I Interviewed A 22-Year-Old Small Business Owner, And It Was Really Inspiring
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I Interviewed A 22-Year-Old Small Business Owner, And It Was Really Inspiring

She's a college student and running a small business!

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I Interviewed A 22-Year-Old Small Business Owner, And It Was Really Inspiring
Caroline Vitanza, CV Creative Studio

One thing that I've noticed recently in my own TikTok feed is the spark of small business owners who have become successful during the past couple of months. I quickly see these creators go from 0 followers to thousands with lots of support from their TikTok followers and the small business community. I got the opportunity to reach out to Caroline, the owner of CV Creative Studio, who is one of these creators who is starting to see her business begin to grow.

Caroline Vitanza is a 22-year-old college senior studying Hospitality & Tourism Management and is the owner of CV Creative Studio, a small business located in her bedroom!

Caroline Vitanza, CV Creative Studio OwnerCaroline Vitanza

Website:cvcreativestudio.com
TikTok:@cvcreativestudio
Instagram: @cvcreativestudio & @carolimes_
Pintrest:CV Creative Studio

Read below her answers to 11 questions about her journey as an entrepreneur and get inspired to start your own journey!

What exactly is CV Creative Studio?

CV Creative Studio is the small business that I run out of my home creating and producing different art products, primarily stickers, decals, and canvases. I have a website and promote my business through Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest.

How did you get the idea for your business? What makes it unique?

"Perfectly Imperfect" Design

Caroline Vitanza, CV Creative Studio

I have always wanted to be able to sell the things I create by opening my own Etsy business. I began to learn calligraphy and lettering in 2015 and shortly after began iPad lettering and digital art. Once quarantine started in March and I had the time and money I'd been waiting for to be able to start my business, I decided to take the leap. There are so many businesses like mine out there but I think what makes mine so unique is that it's built off of a passion for art and creating that I've had for my whole life. I love art in so many forms, choral music, theatre, design, etc. and I think I'm able to combine all of my experience with different creative elements to produce detailed works of art.

What kinds of product(s) do you produce? Can customers make personalized requests? 

I produce stickers and decals primarily since my budget right now doesn't lend to producing anything larger. But I do accept custom orders for just about any art project! I'm currently working on a large canvas with a long quote on it for a friend of mine. I've also been commissioned to do personalized tumblers, face masks, cold drink cups, etc. I'm hoping that my business will grow to the point where I can begin producing and selling prints, canvases, and t-shirts on my website regularly.

That's one reason why I decided to name my shop a CREATIVE Studio rather than a "sticker shop" or something specific like that. I want to have the opportunity to grow and expand my range of products in the future.

Since it is just you running the business, what does your daily schedule look like?

My daily schedule varies day to day, which is great and awful at the same time. Being your own boss has its highs and lows for sure. On days when I'm not working my "big adult" jobs (yes I have two!), I'll typically make myself a to-do list first thing in the morning. It usually includes working on any commissioned projects I need to finish, filming and posting TikTok videos (it's a great promotional platform), packing and shipping orders I may have, printing and cutting stickers, and lots of scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration.

What is your studio set up like?

"Elle Woods" Color-Block Digital Drawing

Caroline Vitanza, CV Creative Studio

Honestly, calling it a "studio" is a HUGE exaggeration. Being in college, I live in an apartment with two other people, my cat Gus, and have very little room for extra things. My studio setup is currently in the corner area of my bedroom. My Cricut machine, vinyl rolls, cardstock, and any other tools I need for making my products are on a rolling cart that I can move around if necessary. I also have two sets of drawers in my closet for other projects, including glue, paintbrushes, embroidery thread, etc. My shipping supplies are all stored together in a box to make it easier to assemble when packing orders. I also have a large Canon printer with stacks of sticker paper all over. It's a very organized mess, but it works for me!

What steps did you take to start up your business?

The first thing I did was buy my Cricut. A Cricut is a die-cut machine that can cut intricate designs on numerous materials. It's essential if you're going to be making stickers, especially in large amounts. I then created my business name and opened my shop on Etsy. To anyone wanting to start a business, don't do what I did in the beginning, haha! I put the cart before the horse. Jumping into a business without knowing specifics is going to get you in a hole.

You need to have a business name, logo, business plan, information about different selling platforms, a list of all materials you'll need to produce your products, a financial statement where you can record your expenses, shipping supplies, and products designed and/or produced BEFORE your shop opens. I immediately opened an online platform before I knew anything. All I knew was I wanted to sell stickers. I had few designs in my pocket, no knowledge of a business plan, no idea of any selling platforms other than Etsy (which actually has some of the highest fees for online businesses), no clue how I would ship my items, etc etc etc.

By taking the steps to start my business completely backwards, I wasted a lot of money that I can never get back. I didn't do my research or pre-plan anything, leading me to purchase things that didn't work for what I needed them for, costed more than other easier options, ordered too much of something and then not liking it. The beginning steps are the most important to ensure success in any business, so definitely don't follow in my footsteps on how I started mine!

How do you manage attending college and running your business?

Since I started my business in the midst of quarantine, there wasn't much else to do. Now, I have two jobs and will soon be back in classes. This is another area where planning ahead has helped me. While I still have the time, I'm creating TikToks to keep in my drafts for days when I don't have time to film, I'm producing my products in bulk so orders are quicker to fulfill, I'm planning ahead my Instagram feed for future posts.

How do you advertise your business? What seems to work best for you?

"Ride 'em Cowboys" Sticker

Caroline Vitanza, CV Creative Studio

Advertising strategies definitely have a learning curve. It took me a while to figure out what was going to work for me. Initially, I purchased ads on Etsy for specific products, which did bring in some revenue, but I was paying Etsy way more than I wanted in fees. I decided to move to social media for promoting my business. TikTok and Instagram have been incredibly useful for growing my customer base. Both of these platforms allow for hashtags, meaning that your posts are more likely to be seen.

There are also communities of people within the same business as you on each platform that helps to support you and boost other small businesses up. You're able to get creative with the way you show your products, and people also get to see more behind the scenes work, which a lot of people really like to see from a small business.

What has been the most rewarding experience of starting your business?

The most rewarding thing I've gotten from this is really just all the knowledge I've learned in such a short period of time. I started my business in March and since then I've had to teach myself how to track my expenses and my profit, how to promote myself on social media, how to take good quality product photos, how to build a website, and so much more. It's given me so much motivation to learn more about the business I've gotten into so that I can grow. Knowledge is the most powerful thing and I feel like I learn something new doing this every single day.

Where do you hope to see your business in the next year?

Custom Canvas Design

Caroline Vitanza, CV Creative Studio

In the next year, I hope to reach 100 sales, completely move from Etsy to my personal website, and have expanded into selling higher quality stickers, t-shirts, and doing more custom works!

What are some other tips you have for people that want to start up their own small business?

I have so many tips for people wanting to start a business!!! Like I said before, don't put the cart before the horse. Make sure you have the money and time to start and ensure that you have a solid business plan and knowledge of the resources and materials you will need before jumping in and opening an online store. It takes patience and lots of research, but it's worth it. My biggest thing is don't get discouraged. It's so easy for me to go on TikTok and look at successful artists who have thousands of sales and have been improving for years and years and compare myself to them. I've had so many days where I just can't bring myself to design anything because I think I'm never going to be good enough. But you have to remember that your business won't work unless YOU do. Patience is a virtue in the world of small businesses, so keep doing what you love and you will slowly grow!


Definitely go give CV Creative Studio a look!!


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