Creative Genius: Elise Blaha Cripe
Learn how this maker turned her love of crafting into a successful business.
Elise Blaha Cripe has been maker all her life. She dabbles in fiber, fabric, paper, photography and much more. Like a true entrepreneur, Elise wanted to find a way to profit from her creativity. Through her trials and tribulations, she has developed a number of businesses to sell her crafts and to help crafters turn their work into a profitable business through her products, blog, and podcast. Elise interviews successful creative entrenprenpuers on her podcast and shares their business process. She's also developed a line of products to help makers stay organized and get started in a creative business. We chatted with Elise to learn about her creative process and inspiration.
Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you first get into running your own craft business?
I have always loved crafting! I went to college for business and after college couldn't get a job at a big company like I had dreamed. I went, instead, to work at a craft store and loved that. Shortly after college, I opened an Etsy shop and in the ten years since my business has evolved and evolved based on what I am interested in and what I think there will be a market for. I currently run a business called Get To Work Book which sells a paper planner and other goal-setting tools.
You joined in on #the100dayproject last year (with #100daysofelisepeptalks). This year it’s #100plantsonfabric. Tell us the story behind these projects and how this has helped your creativity.
Last year, I felt busy with work and was deep in motherhood after having my second daughter. I wanted to do something creative but I didn't feel like I had the time or space for a big craft-related project. I decided to share pep talks on Instagram instead. For 100 days I wrote and shared a Pep Talk. After the project was over I self-published a book of all 100. This project changed my life. It gave me a real creative boost when I needed it most and it helped me realize that I really do have time for the things that are important to me. If I place emphasis on them, I'll get them done. It was an amazing realization.
This year I am doing a fabric + plants project which is exactly as it sounds... plants on fabric. I have carved stamps, played with sun dye, sewed, quilted, embroidered, dyed and woven. I'm a little over half way through and again, absolutely loving the challenge. This time I am not sure what I have learned but it's been great to keep going with something and see what sort of ideas can develop.
How has your podcast helped you grow as a business owner and a creative?
I've done over 100 episodes of the podcast the past 3+ years and I think the biggest thing is it's made me more comfortable with "the ask." I'm less nervous to reach out to entrepreneurs and creative people who I admire and it's made me bolder in other areas. I think the biggest lesson I have taken from hosting the podcast is that everyone is just figuring things out as they go. No one has "made it." We are all just "making it." It's inspiring.
How do you get inspiration for projects?
Everywhere! I don't know exactly. I do know that I try to have just a project or two in action at once so I don't get overwhelmed. I have no regrets when I "quit" a project and I quit stuff all the time. Quitting makes room for the stuff I'm actually passionate about.
You have experimented with different styles of crafts, which is your favorite and why?
If I could only work with one material for the rest of forever, I'd choose the fabric. The things you can make are so diverse that I don't think I would ever get bored.
Who are some of your favorite crafters?
I admire Rachel Denbow @smileandwave for constantly trying new mediums and always killing it.
Creatives often have trouble with goal setting and finishing projects, what tips would you share to help creative tips stay on task? Was this the reason you created your Get to Workbook?
Creative goal-setting is how I work best. I love to come up with big challenges and work toward them. This is definitely how Get To Workbook developed. I took what had worked for me over the years and made it available for everyone. A few tips:
- Start. In the beginning, don't worry about all the steps involved to complete your project. Worry instead about Step 1 and go from there.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Having a lot of ideas is great! Trying to do all of those ideas at once is a guaranteed failure. Pick one idea and let that one progress.
- Set deadlines. Honor those deadlines. No one is going to do your creative work for you. It's impossible! But you have to hold yourself responsible for your ideas and work time. Put yourself first for some time each day and commit.
What is the next creative endeavor you have up your sleeve?
I would love to turn #100plantsonfabric into a DIY craft book. Fingers crossed I can make this work.