We are pleased to feature Purple Hippo Handmade Crafts as the first Business spotlight in the Rochester Makers Gift Shop summer vendor series
Purple Hippo Handmade Crafts was founded in 2013 by Diane Morrall and her family. They make whimsical handmade cards, coasters and gift sets.
When did you start your business?
Where did you get the inspiration for your business brand?
PH: The inspiration for the name was pretty much a family decision. We
wanted something that would be easy to remember and somewhat
fun. In our family, one of us had the nickname of ‘hippo’ who also
happened to love the color purple and when we put the two together it
seemed to fit. We even managed to find a small purple hippo stuffed
animal which has become a standard part of the table display, though
we have had several people want to buy him (for future reference, he
is not for sale) 🙂
What makes you want to teach/do your business?
PH: It is for the love of making coasters, cards and other papercraft. It is very interesting to see how the initial idea goes from concept to the finished product.
The cards tend to be the most interesting since it could start as one
idea and end up completely different. Every once in awhile the whole
process of creating something is shared on our facebook page.
For you how does what you do as a brand or business related to
PH: Last year the decision was made to donate the entire purchase price at craft shows and the purchase price less store commissions at retail stores of some of the best selling coasters and cards to Scleroderma Research, it’s called ‘Giving Back with
Friendship’. Our family has been impacted by this autoimmune disease so it was a way of creatively donating money. All the products are labelled and a card is enclosed with each item to explain the program.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of your career?
PH: The paperwork end of things. The creative process is extremely
interesting and then sharing the creations is a joy. Having to track inventory, sales, taxes, supplies, etc. is definitely the worst part. The most challenging aspect is making money. Building a brand and creating buyers confidence. It can be challenging to find that balance between artistry and business.
What is it that inspires you to keep going as an entrepreneur?
PH: The interaction with customers. Any feedback that is given to us is taken seriously, and we’ve tried to incorporate what we can. Last November a customer asked why there were small calendars in 2 of the notepad and post-it pad holders but
not in the third. Great question, there was absolutely no reason for it
so for the next show it was there, it was a regular customer and I gave
her one as a Thank You.
Another example is the Special Dates/Forever Calendar: A friend loved the idea but asked if the first week of the next month be put at the bottom of the previous month
since she would forget to turn the page and any birthday cards, etc. in the first week were getting sent out late. It took a while to come up with a good solution, since moving the whole week would just create the problem for the second week instead of the first. The solution was to add a ‘Preview’ section where they could add reminders for the next month such as Aunt Sally’s birthday in on the 3rd. I made a couple templates and got feedback on which one she thought would work best.
What are you working on now?
PH: Starting to build up inventory for fall shows and starting to plan on what Christmas coasters, cards are going to be made. Since there are calendars in several of the note pad and post-it pad holders, the old ones need to be removed and replaced
with an updated version; tedious for sure.
What has been your best experience thus far in your business?
PH: Probably the shows at Senior Living Communities. They are inviting us into their home as a guest. They are usually fairly small (8-15 vendors) which does mean less traffic. The benefit is the ability to take time with anyone that stops by to chat, get a hug or help them figure out what they want, it’s not necessarily about how big the sales are. At one community I have gotten to know quite of few of the
people that live there so it’s more like going to visit friends and
socialize as opposed to ‘work’.
What has been your biggest challenge as a company? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
PH: Probably figuring out the pricing of items and confidence in what I’m doing. It was a
long time before I finally stopped thinking that someone was going to
figure out I didn’t know what I was doing and tell me I couldn’t be in a show. When I asked to do the Spring Show in Casa Larga (this is not a show you apply for, it is by invitation) when there was a last minute opening, I actually told the coordinator that I didn’t think my work was good enough. Thankfully she had more confidence in my work than I did at the time.
What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing their own business.
PH: Find something that you love and do it. This did not start out as a business, it just happened to become one.
And don’t forget to attend our Gift Shop Launch Party on Saturday July 29 from 5-7 PM