Small business owners in the craft market live a life on the road.
Specifically, for makers in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, that road is I-80. Packing up their business nearly every weekend is part of being a maker and for some, it’s their favorite part.
“I like talking to people, and I love it when they like my product,” Katie Becker, owner of Tasty Good Toffee Co. said. “Even when I’m at an event that happens to be slower in traffic, I find it fun to connect with other makers, learn their story and discuss common challenges and opportunities.”
When small businesses like Becker’s toffee company pop-up at an event, there are likely a handful of others doing the same. This community formed at local events is one thing Becker and other makers have come to appreciate most. From social media group chats and face-to-face meet-ups, local makers in Nebraska tend to have each other’s backs.
“It’s very supportive,” Kelli Britten, owner of Bright Spots Paper and an assistant professor of practice in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNL said. “Once I met these people, they helped me find shows to be at and I try to do the same for them.”
Britten said the social media community is supportive in comments and sharing. Local makers like Becker helped her take the leap to start her greeting card company. The thought of putting the creative work out and failing was an obstacle that other small business owners helped her see differently.
“I asked, ‘what if I fail?’ and they said, ‘who cares?’” Britten said of her conversations with other makers. With their support and guidance, she decided to go for it.
As a full-time assistant professor of practice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, taking on something else felt like a challenge, but also like what she needed. Britten’s Bright Spots is a side hustle while others, like Becker’s Tasty Good Toffee has grown into a full-time business.
“I finally found something that lit a spark within me, and that keeps me excited and fulfilled even when it’s not easy and fun,” Becker said of her side-hustle turned full-time job.
Taking the first step toward their business is something Britten and Becker said can be the toughest part, but it’s worth it in the end.
“Do it,” Becker advises aspiring makers. “If it has sparked a passion within you, then I encourage you to put yourself out there in the way that is best for you and your product.”