designed and built the website where you're (probably) literally reading this post. I've also launched five client websites (soon to be six!), three email projects (soon to be four!), and two rebrands.
And I've been doing all this WITHOUT working every evening until midnight. Or working all weekend. AND carving out time for art, for personal development, for rest- for FUN.
It feels like the greatest adventure ever.
And I want other entrepreneurs to feel that way, too.
It's dangerous to go alone.
Why not go together- with someone who has been there?
Thanks so much for reading, and I'm so glad you're here. If you like, you can sign up for emails in the section below.
Want to get word of new posts and new client show-and-tells in your inbox? Then sign on up!