Connie Graves has always had an incredibly creative side and finally decided this past year start selling all the different things she has created. She focused primarily on jewelry but also does custom reclaimed wood art and photography. In addition to having a passion for art, she is also an animal lover, a dancer and loves volunteering at her local church. For now, she is an assistant property manager by day but dreams of being able to have her business sustain her. Read our interview with the lovely Connie below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I love to create things. After having numerous people request different jewelry pieces from me, I realized that I could turn what I love doing into a business.
Tell us about your business.
CGK Productions has many aspects to it. It has wire wrapped pendant necklaces, reclaimed wood art (sold locally only), refinished furniture and photography as well.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
If you use the code LBB15, you’ll receive 15% off your purchase.
Where is your business based?
Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I started out doing local craft fairs. Once those were successful, I started up an Etsy shop and worked with a graphic designer on branding.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Social Media has been great! Facebook and Instagram have been a huge help to me but also the initial time spent at craft fairs as a vendor and just attending while wearing my jewelry has been useful, too.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Finding the time to keep updating my Etsy shop. I work a full-time job, volunteer, take care of a diabetic cat and try to have a social life so that doesn’t always leave me with a lot of extra time to put into the shop.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I’m starting to put aside specific time to just focus on the Etsy shop and marketing.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I absolutely love what I do. Making jewelry and working with my hands is a great stress relief for me and a way to decompress from being an assistant manager at a huge property.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Every piece I make is unique. I also gladly do custom requests and have met up with clients all over MN to accommodate the requests they have. I like to work closely with people to make sure they will get a piece they will love.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
“In business, it’s not just the early bird who gets the worm. To succeed, you have to be willing to burn the candle at both ends, to be accessible and able to reach clientele across the board.”
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Find what you love doing and find a way to do what you love.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
This may be strange but I love the local and unique bead and rock stores that MN has. Finding high quality supplies is a huge part of my business. They’re also great to bring clients to so that way they can find what they’re really looking for if I don’t have a certain item on hand that they want.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @cgkproductions @conniegraves
Hashtags #cgkproductions #minnesotaartist #shopsmallbusiness #etsyseller #wirewrappedjewelry
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
“The Copper Sign” by Katia Fox. It’s a beautifully written fiction book.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I could definitely use help with marketing. It’s not something that I’ve ever been great at.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I would love to see my Etsy shop take off. I’m planning on devoting more time into it to see this happen.