You know when people say, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ or ‘What did you love to do when you were a child?’ – The answer to these questions, well that’s what you should be!

I hated those conversations.

They always made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. Sure, life was good (not complaining) but I just had complete uncertainty and question marks when it came to my ‘career’. Should I go back to school? If I did what would I take? Was I ever ACTUALLY going to start up my own business?

That was the big one – was I ever going to start up a business? Ever since I can remember I have been wanting to start up businesses. My Mom tells some funny stories, but I’ll save those for another day and another blog. I even went to college for small business and entrepreneurship. Trust me, I have had some GREAT business ideas over the years! None of those ‘BIG’ ideas though, was I passionate enough about to pull the trigger on. It can be pretty scary to take the leap.

After returning to work following my maternity leave, I wanted so desperately to have the work-life balance we all long for. I didn’t want to miss my son growing from a baby to a toddler, but I still wanted to work. I liked my work. So, I took the plunge and dropped from full-time at the bank to part-time and started up my home-based maker business, Personally Papered. I have always been a maker. I love crafts – like a lot. I’m the girl that totally crushes on paper and ribbon. I could spend hours in a paper store no problem. And don’t get me started on cut and pasting. I have always loved paper and all things stationery.

Insert the cliché, ‘what did you love to do when you were a child?’ here…

Then came my first porch pickup. I realized something immediately – I wasn’t exactly comfortable with giving my home address to a complete stranger! It was everything we were taught not to do. Stranger Danger after all. Then after time, you stop thinking about it. You become desensitized. You give out your address, day in day out, without hesitating.  As Personally Papered grew I realized there was always a constant flow of traffic on my doorstep. Always someone coming and going. I started closing my blinds at the front of the house after seeing people peering in my windows checking out my house. At first, it was giving out my personal address to complete strangers and now it was quickly becoming a privacy issue. This was MY home!

Enter winter. All the snow and ice. The fear of someone falling – that one scared me the most. What if I got sued?! I also had trouble with people not picking up for weeks and weeks. And the not proud to mention, one (maybe two) times I totally forgot to put the package out before leaving for work in the morning. GASP. How awful do you feel about that?? After all that communication and work with that customer and you completely drop the ball at the finish line. Customer retention can be challenging enough already when you don’t have the best location for pickup. Forgetting to put out an order is pretty much sealing the deal that the customer will never use you again and probably tell all their friends about it! And never mind the surprise pop by for pickup when you’re digging in the gardens, sweaty and dirty and you hear ‘Hi, I’m here for pickup…’.

I could go on and on, but I think you understand the problem that needed to be solved.

I thought and pondered about how to solve my porch pick up woes. I considered cameras on my porch, but that wouldn’t solve someone falling. Then I thought about a locked bin, or even offering delivery. At one point, I considered only offering a shipping option. Yet, nothing that I thought of solved all my major problems. Until…

I started to consider the idea of a centralized porch pick-up. Somewhere you could drop off your sold and ‘ready for pick-up’ items. A safe, convenient location. A place that understood the community of home-based makers. And with that, the IDEA was born. And it grew. Fast. Every order I completed with Personally Papered, I became more and more certain that I wasn’t alone. We makers are all offering porch pick up for our local customers. Accepting the location of our home to exchange with our buyers, because there was no other alternative. I soon started talking to my network of maker friends about my idea. There was nothing but love and excitement for the idea. This was exactly what we all needed to take our businesses and the community of makers to the next level. I then began my business plan. It was almost 2 years before I finally committed to jumping in, to ‘pulling the trigger’.

I believe so strongly in the business plan. I absolutely love the maker community. I can even still run Personally Papered under the umbrella of The Maker’s Hub. I won’t have to give up making! Plus, I can help solve other’s porch pick up woes makers and customers alike. The Maker’s Hub gives a central, convenient, safe and secure pickup location for both the maker and the buyer. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Cheryl Wilson

The Maker’s Hub