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Natalia Bolek sells wooden products – and every single one is unique and made to order. Find out how she does it!

Listen in to hear Natalia share:

  • An introduction to her business and a description of her products (00:50)
  • How she got started creating her wooden products (4:55)
  • The importance of moving forward – even if you’re taking small steps (9:02)
  • When she started making her boxes – and what’s changed since those early years (11:40)
  • Why this is a good time to start an online business (14:00)
  • Working from home, around her family and why it works (14:39)
  • How and when she made the change from a hobby to a business (18:48)
  • How she got her first orders (21:09)
  • Evolving her offers and processes to make life simpler! (24:24)
  • Her marketing focus and why it’s something to work on (26:06)
  • Why she still feels like she’s just starting out – 7 years in (27:42)
  • Crafting from home (33:19)
  • What she loves about selling products (36:00)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (39:20)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Naboso Handmade website

Naboso Handmade on Instagram

Naboso Handmade on Facebook

LET’S CONNECT

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Transcript
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Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast,

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practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell

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your own physical products. He is your host Vicki Weinberg

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So Welcome today. I'm talking to Natalia Bolek founder of

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Naboso Handmade and Natalia creates weird and personalized gifs, which

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she creates together with our clients each and everyone is

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unique. And one of a kind, so without any further

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ado, I'd love to introduce you yo Natalia.. So, hi,

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thank you so much for being here.

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Hi, I'm happy to be here as well. How are

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you?

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Really good. Thank you. So let's start, could you tell

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us a bit more about your business and what it

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is that you sell and, and perhaps described your products?

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And it was a bit for us. And I was

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mentioning before we started, I've had a look at your

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website in your products to me is so unique and

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creative, and of course, I'll put a link in the

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show notes that everyone can actually see them. Can you

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just describe what they are and what you do please?

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Yes. So I make these boxes, which I don't make

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them from scratch. As some people might think, I just

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buy boxes, which are from a pine wood. Then I

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paint him with acrylic panes. And there are in This,

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as you probably noticed that a more like shabby chic

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or vintage style, but I think, and what we found

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out of my clients, it works for everyone, like, even

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for a kid's. So, and then they can be personalized

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in whatever. Like, if you want it's M it can

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come with your own wording.

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It can come with your own pictures, or it can

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go without pictures at all. But sometimes I've got the

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clients calling me and saying that they need a gift

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for someone who's got absolutely everything. And it's so hard

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to like choose something. And especially if you got like

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a small amount of money and then we can create

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something together. Like, even if it's just a simple tissue,

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a cover box, and then you would just be there

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for a picture of Her and the family, like of

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the person and her family, and a nice quote.

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And if there's like a stylish in its unique, and

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that person opens it and find it to be like

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very thoughtful and unique gift. And it just, I don't

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know that the tissue covered books is 25 pounds and

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it includes all of the personalization there. So the person

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who orders is happy and that person who gets it,

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it's happy as well. So, and we can, I can

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make the box for, I don't know, a newborn kids

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for the kids, which are they celebrate their birthdays. We

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can make a box with the wedding picture for a

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wedding anniversary and or for a wedding itself.

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We can. Yeah. And it all started with the boxes,

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but now it's more expanding and because, and sometimes people

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want more of like, they already buy the box and

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they are looking for something else. So now it's a

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tissue cover boxes, as well as the wooden blocks where

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you can actually have your own photo. And for example,

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quote as well, a, so it can come for any

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occasion from Christmas to birthday, to friendship, celebrity M and

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now at the moment, the hexagons would, you can see

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behind my back are exploding.

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And because it's a very like, eh, hexagons or circles

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are a very modern now, no wonder if it was

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a very functional and so you can create your own

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in like the design. Yeah. And a really popular at

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the moment or the Christmas bubbles, which are flat wooden

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Christmas bubbles with your own picture. And I don't have

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Merry Christmas wording on the top, so yeah.

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Oh, wow. And you make absolutely everything. Is that right?

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So every year

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it has to be a good first of all, and

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this is how exp well I've started to, when I,

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I, I didn't get back to work. And then I

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was like, if this is not the like happy story,

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because I just found out on my maternity leave, the,

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and I'm going back. So on the time when I

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should be like, happy about all the new person in

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my life, and I was like, struggling with the food

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because I had no money. And then I was invited

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for my best friend's wedding. And I wanted to give

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her something very like personal.

