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Exploring Life & Business with Hannah Schwartzbeck of Growing with Cora Lou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Schwartzbeck.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I launched my business “Growing with Cora Lou” in March 2019. I have always been crafty and enjoy a good DIY project, so it felt natural to take the next step in creating a business out of the growth rulers I was already making as gifts. I began making growth rulers in 2015 for family and friends while I was still working full-time in healthcare.

When my daughter was born in 2018, I shifted to the stay-at-home parent role and was able to dive back into hobbies as she grew. I am fortunate to have a husband who was confident in my ambition and also helps me regularly with some of the trickier power tool requirements that I haven’t mastered myself yet. Now, just over two years later, I’ve done about 80 custom growth rulers in addition to the generic rulers I stock for events or have on consignment at a local store. I’ve also expanded my product line-up to include other wooden signs, including leaning porch signs, picture hanging signs, and quotes on reclaimed wood.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Starting out, it felt as if things were falling into place easily. I began marketing on Facebook Marketplace, launched a Facebook business page, and signed up for local arts and crafts show within the first month of deciding to launch a business. I got a lot of free advice about running a business from another family who have been successfully self-employed in a variety of fields. 2019 was fairly successful, considering all the start-up costs and logistics of learning how to have a business. I had big plans for 2020, and we all know how that went. Many of the events I planned to attend were canceled and I had to work out a new strategy for my entire year.

Luckily by late summer, I was involved in some outdoor events, and in the late Fall, Reisterstown hosted a Small Business Saturday outdoor shopping event along Historic Main Street that was even better than my Small Business Saturday event the previous year. My biggest challenge coming into 2021 is the drastic increase in cost for lumber which affected the local supplier I use and cause me to have to increase my price for the pieces I create. So far this year, I’ve had fewer events than I was hoping would be scheduled, but I also gave birth to a second daughter in March and had to step back from being too busy for the first half of this year. Now that the second half of the year is in full swing, I spend my days chasing a three-year-old and five-month-old while fulfilling growth ruler orders and launching a second small business on Etsy.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Growing with Cora Lou?
My focus in “Growing with Cora Lou” is to create 6-foot tall wooden growth rulers by hand to track your growing family over the years. This remedies the problem of tracking height by writing on walls, door frames, behind doors, or inside closets. Instead, it turns your child/children or grandchild’s height into a statement decor piece and family heirloom. Each piece is done completely by hand, including sanding, staining, and painting the lines, numbers, and any custom quote or family name onto the board. My growth rulers are unique in that each is entirely hand-painted rather than vinyl transfers that many etsy shops offer. I’ve curated a selection of wood stains, quotes, fonts, and design options to help each of my clients choose the perfect piece for their home and family. While I have expanded my business to include a select few smaller signs, I specialize in growth rulers and love that I can have a small part in creating decorative and functional decor to last a lifetime.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts, or blogs that help you do your best?
When I first began my business, I referenced more blogs than I can remember that offered advice on turning a hobby into a business. I really enjoyed the book “Don’t keep your day job” by Cathy Heller. The majority of my resources have been family when I was first starting up. In general, the biggest resource I have to keep my life running smoothly is an old fashion paper planner and a pencil.

Pricing:

  • Custom growth rulers begin at $65
  • Number line only rulers begin at $50
  • Picture hanging signs – $32
  • Leaning porch signs begin at $40
  • Small reclaimed wood signs begin at $16

Contact Info:

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