We talk a lot about how much more special items feel when they're bought from a small shop, but nothing might evoke that more than home items and art made by hand..
Looking at the pieces by The Coy Collection, it's clear that Sequoyah Johnson puts a great deal of love and care into all of her pieces. Handmade and hand painted planters, mugs, and more are adorned with smiley faces and other fun prints like cow print. They're the type of items that are enough to make any window sill filled with plants or any morning cup of coffee feel just a little bit happier. All of that said, Sequoyah's story of how The Coy Collection came to be might just be even brighter than the items she makes. Learning about how she created her brand after a series of huge life events and then grew it in such a short amount of time had me on the edge of my seat and made me even more excited to see what she does next. You'll feel inspired after reading it, and you'll wish you were sipping coffee out of a smiley face mug while you did. Enjoy!
My pick: if I could actually keep any plants alive, you'd better believe I'd be watering them in these mini smile planters.
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: Sooo the beginning of the coy collection happened the week I had been fired from my job, bought a house with my boyfriend, and was in a near death car accident. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with so many emotions and energy that needed somewhere to go. I knew a lot of negative things were happening, but I wanted to use that as fuel to create something full of positive energy and growth. The Coy Collection was born out of reflection of the things I wish I had been doing - creating art and sharing my story with others to inspire them to do the same. I guess you can say the universe forced me to uplift my own voice and follow my true passion - and I am forever grateful!
Q: Was there a moment when you felt like this was something that was going to take off and become a success for you?
A: June 1, 2020. I had tagged myself on like 20 BLM posts to support small businesses and the next morning I woke up to over 200 orders for the smile mug. I remember thinking “how the hellll am I going to make all of these!” I had to quickly shut down my site and get to work. It ended up taking a lot less time than I thought and I have always wanted to be a full time creator. So after a few more “shop drops” selling out within the hour, I quit my job and decided to run The Coy Collection full time.
Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting this as a career or a business? Were you nervous to share it?
A: I’ve always been a risk-taker and traveled the wild roads of life so they were not surprised at all. My friends and family have always been supportive and encourage me to pursue my dreams - no matter how grandiose they are! (If you want to be successful, make sure you surround yourself with the support you need to thrive!)
Q: Is this your full-time job? If so, how long did it take you to transition into full-time?
A: Yes! This is my full-time gig! I legit quit my job two months after it blew up. I like to think the things you water in life will grow. It really is important to me to put all my effort and time and energy into creating.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you first started your brand?
A: 3 major things!
-the more authentically you start out, the better off you are. I used to think I had to be proper and say things people “wanted to hear” and take photos of my work on a white background to look clean and cohesive - when in reality - I’M A HOT MESS with a cherry on top and I love it! So now I post what I feel and create work according to the messages I want to convey + a incredible amount of unflattering selfies #nofilter
-that you reallllllly do not have to know all the answers. Many people don't realize that the key to starting a business is to have drive/passion and perseverance. I technically don't have a logo or a “business plan,” but I’m open to evolving and learning from mistakes and taking on challenges and that's what it's really about.
-I wish I would’ve known that people naturally want to help and not to be afraid to ask. I’ve connected with SO MANY of my role models / “famous people” because I wasn’t afraid to reach out and advocate for myself and my work!
Q: Obviously, we’re in strange times right now so I have to ask everyone I talk to - how has COVID-19 affected your business and what are you doing to keep everything going during this time? What can people do to support you and others during all of this?
A: It felt weird at first to really be thriving because there is so much suffering going on in the world, but I actually love being able to spread light and joy through my work! I want people to know that there is always light amidst the darkness and that we’re all doing a damn good job at doing the best we can! In terms of supporting myself and others, patience is really reallllly helpful!
Q: What tips do you have for people looking to support independent businesses as we head into the holiday season?
A: Shop local. Shop small. Because my business has grown so much in such a short amount of time, the demand is HIGH! There are tons of other ways to support! Share the content, leave positive reviews, sending an encouraging message, sign up for emails/updates! :) we small business folk love to see it!
Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?
A: My favorite item is the extra smiley cup! It just brings me so much joy and it's my favorite thing to paint! All the smileys are so different!
Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?
A: I want 2021 to be the year of collaboration for The Coy Collection! We have been in such isolation and deprived of social interactions. I want to work with other artists that inspire me and really find deep connections through creation. Hit me up if you're interested!! :)
Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?
A: Oh what a brilliant last question!
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