Episode 36 - Earning Passively with a Purpose with Farren Haygood
Farren Celeste is a paper flower company that offers templates for paper goods. Farren Haygood is the artist and face behind Farren Celeste. She is currently based in The Netherlands, but she is originally from the US. After moving to a country where she had no family and did not know the language, she had to reinvent herself and establish a new form of income.
She found solace in making her own paper flower cardstock templates and began selling them on her Etsy site in August 2019. Since then, her business has grown significantly.
In this podcast, she shares with us her secrets to success, from how to use social media to your advantage to how to earn passive and evergreen income to the pros/cons of using Etsy to sell.
During the podcast, you might hear a new voice…a baby’s! That’s Cillian, our baby intern, and Jessie’s new baby. You might hear him on some of these episodes as he tries out his voice at podcasting!
First, let’s get to know a little bit about Farren:
1. Who is Farren?
I’m a registered nurse turned creative business owner while living abroad in The Netherlands with my husband and dog, Callie.
2. How did you get started making paper flowers? What drew you to this art form?
I originally made and sold custom party decor and invitations while I was working full-time as a registered nurse. A customer requested invitations and a high chair banner for a “floral” themed the first birthday.
She had a real floral high chair garland saved on her Pinterest board. I thought, “How can I make something that looks like real flowers but won’t die?”…I saw some garlands made out of felt, but I preferred working with paper.
I found some flower templates that I could use with my Cricut or Silhouette cutting machine. By tweaking the templates a bit, I was able to make the high chair banner completely out of paper greenery and paper flowers. From there, I was hooked.
I fell in love with making cardstock paper flowers, because I can use my cutting machine to cut the petals. But, I was disappointed with the templates that were available. The flowers didn’t look very realistic, and they didn’t come with instructions.
So, I learned how to make my own! I now design and sell SVG cut file paper flower templates for cutting machines.
3. Tell us about Farren Celeste.
I launched Farren Celeste, Cardstock Projects for Cutting Machines in August 2019. The name is the combination of my first and middle names.
Our move to The Netherlands allowed me to take a break from nursing to focus on my business full time, but it also required a HUGE pivot.
Prior to the move, I would design and sell paper products on the side using my Cricut cutting machine. Over several years, I taught myself how to design my own SVG files (digital cutting templates for cutting machines) so that I could offer unique products. I NEVER intended on sharing or selling the original SVG files.
I knew that shipping internationally would be expensive and potentially complicated, so I decided to transition to teaching people how to make my designs themselves!… I also, discovered, that for creative people, like myself, half the fun is in the making of something with your hands! So, I also purchased a Silhouette cutting machine and learned the software so that I can offer my SVG files to both Cricut and Silhouette users.
I currently offer paper flower, invitation, and card SVG cut file templates. I also offer a limited amount of paper flower commercial licenses, so other paper florists can use SVG templates to make physical paper flowers for sale.
4. What advice can you give to a paper florist who finds himself/herself suddenly transplanted to another country and wants to continue to be creative?
First, give yourself grace. It is quite an adjustment to move somewhere new, let alone a completely different country (especially when you don’t speak the native language). Simple things like going to the grocery store can be completely overwhelming!
Once you feel a little more settled, try to connect with other local creatives. We are so fortunate to live in a time where there are social media! Just by posting on Instagram and tagging the location, I’ve been able to talk and meet with locals. They’ve been so helpful in helping me find supplies and I’ve been able to make some friends in the process.
5. Tell us about your Etsy Shop. How have you been able to stand out in the crowd of Etsy shops?
First, my paper flower templates stand out because the flowers look realistic, but they are approachable to make. Most can be made with or without stems, which makes them perfect for adding to garlands or other decors.
Second, I am able to stand out on Etsy because of the experience I provide my customers.
Each of my SVG cut file templates is like an online workshop. Each template comes with 1. Video Tutorials for Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio that show customers exactly what to click in their cutting machine’s software 2. An Assembly Video Tutorial and 3. A material guide with paper recommendations. Some of my largest orders have come from repeat customers.
6. What strategies do you use to monetize on Etsy and on social media?
I think of Etsy purely as a website that allows me to sell my products online. I don’t rely on Etsy to bring me sales whatsoever. While Etsy already has an existing customer base, I don’t wait for Etsy to bring me customers through their search features. I use social media to introduce them to my store.
But, you can’t just sell, sell, sell, on social media. You have to remember that social media is meant to be social. You have to provide value to your followers other than just the products you offer, and you need to engage! I try to respond to every single comment and direct message.
I try to post a mix of content that is inspiring, educational, or entertaining more than I post about what I currently have for sale.
7. What are some of the challenges you've faced in your business and/or art?
Moving to the Netherlands has provided me with the time to focus on my business, but it has made every other aspect so much more challenging. Specifically, sourcing supplies.
Supplies are very limited here compared to the States, and one of my favorite cardstock suppliers does not even ship to The Netherlands. Even though I have a trade account with a different company, international shipping is extremely expensive. And, I also have to pay a 21% VAT tax plus import duties on anything I purchase from outside The Netherlands.
8. Tell us how you incorporate the use of a cutter like Cricut in your business.
My Cricut and Silhouette cutting machines are integral to my business. I literally cannot make my paper flowers without them. The detail on my paper flowers such as the anemones and blue thistle are so delicate, there is no way I’d be able to cut them by hand.
9. Do you have any tips (about paper flowers, social media strategy, Etsy, etc.) to share with our listeners?
Paper Flowers - First, decide what kind of paper florist you want to be. My paper flowers are intended more for the gift and party space as opposed to fine art. By choosing this path, it helps me to stay focused on the types of flowers I want to create and intentional in who I am creating them for. I currently do not offer any physical paper flowers at all. So, when I’m designing them I have to think, will my customer also be able to make this successfully?
Social Media - If you aren’t already utilizing video, you need to be. I know, video sounds completely overwhelming when it’s hard enough to come up with a variety of still photos to post. Start small by utilizing features like Instagram stories. Then, start experimenting with video content for your feed. People love seeing behind the scenes. So share, a bit of what you are working on!
Etsy - Utilize all the space that Etsy offers you. They give you 10 spots for pictures, so use them all! But, they don’t all have to be pictures of the product! I created images with information on them about the templates and upload those into the extra allotted pictures spots.
Want to learn more about Farren and Farren Celeste? Follow her on social media:
INSTAGRAM | @farrenceleste