It Girl | KIKI SCHLOFFEL
By: Danae Edmonds
Kiwi's work has all of the personality in the world. When first introduced to Craft Boner, I remember thinking that it was so honest and witty and 'inappropriately' awesome! I was instantly captured by the designs and phrases. Kiwi's work with her company Craft Boner is refreshing and hilarious and I love her story of how it came to be. In this article, she shares with us the inspiration behind Craft Boner and how she is overcoming self doubt to prosper as a girl boss and business owner.
Name: Kiwi Schloffel
Job Title/Company: Brains & Brawn at Craft Boner
Education Background: B.S. in Mass Media - Print Emphasis from Stephens College in Columbia, MO
- Tell us a little about who you are.
My name’s Kiwi and I own a business called Craft Boner where I curse and put funny sayings on cards, paper goods and other items. Basically I love to make people laugh big, belly laughs as often as I can. I hand letter every product and I really try to use the awkward and hilarious experiences we all have to create things that people can relate to and find refreshingly honest.
- What sparked your interest in starting Craft Boner?
I lived in New York a few years ago and worked fixing computers and found that I really hated not being able to be creative every day. I started Craft Boner as a blog thinking that it would be more of a personal outlet but then some of my friends convinced me that I should open an Etsy shop. Craft Boner has been through a ton of renovations and has evolved a lot since then but I think it’s still my desire to be creative and share things with the world that still inspires me the most.
- Who are you most influenced by?
I’m definitely inspired by funny ladies like Aidy Bryant, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler but I actually find I’m most influenced by the creative friends I’ve made in Denver. I know that I can have a lady date with any one of the creative minds I know and I’ll come away from it with all sorts of new ideas. I think that’s one of the most important things to have as a small business owner - a group of like-minded people who inspire you, push you and will support you in any way they can.
- What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
I definitely had a few odd jobs before and during college but my first “big girl” job was as a News Editor at a technology magazine in New Zealand right after I graduated college. I almost fainted I was so excited when I got my business cards but after 6 months I realized that I hated my job and wasn’t really cut out for the fast pace of hard news journalism. I quit shortly after that realization and spent a month exploring New Zealand before moving back to the US.
- Can you share a career defining moment with us?
I’d been running Craft Boner as more of a hobby for a few years when I got dumped in August about a year and a half ago. I took it pretty hard and decided to fully throw myself into working toward my own dream rather than putting too much effort into dating. It wasn’t the best plan but I did work every waking minute I wasn’t at my day job to prepare for the holiday season. I’d done a few craft shows before but this holiday I participated in a show that was just really “right” for my brand. I sold out of nearly everything the first day of the show and I remember staying up all night to work after that and thinking, “I can do this.” It was the first time I realized that there were customers who really loved and wanted more of what I was making and from that moment on it became less of a hobby and every step I took was more focused on a way to be able to quit my job and make a real go of supporting myself with my business.
- What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
When I first started the Craft Boner shop I had just moved back from Brooklyn and was living in my dad’s basement. I remember at the time thinking that if I could just get one perfect item out there I could become an overnight success and that the business would be enough to support me full time. Thinking back about that time is pretty embarrassing because I now know I had no clue what I was doing. I eventually took on a part-time job and then a full-time job and it wasn’t until about a year ago that I really started seriously planning a way to make Craft Boner my full-time job. Last year I set a sales goal for myself and I nearly doubled it by the end of the year and this year I finally quit my part-time job and am ready to set an even higher goal for myself this year.
- What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being an entrepreneur?
I’m not sure if it’s the most important but definitely the hardest skill I’ve learned to rely on is patience. It’s easy to think that things happen really quickly but in reality a lot of the time you really need to learn and grow and evolve before you can get to the place where opportunities come your way quickly. Which, of course, leads to persistence. I think that persistence is almost more important than patience because you really need to be able to stick with something and believe in your vision even when you hit road blocks and it feels impossible to go on. Lastly I think adaptability is also key. No two days will ever be the same and your business will change and shift - you have to listen to your gut and rely on it to tell you if something isn’t working and if that’s the case then it might be time for a change.
- Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Oh boy, I have no clue! I’ve never really been one of those people who has their ideal life mapped out. My only rule is that if I wake up unhappy more days than I wake up excited then something needs to change. That being said, I’d love to own a house in 5 years and I’ve been brainstorming ideas for writing a book or script of some sort as that’s been one of my dreams since I was a little girl.
- What is a typical day like for you?
