It’s time for another Spotlight! Our second feature of 2019 is the incredibly talented Mandy Graham of SparkleBerry Ink. Check out her feature to see how nursing school led her to build an online craft business with over 64,000 Facebook followers (and a brand new craft market in Powder Springs!) and how her faith in God motivates her to keep chasing her dreams and inspiring others.
Q: What is the name of your business and when did you get started?
SparkleBerry Ink was created in 2015.
Q: Tell us about your business. What products and/or services do you offer?
We offer a wide variety of craft vinyl for crafters, but what sets us apart is our exclusive library of over 1000 beautiful patterns. We print these patterns onto craft vinyl for customers to use with their craft cutters to make decals and decorated garments.
Q: How did you get the idea or concept for the business?
I learned to use a craft cutter at KSU’s Nursing School of all places! I started the program in 2014 and I was elected as Class Representative to the Student Nursing Board. I was asked to help with fundraising and part of that duty was to learn to use their Silhouette Portrait. After seeing how easy and fun it was to create using vinyl, I opened my own Etsy shop. It was a few months later that I got the idea that patterned vinyl would be so much more eye-catching than plain solid colors. Within a few months, I started printing our own designs to sell to crafters.
Q: Why did you choose your industry/business?
Crafting is fun and actually serves as a form of therapy for some people. Creating with your hands is something that seems to be a bit of a lost art form among the technologically-savvy population of today. My mission and goal is to nurture a crafting community and get people using their hands to create once again.
Q: Which channel(s) do you feel has been the most beneficial to the growth of your business (Social media, web-presence, word-of-mouth, networking, etc)? Why?
FACEBOOK 100% has been crucial to my business! We started doing Facebook Lives a little over 2 years ago, sharing with our audience our process as we made decals for cups or designs for t-shirts. It caught on pretty quickly we built our Facebook following to well over 60k as of today.
Q: What do you feel has been the biggest contributor to the success of your business?
The biggest contributor to the success of my business has first and foremost been God. It is from Him that I draw my courage, creativity and drive. It is not always easy and it would be impossible without the strength I draw from my faith in Jesus.
Q: Can you tell us about a client experience that made you think, “This is why I do what I do!”?
I have the kindest, most appreciative audience and customers. My Facebook messenger is filled with thank you notes from them, thanking me for inspiring them to be a better crafter and/or business woman. My customers are the #1 reason I do what I do. SparkleBerry’s mission is to spread light and to bring our crafting community together. Because of those thank you emails and messages, I know our mission is coming to fruition and I’m so grateful.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote, book, or blog that has inspired you as you have grown your business?
Yes! Starting and running a business is one of the scariest yet most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. When I think about “HOW” one of my big dreams is going to get done, it is so easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. God tell us in Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous for I am with you wherever you go.” God planted this entrepreneurial seed inside of me and He is with me every step of the way. When times get tough, I remember this verse. Sticking close to God is the ONLY way to the top for me.
Q: What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your first year (or first few years) of business?
The beginning… I almost shudder to think of it! Ha ! I actually made a ton of mistakes (and still do) but I suppose my biggest lesson I learned was that there will be many amazing opportunities in life. The problem is, we don’t have the capacity to execute EVERY great idea. Choosing one or two main focuses in your business is important, especially in the beginning. You want to be the best at what you do. If you are spread too thin, that is an impossible task. Find your passion, pick your focus and see it through. Learn everything you can about that passion and learn to be the best in your industry.
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced while starting and growing your business?
The biggest obstacle while growing my business is finding balance between work and home. Because my business started from my home, it’s been very difficult for me to find a time to “clock out.” My family has been very supportive and helps remind me to take care of myself (and them) but it’s only been in recent months that I’ve been able to walk away from the business at 7pm or so and say, “Tomorrow is another day.” It is a delicate balance because when you want something to grow, you feel like you need to water it with attention constantly. Zachariah 4:6 tells us that is not by our power or might that makes things happen but by the Spirit of God. So each day, I hustle but then I remember to rest and leave the big stuff to God.
Q: What words of wisdom or advice would you offer to someone starting their own business?
PERSEVERE! Perseverance is the ONLY way you will succeed. I watch so many business owners start up and then become discouraged a short way through. Building a successful business is HARD WORK. Rejection is hard. Failure is hard but you MUST face those unpleasantries to learn and grow. Pushing through after an idea fails, or after rejection is key to becoming a stronger and wiser business owner. Try to think of failure as a stepping stone, a right of passage in this unpredictable venture. You will fail but it is only through failure that you learn how to find (and keep) a successful business. It will be hard, it will be scary but if you persevere, you will eventually succeed.
SparkleBerry Craft Market
5780 CH James Pkwy #230
Powder Springs, GA 30127