“Shop Small” is a phrase that has been circulated throughout recent years and even more so as small businesses are exploding across social media platforms. Within the last year, as many have turned to online shopping, small shops have seen an increase in engagement. One of these is SimplyMaddieLee. This Etsy shop was started in July of 2020 and features items like vinyl decals, stickers, keychains and friendship bracelets. Madison Kennard, a marketing student at Florida State University (FSU), started her shop and watched it grow!
Her Campus (HC): You have a great shop! What pushed you to open SimplyMaddieLee?
Madison Kennard (MK): When COVID-19 hit, FSU’s campus closed, so I moved back home. There wasn’t much for me to do besides schoolwork; I had so much free time on my hands that I was able to do whatever I pleased. So, I got back into crafting and creating, which I’ve always loved to do. I was making so many things that I decided, why not sell them? From there, SimplyMaddieLee was born!
HC: What inspires you to create new items? Do you keep tabs on trends?
MK: I try to create things that I enjoy making and think others will enjoy having. I look at trends for ideas, but I always end up making things that I like to create and that I’m proud of doing.
HC: I love that! When you started, what kind of items did you first make?
MK: I started with vinyl decals because all I had was my Cricut machine and vinyl, and I couldn’t make stickers yet. I eventually began creating illustrations on the procreate app on my iPhone and then moved up to an iPad and turned those doodles into stickers! I still have both up in my shop, but I’m trying to create more sticker designs. I want to broaden my shop items and add new things soon! I’m actually launching some new products within the next couple of days.
HC: What are some of your favorite items you’ve created?
MK: I’m obsessed with everything in my shop, but if I had to choose favorites, I’d probably pick the custom monogram keychains, my small business owner sticker and the friendship bracelets.
HC: What is your favorite aspect of SimplyMaddieLee?
MK: I think my favorite thing is the creative freedom and ability to do what I want with my business. It’s so cool to have something that is yours, you know? Like I created this, it’s my name and it’s something I work on every day. I’m also obsessed with the small business community; everyone is so kind and supportive, and it really helps you continue to go on even when you feel like you’re failing. I also love my customers, especially when I see their reviews telling me how my package and items made their day. That’s what it’s all about for me.
HC: Small businesses are all over social media, and I’ve noticed you have a TikTok. How has social media helped you increase engagement with your brand?
MK: I only used to have my Etsy shop, and when I wasn’t receiving a lot of interaction, I decided to create an Instagram. Eventually, I saw many small businesses have TikTok. So, two weeks ago, I made one and have been trying to post more often. I was actually in a rut and had maybe one to five orders a week. Then I created my TikTok, and now I get that many or more a day! I think social media plays a huge role in lives today, and I think it’s a very useful tool to use when having a business or when trying to promote something.
HC: What are some challenges you’ve faced with opening and jump starting your small business?
MK: A challenge I faced when opening my shop was that I didn’t have that startup money since I didn’t have a job at the moment due to COVID-19. I had to wait until I got a certain amount of orders and then used that money to buy more inventory. Another struggle was that many people lost their jobs or had their work hours cut back this past summer when I began, so people didn’t have a lot of extra spending money. It was hard to sell things that aren’t necessities to people who may not have that extra money to spend.
HC: You are coming up on a year since you’ve started this journey. What are you hoping to accomplish in the coming years? Are you going to continue with your shop?
MK: I’m hoping to grow SimplyMaddieLee. A part of that would be creating my own apparel line! That’s a huge goal of mine. I know that I’ll continue with SimplyMaddieLee as this has always been something I’ve wanted to do, and I absolutely love it.
Be sure to check out all the cute things being made at SimplyMaddieLee on Instagram to keep up to date!