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I didn't want to do just go by a gift,

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especially if you are just struggling financially. So I was

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looking online and I found a box and it was

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so much expensive because it was Handmade. And I saw

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it. I was thinking, you know, but just the box

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we'll cost me like 10 times less. And I was

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like, I would do it by myself. So this is

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how I, you know, what I ordered my first box.

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And when I look at that picture of the books

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that I've created that, and it's so completely different, but

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it, I was so proud of myself that I have

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done something about myself.

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I couldn't wait for her to open it. And because

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I was so happy, but then, you know, I started

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to watch some tutor y'alls and I found that the

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co-pack and I've started to create stuck with the Coopers.

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And one of my friends ask me if I can

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do box for her kids. So I've ordered some bigger

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boxes and I had too many of them. And then

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I gave one of the, which I had spoke to

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one of my friends and someone saw it at her

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house. And this is how I've got my first order

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for money. And it was like completely different story then,

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because first I wanted to do, you know, I had

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like, I didn't have much money.

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I was giving a Prince, a present to my family,

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and then someone noticed that, and then we wanted it.

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So this is how I got my first order. And

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then I started to, I, then I was still a

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struggling, like I wanted to go back to work, but

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I've realized one day that I had so many more

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orders because it was like, you know, I'm getting more

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popular. And that I've said to myself, why do I

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have to prove to someone that I'm smart and clever.

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If I can just do it in my own business,

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and then we'll start everything.

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And I start all my energy, not ongoing on and

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work for some others, people, I would start to work

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for myself and I will try and make a brand.

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Then I've signed myself up for, to marketing work workshops

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and well, first won. And then someone to just, you

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know, made me think that it's not only in my

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boxes I can make, I can make the course how

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to make the box and show people. Then they can

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do it themselves. But I'm not that on that stage

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yet, because I feel, you know, that that would be

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a out of my comfort zone still.

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And I think today our conversation today is one, like

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my first step towards it, that if I can be

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able to record my voice, I will be able to

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record to myself, how do I do it? And then

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we'll take it from there.

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And it's really good to have that, to work towards

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it. As we have a speaking about it before we

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started recording you, do you have to take things into

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small steps and move ha you know, moving stages that

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I feel Like for you, that you're comfortable with, that

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work around family or other commitments. You know, you don't

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always have to go in and do everything day one.

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So I think it's really good that you've got that

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as a future plan, but you knew, you know, at

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the outset, you know, you didn't want to go and

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do that right away, right?

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Yes. It's, it's small steps, which are the most important,

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because even if we take small steps, I'm like, even

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if you can work only half an hour, a day,

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it's, as long as it going forward, it makes you

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a progress. So then you can, but we have to

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remember about one thing because my to-do list is so

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massive that I always think, Oh my God, I should

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have done this. And I don't have that time for

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that, that I keep forgetting about looking backwards and see

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how big progress I have made. And especially, I forget

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to say, Natalia you have done well, cause I kept

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saying that to my kids, but I keep forgetting about

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greeting myself that look at your pictures.

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For example, I take my own pictures, buy the camera,

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but if you would go back on my Instagram account,

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so sometimes I'd do it just to say to myself

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what you've done well, because I couldn't find like proper

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lighting. And then I was, I was selling before the

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recording that if you don't know how to do something,

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it would just keep it simple as possible. Because now

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I add some details to the pictures and it helps

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to show that my product is bigger S or, or

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just, you know, when I did the baby box, I

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put the rattle a by the side.

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So I'm keep it to like, I, I just keep

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on developing with all the pictures I make and well

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not with all the, just the pictures with everything basically.

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Yeah. And I think this is the most important thing,

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isn't it? That you got started and slowly, slowly things

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evolve and you get better at being with your confidence

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greys. And I think it's really a good way that

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you do that. Looking back. I think a lot of

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us, you know, don't take the time to look back

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and see how far we've come, because we're always thinking

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of the next thing we should be doing. We could

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be doing, I mean, look and recognizing progress is brilliant.

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So how long, how long was it since you first

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started creating your boxes?

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Well, it is when my daughter was around 80 years

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old, so sorry that my daughter is 18 years old

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and I have done the first box when I was

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a, when she was born, she was around what year

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was a one year old. So it's about seven years.

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But at the beginning it was just like tiny little

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hobby. And from the moment I've learned how to transfer

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the picture into the box, eh, it was just then

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it exploded. Cause first deco Pash. And, but with deco,

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cause you have to be, I think, more creative.

