This post is part of a work-at-home series I launched. Every day I’ll be featuring a different reader in a different work-at-home position.
Name: Denise Hoyle
What I Do: Creator of Coupon Clutch binder totes
For How Long: Just under a year
How Many Hours Per Week: 40+-
Income Earned: Supporting our family of seven with a very frugal budget.
How and why did you start your work-at-home position?
I worked as a real estate appraiser for 19 years and I absolutely loved the field and being my own boss, but over the last several years as the market steadily worsened, the appraisal business became more stressful, less profitable and often downright depressing! The people who used to be happy to see me because they needed an appraisal to sell their house, buy a new house, or pay their kids’ college tuition had begun yelling at me (or worse!) once their values started going down, but the final straw for me was appraising houses for bankruptcy or foreclosure purposes while the owners were inside weeping and the abandoned houses that often had belongings, including children’s clothing and toys left behind.
Last September I made the difficult (and scary) decision to close the appraisal business and turn to my lifelong sewing hobby to make a living. My mother has been an author of sewing and craft books for over 40 years so while I was in college I wrote several books of my own and designed patterns for extra cash. I decided to pursue the writing and pattern designing full-time in the hope of being able to support the family and still be my own boss.
In order to get by financially during the transition I turned heavily to couponing but I hated the ugly old binder I was using to organize my coupons in and I missed out on deals because I was too embarrassed to carry it into the store. That’s when the pattern for the Coupon Clutch, a fabric binder cover that is designed to look like a tote bag, was created. I stitched up a couple of samples to help sell the pattern and the samples got snapped up so quick that I made more.
What exactly do you do in this position?
I didn’t set out to sew binder covers for a living but I have happily, albeit accidentally, found myself in that position. My mom and I spend most of our time stitching up the covers and I’ve enlisted my dad and my husband to do the fabric cutting.
What do you need to get started?
I’ve been an entrepreneur of one sort or another all of my life and my best advice to others is to focus on the things that they like to do or that are important to them, and stay open to the possibilities. There are many innovative mom (and dad) designed products out there that were created out of a simple need to do something better – like shopping cart covers, Little Einstein movies, and reusable sandwich wraps. These days with an Internet connection and a website or an Etsy or eBay store, anyone can market their product, ebook or other creative idea to the world for very little upfront expense!
What excites you about this position?
I’m excited about being able to work from home at my own hours (a.k.a all hours of the day and night!).
What is challenging about this position?
The most challenging part for me is finding enough hours in a row to get things done with five little ones in the house. That’s why most of the real work gets done in the middle of the night, but my four year old quads are starting pre-k this fall so I’m sure that will help us all to get into a better schedule.
What do you need to make it in this position?
If you’d like to turn your sewing or craft hobby into a business I’d suggest first making a list of the things that you do well, then think about how you could monetize them. Did you make a tutu for your daughter and now all her friends want one? You could setup an Etsy shop to sell them and take custom orders, or you could write up the instructions and sell the design itself on your own website or other sites like YouCanMakeThis.com. You can register your own domain name for about $10 and host it for around $5/month. That’s a minimal expense to get started, but you can get started for much less than that with an Etsy or eBay shop.
Denise is a frugal work at home mom of quads plus one who likes the finer things but hates to pay full price! You can see her coupon organization products at Coupon Clutch or read more about her family’s frugal journey at Shopper Strategy