From Blushing Brides to Innovative Brides in Business
These Pittsburgh-area brides were so good at designing their own wedding stationery, they're now making money doing it for others.
For some couples, Etsy and wedding-planning go hand-in-hand. For others, they’re business partners.
For her May 9, 2012, wedding to Karl Schaefer at the Library, a bar and restaurant in South Side, Jessica Budd describes herself as being a “low-key bride.” The couple’s wedding didn’t involve specific colors or decorations, except for the tall bookcases that bordered the second floor of the bar and restaurant. Local florist greenSinner provided simple flowers. But with a degree in graphic design, Jessica wanted to design the couple’s wedding stationery.
“I did that pretty much just for fun, and I got positive feedback from friends and family,” Jessica says.
With encouragement from her friends, Jessica and Karl opened their Etsy shop, theBird+theBeard, in September 2012 after returning from their honeymoon. The name is a nod to the couple, with Jessica as the Bird and Karl as the Beard. The shop offers scores of types of stationery, from geeky chemistry-themed greeting cards to Valentine's Day suites, both for $4 each. TheBird+theBeard’s best-selling cards, Jessica says, are their vintage-looking library save-the-dates, which can be purchased in a set of 20 for $35.
She began the business by posting her own wedding invitations and getting commissions from her friends for greeting cards. Three weeks after the shop opened, Jessica got her first sale.
“My Etsy shop started from pretty humble beginnings,” Jessica says.
Jessica made the cards back then while balancing a job as an ultrasound technologist. Last fall, she resigned from that job so that she could devote all her time to theBird+theBeard, with Karl as the “idea man.”
“I had product ideas, but I didn’t necessarily have time,” Jessica says. “I was mentally spread thin, [and] Karl had the luxury of not being as stressed as I was. He really has an good eye for things.”
While Jessica started her business after her wedding, other brides have balanced both at the same time.
After her engagement to Christopher Horvath in December, artist Melissa Weibel started an Etsy business, Sweet Water Decor, with the goal of selling some of her paintings. She kept her full-time job as a financial analyst for FedEx Ground in Moon Township.
In anticipation of her June 13 wedding, themed around “glamour with a little bit of rustic, antique chic,” she started browsing through wedding decorations on the site. She says she fell in love with and got inspired by what she found.
“I looked to Etsy, and I thought, ‘I can probably do this myself,’” Weibel says.
Weibel began crafting and selling save-the-date invitations in addition to her artwork, and she later added mugs, signs and other stationery, bridal or otherwise. Her business “blew up from there,” she says.
The most popular wedding items that Weibel sells are her handmade navy-and-floral Ashleigh Suite sets. These designs cost $45 for wedding invitations and $25 for shower invitations, with additional fees for invitations, response cards and envelopes. She also sells non-nuptial coffee mugs for $18 and printable wall art for $5, along with other stationery and home goods featuring a variety of her own customized, loopy fonts. Chevron and metallics are no stranger to Weibel’s work.
For her own wedding this month at the Sewickley Heights Golf Club, Weibel designed her invitations, rehearsal-dinner decorations, calligraphy fonts, stamps, printable signs and table numbers. She’s planning on making more art inspired by her Pinterest board and gold spray-painted Mr. & Mrs. cutouts. With help from her mom, she created blush-colored lanterns with flowers as table centerpieces. She’s using a gold-sequin table cloth for her cake table and hosting the affair outdoors while incorporating a white cross from her church, which she plans to decorate with blush flowers.
The wedding will feature local Pittsburgh vendors almost exclusively: Lindsey Zern is doing the photography, Karrie Hlista the florals, Café Chocolade the cake and the Sewickley Heights Golf Club the food.
“We love shopping local and using Pittsburgh vendors,” Weibel wrote in an email.
A frequent Etsy shopper, Weibel has sourced a rosy cake topper and chalkboard-inspired guest book from the site.
“I can reach so many more customers online than I can having just a brick and mortar shop,” she added. “I will be making my own website in the future as another channel but will continue to capitalize on what Etsy offers to my business.”