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Conversations with Stephanie Murphy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Murphy.

Hi Stephanie, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
It’s really difficult to pinpoint exactly how I evolved into a “maker.” Most of the time, I really don’t even know what to call myself. A crafter I suppose. I love working with my hands and I think I get it from my mother, father, and grandfather. My father is very handy. He can build and fix anything. Electric, plumbing, concrete, buildings. You name it.

He insisted as I grew up that I was able to do a lot of things myself. I remember when I was a teenage girl and my brake pads when out on my car, he made me change them. He helped of course. At the time, I didn’t appreciate what he was doing but he taught me to not be intimidated by learning new things, using tools, and being independent. Then there is my mother. She has been making things for so many years I can’t even remember when she started. She sews, does embroidery, quilts, makes signs. Her father, my grandpa was a woodworker. He made beautiful shelves, doll beds, cradles, and little wooden knick-knacks. I have a picture of myself sitting on his workbench holding some tools as a very young girl. He would let me sit there and play with his tools and those are some of the fondest memories I have of him.

I didn’t really start making things until I was an adult though. It started with refinishing some furniture for our house. As a way to save money. I really enjoyed it and I started making my own benches and shelves. I developed a serious addiction to power tools. I started making ornaments and signs. My friends and family started asking if I could make them things and offering to pay me. Then my coworkers. So, that was when I started selling things. It was more of a way to support my hobby than anything. I just kept investing the money I made into supplies and tools and into improving my skills.

I purchased a laser a couple of years ago to help with my sign business. I wanted to add 3D elements to my signs but somehow that turned into me adding jewelry to my arsenal. It’s a slippery slope when you can’t sit still and you like to create. I opened an Etsy shop and sell mostly from there and locally. At this point, I feel like I do a little of everything.

I love learning new things and I really have no idea where I will be and what I will be making in 5-10 years. There are so many things I would love to do and make but just don’t have the time. So that’s me, I am a dental hygienist by day and a crafter at night. Somehow, I am lucky enough to have wonderful customers who like the things I make so I can continue to do so.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think one of the most challenging things I have done is trying to juggle my full-time job with my business. I work hard all day and then come home and fill orders. Every part of my business is me. From making the product, to packaging, answering messages, emails. I do this while also trying to maintain a somewhat well-functioning household.

I feel limited because there are so many things I would love to do to make this business bigger, but at this point, I am stretched about as thin as I can get so I keep it small to save my sanity. I love doing what I do and I want to continue to love it in the future so trying to find a healthy balance is hard.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I run an Etsy shop and sell locally. I make mostly jewelry, keychains, and other small gifts. I do some laser engraving as well. I happen to be a dental hygienist, so some of my best sellers are dental-related jewelry. I am most proud of being able to take something as simple as a hobby and turn it into a profitable business. I really never would have thought that people would love my creations enough to purchase them, wear them, and give them as gifts. I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to do what I love.

What sets me apart is my constant desire to learn more and change. I am never satisfied with staying where I am at and sticking with one thing so I have the ability to constantly improve what I am doing and what I am making. When I first started calling my craft hobby a business, it felt weird. I felt like an imposter. Like it wasn’t really a business and who was I kidding by telling people I had my own business when I was really just making stuff in my garage and basement.

Now, I am very proud and I really hope I can be an inspiration to others that you can really do whatever you set your mind to. It sounds cliché but it really is the truth. You just have to work hard and have the desire to succeed.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Honestly, I have no idea. I have added so many different elements to just my jewelry over the last couple of years because the market changes. Right now I use acrylic, resin, wood, silicone beads, macrame, stones, sublimation, and am dabbling in polymer clay.

I really have no idea what will come next but I am excited to find out. Just gives me another opportunity to learn how to do something new!

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