Small Business Spotlight: Haley Ozier (Hand Made Over)
Updated: Feb 3
This is a feature that I am SO excited to share with you! Haley Ozier is an amazing artist, photographer, and creative dreamer who founded Hand Made Over. She creates hand-crafted earrings and art prints, among other things, that she sells at local markets and stores in her small town of Cumming, Georgia.
Haley has a special place in our hearts... she photographed our wedding! And you know what's even cooler? Get this. I found a picture on Pinterest of something that I wanted to hang in my office - and when I showed it to her, she said, "Oh! I can paint that for you!" This was the result. I'm telling you - this girl's got talent.
We asked Haley some questions about her business and we think you'll learn a lot from her journey. So let's get going. Here's our interview with the one and only, Haley Ozier.
Haley, you're a fantastic artist. What's your creative background?
Well thank you! It's funny that you would call me an artist, because up until recently I didn't consider myself worthy of that label. I always revered that title, but never thought I was doing enough to earn it. Just last week I told Walker (my husband) that from now on when people ask me what I do, I'm just going to say "I'm an artist". It would take too long to explain everything I've done for work and all the job titles I've held, but they've all been centered around creating. I have had highs and lows in the journey to becoming a working artist. I knew growing up that I would build a career off of being creative in some capacity or another. I've always enjoyed projects, visuals, and making things with my hands. Where I fell short in core subjects, I made up for in the creative arts. When I was 17 I decided I wanted to try photography. This being a time before decent camera phones, I had no experience... I just knew I needed to try it. It's something I can't quite explain. My parents were always good about letting my sister and I try new things and so they bought into my dream without question and provided me with my first professional camera. When I tell you I took pictures of everything under the sun, that's exactly what I mean. I took pictures of nature, wet paint, fire hydrants, DOOR KNOBS even. You name it, I have a picture of it. I was so energized by the idea that I could take an ordinary object and contain it within a rectangle and tell a story. It's still something that amazes me. So years later, I still love photography as well as a plethora of other art forms. I've spent a lot of time being discouraged that I don't have a "career" yet but I know now that my career is just more fluid than others and I am an ever evolving artist who thrives on change. What was once a battle is now a blessing. We'll see what the future holds!
What inspired you to start Hand Made Over?
Have you ever seen something that you loved and admired but then said to yourself "I can do that!"? That's where Hand Made Over started for me. I've been a long time admirer of creative vendors at craft shows and knew I needed to try it out for myself. I decided what I was going to offer was going to be a mix of hand made goods and goods made over so thus came the name, Hand Made Over.
How did you get started?
I immediately hit the thrift stores. For the made-over part at least. I would scour through piles of junk until I found something worth a makeover. For instance, I found a wooden farm animal puzzle that needed a little TLC, so I took it and painted over the pieces and created my own farm animal characters and now it looks like a brand new puzzle! It's also now an original work of art. Win-win.
As for the Hand Made goods, I had seen these cool clay earrings online and I just knew I could not only make them, but make them my own. So I threw myself into the deep end, went to Hobby Lobby and bought every imaginable tool and supply I could need. I tend to go all in on the things I try so it was a no-turning-back situation. Thankfully, that tendency has worked to my favor this time!
All of these things I was making were to stock up my booth for a craft festival that I was participating in. Well there was girl at the festival that saw my work and contacted me days later about wanting my earrings for her store! Keep in mind that this festival was nearly three hours from my house and her store is in the town over from where I live! She had no idea where I was living and vice versa. I was blown away. Before the festival even took place I posted a picture of my earrings on Facebook just to show what I was working on, and people started showing interest! I hadn't even thought about selling them online at that point. So now I am able to offer my goods online and in a store. It's amazing and I still have to pinch myself.
What would you consider your biggest "win" in your business so far?
The biggest win for me was when I realized that my earrings were desirable by other people. I mean... I was just putting myself out there as an experiment not knowing if this was a good product or not. There's a difference between your mom telling you that you did a good job and strangers telling you. The moment I got that validation from strangers who didn't have anything to lose or gain by being honest, I thought I had something.
What advice / encouragement can you offer someone who is afraid to start a business or "side gig," maybe they don't know what they want to do, don't think they have the skills, etc.?
You can seriously do anything you can dream up. It's a cliche but it's so true. Do something everyday that gets you closer to where you want to be. One thing, everyday, no matter how small. Also, at some point put yourself out there to the public. You have to. It's the only way you'll get an honest review of your work and true validity to what you're offering. Like I said, if you're only ever showing your hard work to your family and friends, you'll likely never have honest feedback. Those people love you and they want to spare your feelings. Strangers have nothing to lose by giving you the truth. Another piece of advice is to take rejection as a detour, not an ending. The store owner who carries my earrings had been looking for my style jewelry for a long time but she kept getting rejected by people. Thank God those people rejected her because I was just right around the corner wishing for something like this to happen!
One last note: Don't be afraid to fail. Failure and rejection are essential parts of success. I'm excited to fail now, because I know the sooner I do, the closer I am to success!
I think you can see why I'm a fan of Haley's. How great is she?
If you're interested in supporting Haley, "Like" her Facebook page (Hand Made Over) and snag some of her handmade, one-of-a-kind earrings. They'd make a great gift for your friends and family as the holiday season approaches!