Meet the Magical Makers: Danielle of Neverland Cozies
Over the past year, I've found a variety of small shops that create some truly magical items for those of us that love to carry a bit of Disney with us daily. As a part of a new series in my blog - Meet the Magical Makers, we will be going behind the scenes to meet the creative individuals behind it all. I hope you enjoy these interviews and highlights from some of my favorite small shops.
Neverland Cozies is one of my favorite Disney inspired coffee cup cozy shops. I love how her designs are full of magic and eco-friendly too. Instead of wasting paper I love to just bring my own cozy in my purse or dress up my reusable Starbucks cups with them at home.
Each cozy is hand crafted by Danielle, many with magical designs that leave you day dreaming of the parks. Not only can you pick out adorable designs for your coffee cozies, but you can choose the background yarn color too. I quickly noticed after my first purchase the quality and soon returned for another. The coffee cup cozies fit the cups perfectly and really do make every day a bit more fun. I have a few in my collection and can't help but eye a few more designs in her shop. I just love a magical cup of coffee.
Danielle, can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do?
Hi, my name is Danielle Echternkamp and I currently reside in Orange, California with my husband of 6 years and our 3 year old son. I am a stay at home Mom and the maker behind Neverland Cozies. I hand crochet cozies as a way to add a little extra magic to everyday beverages while also working to help the environment by creating an eco friendly alternative to disposable drink sleeves.
We would love to hear about how you got started with Neverland Cozies. What inspired you to open your own shop?
I opened Neverland Cozies in July of 2018 for a couple different reasons. The first was that I have always been creative and after having my son I felt that I had lost a part of myself. He was born with a Neuromuscular disorder called Nemaline Myopathy which, in a nutshell, leaves all of his muscles weak and without tone. Even the simple things that babies grasp early on like holding his head up or moving his limbs has taken ten times as long to achieve. I became his full time caregiver and attended to him 24/7 for the first year and a half while he gained some strength.
Once he was more stable I began to feel like I needed an outlet again. I turned to my creative side and dug deep to find myself. This leads me to the second reason for opening my shop; the medical bills. The bills started to come in, we were getting by solely on my husbands income and I couldn't go back to work. So I drew inspiration from my Girl Scout days and refreshed my crochet skills. I started to make cozies for my friends and family and was quickly encouraged to open my Etsy shop as a way to help out financially. Having my shop has truly been a blessing in so many ways.
One of my favorite things about your shop is that you offer buyers the ability to personalize items by selecting their base color of their cozy. Can you tell us a little bit about your design process?
When I first started out I offered 5 or 6 yarn colors and I chose the color that would go with the corresponding feltie. I wasn't satisfied with basically telling my customers what they wanted so I changed up my approach. I loved the idea of giving my customers creative freedom when it came to the product they were purchasing. I now offer 30-35 yarn color options depending on the time of year.
During Christmas, I offer a couple Christmas yarns and I will sometimes do my mystery cozies on yarn not currently offered in my shop. I like to keep cozies in my shop that I personally love and will use myself. I take my customers suggestions into account and love the input but ultimately I won't add something to my shop that I wouldn't purchase.
What have been the biggest challenges and/or achievements for your shop?
Running your own business, small or large, comes with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. When I first started out, it was hard to know how where to start. The struggle to have my products seen by others was a big obstacle for me. I am not overly internet savvy, but I quickly recognized that a huge part of having a small business these days was to be able to sell yourself and your products through social media.
I had a really hard time with this because I try not to be on my phone when I am with my son or my family. I had to start designating time for posting, engaging, and working online. It was strange for me and I still struggle with it but I've grown a lot in the last year. I've been really happy with the overall success and steady growth of my shop.
My goal was never to be massive or sell millions of cozies. I said from the beginning, if I ever felt like it was too much to handle or became less exciting for me, I would shut it down and move on. Luckily, things like hitting 1,000 sales or having a bulk order of 25 cozies come in keeps my excitement levels up and has me more motivated than ever.
What does your working day/week look like?
A typical work week for me is pretty scattered and not as organized as I'd like it to be. Right now I am only working when my son sleeps or if my husband is home. That will change a bit this year since my son will be starting Pre-School but I'll still be pretty part time. Most of my "work time" is spent making cozies and filling orders which is my favorite part. The behind the scenes things like buying yarn, cutting felties/faux leather, planning releases, answering emails, and so on is a little less exciting, but still brings me so much joy because I know it leads to the end result of sending someone a cozy and making their day brighter.
Any special projects or new designs you are looking forward to in 2020?
I do have a bunch of new cozy designs coming this year and I'm very excited to continue to grow. I have a new cozy idea in mind and that idea has been floating around in my head for a while, but its been hard to bring it to life. The reality here is that sometimes I have ideas that don't work and I never want to hype something up that ends up being mediocre. I always test new designs before I add them to my shop because I am a perfectionist and I want to be sure everything is just right before it goes on sale. I'm trying to push myself out of my comfort zone and make these designs come to life this year.
What advice do you have for makers or small shops that are just getting started?
My biggest piece of advice is do it for yourself and create what makes you happy. Of course your audience and customers matter but if you aren't making yourself happy with your art then it's pretty pointless. I think that everyone should have a creative outlet that showcases who they are as a person and allows them to be uniquely themselves. Oh and the other piece of advice is don't let followers and likes on social media determine your worth. Likes do not always equal sales. Being a great shop owner and taking care of your customers like they are family will go so much further than the number of followers you have.
I know so many of us love your Disney-themed items. Are you a big Disney fan? What’s your favorite Disney park/destination?
One might say I'm a big fan of Disney. I don't know everything about the fandom itself, but I wholeheartedly love so much about Disney. Being born and raised in Southern California, I've spent most of my life going to Disneyland. The magic that I feel when I walk through the gates of a Disney park is unlike anything else I've ever experienced, no matter how many times I've done it. I get this giddy, childlike feeling when I am at Disney and I can't help but be happy.
What has made me a bigger fan is seeing the magic through my sons eyes. Walking through Disney for the first time with him brought tears to my eyes! In 2018 we were able to take him to Walt Disney World for the first time and those parks have now stollen my heart. I am in love with Animal Kingdom and all of its beauty. I love how big the Disney Resort is in Florida and how many properties they have. Every trip we've taken to Disney World has been a different experience because of how much there is to do there. I hope to never lose my love for Disney, it's something thats gotten me through some really difficult times in life and also been the thing I turn to when great things happen. Disney keeps me young and I plan to never grow up!
Thank you Danielle for participating in our Meet the Magical Maker series! Be sure to head over to Neverland Cozies on Etsy to see all of her incredible designs and support this wonderful maker. Want to see one of your favorite shops featured in our series?Contact me, or leave a comment with suggestions down below.
This interview was inspired by my love for a quality shop. All products reviewed were purchased by me for my own personal use.