Deidre Peak was a police officer when she decided to take a chance on starting Sweet Addict, her Etsy bakery shop. With three young girls at home, and a husband who also worked odd hours and long shifts as a firefighter, it was time to make a change in her lifestyle. She’s never regretted that move for a second.
“I have a picture in my room that I got about the same time that I quit my job,” says Deidre. “It says something like ‘Don’t wait for life to happen. Go out there and make it happen for yourself.’”
And making it happen is exactly what she’s doing. This summer, her online bakery shop will have a physical storefront in Colorado Springs, which means Deidre’s time lately has been spent outfitting her 1,400-square-feet of retail space and rebranding her products so they meet commercial standards.
“The standards are different selling out of your home as opposed to selling out of a commercial kitchen space,” she explains. “I had to tweak all the labeling, got new jars—the branding of everything has changed in the last few weeks.”
Along her journey of entrepreneurship, Deidre has found that help is readily available if only you start looking for it. For instance, fellow vendors at the farmer’s markets she signed up for have been a huge resource. Many have been in her shoes and were able to help her in dealing with the health department, tax forms and other unfamiliar details.
Deidre also relied on resources by provided by Etsy, like its Seller Handbook and helpful forums. She also entered a sweepstakes co-sponsored by Etsy and QuickBooks, which netted her $25,000 to help open her storefront. The more she looks, the more she finds that there are people and organizations that really want businesses like hers to thrive.
Still, starting a business is often a solo effort and she’s spent a lot of time researching online, joining Facebook groups where she can speak to people in similar situations, taking an Etsy workshop to learn about SEO and optimization, and assessing her competitors to learn from their examples.
“There’s a ton of information and keeping it organized has been essential. But just diving into it and figuring it out is how you get started. That’s what I’ve been doing,” she says.
“It’s taken me so long to get to this point now because I was so hesitant to leave my full-time job and that security… although it was a big step and very nerve-wracking, it’s also been worth it. [I’m] still trying to figure things out, not necessarily sure if I’m doing things right but just taking one step at a time.”
Of course, some parts of the business have come as a complete surprise to her. One of the things that has been unexpected is realizing just how much people love their sweets.
“I mean I knew I did, too, so it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise but the loyalty of the customers,” she elaborates. “They try it and then they just keep coming back for more, which is awesome but at the same time there’s definitely a demand for candy and sweets, and people are very particular in what they choose to eat.”
This demand is probably spurred on by the photos she takes. On both her Etsy storefront and her Facebook page, photos of colorful cakes and enticing caramels prompt customers to satiate their sweet tooths with a click. Deidre reveals that she uses Photofy to edit them and add watermarks. The photos are an important part of the business, and something she wants to get better at by revamping her approximately 120 listings she has at a time.
“There’s a reason why I didn’t go to school for accounting, so having something as easy as QuickBooks has been a lifesaver for me.”
Another tool she uses, which she first saw popping up on Etsy, is QuickBooks Self-Employed.
“When I went to college, I did some accounting and I’ve never been a fan,” she says. “There’s a reason why I didn’t go to school for accounting or anything with numbers, so having something as easy as QuickBooks has been a lifesaver for me.”
Deidre finds that the way QuickBooks presents financial information has been very beneficial. There’s no need to translate the data herself and she can check her numbers on the go. Quick access is key, since she’s juggling e-commerce, a retail store and three young daughters.
At one point a few years ago, she abandoned the idea for a year. There was just too much on her plate.
“I missed it so much that I started it back up just to see where it would go. Friends kept asking for caramels. That was the point when I quit law enforcement and just decided to do this full-time, because it was much less stressful,” she explains.
For anyone else who’s pondering whether to leap on the road to self-employment, her words of advice are to follow your dreams. “If you have a dream, stick to it. If this is your passion or if you’re looking to get out of your full-time job for whatever reason, and you have talents elsewhere, just commit to it. Don’t sit and stew on it. You’ll just waste time and regret that later.”