mr. cup besotted blogI get emails all the time from folks that want to start an on-line shop and have it be their sole source of income so they can quit their jobs. They want to know how I did it, can I give them advice, etc. For those that are new to Besotted it might read like all I do all day is design, write this here blog, practice my lettering, take photographs and move to random cities willy nilly. Although I love the idea of illusion, (I did after all start my career in advertising), I don’t like to be a phoney baloney (technical term). So, let’s dispel some myths here and then I can get into some specifics for you. Besotted Brand was not an overnight success, it has been more like a four year and counting success (‘success’ being subjective here). It took me a good two years just sourcing all my vendors which includes my packaging. That’s a lot of work to put into a project that I wasn’t even making a dime on. I worked a full-time job 95% of the time I ran Besotted Brand, which means I worked 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (and most nights longer) and then came home tested products, designed the branding, website, wrote copy for products and eventually started packing shipments into the wee hours of the night. The weekends were more of the same, meaning I was working 7 days a week over 15 hours a day just to get going. Granted most full-time jobs may not have been as stressful as mine (or demanding) so I think if I had a ‘normal’ job it would not have felt as taxing. Of course I wanted to make money, but this project is foremost a labor of love for me, I don’t think I could have kept up this schedule if I was doing this for any other primary motivation. While I was at my soul sucking corporate job I was able to amass a nice savings, not Rockefeller status but enough to make me feel comfortable when we moved to the middle of nowhere and I was running Besotted Brand full-time. I used a lot of my savings to get me through over six months of not having a steady job. I hated dipping into my savings, just hated it but I am happy that I had it so I could continue trying to grow the business.

So the specifics: When should I quit my job to pursue my on-line shop full-time? This is a loaded question, because there are so many variables but I would suggest not quitting your job until your shop starts to turn over a regular profit, enough where you feel that if you quit your job and could spend more time with your shop that it would have a positive fiscal impact. I also suggest if you are leaving your job you consider having a savings too (at least six months worth of expenses would be ideal). Because of the timing of our move, I didn’t have the luxury of turning a profit yet thus the reason for perpetual savings dipping. You may not think it is possible to work a full-time job and run a shop, but it is, you will just have to give up things like the gym, friends, family and generally any other extracurricular activity. It’s a huge sacrifice, but not impossible. You will also have to set specific parameters for both you and your clients. In the very beginning I only shipped one day a week and eventually I moved it to three and so on. Know your limits, it’s great to be a go-getter but know what is feasible to be accomplished without sacrificing quality or customer service.

You will want to figure out how much you need to sell to survive, plus set goals over that amount (you don’t want to be working your tail off for the bare minimum, right?) Once I had that survival amount in hand (this is the amount that will keep me from going homeless + hungry) it helped me to have items in mind that I needed to sell to get to that amount. For example for me it was selling six custom stamps a day. This would not make me rich, but it would keep a roof over my head (remember to factor in your profit. I do not make the entire amount of my sale for each custom stamp–a portion goes to Etsy, a large portion towards manufacturing, cost of shipping from the manufacturer, and packaging, after all that is subtracted that is my profit). For you it could be selling 3 of your custom vases, or 2 custom 10″ x 10″ prints. It helped me to put products to this base number because it made it more accessible, ‘Sure, I could sell 6 custom stamps a day!’ Do I meet this goal? Not always, some days I have no sales, but I know I have my savings (for now) so I just keep plugging away. That is why I suggest you turn a profit before you take the plunge so you are in a better financial position than I found myself in. Do I get scared? Often! Do I love what I do? Absolutely!

I hope this answered some of your questions about taking the on-line shop plunge. Part II I will discuss a community like Etsy versus running your own e-commerce site, the pros & cons. If you have a specific question just send me an email and I will promise to try to address it in future posts. If you have anything to add to the above please leave it in the comments, this is just my experience but I would love to here yours as well!

P.S. A great small business resource is Megan Auman’s Designing an M.B.A. she has a very active newsletter that is free and she’s great at breaking down the most overwhelming business details into comprehensible bite size pieces.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


  1. Thanks for sharing what has gone into your “overnight success.” ;) It’s quite encouraging to hear the reality of what it takes because sometimes it all feels quite fuzzy to people around us until they see the success. But “success” takes time. Sometimes the trickiest part is just finding a true passion and then yes, committing. I’m sure you had plenty of exhausting days and weeks, it really takes working on a labor of love. You deserve all the success in the world!

    1. Thank you Henna, I wish ‘success’ on every, it is a great feeling to love what you do and I know this first hand from someone that dreaded every second of my corporate life!!!!

  2. This is a wonderful resource. I’ve thought through a lot of these things and it’s very validating to hear it from someone who has been there. Thank you! I have to know…if you don’t simply “take photographs and move to cities willy nilly,” what does a typical day look like for you?

    1. Lol, Kate as soon as I move (again) which is in 3 weeks and we are settled I will do a ‘day in the life’ it will frighten you!

  3. Oh so true! Funnily enough I just looked at the calender this morning and was looking at the dates thinking there is something important next week… Turns out it’s my biz’s ‘overnight success’ 2 year anniversary! After two years I don’t work full-time on my business, I work to all hours of the night, I continue to study and learn about everything there is to learn and maybe, just maybe, in another two years time I’ll be that overnight success! Yep, a lot of hard work but I love every minute of it – as every business owner should!
    Thanks for a great article – have been reading for ages and just returned from a sabbatical from blogs and I returned to such an honest and relatable post!

