In the woodlands of Wisconsin, Scott & Corinne Stangfeld are crafting up magic. Scott’s passion of penturning and Corinne’s eye for whimsical designs have turned into a family business. The couple, along with their children, are expanding their creative horizons as they embark on an artsy adventure together.
When a recent event required Scott to show proof of insurance, he came across ACT Insurance. He previously never considered getting insurance, but soon realized the importance of it. After experiencing the peace of mind that comes with being insured, Scott was willing to chat with us about running Strangfeld Studios with his wife, Corinne.
Q: You’ve recently celebrated the one year anniversary of your small business. What are some things you’ve learned, and where do you hope to go from here?
A: I don’t always take the time to look back on where we started to where we are now, although I should because we’ve actually accomplished a lot in such a short amount of time. One of the biggest lessons I think we’ve both learned is to trust in ourselves and not lose sight of the things that inspire us.
It can be really easy to go to an event and see what other people are selling and doing and think, “Am I doing this right? Should I do something more like them?” Every crafter and artist brings something unique to the table, and it’s easy to lose sight of that with comparison.
I think another thing we’ve both realized is just how much work goes into all of this! I knew it would be a lot of work, but I didn’t realize how much of a learning curve there would be. I feel like we both have our craft down really well, but there are a lot of new skills to pick up on the business side of things. I recently took a small business finance class, and have had to teach myself about a lot of the legal stuff that goes into it.
Moving forward, things will be easier for sure. I think a lot of people get scared within their first year because you are having to front so many expenses for the first time and really invest in this business. There were a lot of unforeseen things, and a lot of time spent just getting the hang of how stuff works. Once you really get over that hill, it becomes a lot easier. We’re really looking forward to becoming some of the more seasoned event attendees, and learning how to navigate online selling next.
Q: How did you make the switch from crafting for hobby to starting a small business?
A: So both my wife and I got into crafting as a hobby. It was a way for us to destress from work and bond with each other and our kids. I really found it to be a great creative outlet. We hit a point where my wife wasn’t happy with her job anymore and was wanting to spend some more time at home with our kids before they’re off to college.
We sat down one night and decided to see what we needed to do in order to allow her to be at home and pursue art more seriously. We knew she would have to start doing events and looking more at her work as an art form and not just a hobby. In that process, I started to do the same thing and we both really fell in love with the idea of selling the art we made.
From there, we just started with a few shows and built our business around that. We had to see how we could combine our different products into one cohesive booth, learn about the event application process, get feedback from customers, and figure out all the paperwork that goes into the business side of things. Luckily we have some friends who have helped us along the way!
Q: What’s it like going into business with your spouse?
A: It’s great, it’s like having a built-in business partner! My wife was recently telling me she has wished since we were first married that we would start a business together one day. It’s cool to see that dream of hers coming true now.
It’s actually interesting to build a business together. We both come from a similar work background, but we both have a very different approach to the way we do things. I’m still working your average 9–5 as an Engineering Manager, so I like to take a very systematic approach. I plan out all of our steps, I like to do a lot of research first, and then set a timeline. My wife likes to do the opposite, she will just run head first into a project or a problem and figure things out as she goes.
There’s pro’s and con’s to both methods, but I’m grateful to have her grit and determination to motivate me. We balance each other out very well, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to see the success we have. I’m not bothered by taking on some more of the business side of things, while my wife is happy to be the one talking to customers at events. Her being so willing to try new things is how we’ve been able to attend a couple of different events and find the ones that work best for us.
Q: If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
A: I highly recommend drafting a business plan first. It’s so easy to want to just get started and sign up for a show, but if you don’t have any goals or an idea of where you want your business to be in a few years, then it’s easy to get overwhelmed or frustrated.
It can be hard to harness a passion so to say, but even a basic plan where you tell yourself, “I want my business to represent this idea, I will show that through my work in this way, and I’m going to make sales in this way and earn this much by this date,” is helpful.
Talking to my former self, I would say, “Stay consistent.” There are peaks and valleys to owning a business, and it’s hard when you’re in a valley to find the motivation to keep going. But as long as you stay consistent, you will make it through the hard times and find yourself on top of a mountain, reflecting on what you’ve been able to accomplish. Seeing the excitement in someone’s eyes when they look at your product is so rewarding and reminds you why you started doing this in the first place.
Want to see more of Scott & Corinne’s work? Check out their online store today! You can also learn more about the ACT Annual policy that Scott, and thousands of other crafters, trust in every year.
Brianna Hale is a Marketing Communications Specialist at ACT Insurance. She specializes in all things craft insurance—from event liability to covering an Etsy business and more. Outside of work, she can often be found at a concert, traveling, or practicing film photography.