Etsy seller Simka Sol explains how to turn a side hustle into a business




“Better to live by ‘oh
well’s’ than ‘what if’s,'” says Sara Charles.

Courtesy of Sara Charles

When Sara Charles decided to open an Etsy shop in 2009 to sell graphic
prints, she thought, “What have I got to lose?”

The now 31-year-old had spent two years prior, after graduating
from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a degree in
graphic design, creating wedding and baby shower invitations as a
freelancer,
she told Business Insider
. It was a client who encouraged her
to sell some of her prints on Etsy, the creative online
marketplace that now hosts 1.7 million sellers.

As her shop,
SimkaSol
, grew in popularity, she began fielding requests
from customers to put her designs onto clothing and pillowcases.

“I was, like, ‘Well I don’t really know how to do that, so let’s
learn how to do that,'” she said. “I learned how to screen print,
basically, by the grace of the internet. From there, that really
just opened up this whole new world to me … ‘Wow, I can now do
so much more with textiles.'”

Charles kept up with the freelance graphic design — as well as
teaching horseback riding lessons — until she realized how
lucrative her Etsy shop had become. “It really wasn’t until late
2011 where I was like, ‘Wow, I’m making enough money to pay all
my bills and invest back into the business. So at that point I
was like, ‘I’m going to go for it,'” she said. Today, SimkaSol
remains Charles’ main source of income.

That initial caution-to-the-wind attitude has followed her. “I do
have a saying that I try to live my personal life by and apply to
business, and that is: Better to live by ‘oh well’s’ than ‘what
if’s.’ I continually push myself to do things so that the
uncomfortable becomes comfortable, and call it growth,” Charles’
said.

After teaching herself to screen print, Charles decided she’d
design and produce her own clothing, rather than buying American
Apparel basics to print on. “I started learning how to pattern
draft and how to use all my industrial sewing machines and it’s
kind of just been this continual chain of learning a new trade
and applying it and then learning another step, just constantly
chugging forward,” she said.

To date, SimkaSol has raked in more than 16,000 sales on Etsy —
and more
than 47,800 “admirers”
— which accounts for about 80% of
Charles’ overall business, she said. The other 20% comes from
selling a full collection of women’s and men’s clothing and home
decor on her personal
website
.

Five years in and Charles is still the sole employee of her
company — aside from a little help from her friends during the
holiday season — and runs her end-to-end business entirely from
her home studio in Massachusetts.

Check out SimkaSol products on Etsy and SimkaSol.com.

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