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Testing Business Models Before Committing
Guess what today is?!! It’s TNTP’s 3rd birthday!!!
The Neon Tea Party launched on October 10, 2016 as a lifestyle blog focused on what I then called “playful eclectic lifestyle.” There were outfit posts, home decor inspo, and of course, DIY projects—all with the same colorful, globally-inspired aesthetic that still guides TNTP today. I had NO idea how I was going to make money with the little brand I was building — all I knew was that I had a point of view to share, and blogging had always been the way I knew how to share it.
How did I get from there to the multi-faceted crafting education biz TNTP is today? Intuition and an open mind.
Three years ago, the idea of a crafting education brand never once crossed my mind. Rather, I used the process of building a business to follow my curiosity and test out business models that might be the right fit based on what I loved to do and what the market was asking for. Here are some of the ways I made money that first year:
- created sponsored content for my blog
- contributed content to other blogs
- planned themed parties
- taught pom pom and macrame classes
- made & sold pom pom and tassel accessories
- brought goods back from Mexico and sold them online
Outside of TNTP, I was also babysitting a ton and collecting unemployment from losing my last job — the catalyst to this whole journey in the first place!
With each mini business venture, I asked myself the following questions:
- Do I enjoy doing this now? Can I see myself enjoying this for a long time?
- Is there a market demand for this product or service? Has it been performing well and do people want more?
- Is this model scalable? How can it grow to a larger scale? Is this scaled-up model viable and exciting?
By asking myself these questions, I discovered insights such as:
- I love designing and making things!!!
- I enjoy putting my e-commerce background to good use.
- Larger brands are charging way less for the handmade accessories I can produce – I don’t feel I can charge what I deserve.
- While traveling the world shopping and selling products online sounds like a dream, there are tons of fab businesses doing this already, plus where the HECK am I storing all this stuff?!
- I feel little alignment with creating sponsored content for my own platform, and even if I felt more aligned, it’s going to take me a while to be able to support myself that way.
- Teaching people a new skill is SO fun, rewarding, and something I never knew I’d be good at!
- Crafting is having a moment, and there’s soooo much room for the space to grow and improve.
Fifteen months into TNTP, as I welcomed in the new year on January 1, 2018, I let all these insights wash over me and challenged myself to pick a lane. With very little thought, using intuition as my guiding force, TNTP was reborn in that moment as a crafting education brand. I love learning and teaching crafts both in person and online, love creating curated kits to arm crafters with the best affordable craft supplies out there, and there is such a demand for crafting guidance! Not to mention, the ways we can scale this business are limitless! BOOM!
I first want to acknowledge my privilege in having the space and support to take this stretch of time to “figure it out.” This fortunate opportunity allowed me to try out many things and pivot quickly. I know not everyone is in the position to dedicate a majority of their time to this pursuit, but I do believe this is something you can do with any spare time you do have.
Whether 4 hours or 40 hours a week, you too can begin to follow your own curiosity and intuition to try out what could be the business or side hustle or lifestyle you’ve always dreamed yourself to have.
Give yourself permission to try things out, to fail, to pivot, to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. From this journey, you’re bound to create the model that works for YOU — and it might look totally different from what you thought it would be when you first started out.
Peace, love & neon,