Alex Partin has always been into crafting — she loves to make things. She knew she wanted to start her own business, but the only real question was “how.” After Alex and her husband started a family, their children inspired her to strive toward new goals. Becoming a parent gave her a new outlook on life, one where she felt empowered to accomplish things she might not have previously thought possible. Craftwells, her online store for crafting and home decor, came from this passion, which she continues to work on from her home in Gig Harbor, Wash.
Seeing a need
“Craftwells came to mind when I realized just how large of an industry crafting is and how few suppliers there are comparatively.” ~ Alex Partin
Alex was frustrated. Looking for craft supplies for her own projects, she found that all her options were too expensive. Shopping online or at stores “always wound up costing me twice as much for the pieces to make something than it would just to buy it pre-done,” she says. Knowing she wanted to start her own business at some point, she saw this as a specific need she could help fill.
Alex took to researching the market. She saw that there were plenty of businesses with an online presence, but none of them with the same range of products she could provide. “I made price comparison spreadsheets and identified what I felt I could improve upon for a better customer experience,” she says.
Fish out of water
With no web development experience, Alex spent a lot of time researching and tinkering. “I’m lucky that there [are] resources out there for people like myself to build their business without having to hire full-time employees to do things like web design and marketing,” she says.
A big first step for her was deciding on a domain. Because she knew she wanted her company to be an online business, she started with the domain, which would then be the name of the business itself. “It had to sound like a craft store,” she says. “The next steps were searching out suppliers and building the actual site.”
GoDaddy was her first choice for a domain, and as she started working with GoDaddy GoCentral Online Store, the other tools started coming together. “GoDaddy has created a platform where you can get a business online and make necessary changes as you learn,” she says.
Finding the right set of tools
Combining GoDaddy’s tools with others, such as Google Analytics, she’s gone from newbie to pro in a short amount of time. “Each social media site and search engine have made it incredibly easy and affordable to begin ad campaigns that really get your name out there.”
“GoCentral was really the catalyst for the entire project. It took me about a day to get it started, and since then, I just make little changes and improvements as things move along.” ~ Alex Partin
“If GoCentral didn’t make everything so easy, I don’t think I would have been able to get this business going so fast,” Alex says, who has been using GoCentral Online Store, a suite of eCommerce and marketing products, ever since she launched her business.
For someone who was driven to learn while doing, having a set of tools to track orders and customer activity on her site has been essential. “I feel like I am learning something new about our audience every day,” she says. “I then have the tools to make changes quickly and have a greater appeal. I also have the ability to just experiment and see what takes.”
Stubborn, but patient
The most valuable thing Alex has learned since starting her business is that growth takes time. Eventually, she’d like to see Craftwells become a real competitor to major eCommerce sites and craft stores. And, beyond that, she hopes that in 10 years’ time, Craftwells will become a full-fledged corporation with the ability to reach a larger audience and offer global shipping. She has big hopes for the company. But she also knows that Craftwells wouldn’t be where it is now if she hadn’t been patient.
“I think in general I am a stubborn person,” she says, “so when that is applied to something entrepreneurial it seems to work out well. When you start something like this, things rarely work out perfectly the first try.”
When asked what three words define success for her, patience was right at the top: Patience, dedication and flexibility. “You have to keep trying new things to find the right path,” she explains.
No matter how big Craftwells might become, Alex wants to hang on to the startup mentality. There’s a certain work ethic required to start something from scratch, whether it’s a craft project or a company.
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