I love that typical doesn’t every apply to any of my days but I definitely have routines that I like to stick to, like I like to have treadmill time every morning before eating breakfast. Without breakfast I am the grumpiest person on the planet. After that I usually spend the day responding to emails, reaching out to wholesale clients, fulfilling orders, managing inventory, ordering supplies, sketching, doing finances, maintaining my Etsy and website, creating content for social media or reading and learning about new programs or skills to incorporate into the business. It’s never the same but I’m trying to get better about having blocks of time each day reserved for certain tasks rather than flitting back and forth between things.
- What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your dreams?
My biggest challenge has definitely been fear and self-doubt. I still struggle with both of those things but I definitely feel more confident in putting my work out into the world. I think it’s hard for a lot of artists and creative types to show their work because it always seems like there’s someone out there doing something better. But I now tell myself that we’re all going through a process and my path is different than anyone else’s and that I’d rather share my work rather than keeping it all bottled up inside. If anyone else out struggles with creative self doubt I’d highly recommend “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron - that book singlehandedly gave me the courage to start selling my creations and seeing them as something that held value.
- What is the best piece of advice you have received?
I wish that I could remember it word for word but when I was in college I had this wonderful journalism professor who refused to let me slide by. I was pretty shy at the time and afraid of interviewing people for stories. He sensed potential in me and one day he said, “You gotta stop being scared of everything - even if you f*ck up it’s not going to be the end of the world.” It doesn’t seem like much but coming from someone who I really admired this little tidbit struck a chord with me and I remember from that point on I was much less scared to take on things that I used to avoid at all costs. I still remember that when I find myself putting off doing something because of fear.
- When do you get your best ideas?
I get a lot of my best ideas when I’m driving or in the shower and don’t have any way to write them down and it is supremely annoying. Other than that I think a ton of my ideas come from when I’m brainstorming with my best friend or boyfriend or just saying things out loud and refining and tweaking them. I can’t even count how many “aha!” moments I’ve had while skyping with my best friend in San Francisco.
- Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
Last summer my friend and I decided to start a business doing custom vinyl and wood signs for weddings. We brainstormed and ordered business cards and made some sample signs and I even threw together a website over a weekend. And then we both realized that we didn’t have the time or energy or passion to devote to the business and were only excited about it initially because we thought it would fill a hole in the market and would help us have additional income. So, really, I learned that I can’t do things just because they might be lucrative - my heart really has to fully be in the project. I also learned that if I spread my time too thin between my different projects (for example I also have a podcast and was working full-time at a day job at that point) then I can’t really make any of the projects shine. Now I’m definitely more careful about any side work that I decide to take on in the future.
- How do you unwind?
I love to unwind by sketching little doodles just for me and by binge watching movies and TV. I’m pretty sure that in another life I was meant to work in Hollywood. I’m also a huge fan of knitting and of going to see movies in the middle of the day by myself.
- What would you tell someone else who wants to start their own business?
I’d tell someone wanting to start their own thing to decide beforehand if the ultimate goal is for the venture to be a hobby business or something that they one day hope can support them. There’s no wrong answer and different things work for different people but it’s really good to have an idea of that from the start even if it winds up changing down the road. Because maybe you have kids or a full-time job you love and just want a creative outlet - that would be more of a hobby business and something you know you can devote less time to without feeling like you should be doing more. But if you want your business to one day be able to support you you really have to be ready to hustle and put in the work. You have to know that not only will you likely work harder than you ever have before but you’ll probably have trouble shutting off your brain because you’ll always be thinking of ways to grow and enhance your business. So, actually, I’d tell someone one of the most important things when starting your own business is having a really supportive group of people around you who don’t mind listening to you talk about the business and are there to support you if you have a meltdown. Because if you’re surrounded by people who are full of doubt or fear or anything that isn’t the desire for you to succeed then that’s going to rub off on you and that’s the last thing you want when first starting out.
- What do you hope people take away from your story?
I realize I put my serious pants on for a lot of those questions but, really, I hope people take away that you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not in order to be successful. When I was younger I definitely tried to fit in as much as possible and now I totally let my freak flag fly and not only has it worked for me in my business but I’ve met some of the most glorious weirdos ever by being true to myself. And, really, I think that the best thing to do for any creative or budding entrepreneur is to surround yourself with like-minded people because they’ll inspire you and push you to realize your full potential.
- Anything we missed that you would like to share?
Don’t think so! For anyone out there who has a great idea but needs someone to be their cheerleader - I’m totally up for the task. I love helping other people reach their dreams!