Nancy Barbolt, the owner of the Simply Made shop on Etsy, is a happy stay-at-home mom whose career is a dream come true for her. In her shop she sells handpainted decor for children, including pieces that range from wooden letters to canvas paintings. Each item is a custom order and consists of whatever the customer requests for personalization.
With over 800 sales and 100% positive feedback since opening in January 2008, she’s had a lot of success. All orders are discussed with the customer prior to her getting started. Once she has the customer’s ideas and specifications, she paints the pieces with Folk Art Acrylic Paint and then sends pictures of the work to the customer for approval. That way if the customer wants to change or add anything, it’s no problem at all. When the customer gives final approval, Nancy puts a glossy varnish over the paint to act as a sealer and sends the pieces on their way.
Claiming she’s always loved arts and crafts, she finds that painting can be very relaxing for her. She also enjoys scrapbooking and so she’s even created a few picture frames with scrapbooking material. Nancy enjoys sewing, too, which is how she got started with Etsy. She first opened Simply Made with her friend Danielle, whom she met upon moving to Cobleskill. They had learned about Etsy through Danielle’s aunt and so the two got together and created burp cloths, cart covers, baby blankets, and more. They decided on the name ‘Simply Made’ ultimately because their creations were just that.
However, Nancy got her start on painting when a friend of Danielle’s asked for painted wooden letters. Danielle turned the job over to Nancy, due to her painting experience from classes she had taken, and everything seemed to take off from there.
“I painted gifts for friends so I could add examples to my shop and it has really exploded over the past 4 years.” — Nancy Barbolt
When asked where she gets inspiration from for her work, she admits that she gets it all from the customers. “Each order is totally customized to their needs, though some letters may be similar in nature, they are never alike”. She likes to get the customers involved and enjoys brainstorming ideas with them for their orders.
Nancy also shows her work at craft fairs every now and then so she can offer her work outside of Etsy. She claims it is sometimes hard to sell the letters at the craft fairs due to the personalization she likes to offer, but she also sells a wide range of other items such as crayon rolls, hairclips, frames, monogram ornaments, and magnets.
“I love to craft in general. It’s a sickness… I see something I like and think, ‘I can make these myself!'” — Nancy Barbolt
Reflecting on all of her past orders and interactions with customers, Nancy finds that she is amazed with how much prosperity she’s made in just four years. If her two children don’t do enough to keep her busy, creating pieces for customers and her shop certainly do!
Don’t forget to check out the slideshow at the top left of the article featuring two of Simply Made’s products.