Friday, January 15, 2021

Happy 7th Birthday Happily Ever Hatter

It's Happily Ever Hatter's 7th Birthday and it's also National Hat Day!!!

I can't believe it's been seven years since I decided to take the plunge into starting a business and opening an Etsy shop.  At the time, it was long overdue, but I was so afraid of failure.  I put it off for quite a while before I gained the confidence to jump in without a safety net.  But looking back seven years later, I'm so glad that I did.

A lot has happened in seven years.  I wish that I could say it's all been rainbows and unicorns but running a business is hard.  I've had so many experiences that have made it amazing.  And there have been a few experiences with customers and other small shops that have made me wonder why I put myself and my creativity out into the world.  But overall, it has been a magical, wonderful and rewarding experience.

It's hard to believe that this all started because I wanted customized ear hats for Eliot's and my Disney honeymoon in March of 2013.  I made us custom bride and groom ear hats that we wore during our trip.  People loved them and wanted to know where they could get them.  I had a mini photoshoot of them at the Wedding Pavilion.  At the time, I had no idea that my new business was born.  A year later, I took the plunge to open my shop in January and February of 2014, and I haven't looked back since.

In honor of HEH's birthday, here are seven of my favorite memories through the years:

1.) I've really enjoyed making ears for our family and friends.  I love making something special for them.  One of the first custom mouse ears I made were actually for our friend BJ to celebrate his 30th birthday!  I also made a mouse ear hat for my cousin Kaitlin's son Isaac to celebrate his 1st birthday.

2.) Something I'm really proud of is that Eliot and I first created our 3D printed mouse ears, our IllusionEars, in the spring of 2015.  At the time, we were the only Etsy shop selling them and it remained that way for quite a while.  By 2017, they became popular when another shop started selling them.  But as far as we know, Eliot and I were the original 3D printed mouse ears and I'm very proud of that fact.

3.) In February of 2017, Eliot and I were able to meet up with one of our customers who I've since become friends with and keep in touch with.  Our Walt Disney World trips overlapped and we spent a few hours talking with Corey at Hollywood Studios.

4.) Eliot and I have also seen a few of our ears out "in the wild" while on vacation and it's always a thrill.  There are three times that I remember most.  The first time we ran into a customer was when we saw our D23 ears at the 2017 D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA.  Another time, we ran into a customer who had bought football ears for her son while we were walking around the Africa section of Animal Kingdom.  Finally, we've run into two customers wearing our Sharks ears while we were visiting Eliot's Dad and attending a few home San Jose Sharks hockey games!

5.) Over the years, we have had a few popular Disney bloggers and some Instagram "influencers" ask us to make them ears.  It's always a thrill to be recognized by them!

6.) We have also gotten compliments from multiple cast members over the years.  I always feel wonderful when anyone compliments our ears, but it's extra special when a cast member acknowledges how cool they are.  One time, we even got a compliment from Larry Dotson, one of Eliot's and my favorite Disney artists.

7.) Finally, one of my favorite part of making mouse ears has been the fun character interactions we've had.  Eliot and I have had a lot of them, but my absolute favorite memory was when I wore my Minnie Mouse Disneyland 65th Diamond Celebration outfit with my matching custom ear hat.  Minnie saw me when she came out to greet guests, and she grabbed my hand and I got to run along side her to her location.  I've always loved the commercials when the kids are skipping hand in hand with their favorite Disney characters and I never dreamed that would be me one day.

There have been so many other wonderful moments over the past seven years.  I've loved making ears for my travel agent friends.  Every time they post a photo wearing ears that we've created it makes me smile.  I've loved making connections with my customers.  I've love talking to them and creating relationships with them.  I've loved the endless hours of work spent at our dining room table, where I've created most, if not all, of these designs.  And I love how I still use thread that I've inherited from both of my grandmothers to create my ear hat designs.

Happily Ever Hatter has come so far in seven years.  I'm just shy of 1500 sales on Etsy- which doesn't include all of the orders I've taken from my friends and family through PayPal.  We have 3,098 people who like and follow our shop on Etsy and we get new additions all the time.  Our social media accounts aren't as high as I'd like them to be, but I'm happy that we have many quality followers who genuinely want to see what we're posting.  I have no idea how many ear hats, hair clips and 3D printed mouse ears we've made through the years, but it's safe to say that it's been a lot!

There's so much for me to be proud of.  When I take a beat and really think about it, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for where I am.  If there's one thing that I'm most proud of, it's that Eliot and I have worked so hard with our businesses that I was able to leave my "real job" to stay at home running our businesses full-time.  It has always been my dream to work from home doing something creative.  And thanks to the success of Happily Ever Hatter, that dream has become a reality.

This past year has been really rough with the pandemic.  I'd be lying if I said it's been easy.  Our sales were down a lot last year, as was to be expected while Disneyland remains closed and when most people aren't traveling to theme parks.  But I'm still optimistic that things will pick up.  We had an increase of orders over the holidays, and I'm positive that things will bounce back once people are able to travel safely again.

The future for Happily Ever Hatter is bright.  Eliot and I are always working on new 3D printed ear designs.  I've got at least 40 samples of designs that I'm currently working on.  I'm also working on a few new products that I'm hoping to release later on this year.  We've got a lot of ideas and I'm still thinking of new ones.  I'd like to get back to making ear hats again eventually, but we'll see where things take us.

Finally, there's one thing that really resonates with me looking back at these past seven years.  I am overwhelmingly grateful to everyone who has bought something from me over the past seven years.  It's truly humbling to be able to create handmade products that bring a little extra magic into someone's life.  I am also thankful for every like, heart, follow, comment, post, and share we get on social media.  Thank you so much to everyone who has supported our business over the last seven years.  From the bottom of my heart, I am truly grateful.  Because of you, my dream has come true.  °o°

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