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And, but from the moment I've, I've learned how to

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transfer the picture. Now I can create everything on the

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computer and then transfer on the product like a, with

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the boxes. And for example, we created an, a quote

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and around it, do you have to frame with the

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flowers, etc. And the best thing is that my kids

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are learning with me because my daughter now she's eight

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years old and she can use Canva by herself.

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And she had already design a Christmas, a bubble for

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her teacher by herself. So she is learning how to

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design as well. So it's a good thing. But answering

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your question is, and I've started my first book that

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I've done around seven years ago. And for years ago

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when I decided I'm gonna make it into the basis.

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And at the moment I think on this stage where

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I can say it's, My good part-time job because I

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will earn that much money if I would have to

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go and work.

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So, and I wanted to make a full-time, this is

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what this is like, you know, if one year ago

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you would tell me that is going to work as

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good. I wouldn't say that it will like, but I

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think this year is, is very challenging for everyone, but

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it's a good opportunity for starting online business. Because if

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not now, then when, because if every, everything is moving

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into online, cause the shops are closed, people are looking

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into supporting small, tiny in businesses or Handmade in people

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or crafters.

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The Christmas markets are closed. So you can go there

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and show yourself. Yeah. Oh thank you.

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So it sounds like it was for the first few

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years, it was perhaps more of a hobby and you're

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doing boxes, you know, for people who get them.

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Yes. Because I had like, like when I've done like

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200 pounds in like a free mom's sign or something,

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I was like, Ooh, opening that bottle of champagne because

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it was so good. But now if you do it,

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if you can do it in a week or even

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quicker, and for that, I don't have to work eight

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hours. Eh, I can 'cause, you know, you just spent

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the books, you live in there and you can cook

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the dinner, then you can design something. Why, you know,

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there are others, if you have kids at house.

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So, and then when they go to sleep, you can

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roll those boxes because this is how I do them.

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Like first you have to glue the picture, which is

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laser print. And then you roll the paper out of

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it. So basically the printout is stays on their box.

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So I always called it the eye roll the boxes.

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So you can, you know, manage that while you work

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in at home, you can now be able to set

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to dinner. Do you do laundry and the same time

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and work.

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And, but I've decided it, well, you need to get

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a good strategy and good plan. And if you use

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all the resources like you have, or if you have

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a family who can't look after your kids while you're

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working used it, if you can, if you don't have

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family here or like, like a, I'm not immigrant's so

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I can use it a good friend of mine, or

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sometimes it's hard 'cause we don't have them. Like I'm

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lucky enough to have my mum around, but she is

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working full time. So its not much, she cannot help,

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but still it's, you know, small steps, small or like

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among like using the time.

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And basically the best thing is to find someone who

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is already done all this stuff. And do you listen

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to smarter people than you? Like I was before we,

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we, we have started to listen to your post test

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podcast and then I've already had the list of the

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stuff I have to work on after I've listened to

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what you were saying, I still have to go back

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to the beginning and then decide what my perfect customer

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is. I know this is my, like a weak point

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from the first day one on my marketing course.

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And then there's like a world out there where we

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can reach to find a smarter people or a way

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to listen to them. And first they gave so much

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for free so we can learn from that. And if

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we, you know, do what they are telling us to

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do and it's going to start working and when we

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will earn some money, we can invest those money in

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developing our brands. You can, if you don't know how

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to make pictures, you can pay someone to take some

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pictures for you or you can sign yourself a marketing

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course and you can, you know, it's, it's a big

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journey for me, especially because I've learned so much.

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I know I have many more staff to learn and

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then, but, but yeah, it's a lovely journey because you

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learn and you develop constantly not only your brand, but

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yourself, a soul.

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Yeah. Thank you. So coming back to your journey, so

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what is your coming back to, right? So at the

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beginning of your journey, what happened? So what, what is,

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what made the change for you? So you, what, what

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made you, I guess I'm trying to establish, when did

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you decide you wanted this to be a business rather

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than a hobby and what, what has changed for that

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for you to be in a different space with it?

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Well, it was when I was spending money to work

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for somebody, cause I wanted to, to get back or

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to start a job where I was back in Poland

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because, and back in Poland, my background was based on

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film industry and then I wanted to get into that

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in England, but then I found it too much struggling

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because I had to, you know, when you have kids

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and starting working in the film industry is not that

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easy because you have to be fully commitment to the

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work you're doing and having to kids.

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And it's not that, you know, something that you can

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go and work 12 hours a day or working weekends.

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I said to myself, I don't want to do it

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anymore. I think it's, it's still really easy if you

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do something first and then you have kids and you

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know how to deal it, that the employer knows you.

