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Meet Judi Thomas of Black Butterfly in Castle Pines (South Denver)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judi Thomas.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Judi. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After a difficult summer in 2016, my family found ourselves drowning in personal debt. In order for our family to survive, we had to make an additional $1000 per month just to pay our additional bills. I felt desperate – which is usually the starting place for most great comebacks.

I always had a knack for making artwork and home decor and if I could pair that with my 15 years of corporate marketing experience and my husband’s woodworking skills, perhaps we could make the extra money. We started creating custom artwork for individuals and selling them on Facebook. I was surprised at how many people wanted a custom saying or family name on artwork. I’d come home from my full-time job and work all night and every weekend to get the orders delivered. Most customers would ask me if I had an Etsy shop. It took me a few months to get the hint to open an Etsy shop. I took every Etsy educational course I could find online to learn how to be a successful seller online. It felt like going to college all over again. Using all of my new knowledge, in Spring 2017, I listed my first products and started to see orders slowly trickle in. We quickly made the decision to only sell on Etsy and discontinue Facebook sales. I was still working a full-time marketing job while hustling nights and weekends to make it all work. In October of 2017, we found ourselves at a crossroads. Either go all in with this business so we can support the anticipated rush for Christmas or pull back and refocus on my corporate career. I could no longer sustain both a growing Etsy business and a full-time career. I pushed my chips in and bet on myself. In October 2017, I left my full-time corporate job to be a maker and entrepreneur.

Since taking that giant leap of faith, our business has grown substantially. We have had the honor of working with celebrities, respected corporations, and over 10,000 amazing residential customers. We have also been featured in Buzzfeed, Country Interiors Magazine, PopSugar, Us Weekly and The Real. We are now focused on helping other makers and crafters learn how to be successful on Etsy.

Has it been a smooth road?
We were totally unprepared for the volume of Christmas orders. I thought our order volume would double. Instead, it quadrupled! We had 10 of our dearest friends and family working around the clock to ensure every customer got their Christmas orders. There were nights I would stay up until 4 am painting and making items and wake up at 7 am to get started for the next day. My friends and family were taking my kids to school, cleaning my house and packaging products every night. It was humbling and helped me value what really matters in life – the people I love! The next Christmas we learned our lesson and we were able to accommodate the volume of orders much easier.

Another struggle we had was our main machinery caught on fire the same day we were featured on BuzzFeed. We had over 100 orders that had to get sent out with no working tool to get the job done. It was a stressful time but we were able to communicate with our customers, get a replacement and send out the orders in a timely fashion.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Black Butterfly story. Tell us more about the business.
Black Butterfly is a handmade sign and home decor company. We specialize in making custom doormats and signs for homes. We hope to be known for the quality of our products and the unique nature of our designs. I am definitely most proud of our focus on helping other makers start their own Etsy businesses through YouTube videos and Instagram. We have had single moms, military wives, teachers, disabled people all reach out to us to let us know that our simple act of sharing knowledge has encouraged them to start making products and selling them online. Some of them are supporting their families and have left their corporate jobs as well. It is our greatest honor to see more people create beautiful items with their own two hands and generate income for their families as a result.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Etsy is a unique platform and is poised for growth as America is currently experiencing a “Maker Revival.” People all across America are learning trades, handcrafting beautiful products and honing their creative skills. Woodworking, for example, is no longer a grandpa’s past time. Young people are picking up these crafts and reigniting a new genre of an entrepreneur in America. I’m excited to be a part of this revival which I’m hoping lasts for decades to come. I am positioning myself to help these makers get their products online and available to the people who are desperate for high-quality, handcrafted goods.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jordan Quinn Photo:

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