AlvaLumos started in 2014 and it’s is a perfect mix of adventurous/sassy apparel and real greeting cards all designed by Tonya.
She’s a busy mom, as so many women entrepreneurs are, but she’s so passionate about her designs and business that she balances it all. Her feature is FULL of amazing wisdom, like how to follow your passion and turn it into your business. Also, how to “do you” in business and let yourself be the face of your products.
Read below to see how she started her business.
Tell us about yourself.
From a very young age I have been involved in arts, many woman in my family were seamstresses, quilters, and painters. Art was always a big part of my youth and an outlet for me growing up. However I was always told art/crafts were a hobby not a career. So when I went to college I majored in Psychology and minored in history, I graduated with my bachelors and the following summer participated in a intern program. I decided that I was to much a empath and I brought the troubles home with me and held them in my heart. I took a year off, picked up photography and loved it. I thought I was going to go back to college for photography but some how ended up in the graphic lab that day and there began that journey!
I was mad and passionate about design, everything was so new and always changing there was always something new to learn, and it made me so happy. I graduated and worked a lot of crazy jobs, finally my journey led me to Hp and meeting some amazing people that have helped me on my design/business journey.
How did you get into your business?
Shortly after I met my now husband, we got pregnant with our first child and we both agreed I would stay home with him. It is amazing and I love that I get to be with my babies BUT I was going stir crazy I have worked my entire life since I was 17 and not doing so made me nuts. So that is where my decisions to start my own business started. I wanted a creative outlet, something that was me apart from being a mom and wife.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is stepping out of my shell, you can’t just list something on line and expect it to be a hit and go viral. You have to put yourself out there, talk to new people, talk about yourself to new people. This is so incredibly hard for me, and I struggle daily with it. I am a introvert and I have a serious public speaking phobia, I get nervous calling in a to-go order, it’s absolutely silly. I know to grow where I want to be I have to walk into businesses and promote myself, show them my products and tell them why they are a good fit for them to carry my product in their stores. I have to post about myself, my process, my products, I have to put myself out there and be vulnerable and connect with strangers. I am working on this, we are all works in progress, every day you have to just keep working towards your passions and believing in yourself.
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
I wish I would of stuck with designing and started with the business mindset and not treated it as a hobby at first. I didn’t know when I started that I wanted to grow into a business, that I’d be so passionate about it. So at first I was painting mason jar lamps and selling them, it was fun and it got my creative juices flowing but it was just that, a hobby. One of my dearest friends (who owns NimbiCreative) inspired me when she got back from a creative conference, after many talks with her I was determined to grow and start thinking in terms of business and believing in myself.
If you could narrow your success down to one thing, what would it be?
I am still reaching for success, or what I believe is success. Though when I stopped trying to fit into others ideals of who I “should” be as a entrepreneur and stopped comparing myself to others. That’s when I let my true self show through in my products that is when I truly started seeing growth in my business.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
Where do I hope to see myself in a year, I would like to have my SnarkyPress line of greeting cards, and stickers in stores throughout Oregon, and eventually beyond that.
What are your top three tips for women starting a business?
Research find what you are passionate about not just what is going to make money, cause when you are passionate about what you are doing it’s not “work”. Ask questions of your audience, customers, and your peers. Finally don’t be afraid to make mistakes, learn from them and grow form them!
What is a typical day for you like?
My typically day looks like a circus show, lots of balls in the air, with a lot of chaos. I start my day with coffee and getting the kids taken care, typically when this is going on I am also answering emails via my phone. When I get the kids fed we move into the play area and I grab my laptop, I start filling digital orders and try to get social media post together. When my daughter goes down for her nap I head into the office and fill orders that need to go out in the mail. I also design in that time, creating new content if it be invitations, cards, or lettering on my ipad for stickers or shirts. A lot of my day is spent balancing being a mom and a designer. It’s difficult to find the balance, I don’t want my kids to think my laptop/ipad are part of me, but I know I have to keep things fresh to stay relevant. My kids are young but they love playing with each other and being involved in what I am doing so it does help a lot. I am also a night owl so a lot of my work happens from 9:30pm ’til 2am.
What’s your business motto or quote you live by?
“Love your Hustle”
Be your passion, if you believe in what you are doing, you will do it well cause at that point it becomes more a “who you are” than a product to sell or job to do.
If you were starting your business over again, what would you do differently?
Focus, and not rush in, create a line and launch it at once not a little at a time of 10 different things. I am A.D.D. I love all the things, I want to do all the things, and I tend to try and do it all. This makes for stress, So if I were to start over I would of went straight into the invitations and paper goods. I would of stayed focused on those areas and grown them. That being said, a lot of my little side “I want to do that too” taught me a valuable lesson, and helped me grow the area’s I needed to.