Start-up of the Month: Divine Designs

Dana Betchek fell in love with arts and crafts at age 11 when the self-described "paper addict" began crafting scrapbook pages. Her skills manipulating stickers, embellishments, ribbon and decorative paper have evolved from making personal memory books to creating one-of-a-kind greeting cards for others. Encouraged by the responses her gifts brought from friends and family and fueled by a determination to become an entrepreneur, Betchek started Divine Designs by Dana. Just two months after setting up her blog and store online via esty.com, the social commerce website featuring handmade items, her client roster is stacking up with commissions for custom wedding invitations, thank you cards and personalized stationary.

Background

After attending cosmetology school in Grand Rapids and doing hair, I kind of found out that's not really how I wanted to use my craft. I went to school with a girl who lives in the area and I moved up (from Niles, Mich.) into an apartment here in November and really fell in love with the TC area. I wasn't doing hair and was looking for something to do so I started making cards and invitations. A few people mentioned that I should go into business and so I actually got to thinking about it and decided it would be a good idea. I like to work at my own pace and set my own schedule, and I'm still able to be creative, just in a different way.

Inspiration

With cosmetology you really have to use your hands, be patient and have good customer-relation skills. Instead of putting my hands to people's hair, or makeup or skin, I'm putting them to paper. I'm inspired by the endless possibilities of being able to create something for somebody, especially wedding invitations. It's so great to be able to be a part of such an intimate and exciting time in someone's life and making something they keep forever. So many people frame their invitations and put them up in their homes. I also make invitations for birthday parties, baby and bridal showers and bachelorette parties. Every new season brings new papers, stickers and all sorts of good stuff to use. With paper, there really is no limit, and that keeps me going with new and fresh ideas.

Leg Up

I have a really good friend who is going to school for business and really helped me get everything going as far as a business plan and all that other essential stuff that goes into a starting a business. I've been taking advantage of all of the free tools to get word spread around that I'm a new business and that I do customized wedding invitations and cards and all that good stuff. I got hooked up with Meg Havenga at the SBTDC (Michigan Small Business Technology Center) and she has been so awesome at helping me. It's completely free business counseling. It's been really supportive starting a business here in Traverse City … everybody is just really helpful and encouraging. Fifth Third Bank named me business of the month for September. They offered a space inside the bank this fall to set up a little display with some business cards and marketing type things with what I do and offer.

Goals

My goal is to open up my own store someday … that's the long term goal. I'd like to be able to open up a store where people can customize their own wedding invitations and buy cards and supplies to do it themselves, and also have an online base to customize and make wedding invitations and cards.

Advice to Others

Take a step of faith and go for it. I believed that I could do it, and that's where I'm headed. There is a lot of power in what we speak and what we confess. Where there is fear there is no creativity.

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