The story of The Dainty Squid // part one

As part of my new blogging series, today I’m going to start sharing the story of how The Dainty Squid came to be what it is today. I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now but the time finally feels right and it fits perfectly into this very important series. This story starts quite a few years back…

Around my junior year of high school I started an etsy shop. My passion at the time was making monsters. I was just sewing up these weird little creatures out of felt, and fabric. I gave them names and little back stories. For some reason people were pretty into them. I sold nearly every one of them that I listed within no time. I was tickled pink that someone would actually pay money for something I made. I even sold some to a few customers overseas which just seemed crazy to this teenager from a tiny little town in Ohio. I don’t think I really made too much money off them, and probably ate tons of money in shipping costs but it was fun.

1st photo – Ramirez, who was good with children, as long as they didn’t pull his hair. 
2nd photo – Larry, who liked midnight snacks and thinking about the meaning of life while looking up at the clouds. 
My sewing skills were beginning to improve and I started
making zipper pouches which people liked even more than the monsters. I
was making a sale or two per week which was big for me. I didn’t realize
that it was something I could do as a career or that I could possibly
ever make enough money to support myself with it. It didn’t matter, I loved it anyway. I was flattered by the thought that people liked the things I was making and making some extra shopping money was super cool.
 one of my first few zipper pouches. Pretty nice if I do say so myself.
While everyone else at school was talking about what college they were thinking of attending I was kind of freaking out because I knew that college wasn’t for me. Every single college representative who came in to speak with us basically told us it was college or you’re poor for the rest of your life. They put this incredible pressure on you to commit which is insane. I have to ask to use the restroom but I’m required to make life altering decisions RIGHT NOW? I feel like I owe a lot to my AP English teacher, Mrs. Britton, who was the only person in my school to support and be more than willing to talk to me about the fact that not going to college is an option. There are other things out there. She helped build my confidence in my decision to not come back to school the next year, while others only suggested going to college and just figuring it all out later. I only
needed one more credit to graduate. In hind sight I should have
considered this sophomore year, taken the extra English class as junior
and graduated a year early. Of course, like any regular high school student I
wasn’t thinking like that though.
I ended up taking my final year of
English through a home school program.
Even though it’s not exactly the complete truth I like to say that I
was home-schooled my senior year so that I could work on my business. If I had gone to back to public school that last year things probably would have ended up a lot differently. Truth is it was hardly a business at that point, I was still selling things once a week or so but not having to go to school gave me lots of time to hone my skills and work on making my etsy shop, called “kaylah7” at the time, a bonafide business.

Over the next year or so I perfected my pouches, I stockpiled supplies and I sewed my butt off. My etsy shop was gaining momentum and I was a feeling like a full fledged business. I was selling these pouches to people all over the world. I had regular customers who came back and bought nearly every new fabric and style I came out with. Eventually I was even beginning to be contacted by brick and mortar stores. These pouches, made in a little corner of my parent’s house, were HOT.

I’m not sure how it even happened honestly. I don’t think I could do it again so beautifully if I tried. I kind of want to credit myspace with a lot of my business’ early success. At the height of myspace’s popularity I was a bit of an addict. I spent lots of time working on snazzy new layouts, had thousands and thousands of friends and I was using “bulletins” to promote my etsy shop like crazy. Around this time I was also pretty well rooted in the flickr community so I was also promoting my products over there. I was queen of shameless self promotion. I’m honestly super embarrassed now to think about how many myspace bulletins I posted about my products but hey, it worked!

I was starting to see the full potential of my sewing business and all it could be. What could I do to make it bigger? How could I show more people what I was making? It seemed simple, I would start a blog.

To be continued…

Find part two here.

Author: Kaylah

Just a green haired gal from Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Aw, I remember your zippered pouch days so this was a lovely read. I'd not seen the monsters before but they're super cute! And, personally, I find it refreshing that your teacher was so supportive in not taking the expected route. When I was at school, there was so much pressure on everyone to go onto university. Given the chance over, or a bit more time to figure out what I really wanted to do, I don't think I would've gone down the same route.

  • some of those pouches are so cute that if you were selling them right now I'd be placing an order. I -LOVE- the skeleton in the chair and the rulers.

  • I can't wait to hear more of your story. I'm really glad your English teacher supported the option of not going to college. I wish people wouldn't feel like college is their only option. Often times it's just a debt trap.

  • This post is gold. I've been following your blog for quite a few years, but this post dates your story before my time. I'm so glad you decided to share this with us, as I had always wondered exactly how you got your start. I can't wait for the rest of this series! Good work!

  • I have read your blog for years now!And it is one of my favorites, no doubt. I can remember when you made the pouches,still fun to read your full story like this! great idea!

  • You are so talented! I wish I could sew. Maybe I'll learn some day because this is truly inspiring. Love your creations and I'm not suprised that others loved them when you first started ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Besides this being a fascinating insight into your blog (it feels like you very own superhero origin story) it's also such a fun read! Looking forward to part two already ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I've been following you for very long now, but I never had any idea that this was how it all started! Really loved reading this, and looking forward to part 2. ๐Ÿ™‚