The other day, when I picked up my car from the repair shop, I had an interesting conversation with the young man behind the counter. He made the comment that he and his co-workers had great fun trying to figure out what my email, Chocolate Dog Studio.com, meant.
I could just picture the thoughts running through their minds:
- Chocolate for dogs (**Please don’t ever give your dog chocolate!**)
- Dog treats
- Dog-shaped chocolates
The list is endless.
I told him my shop is named in honor of my big chocolate Labrador. I handed him my business card. Over the next ten minutes, I told him the whole story of how and why I started Chocolate Dog Studio.
I wasn’t quite sure what I would sell when I first started out. Since then I have refined my business to designing and selling crochet patterns online. I started my online shop during a downtime in the economy, about nine years ago, when my husband’s job was uncertain. After looking around, I decided the most practical thing to do would be to use what I had on hand along with my personal talents and strengths.
There were (and still are) many reasons why working outside of the home was impossible. I needed to find something both fulfilling and doable from home. Homeschooling four kids didn’t allow me much time during normal working hours — I needed something unbelievably flexible.
So, I bootstrapped and grew the business from the ground up with very minimal money infusions from the home budget. We just simply didn’t have any extra cash at that time.
We have gone through some very lean times since Chocolate Dog Studio first started. This shop, and other side jobs, helped us buy Christmas gifts for the kids and pay some bills over the years. As Dave Ramsey suggests, we sold just about everything that wasn’t nailed down, from books to handcrafted gift tags to afghans. Every bit has helped, and the shop has grown into a business that designs, makes and sells crochet items and patterns.
The lean times have encouraged me to create easy-to-crochet patterns that are practical and beautiful. The patterns either spotlight a beautiful yarn or are created with scrap yarn (leftovers from other projects). “Shop your stash first” has become my catchphrase as I create new crochet patterns and YouTube videos for you.
Chocolate Dog Studio Over the Years
Since we began this business in 2008, we have changed states twice, had at least four surgeries, graduated three kids from high school, married off a kid, sent two kids to college, and brought one back home. And, just recently, we added three grandkids while we are getting ready to graduate our last child.
The main threads holding Chocolate Dog Studio together are yarn, family, lots and lots of crochet, and then more yarn and, of course, even more family. I couldn’t do this business without my family’s help. Our son takes almost all of the photos in the shop. The girls’ and my daughter-in-law are advisors. My husband patiently gives advice and lots of free computer/tech work. There are others, that are growing into family, who help me with keeping Chocolate Dog Studio up and running — I couldn’t keep going without any of this help and support.
We all dream of instant success, but we need to make sure that our actual success is what we measure: the people and relationships that fill our days. There is no such thing as instant success — it is just a lot of hard work. It’s much like crocheting: you stitch some, take some out, and then stitch some more (repeat as necessary) until the crochet piece is the way you want it.
I hope to see you around here often,