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And so we'll help you and you know, to take

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a half of the work to home, for example. So

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I said, I can not come compared to other people

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who will be willing to work for free because they're,

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I don't know, dependent on their parents and a younger,

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they, and I said, it's not worth it.

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And I just don't want to prove it to someone

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that I'm smarter. And then I can be, you know,

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it's worth to me to give me a chance. I

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said, no, I just gave up on that. I just

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said, I will do the boxes because I will be

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able to stay with my kids and work at the

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same time. And then yeah, I found it a way

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that it's working.

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Great. And how did you, so when you decided you

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wanted to run this as a business, how did you

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get your first order's? How did you start getting people

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aware of you and what you were offering

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a well, a main, mainly through the social media When

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Do you have people looking for the products? Like, well,

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I can find something good for my, a broader in

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lieu. I don't know the 40th birthday. And then you

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have this bunch of people saying, yeah, you can find

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it here. And so mostly for that. And I've noticed

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that before I was thinking that I will need like

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a lots of customers, but it's not true. I don't

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need a lot of customers. I ha I have my

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usual clients, which orders like a constantly or even every

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free months because there is always someone's birthday.

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So there's always someone new who is born or there's

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someone's wedding or, or weddings anniversary. So I have mine,

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usual clients and one in particular, she is like, she

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is the kind of person When. I think that like

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she phoned me up two years ago for the first

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time. And she wanted to check the box for her

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daughter's 16th birthday. What she said, what the boxes you

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have that are too small. So this is how I

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started to make like a large chests, which are like

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50, 60 centimeters long So.

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So you can use it for a blanket or toys.

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So I have done the first box for her and

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she always really looking for something more. So this is

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how, and I never gave up at the start. So

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someone say it wants something and I'm like, Oh, I

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have never done it before, but I will be really

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happy to do that for you. And I usually give

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them better price. And then this is how my portfolio

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expanded. And first I had like three sizes of boxes.

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And now my friend told me because it's a sharp

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is on my own, like to do at least because

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I have the shop on Etsy, but no single source

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of indirect because I have to work on my a

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C E O.

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And so she said, I will help you, but you

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need to, you know, prepare yourself your picture's and the

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list of your product. And when I started to type

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the list of my products, I said, Oh my God,

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I have like a full, a full page of my

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products. And I said, I didn't even realize that I've

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developed so much. So now I have two to build

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the shop and Etsy and expand for more customers in

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not only, you know, the, the people from a Facebook

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groups, but just to have, you know, more regular or

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more clients.

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And because before what was stopping me, it was that

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I made them so personalized that I wanted, you know,

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to, to, to, to discuss about it. But I need

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to know, like in a more temple, my work with

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temples where actually someone will have the design ready for

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them and just replace the picture and the quote and

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you know, 'cause people want to have a quick and

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they just wanted to press and have it done. So

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this is what I'm going to work on.

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Like to have to show up where somebody can actually

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easily order without talking about that too much with me.

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Is it possible to do it now? You just said,

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you have to send me the email and just, but

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I think it might be too complicated in scale to

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some customers the way, so, yeah.

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Sounds good. And it sounds like, yeah, as you go

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along, do you, do you find ways to make your

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budget change your processes wherever it is to make it

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easier or more efficient? I really love by the way,

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the fact that you have so many clients that come

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back to you and back to you and the fact

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that they're sort of, you know, their impact in how

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you expand your range of products, I think is amazing

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because it shows, you know, you're really creating what your

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customers want and the fact that you were getting so

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much business from word of mouth as well from people

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recommending you on Instagram, on Facebook, I think is fantastic.

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So do you do any sort of, do you have

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to do much marketing yourself or at the moment, is

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most of your business coming from recommendations?

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It just coming from recommendations, but yeah, you know, at

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the beginning I told you to do it in couple

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of months, I had made like 200 pounds, but if

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we were just humans, so we want more and more.

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So I now, because I've already done sentence stage, I

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want even more so it's nice to have this like

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a small bunch of customers, but I think I, I

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want to develop the app and have more customers and

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be more financially independent from what I'm doing right now.

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And then, and it's it.

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This is it possible, but it, as I, you have

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to learn from somebody smarter or somebody who have already

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went through the, the journey because it will save you

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time. So yes, I have to focus on more marketing

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as well on like how to promote myself more. I,

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I do it now by myself on Facebook and Instagram,

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but work, I have to work on this and take

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it from there.

