Have you ever wondered how moms in business do it all? Perhaps you even felt defeated and overwhelmed by the shiny social media “reality” that makes it look like other business owners perhaps have it easier.
In today’s heartfelt interview with full-time business owner, hand lettering artist, and mom, Danielle Holleran, we will dive into an inspiring and realistic perspective of what is behind the shiny curtain of social media. Danielle is sharing the struggles and mindset shifts she overcame from taking her business full-time and evolving it, so she can work from home while also caring for her baby. As a self-taught hand-lettering artist, Danielle explored several revenue streams to make her business more sustainable. Today she is sharing with us her experience and the valuable lessons she learned along the way.
Danielle is the owner and artist behind Details and Swirls. Besides her hand lettering business, where she creates custom pieces for home decor, seasonal collections, milestone collections for nurseries, and wedding rental signage in Rhode Island, she also guides small business owners to achieve their small business dreams through weekly podcast episodes, small business resources, and courses.
Danielle also provides resources for hand-lettering business owners and shares behind-the-scenes content on her social media platforms as a full-time work-from-home small business mom.
Ways to connect with Danielle Holleran:
Questions answered in this interview:
- How did you start your business and how has it evolved over time?
- What is it like navigating several streams of income in your business? Any tips for business owners thinking about building multiple revenue streams?
- How are you navigating the transition to motherhood as a business owner? Were there any intentional changes you made in your business to prepare for this season of your life?
- Between being a mom and running a business, how do you balance it all and make time for yourself?
- Do you have any advice for those thinking about taking their business full-time?
- Can you tell us a little bit about your hand lettering book and how you can help someone on their hand lettering journey?
- How do you define success in this season of your life & how has it changed since you started your business?
- What are some final takeaways you want to share with small business owners?
How did you start your business and how has it evolved over time?
Of course! I started Details & Swirls at the very end of 2018, after my husband and I got married.
Before my wedding, I taught myself the art of hand lettering to create all of the signs for my wedding day. It became a creative outlet for me and I really enjoyed the whole process.
After my wedding, I missed the creativity that came with hand lettering and creating signs. So, I decided to open up Details and Swirls! It started as a local wedding rental sign business, which is still a part of my business today as I do local mirrored sign rentals all across Rhode Island. But I also started with a small Etsy shop where I sold acrylic wedding signs in addition to my rentals. As things progressed and picked up, I then expanded into offering a whole different assortment of signs.
That included lots of custom wooden signs and eventually, I added in personalized additions along the way like pitchers, vases, jackets, and a ton of other different products on my site.
Once the business felt sustainable, I left my full-time corporate job in May of 2020 and took my business full-time!
Today, I mainly specialize in custom pieces, whether that be signs, accents, jackets, or whatever the case may be. But I also have collections and signature pieces for holidays and milestones like weddings, babies, and things like that.
I still also do my local wedding rentals and I have an entire section of my business devoted to small business resources as well as my podcast. I’m focusing on several different areas now. It’s just been such a wonderful journey and I absolutely love it.
What is it like navigating several streams of income in your business? Do you have an advice for business owners thinking about building multiple revenue streams?
Ever since taking my business full-time, I had big goals for what I wanted to do with it.
But, it also brought up a fear for me and my family: the idea that my only way of making money was by physically working and making signs.
What if something happened to my hand? Or what if I wanted to take a vacation? So from the very beginning, it was always my goal to introduce different streams of revenue to diversify my income.
Some revenue streams have done well, some haven’t done well at all. I’ve tried to include different areas of passive income, like small business and hand lettering artist resources. I also included some signs that were printed and manufactured by a third party to take pressure off of me manufacturing every sign. These are all areas that I’m still growing in my business. I’m nowhere near where I would hope to be years from now, but I’m definitely on the track of getting there.
Here’s my tip: it’s wonderful to go in different directions, but don’t feel discouraged if something doesn’t work out or you’re not seeing the results you thought you were going to see, because some things just do take time.
Like I mentioned, I’ve invested time and effort in certain aspects of my business, some I’m still pursuing for future goals, and others I’ve stopped because they didn’t show any results even after a year of effort. It’s normal for things not to work out as planned; it happens to all of us.
How are you navigating the transition to motherhood as a business owner? Were there any intentional changes you made in your business to prepare for this season of your life?
When I took my business full time, as I mentioned, one of my big goals was to introduce different streams of income for basically the reason I’m in right now: to have a family one day and not be tied down to physically working all the time. When I finally found out that I was pregnant, I thought, okay, it’s go time, now I really have to pick and choose what to focus on because I knew my business would shift moving forward.
