Turning Creativity Into Something That Pays


Do you have an eye for design, a craft pile ready to explode with fresh ideas, or a knack for knowing what others want? Have you ever wondered if you could turn those talents from a hobby into a business? Whether you work a 9-to-5 job inside or outside the home or you’re a stay-at-home mom, you can!

As a stay-at-home-mom myself, I often wished I could come up with a way to bring in some extra money. I envied others who seemed to be able to transform their crafts into real hard cash.

“How do they do it?” I thought. “I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

I asked a few local “mom-preneurs” to share their stories, tips, and wise words with us. Read their stories, learn from their mistakes and you just might find yourself saying, “Hey! I could do that!”

Baking and Cake Decorating

Candi-licious Cakes specializes in custom decorated cakes, cake pops and cupcakes.

Candis Cakes

Candi Ruffin always loved baking cakes! In college she enjoyed baking for sorority events and for her friends’ birthdays. At home, she loved baking for her family’s special occasions. When her son turned 1, it was no surprise that she made his very first birthday cake. She also baked and decorated cakes as a friendly contribution to her friends’ baby showers or their children’s birthday parties. Soon her friends were insisting on paying for her one-of-a-kind creations. Her “just for fun” hobby suddenly was turning into a whole new adventure. She decided to just go with it and see what would come of this new enterprise. Today you can find Candi in her home kitchen baking up a storm as her candi-licious cakes have taken on a BUSY life of their own!

Balance is key: “Overbooking yourself can cause undue pressure and stress for you and those you love. Since I am a one-woman operation, eager to provide service, I’ve not wanted to turn someone away. And while the cakes have turned out great, my stress levels can affect those around me. So I’ve decided to set those limits for the benefit of my husband and my son. Also, time management and limiting yourself to what you are capable of accomplishing in the time frame you create are really key. Distracted baking causes cake flops which equals wasted time and money on my end. I try to make sure I schedule my baking when my son can be watched by his mimi or a friend.”

Furniture Redesign

“Reclaim, Refresh, Restyle.” Rustic Chic Interiors specializes in painted furniture in shabby chic, rustic and modern styles.


Sarah Cornett considers herself a furniture picker and a project junkie! She loves rehabbing old pieces of furniture that are in need of some TLC, and then transforming them into something new and fresh. Her business all started with her family’s move to Springdale, when she felt the need to connect with her creative side … and to fill a large new home with furniture on a budget! She gave furniture redesign a try, and today she considers all of her pieces in her home “her practice pieces.” Currently her business has expanded to take custom orders, local pickup and delivery, layaway and possibly a store front!

Safety matters: “Never trust ‘child-proof’ lids. I had a can of aerosol glue that my 5-year-old got a hold of and decided to spray in his eye. After contacting poison control, and keeping water flowing over his eye to help loosen the glue, we were finally able to pry his eyelids apart. Needless to say, I now have locked up all project materials and do most of my painting when hubby is home to watch the boys while Mommy works.”


Your Moments by Melissa Adams Photography offers professional photography sessions.

columbia moms blog

Melissa Adams says her fascination for photography goes all the way back to the 7th grade, when she worked on a school science project and learned about developing film. She fell in love with taking pictures, not only of people, but of life’s simple and sweet moments otherwise not remembered without having a picture of it. But as a busy mom of three with a full-time job, she never thought she would be able to transform her love of photography into anything concrete. A mixture of personal life events pushed her to go ahead and take the necessary classes and workshops to really evolve her craft. With encouragement from friends, especially her photographer friend Bev, she was able to take the leap! Melissa has expanded from just taking pictures of friends and family to having a client base that extends from the Midlands to surrounding areas such as Sumter and Camden. She even had the pleasure of being selected as the photographer for spring pictures at a local school. Melissa is still taking her venture one step at a time but is excited about continuing her education in photography and taking her love of capturing those special moments to the next level.

Focus on the goal: “Stick with your vision. It is sometimes hard, especially in the beginning, to tell people ‘no’ or to give them your expectations. They came to you for a reason, so let them know what you need from them to get you there. If something is not going to work, tell them. I have a really hard time with this and sometimes it affects the end result. It is one of my goals this year as a photographer to get to know my clients’ wants better, but to also have a plan of direction and expectation for myself.”

Handmade Hair Bows and Accessories

Sweet n’ Pink Bowtique customizes bows, varied headbands, pony-o’s, korkers, detachable bows and more in varied sizes and styles … plus much, much more!

Chars bows

Char Maynard was a working mom her entire life and when she became a SAHM a few years ago, she felt guilty about going shopping and splurging. With 5 children ranging in age from 2 to 25, she was looking for a way to generate some extra spending money. At the time, Char was living in Virginia and everyone in her moms group was giving birth to girls. She noticed how much her friends were paying for bows and headbands, and this gave her a great idea: make them herself. She did not consider herself a crafty person, but she figured bow making would be a fun hobby to take up. Worst-case scenario, she’d be horrible at it and have to find something else to do. Since relocating to South Carolina, Char’s business has expanded from just hair accessories to include key fobs, paci clips, sip clips and lanyards. You can find her at many local craft fairs and she has broadened to do custom orders, local pick up, credit card payments and shipping to anywhere!

Keep learning: “I look back at the first bows I made and am embarrassed by how they looked. Always be willing to learn new things, come up with fresh ideas and listen to your customer base. It makes me appreciate my family and friends even more for their support and belief in me. Spousal support is wonderful and I don’t know that I would have been able to keep going many times if my husband wasn’t there to cheer me on.”

Art and Painting

heART of Sarah provides specialty art and paintings for fun and colorful spaces with an added touch of flair.

Sarahs Art

Sarah Bradford has always been a creative person and remembers wanting to be an architect as a young child. She earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design and ever since college wanted to have her own business. A stay-at-home mom who was looking to generate some extra income, Sarah began her own business by focusing on painting children’s rooms that were fun, colorful, and unique. Over the years Sarah’s talents have morphed. Today Sarah still creates fun kids’ spaces, but she also found success creating string art and transforming old frames (and occasionally furniture) into something brand new.

Speak up: “My biggest problem was always putting my art on the back burner and not talking to enough people about it. I have started and stopped so many times, I was actually disappointed in myself.  But I am not going to let that discourage me from continuing to reach for my dream!”

Top Tips

Here are some top tips from our mom-preneurs on what you need to know before going forward with your own venture.

Love what you do

  • Have passion for your craft.

“The ultimate reward I get is from the delighted reactions on my clients faces! When you see a 1-year-old smash their own cake with glee, wonder, and curiosity and you see all of the smiles that moment brings to everyone, you feel like you played a part in creating that special moment.” — Candi

“If you truly enjoy what you are doing, then that’s all that matters. Yes, financial gain is important too, but trust me when I say, if you truly love what you are doing, it will show in your work and your customers will see that and fall in love.” — Sarah Cornett

Slow and steady

Crafting and other creative hobbies may be fun, but they can also be the beginnings of a small business.
  • If you are nervous starting out, take the chance anyway and start small.

“Even if you don’t think you can do something, TRY. You just might surprise yourself!” — Char

  • Set small goals for yourself, such as giving at least one business card out a day or making one sale a week.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable, so you will not be disappointed if things are not moving along as fast as you would like.
  • Celebrate small and big accomplishments.

Be knowledgeable

  • Be patient and take the time to really learn your skill/craft.

“It’s not as easy as it looks, so don’t undervalue your time and investment.” — Melissa

  • Look into the costs involved and time required. Basically it takes money to make money, whether it is supplies, training, or advertising.

Get your name out there

  • Use the free or discounted resources already available to you! Facebook business pages, “for sale sites” for advertising, sites like Vistaprint for free or inexpensive business cards, and even word of mouth can be VERY powerful!

“I usually attach extra business cards to the cake boxes for friends to share my information with others who either compliment the cake or inquire about it.” — Candi

“Word of mouth is the biggest part of getting your name out there. Even if you are a bit shy, make yourself some business cards and get used to talking about yourself!” — Sarah Bradford

  • Make your name known through attending farmers markets, festivals, or by setting up a Facebook page. You want to make it a point to connect with more people and make them aware of what you do.
  • If you are not in a moms group, join one and share what you do! Don’t hesitate to also join a local “for sale” Facebook page.
  • Get to know others in your community who are doing something similar to you.

Take the high road

  • Don’t talk badly about others who aspire to do the same thing as you.

“There is a lot of competition out there. We all have the same goal, some just get there taking different routes.  Pointing out what they are doing wrong, or saying they are coping something you did is not going to help your business in any way.” — Melissa

  • Have integrity and always be honest about what you can offer.

“If someone wants something you aren’t sure you can provide or create tell them. The worst thing you can do is promise something and then not be able to execute it. However on that note, you can also tell them what you can provide for them even if it’s not exactly what they want they will respect you more for your honesty. I tell my customers what I can provide so they can make an informed decision to either use me or not based on their needs.” –Candi

Were you able to turn your passion into something that pays? Tell us more about it! Include additional tips you have for someone considering starting their own business.


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