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Meet Jennifer Carruthers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Carruthers.

Jennifer, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
In 2016, my husband and I decided to accept an offer from his employer to move to Arizona from Michigan. We left everything, and everyone we knew, and moved with our two-year-old daughter to the town of Queen Creek. Two years later, we had our second daughter and we realized that having me stay at home would be better than spending our money on daycare. It was a scary transition since I had been working full time since I graduated college. But I resigned and was excited to start my new adventure as a stay-at-home mom.

A year later, we had our third daughter. Once I figured out how to juggle three littles at the same time, I decided that I needed to find a hobby, something that was just for me. I have always enjoyed making wood signs and decided to purchase a Cricut machine. I had so much fun with it! I made a few signs at first but then I started experimenting with other items. Once I got the hang of it, I started selling Christmas wine glasses and Santa plates in my neighborhood. After receiving compliments for those items and knowing how much joy my pieces were bringing to people, I decided to go ahead and open an Etsy shop. I started by listing items slowly and created a Facebook page to help create interest. Since I officially opened Creative Sparks in January, it has grown to include thirty listings, I have created Instagram and TikTok accounts, and I have expanded on my crafting skills. I have enjoyed creating personalized and meaningful items that will be treasured for years to come. I look forward to growing this business and can’t wait to see what the future holds!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The hardest part of creating my business has been learning about shipping and juggling it while watching my girls. On Etsy, I offer free shipping for orders over $35. This is something that is hard to consider when pricing items, but it is definitely a must in order to have Etsy prioritize your listings above others. My biggest challenge with it happened when I started selling personalized Easter baskets. I originally had the price too low and didn’t realize it until I had one person order two at one time. The cost of shipping wiped out all of the profit on that sale. I learned from that experience and now make sure that I make a small profit even if I am paying to ship the items. The other challenge has been staying focused on my business while also keeping our girls busy. Our girls are 2, 3, and 6 years old, so they need a lot of attention. Time management and multitasking is what keeps everything on track. I tend to work a lot at night or on the weekends when my husband is able to keep them entertained.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Creative Sparks began as a hobby to switch up my everyday routine as a stay-at-home mom and has sparked the creative side of me. With this creativity came the inspiration to share my designs with others. Creative Sparks are always flying, giving me new inspiration, and I can’t wait to share more designs as time continues! I love taking my ideas, or my clients, and then creating unique, personalized designs and bringing them to life from that design. One of my bestsellers came from a client who sent me three pictures about nurses. She wanted a wine glass made as a gift. I created the design from the quote and included the other two elements from the pictures. The wine glass came out beautiful and I created a sign with the design as well. I have created decals, signs, shirts, wine glasses, etched glass, personalized gift baskets, tumblers, and more!

The thing that makes me the proudest is the quality standard that I hold. If I make something and any part of it is out of line, or it’s not cut correctly, I will start the process over. I take pride in my items and want to make sure that I am creating meaningful and beautiful items that will last and be treasured for years to come. I believe that this is what sets Creative Sparks apart from other shops. Some aspects are impossible to recreate, such as wood pieces where the wood grain can be different on each sign, but when you purchase something, it should look exactly as it was pictured in the listing or as promised. Consistency is one key to success!

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Aside from a high-quality standard, I pride myself on my customer service. I graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Hospitality Business. Ever since I graduated, I have been in the customer service industry. I started in a restaurant as an Assistant Manager, then switched fields and became a Client Advocate for a well-known financial business. The skills I learned in my past careers have helped me be successful with my small business. It’s little things, such as sending proofs before making an order to ensure the item looks good to my clients, or adding a handmade gift message to orders that are marked as gifts that sets you apart from the rest and creates a unique and enjoyable client experience. When clients have an enjoyable experience, they will remember you and your shop and visit again in the future.

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