Going on maternity leave was a little bit of a test run for me. I took three months off from the business and wanted to see if any of the other areas of passive income I’d worked on were generating income.
I wasn’t making a full-time income by any means, but I did generate some sales and have some orders come through. So to me, that showed a lot of progress that I was able to take a couple of months off and have my business running. That was really cool to see.
I also prepared in advance all of my podcast episodes and batched them three months in advance. And I planned out a lot of content to share on social media like new arrivals, so I could “show up” without actually showing up.
Once I returned from leave, things have been very interesting, to say the least. I don’t have childcare, daycare, or anything like that. So working from home with a baby has taught me to be very selective with where I place my time. This relates back to what I mentioned before, not spending time on areas of my business where I wasn’t seeing any results.
And if there are areas where I’m not seeing results now but know it’s a long-term goal of mine, I’ll keep spending time on it because I know I’ll reap long-term benefits in the future. Overall, it’s allowed me to get very clear on my vision. It’s been challenging but in the most incredibly rewarding way possible.
Between being a mom and running a business, how do you balance it all and make time for yourself?
That’s definitely an area I’m struggling with. I love that I get to stay home and also work and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love my son and I love what I do for work. But still, it can be a lot.
Anytime my son is down for a nap, I’m on the clock and I’m working. Or in the height of busy season, I’ll get help from family, even if it’s just a few hours a week or in the afternoons — but again, that’s time I set aside for work.
So how do I balance it? To be honest, I don’t. The more time I spend on my business, the less time I spend with my baby. And the more time I spend with my baby, the less time I spend on my business. I try to find a balance of which is more important to spend time on a given day because it always flip-flops. Whatever time is left over goes to everything else.
Every day gets a little easier, it really does, and you get into your groove a little bit more. As far as setting time for myself, that can be hard when you’ve got a whole list of things to get done. As moms, we always want to put ourselves last but it’s important to create even small moments for ourselves.
It’s a constant ebb and flow and there’s no easy solution. You’ve just got to ride the waves and take every day for what it is.
Do you have any advice for those thinking about taking their business full-time?
It all boils down to remaining consistent and true to yourself, regardless of what comes up. We all have trials, bad days, bad times, and difficult moments in business.
Don’t get bogged down by setbacks, because — and I know it’s cliche to say this — they will only push you forward and help you learn more.
Everything in business is a learning experience, especially if you’re just getting started or taking your business full-time. Try your best to stay true to yourself, keep your focus forward, and avoid the overwhelm of outside voices that may distract you. By staying true to yourself, you and your business will grow in the best kind of way.
Can you tell us a little bit about your hand lettering book and how you can help someone on their hand lettering journey?
One of my goals has always been to help fellow small business owners, specifically my fellow hand lettering artists.
I have plenty of lettering artists in my community who’ve followed my journey and have asked for support in growing their own businesses. That’s how the Beginner’s Comprehensive Guide to Hand Lettering came to be! I wrote it over the course of 6 months (in between my son’s nap times!) and it’s available now on Amazon, which is so exciting!
The book walks through everything from A to Z, spilling all the trade secrets behind the art of hand lettering and how to develop your own signature land lettering style. It walks through the basics of writing each letter all the way to sign composition and everything in between. It’s been fun to see other lettering artists learning from the book and putting themselves out there to start their own businesses.
I also have a free guide for hand lettering artists outlining all the products they would need to start with sign-making, which they can download here. Finding the right supplies to make signs can be overwhelming, not to mention frustrating when there are so many options! I’ve rounded up for you all my favorite supplies from acrylic to wooden signs so you can easily get going with hand lettering.
How do you define success in this season of your life & how has it changed since you started your business?
In this current season, success looks like the ability to run my business while also taking time out of my day to be with my baby. It’s not feeling the pressure of not getting to play with my baby because I have to go write an order or something like that.
Before becoming a mom, sure, I would have seen success by measuring how my business was doing — whether that meant bigger revenue months, more orders, or selling out collections that launched.
But in my season of life right now, of course, I still have business goals. But ultimately I want my business to support how I can spend more time with my family. That’s all I could ever ask for.
What are some final takeaways you want to share with small business owners?
I would say to keep pushing forward toward the goals that are important to you and fill up your own cup. It can be so noisy with everything going on around us but try to be present in the moment, show up as the most genuine version of yourself, and follow your own hopes and dreams, whatever they may be. That will always lead to the best results in your business, no matter what.
If you’d like to learn more about what supplies you need to get started with hand-lettering, download Danielle’s Hand Lettering Sign-Making Supplies Guide. If you’d like to dive deeper into this interview, tune in to today’s podcast episode here 🎧.