Beth Veenstra has lived in Cerritos for more than 10 years with her husband, Ralph, a Pastor of Congregational Life at New Life Community Church. Together they have three children, who are all students of the .
At face value, Beth may seem like an average Cerritos homemaker, but in 2009 she turned her battle with cancer into triumph when she opened her own online store.
What inspired you to start BethsCardCreations?
My teenage son was actually the first person to introduce me to Etsy. His art teacher at , Mrs. Agrums, mentioned the website to his class. At about the same time, my friend Mariah Bower began encouraging me to sell my cards online. Setting up a shop on-ine seemed so overwhelming to me, so I kept putting it off, thinking, "maybe someday..."
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, I was prompted into action to do some of the things I had always wanted to do. If my life were to be shortened, my "someday" might never come! I also was determined to make beautiful things during my ugly stage of chemo, baldness, and surgery. During my cancer fight, I kept a blog on Caring Bridge and had chronicled a lot of raw, private emotions. I figured if I could be so bold to express my fears online, I could overcome my anxiety of learning how to set up an online shop. Plus, I always liked how “Beth’s Card Creations” sounded, and so, the online store was born.
Do you sell anywhere else aside from Etsy?
BethsCardCreations.etsy.com is my only on-line shop. I do, however, sell at the occasional boutique or craft-fair fundraiser.
What do you like about having your own business?
I love being able to earn money from what I love doing! It gives me joy to make something beautiful and then I send it on to someone else who thinks it is lovely, as well. And, of course, I like that I am my own boss so I can control my own work schedule.
What do you dislike about having your own business?
Right now my business is very small. Most weeks I sell several things, but there are some weeks that I don’t sell anything. So it can be frustrating to not have a set income like I would at a regular 9-5 job.
Did the struggling economy have any influence in your decision to start selling your crafts?
Yes. The recession hit at about the same time as I was getting medical bills from my cancer treatments. The combination of the two made me feel a greater need to contribute to the family income in some way.
What do you do aside from your card creations?
Whew! Well, I am a stay-at-home mom to a teen, preteen, and preschooler, which basically means I do loads of laundry, piles of dishes, and a great deal of cleaning, cooking, and taxiing! I am active on the PTA of Kennedy Elementary, and I give beginniner-level piano lessons three afternoons per week. I am also a pastor’s wife, so there a lot of volunteer opportunities and hospitality expectations that go along with that job.
How long have you been interested in crafts?
It seems that I have always loved crafts. I loved to draw as a young child. I remember my aunt giving me a sketch book and a set of drawing pencils when I was 8 or so. I had that book filled in no time! And then, for awhile, I was hooked on Walco Li’l Missy Beaded Doll Kits. My parents bought new ones for me every birthday and Christmas. I’m sure I developed many of the fine motor skills I use for my card crafting from those doll kits. The insertion of sequins and beads, and the gluing on of ribbon and lace required by those kits was such detailed work, just like the work done on my cards. I’ve done painting, cross stitch and sewing, as well, but paper crafting is my passion.
Do any charities benefit from your Etsy sales?
In the past, I have sold my cards to raise money for MOPS, a Mothers of Preschoolers organization that was sponsored at our church. As a Christian, I believe in tithing 10% of my earnings back to my church. And, as former missionaries to the Dominican Republic, my husband and I have a heart for missions. So, currently, my 10% goes toward supporting missionaries from our church.
Do you have any advise for people that are interested in opening their own small businesses or Etsy shops?
First of all, hone your craft. Make sure you have something you believe people will buy. Show your artwork to friends and family and gauge their reaction to it. Are they just being polite, or do they really think you have made something worthy of selling? Try hosting a table at a local craft fair to make sure people are interested in your product. If so, then plow on ahead! Check your local city guidelines for obtaining a seller’s permit and business license. Then set up a shop. Don’t wait until your logo, your banner, or your pricing is just perfect. You will likely always be updating and perfecting things along the way after you’ve opened shop.