This story is part of our 1,000+ Stories campaign. What’s your story?
Name: Julie Wilder
Business: Spiral Spectrum
Location: Deland, Florida, U.S.
Industry: Consumer Goods
Reason for starting? In 2012, I made this for fun to teach my daughter about time. At the time, I was co-owner of a very popular organic cafe and my community’s local-first movement. I was super busy with no intention of pursuing this as an entrepreneurial avenue. I gifted a bunch for the holidays and threw some up for sale at the cafe on request. People bought it. The next year, purely out of curiosity to learn how the Etsy marketplace could be a tool to bring economic sovereignty to communities that lack access to capital and opportunity, I tested the calendar there as part of my localist economy interests. As I exited the cafe in 2015, it became an economic necessity to put effort into what I truly considered a silly side project. After making $15,000 last year, primarily on my flagship product, it is now my goal to build this into a basic income so that I might take bigger risks with another social enterprise on a scale even bigger than my first cafe. Bonus that it’s a combo of my passions, skills and inner geek.
Our combined calendar design and philosophy builds a bridge to the multi-dimensional Cosmic Clock and natures cycles. By “tuning in” to nature’s cycle — moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, solstice, equinox and even planetary locations — we begin to understand that we are all connected as we hurtle through the solar system on spaceship Earth. Printed at a certified green printer in Central Florida and shipped in sturdy recycled paper tubes from a mill on the East Coast. Ideal recipients would be teachers, parents, gardeners and those with a keen interest in astronomy and astrology.
Related: Read about another consumer goods entrepreneur here.
How do you define success? Being able to slow down and celebrate, conspire and contribute to a community evolving into a more just and equitable dynamic through doing whatever part each person is uniquely designed to do at any given moment in time. That and raising a daughter who is discerning, creative, kind and kooky. I originally developed the calendar when my daughter was in preschool. We started with a simple “wheel of the week” and then this developed into a much bigger passion project that has become an incredible collaboration between mother and daughter (she is my apprentice – teaching her about entrepreneurism as we go!)
Biggest success: My most visible success was the decade of service to the Orlando community through my localist-leaning radio show and igniting fierce pride of place as co-founder of our local-first movement, while being co-owner of a wildly successful cafe. I’ve seen the deep impact just a handful of people can have by starting a conversation. Now that I am redesigning my life to suit a single-parent household, I find it immensely rewarding to run a micro-enterprise from my home office and earn an income from my art and strategic consulting for fellow placemakers.
I have a large niche audience with no competing products. I’ve already landed distribution in North America and am responding to global demand this year by expanding my flagship product to European and Australian editions and am utilizing shipping and fulfillment partners to make this a reality. I’ve developed two other products now that I’ve gotten some market penetration, and that should significantly impact revenue while enjoying healthy profit margins. Brand awareness is increasing organically with product reviews on astrology websites and publications as well as a sweet feature by Chris Guillebeau, a New York Times bestselling author, who has included my side hustle as part of his podcast and upcoming book. Future plans include app development. I am a graphic designer and know basic coding, so this should be a delightful extension of the calendar system.
Related: Emily’s List Aims to Seize Its Moment
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Poor judgment of partners in the past has made me very wise to what kind of capital I raise and from whom. As a woman leader dealing with unconscious gender bias, things get real tricky if everyone is not on the same page. As a single mother, I have additional hurdles to overcome with time management and what I am able to ethically commit to. After exiting my first venture, I’ve redesigned my lifestyle. I purchased a beautiful but inexpensive home to keep my cost of living down, across the street from my daughter’s quality school. The equity in the house will give me access to capital I did not have before. Once my basic income is stabilized through this side hustle, I intend to raise capital from a combo of self-made women (to sidestep cross-gender dynamics) and community crowdfunding to reduce the risk, and therefore the fear, for any one investor. I’m starting small and scaling organically at a pace that allows me to not only teach my daughter a trade but also enjoy life.
Who is your most important role model? I learned that my great-grandmother was a Cherokee who escaped the death march they call the Trail of Tears. I’ve since become fascinated by true histories of indigenous cultures, specifically the native women who lived in matrix societies and inspired America’s suffragette movement. Women’s perspectives and their accomplishments have been erased from history by those who benefit from man-written laws and privileges. I look for hidden herstories to keep me motivated.
Tell us your story!
Read about another entrepreneur here.
Edited by The Story Exchange