Christy Wright: I love your story. Tell our readers why you first started your business.
Heather Allen: I was a teacher for six years when I finally realized that, without a doubt, I no longer loved my job. At 29, after quitting my teaching job, I was running a greeting card business from home, but it was only bringing in income around the holidays. When I found out I was finally pregnant and realized we couldn’t afford me being a stay-at-home mom, I was devastated.
One night, I was surfing through Instagram and came across a sugar cookie hashtag. I had a background in design and hand-lettering, so I was so enamored with how people were using cookies to create unique art.
My husband was building a 3-D printer in our dining room at this same time in history (go figure!). I sketched out my first cookie cutter design (a ghost), and he printed it that day. A lightbulb went off after doing some research on cookie cutters. I found that there was a market for 3-D printed cookie cutters on Etsy, and with a little encouragement from my husband, we decided to open KaleidaCuts to see if people might like my original cookie cutter designs.
That’s when I realized if I could run both my greeting card shop and a new cookie cutter shop from home, then financially, I wouldn’t have to go back to teaching. As a young mom, I wanted nothing more than to be at home watching my daughter learn and grow alongside me every day. I’m forever grateful for those early years in our business that afforded me just that.
CW: It’s a story I hear again and again, especially from moms. So, how and when were you first introduced to Business Boutique?
HA: Last year, right before we moved across the country, I shared about my postpartum anxiety and depression on Instagram. A friend of mine and Business Boutique alum April Kolanchick saw my story, picked up the phone, and gave me one of the best pep talks I’ve ever received.
Later, April invited me to attend the Business Boutique Conference and I loved it! I walked away so full last year. I found a giant room of women who knew what my days were like. A group of women who hunger for the same things I do. A group of women who want more than anything to go after their dreams. A group of women who are doing, who are in the arena, and who are my people.
CW: That’s incredible. There’s nothing more powerful than surrounding yourself with the right community. Tell me about how your business has grown since you launched.
HA: I launched my business in October of 2015. At the time, we had one 3-D printer in our dining room, I was pregnant with our first child, and I was sketching cookie cutters as fast as I could while dreaming about a day when people would pay me to design their cookie cutters. That year, KaleidaCuts was just a dream that came with nonstop work, failures, lessons, growth, freedom and many more bittersweet nuggets.
Today, we’re in our fourth year running KaleidaCuts, and we even have a brick-and-mortar location. My husband is my business partner and 3-D printing guru. We currently have two employees, and we’re ready to expand again! We have over 165,000 sales on Etsy, and we’re preparing to launch our own website.
In 2015, I was working from fear. Today, I’m working from joy!
CW: I love that. Tell me more about what your business has meant for you and your family.
HA: KaleidaCuts created a lifestyle for our family that I never dreamed was possible. When we started, the goal was to earn enough income for me to be able to stop teaching and be a stay-at-home mom. Through growing our business and raising our babies, my passion grew to wanting to do more than just design and run the daily dynamics of an e-commerce business.
KaleidaCuts also afforded us another opportunity: My husband was able to leave active-duty military life and join the National Guard in Kentucky.
I cherish being able to chase new dreams and goals because of what KaleidaCuts has provided to our family. I know what it’s like to feel stuck and unable to grasp the dream that lingers in the back of your mind. I know the realities of “mom guilt.” I totally transformed from wanting to only work from home, to needing that time and space to work away from home where I was Mom.
I had to come to terms with the fact that my purpose is expanding to more “titles,” but that doesn’t mean I’m giving any less to my other passions. I know I’m showing my children what it looks like to pursue whatever your dream is in life.
CW: Wow, it’s truly inspirational how your business has transformed your life. What was the biggest obstacle to launching your business?
HA: My biggest obstacle was myself. I didn’t see myself as a businesswoman for the longest time. I would minimize my job description or how much I was earning. Success was hard to own or talk about, to be honest. But I started investing in myself and consuming so many books, podcasts, etc.
I connected with Amy Jo Martin, a speaker at Business Boutique, and ultimately joined her Renegade Brand Bootcamp. I was connected with so many amazing entrepreneurial women, in all stages of their businesses, and I never felt more seen. Today, I’m owning all we have built with KaleidaCuts. I’m now President, Boss, Designer, Entrepreneur, Investor, but most importantly, Mom. And I get to show my children what it looks like for their mom to pursue all her passions.
CW: Yes, sister! What advice would you give someone reading this post and dreaming about launching their own business?
HA: The biggest piece of advice I can offer is that you can’t see failure in a negative light. Failure is what catapulted me to each goal throughout my entrepreneurial journey. I spent my first two years frustrated as I ran my business because I wasn’t recognizing the growth that had come from my perceived failures.
From the outside, each failure was just steering me back on the right path. I wish I had started seeing my setbacks as hurdles instead of roadblocks earlier.
If you are failing at something, that just means you’re trying. There is more to learn from trying and failing than never starting. Don’t let fear of failure rise up. Just embrace that it will happen and look for the lessons of growth that you can use the next time around.
CW: That is so encouraging. More women definitely need to hear that. Heather, what big dreams do you currently have for your business?
HA: We want to expand KaleidaCuts into new product lines and collaborations, and we’re even hoping to launch a blog this year. We currently offer unique 3-D printed cookie cutters, matching cookie stencils, and digital downloads. New products are something that we’re excited to dive into next year, and we’re working toward that goal!
I’m an avid podcast listener, have been a guest on podcasts a handful of times, and have written a few blogs for entrepreneurial publications. I’m honestly just soaking up all the joy at this stage in our business. My children are three and one years old, and I love having the freedom to be their mom and pursue my passion without feeling like I’m constantly hustling.
I’m looking forward to this fall season in Kentucky. With the business no longer being in our home, I find that it’s easier for me to shut off work mode and just be Mom. I’m just happily resting (and quietly building) in this season. This is a gift to my sometimes-anxious soul.
I love having the freedom to be their mom and pursue my passion without feeling like I’m constantly hustling. I love those words.
Friend, that’s what business can do for you.
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Why do I share? I asked myself this the other day. Why am I wanting to share this so much? It’s because it’s too good to keep to myself. You see, I’ve been the person that sits in her bed, days on end, utterly depressed. I’ve known what it feels like to think Heaven would be a punishment for me. Who would want to live forever, feeling so hopeless and empty? I surely didn’t. I was just going through the motions of life, waiting for the quietness of the end to still my mind.