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Thank you. So you mentioned, and when we were speaking

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before we started a recording that even though you'd been

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doing this for a while, you feel like you're only

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just starting out. So can you talk to that a

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bit? Yeah.

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Please yeah, because in the last, I think that I'm

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only started to, cause when I, I wanted to be

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to years ago, it is completely different way for me,

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because I had like sharp by to do lists for

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a long, long time. And, and then in the last

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two years we had some struggles with my partners in

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health. So there was something which came first and I

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couldn't, you know, developed as much.

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'cause, it is hard sometimes when you have kids has

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a home to look after, and then it's enough work

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when I just have to do the products. So I

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have to, when I have not so busy, I should

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get going on these, you know, building the shop or

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a et cetera. But that this Is like funny stories.

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And Usually when I'm not, when I have a quieter

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period really like, Oh my God, nobody likes my Product.

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You know, sometimes you have that little voice behind it

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inside your head is telling you you're not good enough,

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et cetera.

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And then when I have orders and I'm around all

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this beautiful things and I'm so proud of what I've

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done, that I'm like, yeah, I can do that. And

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I can do that. And w if I found it

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by myself, that what if more busy, I am a

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more, a creative and I can do much more staff

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like this year, for example, my best selling month this

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year, it was August when my partner was ill and

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because he was in the hospital in July, and then

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he was at home poorly.

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And I had kids to look after obviously know school

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because it was Holy day. And then I was, I

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had to park my staff cause we were moving house

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and then I've done the sail because I, I wanted

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to get rid of the boxes. So I would have

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less to move from one house to another and I

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have like a massive sales and that, and I've done

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it. And then now when I look at that and

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I was like, how I've done it, like I have

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so much energy to do it. And yeah. And when

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I looked at, but I am just feeling proud of

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myself.

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So that's what do you have to, you know, what

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to do every single day. You have to tell yourself

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that you're good.

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Oh, absolutely. And I think that what you said at

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that time is really interesting. I think you're right. That

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when you're busy, it's almost easier to be motivated and

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have lots of energy. And then when it's quiet is,

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is that she can be harder to get yourself to

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do things, but then that's, that's, I guess it's also

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a challenge when you're making your products, because when you're

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busy, your priority always has to be making the product

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because that's ultimately how your making your money. So I

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can completely see how marketing and all of the other

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tasks they have. So many other tasks are out there

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and we have to do them all. I can completely

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see how they, you know, the actual Making would be

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the priority of everything. Yeah.

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Yeah.

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So you've mentioned your, you know, your family a few

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times, I know you have young children, so how does

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your business, you know, does it work around, around family?

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Is it, can you find a balance, right?

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Yeah, it can. No. At the moment is easier because

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they are back at school a full time, but a

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buck in the time when only my daughter was going

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to nursery for free hours, I had everything so well

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organized that when she was at school, I was doing

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my workout and workouts made me keep going even better

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because I dunno in the fence helps me. So I

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think that a more effective when I can do exercises

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then, but it stopped when I had done some, I

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had some joint problems and I had, I had to

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stop working out, but it it's still, you know, how

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to handling the time.

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Like you can work when your kid is sleeping or

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in the evening, if you can just, you know, find

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one hour in the evening, that will be a prophet.

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Because as I said, it will be just small steps.

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I don't, I was scared. I mean, it

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Just is always a juggle, isn't it? And I guess,

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especially you must be a harder to juggle when you're,

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you have, as you mentioned before your doing something that

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is quite messy, presumably takes up space. Yeah.

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It it's. Cause we tend to the flood now and

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I still don't struggle. I don't have my own space

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to work. And ah, I mostly worked in my living

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room, still some stuff. So sometimes if I have to,

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you know, give myself my kids dinner or on the

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coffee table instead of the, the, the dining one, but

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still they know that I work because my daughter helps

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me with painting boxes. My my son. It is unscrewing

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them and before pain Ching.

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So they know that are part of it. They feel

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parts of it. And so I think I do it

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for them to show them that even because they can

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hear me now that sometimes I'm struggling 'cause I did

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something and its not quite as good as its supposed

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to be an hour, but I don't give up it's

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I will fix it and I we'll do it eventually.

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So, it's good to set that example for them that

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you will work on this stuff and even, yeah. And

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I bought myself a desk where I can work on

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now, but it's still an issue.

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I have a mess on the desk and on my

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dining table. So I have to work on The a

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bit of a space and the shed because I paint

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usually in the garden, it's hard in the winter time,

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but still you can do it it's it's not everyone's

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work, which, or products, which we'll be, you know, messy

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is it, this is me, but, and yeah, so you

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have to, you know, put something to protect a carpet

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and there is always a way to find it out.

