I've been trying really hard to showcase a mix of types of shops here, but sometimes I have to feature someone for selfish reasons. The reason behind today's interview? I'm an earring addict, and no shop is making my cart fill up faster right now than Simply Artrageous.
Adorable earrings and accessories aside, I really wanted to highlight Victoria Parker-Barajas, the designer behind the brand, because she's a woman who knows how to hustle. Victoria works a full-time job and is still making magic happen in her Etsy shop on the side. It's a story that I think resonates with so many of us (myself included), and hearing how hard she works to keep doing what she's passionate about (even if it means juggling a million things) inspires me to do the same. And when you see how gorgeous her pieces are, you'll understand why she puts in the time. From statement earrings to motivational bracelets, her jewelry is the kind that can completely elevate a look AND be worn every day. Don't be surprised if your cart starts filling up as quickly as mine has.
Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?
A: Ever since I can remember I’ve always been crafty, I loved building forts from big cardboard boxes and I made clothes for my barbies till I was almost 13 years old! In 2012 a small group of girlfriends and I were planning a 6 week trip through Europe. I was a full-time college student at the time with a part-time retail job and was trying to find ways to save more money for the trip and that’s when I started my online store under the name Simply Artrageous. In high school I was in a screen printing class and had started printing the name “Artrageous” on shirts and selling them to friends through MySpace (haha throwback) and so when I was thinking of my new store I wanted something a little more sophisticated so I threw “Simply” in the front of it haha. Fun Fact: my mom was the one who really helped come up with my name! I opened my store on Storenvy and started promoting it through social media and occasionally sold at pop-ups. I honestly did not think that I was going to last this long, it was just a project to help raise finances for my trip!
Q: What was your first product to take off or find enough success that you were encouraged to do more?
A: I would have to say that my most popular product was my glittery pastel starfish clip that I made from polymer clay. I made them in two different sizes and in 3 different pastel colors and they sold so well that I was encouraged to start an entire Mermaid collection.
Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting a business? Were you nervous to share it?
A: I was living with my parents and siblings at the time and every time I got a sale through my website I remember going through the house exclaiming “I MADE ANOTHER SALE!!!” still in shock and awe that someone out there went on my website and paid for something that I had handmade. My family was very supportive of my new venture and proud of me for stepping out especially considering that I was so timid and self-conscious by nature. I am still shy to share about my business when I meet new people in person so much that sometimes one of my friends or my sister will be the first to mention it to them haha! I’m trying to work on that...
Q: Did you still work a full-time job? If so, do you have plans of turning this into a full-time gig?
A: I do currently work full-time right now...at a cemetery! As much as I would love to work on my art full-timeI don’t know how possible that would be considering that my husband and I would like to start planning for a family and the cost of living in Los Angeles is pretty ridiculous. I do see my husband and myself working full-time for our Christian church someday though. He is actually studying to be a pastor right now.
Q: Since both Etsy and Instagram can get saturated with jewelry creators, what do you do to help set yourself apart? And how do you power through that?
A: I honestly have to stay true to myself. When everyone is so into earth tones and minimalism, while it looks great and all, that’s not really who I am right now. I always have to remind myself not to create for the people I see on IG but to create items that I like. There’s no one out there exactly like me and that’s what makes me and my shop special. My mantra: Be True To You! I think that will show through my work and ultimately set me apart from others.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge of running a business for you?
A: Right now in this season of my life I have to say that the biggest challenge is setting hours aside uninterrupted by the stress of day to be creative and experiment with my hands and my materials. I’ve been working full time for a year now and I’m still trying to find that balance between my full-time job, my shop, being a wife, being involved in church and just self-care. I don’t know how other creatives do it having a separate full-time job and an indie-business but I’m trying to learn how to find that balance.
Q: What do you wish you knew when you first started your shop?
A: I honestly wish I had started selling on Etsy from the beginning. I was so consumed with the idea of having my own customized website that I didn’t think of selling through Etsy. I recently switched over and the response has been amazing. I’ve been amazed at how many new customers and followers I’ve received since switching platforms. The Etsy community is really something special.
Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?
A: My absolute favorite item in my shop are my Monstera Earrings. They are so bold and fun and really look great on anyone! (lol that rhymed). They make the perfect accessory for a vacation trip or make a simple t-shirt and jeans outfit pop.
Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?
A: I would love to build a system where I have more items in stock so that I don’t have to have such a long processing time and I would be able to ship out items faster. Also, I really would love to become more active and consistent on social media and let my personality show through so that I can build a larger following.
Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?
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