This mother-daughter Etsy shop showcases the value of handcrafted items


This summer, GOBankingRates continues its annual Small Business Spotlight tradition by featuring small businesses that have been nominated by our readers. We hope to spotlight inspiring local businesses, especially after the pandemic has left so many establishments struggling to get back on their feet.

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In this small business article, we spotlight Happily Handcrafted By Anna & Julianna, Etsy shop co-owners, and a mother-daughter team. Anna and Julianna Babin run their Etsy shop from Chicago, but what is now a booming online business started with humble beginnings. Julianna started making crafts at home when she was younger, and over the years she amassed such an impressive amount of homemade items that she and her mother decided to start selling them in Chicagoland arts and crafts fairs. After selling in these locations for nearly a decade, they opened their Etsy store this year to bring their designs to a wider customer base and have the flexibility to work from home. Their Etsy store features polymer clay crafts, decoupage backdrops, ribbon bookmarks and more. Here we chat with Anna and Juliana about the inspiration behind their handmade items and the advice they have for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

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Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?

Julianna: I’ve always loved crafting ever since I was little. I really liked drawing and making bracelets. Around 2010 or so, I started taking painting classes at a local art center and began exploring how to sculpt with polymer clay and make jewelry through online tutorials and articles from magazines. Before I knew it, I had a huge amount of crafting that I had done. My mom thought it would be a good idea to do a craft fair together.

Anna: I decided that I also wanted to participate in the craft show and started exploring ideas for crafts to do. I started making decoupage ceramic tile coasters, which were a bestseller at our first show. From there, I started thinking about other ideas and started making ribbon bookmarks with my daughter. I also started doing painted rocks, which I really like. I love working with my daughter.

What did you take away from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be part of your new business?

We really enjoy interacting with our clients and describing the stories and process behind our work. Now that we’re on Etsy, we continue to engage with our audience on social media and love getting feedback and ideas on what our customers would like us to do next.

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What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning a business?

There are endless opportunities to try new types of craft projects. We have the freedom to go in any direction we choose. We can explore our creative interests and also exchange ideas with each other often.

What inspired you to transform your business from sharing your creations at craft fairs to starting an Etsy shop, and how has this transition affected your business?

We wanted to reach a wider audience by sharing our creations online. Handmade gifts are extremely special and we wanted to have more opportunities to share our craftsmanship around the world to brighten people’s lives. Crafting is a very therapeutic part of our life and we enjoy working as a team. The transition was smooth for us, especially during the pandemic when we could no longer exhibit our products in person. Selling online has given us the freedom and flexibility to work from home.

Why are small businesses like yours so vital to the Chicago community?

There’s something extra special about handmade items that makes gifts all the more meaningful. We handcraft each of our items in small batches, and each piece is one of a kind. This gives people in our area the opportunity to support the arts in our community.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?

Never give up. It’s hard to gain momentum at first and can be discouraging, but it’s important to keep trying. Loving what you do is worth it.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack and writes about finance for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication and design from the University of California, Davis.


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