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And the, the small things, we should not tell, let

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them to stop us from what we want to achieve.

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Right. Yeah. And I think as you said, that's a

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really good message to give your kids as well in

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good for your kids to see you find in solutions.

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I'm finding ways to work around things because hopefully that

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reinforces that in our children as well. If they see

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us looking for solutions and having that kind of attitudes,

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I think that was a really nice for children's to

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see that. Yeah. So just a few final questions before

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we finish up, if that's okay. So can you tell

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us a few things that you love about having a

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business selling products, as opposed to maybe anything else you've

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done?

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What I love the most is the emotions and the

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emotions, which are connected with the product. Because one, one

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of my first big boxes I've created, it was for

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my best friend's 30th birthday. And I have contacted her

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family back in Poland, eh, to send me a picture

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when she was a little baby. So I've put it

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on the top. And then there was the message it

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on the side of the box, car PDM and enjoy

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the moment and insight. I've put the, put a picture

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of her with her mom, which is already not with

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her.

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So, and that person is really straight and she never

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chose like so emotional. So when she opened the box,

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she burst into tears because she was so happy. And

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this is like what? I love a, about the product,

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because I knew that she might feel emotions emotional, but

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she was so glad and happy that it was like,

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you know, so special that, and this is what I

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like when clients call me and tell me that someone's

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having a birthday and they wanted to surprise them.

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And we create something. We think about a good quote,

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which will, you know, harder to move. So I'm happy

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because I help someone, the person who orders is happy

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because it's making someone a very nice presence. And the

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only thing which is I miss is when the person

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opens the present and to see that emotions on the,

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on people's faces is this is what I'm like missing.

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But you know, after you have expanded, I'm not there

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anymore, but I have the positive feedbacks from my client's

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and sometimes it gets a little videos, have a little

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person and open unwrapping in the present and then they're

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is a box.

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And then people reactions about upper rhinitis as well. So

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all of these good emotions, which, you know, a positive

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way, it wipes, which are going and spreading with the

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world. It's just what keeps me going and what I

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love about why would I create?

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That's a lovely and so special. So that's really lovely

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and your products are, I can totally see there so

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personalized and you know, you can see that they're made

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with so much love as well. So I will link

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to your website in the show notes that people can

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go away from it and take a look at them.

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Cause you can completely see just from looking at the

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picture's how much care that goes into them is going

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to be done talking to you as well. So what

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for you is, so I have one final question, if

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that's okay, which is what would be your number one

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piece of advice for someone who wanted to start out

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now creating and selling their product,

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Never give up. It's like sometimes you have this voice

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telling us, Oh, we have those people around us. And

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they even had a lot of them or that's not

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going to work or do this for that much money

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or are you crazy? And it's like, you know, you

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have all these people with bad devices. It's just, don't

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listen to them, surround yourself, or network yourself with people

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who do similar stuff to yours. Listen to good advice.

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Sometimes if you have a person who's in a similar

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field, it may help you and tell you that you

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can do better pictures or you use better lightings or

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give you a small tips.

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You know, it's why you have to like sometimes network,

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I've met so many great people, why I'm doing what

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I'm doing, even though those people are selling different stuff,

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like clothes or a jewelry makers or that are into

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photography. Its so nice that I loved my journey through

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that. And And, I, I'm learning a lot as well.

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So you know, it was just never gave up and

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just put it on a piece of the note on

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this, like on your pictures and, and on your mirror

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and just, you know, keep going.

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Brilliant advice. Thank you. And I also liked the piece

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you said about not, you know, listening to people who

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maybe have got your best interests at heart and can

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say, you know, you might want to improve this, but

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yes, just negativity or there's no place for that. I

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agree. There's no place for people who tell you that

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you can't succeed or all of those things. I just,

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I completely agree. Yeah. Well thank you so much for

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your time today. It has been really lovely to talk

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to you.

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Thank you very much for inviting me. No problem. Thank

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you for everything you shared. Thank you.

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I really hope you enjoyed this conversation with Natalia and

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myself as always. I'd love to hear from you. You

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can get in touch Vicki@tiny chipmunk.com or you can find

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me on Instagram at VickiWeinbergproductcreation. If you've enjoyed this episode,

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please do consider subscribing. So you don't miss any future

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episodes. Thank you so much for being here and looking

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forward, speaking to you next week.