TRUE LIFE: MARISA'S INTEGRATED HUSTLE
Marisa Morrison, 29, Entrepreneur, Craft Teacher & Pom Pom expert!
Marisa Morrison is the founder of The Neon Tea Party, a colorful craft blog and events business based in New York City. Marisa is on a mission to make crafting cool by empowering others to learn how to make awesome accessories and home decor for themselves via The Neon Tea Party’s online courses, in-person workshops, corporate events, blog and Instagram.
Inspired by her experience working for a small creative business, Marisa decided to start her own upon losing her job to a company shut-down in October 2016. Marisa revived her college fashion blog, The Neon Tea Party, and transformed it into a colorful, globally-inspired lifestyle blog with a heavy emphasis on crafting. After purchasing a pom pom and tassel tool from The Loome in November of 2016 with the intention of creating crafty blog content, Marisa quickly became addicted to making pom poms and tassels--so much so that she began teaching how to make them in Spring 2017. Marisa is now one of the country’s leading pom pom and tassel experts, traveling the US to teach workshops and offering an online course & DIY Kit which enable her course to reach the masses.
What is your primary source of income and what other revenue streams do you have?My primary source of income is the events portion of the business, which we’re focusing a lot on at the moment since it has so much potential to help us grow. Our other main revenue stream is our online Pom Pom & Tassel Course and Pom Pom & Tassel DIY Kit which have been a huge hit! Additionally I teach various craft workshops (pom poms and tassels, friendship bracelets, piñatas, macrame) and contribute craft content to other brands and blogs. I used to make and sell products and also sold goods from Mexico for a hot second, but decided to cut out that portion of the business to focus on teaching and content creation.
What preparations, if any, did you take before you launched your first passion project/business/entrepreneurial pursuit(s)? (i.e., Trainings, Fundraising, Research, etc.) I took very minor preparations, just enough to get the blog up and launch with a few stories already on there. I also threw a small launch party at my apartment to get my circle of friends excited and posting about it on social. I knew more-or-less what I wanted it to be but I was also very open to seeing where the project took me, which is now quite far from what it was when it launched.
Has it become a business that generates steady revenue? Yes, as of this spring! But we’re still hammering out how to manage the various revenue streams so that income is consistent and abundant. We’re right on the cusp of making the business profitable in a significant way!
How long did it take you make your first $1,000.00? Hm, probably a year? Mostly because my first priority was getting fresh content up on the blog consistently while I figured out how I wanted to monetize it. I got my first paying clients in the spring of 2017 contributing DIY content and teaching at a craft studio. Once I saw that I could do those things, I just continued improving my skills and pitching myself to other workshop and content clients!
What was the biggest surprise about what it takes to generate revenue? Sales is HARD. Getting people to actually show up to your events or purchase something you’re selling is not easy at all. On the flip side, I found that selling myself has been a lot easier than I thought it would be. I thought I’d have to beg clients to hire me! What I learned is that when you’re doing something you love and you do it in a way that you’re proud of, your good work shows and clients can sense it too.
Work, Life and Spirit Balance
Have you achieved your version of work/life balance? If yes - what does that look like? If not - what do you need to do to get there? This is the forever question! I’m definitely getting there since I work from home and because the crafting portion of my job is also play. But as a solopreneur, the scale is always off-balance. I’m getting better at finding those small pockets of time to get stuff done--like being on a train on the way to a friend’s wedding or sneaking in a couple hours of work early in the morning before the day takes over. I also love working through craft projects when I travel! It’s a fun way to pass the time that also totally counts as business development.
What do you do to reduce stress, take care of your body and clear your mind? I find myself easily getting stir-crazy when I’m in my small Manhattan apartment too long, since I live and work out of it. Going outside (even to run errands!) and seeing friends majorly helps. I also love to cook and feel really great when I find time in the week to make healthy meals my husband and I can enjoy all week. I also try to make it to even just one exercise class a week when I need it most, such as after a stressful week or a long day working at home.
If you could go back in time, what 3 pieces of advice would you give to yourself when you first began? (1) Your business is going to take many forms, and that’s okay! You’re just trying to find your sweet spot, and you’ll get there. (2) Don’t compare your path to success to that of others. Everyone’s story looks different and that’s what makes them all special! (This is something I still need to keep reminding myself!) (3) Go after the partnerships and opportunities you want! You’ll be surprised by the number of yeses.