Look up Erin Smoker’s Etsy page and you’ll find this description,
Buttercups Emporium is my new adventure.
I wanted to become more independent so with the help of some friends we have my shop started. I enjoy making items for others and now I can share my passion with other people.
“It’s not our disabilities, it’s our abilities that count.” -Chris Burke
Erin started this new adventure a year ago with ADEC. For several years now, she’s been splitting her vocational time between the sewing room and the technology room at ADEC Day Services at Bristol.
When ADEC staff began mulling over the idea of supporting clients as they opened and ran their own small businesses, Erin jumped out as a candidate to take the first leap into this new venture.
She worked with Aleigha Miller, team manager at ADEC Day Services at Goshen, to start the shop on Etsy, a popular e-commerce website where people can create personalized “shops” for customers to browse. Erin and Aleigha went through each part of the shop together as they set it up.
“She picked out everything,” Aleigha said. “We went through the bio and she decided what she wanted to put up. She wanted to put it out there that it was her making it and she had a disability. There was even a ‘Thank you for buying’ message where she told some of her story.”
For Erin, owning her own businesses has been a point of pride as she boldly passes out her business cards to everyone she runs into and keeps careful track of her store.
Each morning, when she arrives at day services, Erin hurries into the technology room so she can check her e-mail and catch up on her orders. She’ll read through each message carefully and collect input from her parents and staff members before responding. Each time she gets an alert of a new followers, she rejoices in her success.
“She was so excited when stuff first sold, and that was a whole adventure,” Aleigha said. “I was like, wait, we have to package this and bring it to the Post Office and then make sure it gets there. But she loves it, and she’s so good at it.”
If you ask Erin about being a business owner, she’ll smile confidently and tell you, “Yeah, I did it.”
Erin makes most of her products at home and buys all of her own supplies. Her store is mostly colorful knit scarves and tie blankets. Right now, she has a Frozen blanket set, as well as a My Little Pony set up for sale. She’s working on adding to her stock by knitting pot holders to add to her store soon. She’s been experimenting with different patterns and is excited to get them up.
Once she has a new product, she’ll bring it in so she can take pictures in the technology room at Bristol. Then she’ll work with Carissa Bickel, team leader and ADEC Day Services at Bristol, to decide on a price (items range between $25 and $30) and put the listing together. Each listing says, “Handmade in Indiana with love.”
For Aleigha, watching Erin grow and blossom with a small business has been a highlight of her career.
“I was just looking through my e-mails today, and I had one where I was telling a friend and Erin’s store and what we were working on,” Aleigha share. “I was so excited. We had no idea if it would work, but we tried it out and it worked.”
Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist