Diffraction Fiber is a shop based in Chicago which sells handmade pillows , coasters, mouse pads, hats, and fiber art. The pillows are made from eco-felt, which are made from recycled plastic bottles. Read on the interview as Beth Cummings shares her personal experiences in starting an online business.
What’s the inspiration behind your shop’s name?
Well, I started with a jewelry shop named Diffraction, and I wanted something that connected the two. Ironically, after Diffraction Fiber started taking off I put the original shop on hold entirely.
How old is your shop?
A year and a half young
What inspired you to start your own home business?
I was bored to death working in a cubicle. I didn’t want to spend my life working at a job I hated. I had all these things I loved to do,… create, sew, embroider. I figured I had to find a way to make a living off of love. And so I did!
Can you give us a peek on the creative process involved in your craft?
Most ideas come at random moments, while taking a shower, while having an everyday conversation, something will pop in my head that I NEED to make. That’s why I write it all down and keep track, or I’d forget them all.
From there I tend to plan a lot before i jump in. Figuring out in my head the best way to construct Peanut Butter and Jelly Pillows before I actually start cutting. I can’t stand wasting materials so I usually have a really solid game plan going before the first piece is cut.
What was the toughest challenge you faced so far?
Self doubt, for sure. Like any retail situation there are really good months and not so good months.
How did you get over it?
It’s remembering in those not so good months that its not you, that its just the natural cycle of things. It’s so hard to go from the frenetic pace of the holidays to the dry months of January/February. But now I just use those months for creating new products, catching up on things, getting wholesale orders, etc.
the things you do when you’re not busy in your shop:
playing with my puppy, cooking for friends, board games, we also see a lot of theater and improv. But really, when am I not busy in my shop? I work myself way too hard sometimes. I’ve always said I’m my own toughest boss.
stuff inside your bag you can’t leave home without:
sketchbook and pencil!
your favorite shops:
I have so many! So I’ll just tell you my last three purchases… from LittleRetreats I got a set of mustaches for an upcoming dinner party, from cartoon monster I got an adorable hand crank boat and from KreatedbyKatrina, a glut of handmade soaps!
your top 3 favorite picks from your shop:
Made for Each Other Pillows, Ampersand in Blue, and the embroidered portraits.
What tips would you want to share for aspiring home based entrepreneurs like you?
Make something you love and that your passionate about. People can see that in your work. The biggest mistake people make is looking at a successful shop and trying to copy their products. Be original, be yourself, with all your quirks and weirdness, because that’s what’s beautiful.
Any message to your customers and the people who support you?
Thank you, thank you, I kiss your feet with thank you’s! You enable me to do what I love each and everyday and for that I will be forever grateful!
Thank you Beth for being a part this feature!