These women prove that it’s okay to start a new career whenever you want, pursue a crazy idea, or make a side hustle a full-time job.
Since 2005, Etsy has opened doors for creative types with a unique take on just about everything, from party favors to home decor to jewelry. Today, in celebration of International Women's Day, we're spotlighting the incredible stories of some of the women behind our favorite shops, as well as the signature item they're most proud of. Read on—and trust—you'll be inspired.
Founder Teresa Carter learned how to crochet in 2013 so she could make blankets for children in Haitian orphanages. The shop is named after one of the first recipients of her blankets, DeBrosse—she even hired DeBrosse’s mom to collaborate on the Etsy shop. Carter also teaches young mothers how to crochet, with the goal that they can learn a new trade and earn a stable income. When you purchase an item for the shop, 15 percent of the proceeds go to fund two orphanages.
To buy: Infinity Scarf in Marble Gray, $58; debroseenyc.etsy.com.
It all started with lip gloss for Zandra Cunningham—when her dad refused to buy her more lip gloss, she decided to make her own. She was nine years old at the time, by the way. Now the 17-year-old has a flourishing Etsy shop with natural bath and body products. The packaging features empowering and inspirational slogans, like “You’re perfect just as you are,” and “Make every moment a great one.”
To buy: Vegan Body Wash and Hand Soap, $10; zandrabeauty.etsy.com.
We were drawn to London-based Mexican artist Ingrid Sanchez’s dreamy watercolors. You can find her watercolors on prints, decals, pillows, and even temporary tattoos on her shop. “I’ve been lucky enough to live in many different countries,” she said in a statement. “Each one has had a lesson to teach me, and allowed me to appreciate art from a different perspective. Running this business has brought immense freedom to my life. I am free to create whatever I want, I am free to travel, and I am free to decide what my next move is.”
To buy: Watercolor Botanical Print, starts at $21; creativeingrid.etsy.com.
Holly Fox Design
You’ll fall in love with Holly Fox’s whimsical cookie creations. The Los Angeles-based baker makes cookies in every theme, like unicorns, cacti, and even sewing machines. Fox is proof that you can take your side hustle to the next level—during the day she’s a graphic designer, and at night she bakes fun and cheerful creations.
To buy: Cactus Sugar Cookies, $48; hollyfoxdesign.etsy.com
Brooklyn Candle Studio
Here’s inspiration for any maker: Tamara Mayne decided to try out a new hobby and more than five years later she turned it into a popular brand, Brooklyn Candle Studio. Mayne wanted to make soy candles to give as gifts and became passionate about mixing fragrances and using safe, sustainable ingredients. She launched her Etsy shop in 2013 and it gained a huge following. Now her candles can be found in 400 stores in 15 countries, including West Elm and Macy’s. “Last year, I hired an incredibly talented team of women to manage our day-to-day operations in the studio while I oversee our creative direction and business strategy from home,” Mayne told RealSimple.com. “Juggling a baby and a growing business has been the most difficult challenge of my life, but every time I get to share a giggle with my little guy, I know that every middle-of-the-night email marathon and working weekend has been worth it.”
To buy: Santal Noir Black Matte Candle, $38; brooklyncandlestudio.etsy.com.
Hook and Matter
After leaving their jobs in the art industry and education, sisters Aimée and Sara decided to open their own Etsy shop selling jewelry. The sisters design, prototype, and produce the pieces in New York City. You’ll find delicate earrings in gold, silver, and rose gold on their shop, but you’ll also find pieces made from interesting materials like laser cut porcelain and acrylic.
To buy: Initial Necklaces, $40; hookandmatter.etsy.com.
You’ll find some eye-catching patterns and designs in Erin Flett’s Etsy shop. Every piece is perfect for gifting. She began selling silkscreened pillows seven years ago, and now her business has grown into a handmade and textile lifestyle brand with nine employees and temporary workers. “As a business owner, you learn fast that you are nothing without other people who get it and want to be in it with you,” Flett said in a statement. “I could not do this without my amazing team. They keep me going and I am deeply appreciative of each and every one of them.”
To buy: Juice Glasses, $40; erinflett.etsy.com.