What happens when your business evolves?

This is a central theme of my interview with Chereen – formerly of Smeeny Beanie Knits, now Smeeny Made Wild.

We discuss her beginnings – from making a few beanies to sell at a local store – to now having a full-time business with multiple sales channels, product categories, and marketing strategies.

Chereen sells on Etsy, her own website, in shops and at markets – and her product line and offerings have diversified over time.

She got her start selling online with the Set Up Shop course (starting Feb 5th, 2024!) – and she has this to say about her experience of the course:

I loved the way the course flowed, and Jess’s teaching style is so effective.

Each lesson is thoughtfully curated and is a carefully placed stepping stone to the lessons that follow. I especially LOVED the branding and marketing aspects of the course, and have become obsessed with both since!

By the end of the course, I was confidently able to open my shop and have since built and launched my own website with Jess’s teachings in mind.

If any part of you is interested in taking this course, don’t hesitate…sign up now!

If you’d like to set up or overhaul your online shop, check the course out right here.

You can listen to the podcast below, or on your fave podcast app – or you can watch it on YouTube!

Watch on YouTube…

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Show Notes

●Chereen has appeared on the show previously so this is a check in to see how the
business has changed / grown over the past few years.
● The business started as a side hustle in 2017 until Chereen found the Create and Thrive
podcast, which helped it go to a full-time endeavour in 2020.
● Formerly Chereen was a chef, working 80+ hours a week, plus the side hustle. She left
to work with a farm for more freedom, which eventually led to chef work becoming the
side hustle.
● Chereen found it hard to let go of the chef part of her personality, but now only works
chef jobs from June to September.

‘Just because you want to go full time with your handmade business, that doesn’t mean
that you have to give up other things… like a job that you actually enjoy.’ {Jess}

● If you are a creative person, you probably enjoy multiple creative outlets, and having
these different income streams can also help prevent burn out and bring stability.
● The first product Chereen sold on Etsy was a knitting pattern, and she only sold physical
items at a local shop on consignment. She sold 12 items for the first season, as well as
selling to friends, but the store soon sold out and asked for more of her knitwear.
● The original brand was Smeeny Beanie Knits, using Chereen’s nickname of Smeeny
Beanie, but this led to her hats being called Smeeny Beanies by locals.
● Chereen attributes so much of her success to her hometown and the surrounding
community. The area is only small, but it has a large ski and tourist population during the
snow season, and store sales have led to further online brand recognition.
● After establishing the Etsy shop as also selling physical products, Chereen slowly built
up her website, and now sells only knitting patterns on Etsy and physical products on her
website. This meant that she no longer had to fulfil orders on multiple streams.
● Chereen noted that during the pandemic it became important (particularly in the US) for
online businesses (using Etsy and Instagram etc.) to outline what their social values
were, and Chereen leaned into this with her strong values on environmental justice by
donating back to not-for-profit organisations. Chereen now donates 1% of her revenue to
vetted environmental not-for-profits.

‘My lifestyle has become very much my brand. It slowly evolved from just a business
selling handmade knitwear to a lifestyle brand… I became somewhat of a small micro-
influencer and brands reached out to do affiliate partnerships and things like that.’

● This led to a change to the brand name, now being Smeeny Made Wild, so that the
brand name matches who Chereen is.
● Jess noted that changing of the brand name away from ‘Knits’ also prevents being
pigeonholed into only feeling like you can sell knitwear, and nothing else.

‘A lot of people think if I shut this down, or try something new, or pivot… that they have
failed in some way… You’re never actually failing; you’re more driving yourself in a
direction or towards a direction that is feeding you.’ {Chereen}

● It was discussed that some people are afraid to make the leap to full time with their
handmade business, with many people believing that having a regular job is safe due to
a wage, health benefits etc. However, Jess and Chereen discussed the benefits of
having a handmade business such as fewer related costs like commuting, workwear etc.
and having more freedom to take holidays, and spend time with family.
● New products / income streams for Chereen include merchandise. For example,
Chereen has designed stickers and collaborated with other artists on these. Other items
include trucker hats, tote bags, and items from other makers such as national park
● 75% of Chereen’s income comes from knits, 25% from knitting patterns, and a sprinkling
from the merchandise items.
● Chereen continues to make all the knitted items herself, though she now has an
assistant who helps with tasks like winding yarn, working on a loom, etc.
● Chereen has started a YouTube channel VLOG to show behind the scenes of her
business, though this may become an income stream in future.
● Marketing was discussed. Chereen is using Instagram to nurture her current audience
and build a community in this space. She is also utilising email lists more regularly, as
well as getting customers from her small YouTube channel, Pinterest, and her website.
● Jess has also found email lists to be useful and is making this a focus for this year, using
it to post updates, giveaways, etc.
● Chereen noted that a good way to develop content for the email lists is by subscribing to
certain influencers and modelling her emails on weekly newsletters, whilst also including
the sale of a particular product from her range.
● Jess noted that many sellers who set up during Covid had a skewed view of what online
sales should be, given that many more people were shopping online during lockdowns.
This, and the difficult economic climate, has had a big impact during 2023.
● Competition has increased significantly. For example, Etsy went from 2M sellers in early
2020 to 9M sellers by the end of 2021.
● New sellers need to understand that it is tough, but if you invest the time, you can make
a success of it.
● Chereen noted that, while makers are not large companies with money to spend on
marketing, they are the maker of the product so you should sell this to your customers.
Customers also appreciate the connection with you as the maker of the product, and as
a human being.
● Jess spoke about the individual, well-crafted extra email that she (and Chereen) sends
out to each of her customers to make that personal connection with them, whilst also
giving them all the details about their order.

 ‘If you just follow your creative passions and lean into what fulfils you, you will succeed.
Just stick with it, remain consistent and really listen to yourself and your heart because that shows through, and people can tell that you really care about what you’re doing.’ {Chereen}

● The importance of having boundaries and balance in your life was discussed. You don’t
have to share everything about yourself online just because you use Instagram, it’s ok to
have privacy.
● You can find Chereen on her ‘Smeeny in the Wild’ YouTube channel VLOG, which is
mostly studio videos about the business, but sometimes Chereen goes on adventures
and shares them on this platform.
Smeenymadewild.com is Chereen’s website and has lots of information, as well as her

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