Sarah Cervantes Send Me a Dream
Sarah Cervantes, founder of Send Me a Dream. (Credit: Courtesy of Send Me a Dream)

Sarah Cervantes worked as a graphic designer for many years before deciding to launch a business of her own. In 2018, she took the leap and founded Send Me a Dream, her line of mugs, gifts and accessories. Initially, her products were only available for sale online. But when she was approached by a boutique close to her Aurora, Illinois, home with an offer to carry some of her items in their store, everything changed. Today, Cervantes sells her wares in hundreds of shops across the country, bringing whimsy and joy to customers’ mornings nationwide – and welcome financial stability to her family. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

Each designer has their own point of view. My focus is to create simple items that bring joy and inspiration to everyday moments – whether it’s your morning cup of coffee or your average work meeting. And like all good designers, my style sets me apart from others.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

Getting into stores. When I was asked to sell in a local boutique, I actually hesitated at first. But a friend encouraged me to take the risk. Now my line is sold in more than 600 boutiques nationwide!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Starting my business from a two-bedroom apartment. I squeezed my desk next to my bed and went to work from that small corner. I was determined to make my business successful, and worked hard to find production partners who could ship my items out directly to my customers from the start.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?

I’m a single mom to two teenagers. I’m our only source of income, and I work really hard to provide for my family while also battling an auto-immune disorder. There are days when I have a lot of pain, and can’t do much. I’m so thankful to my helpful teenagers during those times. On those days, I grab my laptop and work from the couch. When my kids were younger, taking the risk of going out on my own was challenging – but I’m so thankful I did!

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Keep going. There will be highs and lows, feasts and famines. Keep pushing and planning! (And keep good sales records, so you know when your slow season will hit.) Also, asking friends and family for advice is okay, but keep your circle small. Limiting the people involved in your decision-making process will only add clarity.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I look back at the past 10 years and reflect upon how I went from living in a tiny apartment with my two kids to living in a single-family home. This inspires me to keep pushing and providing.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

When I’m having a tough day, I crank some Destiny’s Child – I summon my inner 90’s child and go for it! 

Who is your most important role model?

My friends who are women business owners. Among them are boutique owners, directors and creatives. We cheer each other on through our highs and lows. I am continually inspired by their courage and persistence. Also, the city I live and work in is more than half Latino – I love working alongside other Latina-owned businesses! ◼


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