    1. Sarah, CONGRATS! I love your shop, I hope everyone here goes to visit your success, you have done a beautiful job!

  4. Tristan do you believe that you need to have a distinct vision of what you are wanting to achieve before you even think about pursuing your own business (eg. beginning at the four year mark)? So for example, I began a blog just simply for enjoyment and creative endeavours but am also studying (which will contribute to my current career path but could also compliment the work I’m doing with the blog (it’s nutrition related)). Can you just blog away for a while and find your feet over that time, then once you have found your niche go for the business strategy or is it worth deciding on a path early and using each year to build on it (with the risk that it might not satisfy all your interests but at least it will be successful…)

    1. Zoe, I am not sure the question, but I think it’s about turning your blog into a business is that correct? In that case that is so specialized and is very hit + miss BUT I would work on building a site that you can monetize. I feel people get turned off by most monetizing of blogs (which is so weird, since the big blogs deserve to get paid). So if nutrition is your forte and you are working towards your credentials (which adds to the legitimacy) then see what you can offer on your site via maybe a paid virtual plan system or something along that vein, that way you can have your blog be where your following finds you but then if they believe in what you are doing then they can follow you to your site. If this is not what you meant please let me know and I will re-answer!

    2. Also Zoe, I have always had a very clear vision of what I wanted my brand to be and where I want to take it, that is partly because of my background as a branding expert (so it is in my training) but I also allow flexibility without compromising my vision for my brand. ie. If I put something out and it’s not a selling, I am open to removing it. If someone came to me with loads of money to design a loud, bright, patterned item and put the Besotted Brand name to it, I would have to kindly take a pass as it would not fit with my brand. I may need the money but I have to keep true to my brand or it dilutes it. I hope this all makes sense:)

    3. Thank you for taking the time to answer me so comprehensively! Yeah I read the question back and it was worded terribly, sorry about that! You answered it with both posts…I guess I was wondering whether if you are eventually wanting to use the concepts behind the blog (ie. nutrition/whole foods/photography etc) as part of your business in some way (whether that be a book or nutrition plans or something else) you could use a bit of a ‘suck it and see’ approach. Use the blog to get an idea of what people like then adapt your product/s to what your audience wants – presuming it fits with your own philosophies. Anyway, lots to think about and early days yet. So lovely to continue to read your wise and experienced posts (not to mention gorgeously styled!). Thanks again and enjoy your weekend! Zoe

  5. It’s so refreshing to hear a realistic perspective on this… I’ve represented designers of lovely paper goods for seven years and am still surprised by the amount of people that need supplemental jobs to make ends meet. It’s so much work running a production based business and doing it well. You’ve done such a stellar job of cultivating a cohesive and alluring brand. Just wanted to take a moment to say that I’m a fan and love that you’re so open in sharing what’s really behind the curtain, so to speak. xo

    1. Thank you Carina, I am very flattered by your kind words! I also am SO happy that you have commented, especially from a stationery business perspective, it gives me some relief that I am not the only one out there that had to sail two ships at once to get this going:)

  6. Yes! Truth! And so reassuring to hear your story. I am waist deep- 1.5 years in to my biz with a fulltime cube job
    and working freelance here and there. It definitely is a labor of love and passion, persistence, inspiration, life! I wouldn’t change it for anything. The further I go down the rabbit hole, the more everything falls into place and the closer that dream of shedding my cube life is. Selling online is a huge challenge, but it is one that has a freedom as a reward. Thank you! Cheers!

    1. Doesn’t having a light at the end of the tunnel make working in the corporate world/cube more bearable? I do have to say, the one thing I miss is people, sometimes it gets a wee bit lonely working by myself! Congrats on your 1.5 years, quite an accomplishment!

    1. Denise, thank you for the link, always appreciated! I wish I lived closer I would totally help you around the studio!

    1. Look at you Kathy it took you years to get to do your company full-time and I know you had multiple jobs at the same time, I think if you want something bad enough you make the necessary sacrifices. Unfortunately, we live in a very ‘give it to me now’ society, I think that impatience can be turned into a motivator, but it still needs a giant reality check.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing the ‘true’ story acknowledging the challenges of running a business. Yet, I also feel very inspired and hopeful by your words because it is possible to become an overnight success after years of hard work!

    1. Lol, indeed Kandy! I don’t look back on the years of having a full-time job as retched I look back and feel lucky that I had a job that allowed me to be creative and not scramble, if I was scrambling to eat and house myself I think Besotted Brand would be a totally different entity!

  8. Great tips. Nothing makes me crazier than when people have this idea that you can chuck a “real” job for a hobby overnight and think its going to work out. While some people do it just that way with success, the vast majority of us common folk can’t afford it. Good for you for putting in your heart and soul but still doing it the responsible way. Congrats!

    1. Mrs. Limestone, my fave new Mommy! I just heard Aisha Taylor on a podcast and she talked about this (very articulately too). She came to Hollywood and worked as a stand-up, she had a corporate job during the day, she would come in at 6 a.m. so she could leave at a certain time to do her gigs, she prefaced her ‘overnight success’ by saying she is a ‘worker’, so she had to work for it and if you think it will just come to you, you are setting yourself up for a major reality check. Word. Btw, I always love how you are able to fuse a corporate life with a creative one, you are a major inspiration and have seemed to find a balance there that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, the two can live in harmony;)

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