The Mystical Tale Of Alyssa Sklar’s Entrepreneurial Journey

A while back, my daughter called me in the middle of the day with some very big news: “Dad! Somebody from Portland, Oregon, just bought a pair of my earrings! Can you believe that!?”

My youngest, Alyssa, has her own Etsy store called The Native Gnome. She makes garden gnomes and little pieces of unique jewelry. Alyssa’s been running the shop for a while and has made a number of sales, usually to people she already knows. That call about selling a pair of earrings to someone in Portland was huge because it marked one of the first times a total stranger bought something from her store.

A Testament to Entrepreneurship

I love entrepreneurs and the fact that I see my daughter working so hard on her store makes me so proud. Alyssa makes everything herself by hand, and all the gnomes are crafted from clay. Our oven at home is on basically nonstop these days as part of the gnome manufacturing process. When I told her that the gnomes needed to have a name and personality, she wasted no time adding backstories to each of their descriptions in her store.

I know that because I’m her dad, I risk sounding biased, but Alyssa is incredibly creative. I’m amazed by the stuff she makes and how in touch she is with the business side of things. When she had a sudden uptick in sales, we talked about where the new traffic might have come from.

“Is it because you increased your inventory?” I asked. “Did you buy ad space online? Did you promote your store somewhere? Does it have something to do with the Etsy algorithm?” Alyssa couldn’t identify the source of the traffic, but she is very aware of her demographic and exactly who is buying what. “Younger people tend to buy the earrings,” she said to me. “And the gnomes are usually bought by older people like you, Dad.”

Comments about my age aside, that’s a testament to entrepreneurship. Most people who want to sell stuff tend to give up if they don’t have immediate success. Alyssa had her shop for months before she started getting any traction. To grind it out through those hard days and really believe in what you’re doing is the mark of a good entrepreneur.

Don’t Undervalue Your Mastery

Knowing what you’re worth is one of the hardest lessons anyone has to learn. This is as true for artists selling custom garden gnomes as it is for our technicians.

Early on, I went over Alyssa’s store pricing and how much it costs her to make a gnome. The hard cost for the materials is about half as much as she’s selling the gnomes for. I asked her if that pricing would scale up because her time is limited. She admitted that it would erode the margins, but right now she’s 17, so her time is free. I’m just glad she’s making money, but I told her that as her skill improves and she gets faster and faster at making a gnome, her pricing will need to scale up accordingly.

What many people fail to realize is that when you pay for a product or service, you aren’t just paying for the time it takes to make that product or provide that service. You’re also paying for all the time it took for someone to master that craft. At least, you should be. A lot of entrepreneurs forget that barrier to entry for their industry. Things become so easy for them that they commoditize their product with the mindset of “Well, anyone can make this!” But that’s because they forget all the time and hard work it took for them to reach the point where it is easy for them now.

In the past, I’ve been asked by my technicians why I charge X amount for a job that only takes them a minute to accomplish. In response, I ask them how many years it took for them to get to the point where they can get the job done in a minute. They had to do it 1,200 times before, investing a lot more time into the process, in order to reach that level of mastery.

Whatever industry they’re in, I encourage people to remember that barrier to entry. That’s where the value of their work is.

Our Real Legacy

As a dad, I’m regularly amazed at the passion and ambition I see in all of my children. Before the pandemic derailed things, my son Jake was doing a great job as a ski instructor out in Colorado. Meanwhile, my eldest daughter, Madelyn, has said since she was 5 years old that she wants to be the CEO of a fashion company. Last year, she was accepted into a fashion institute in New York City. Right now, Alyssa is learning a lot about business, through trial and error, and she’s super dedicated to her Etsy store.

I’m really proud of my kids, and I wanted to brag a little about them this month. Seeing them do well lets me know that I’ve done a pretty good job being their dad. And that’s something I could never undervalue.

I hope you enjoyed this article,

Randy Sklar

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