By Lorraine Connelly
The communicable alloyed this year’s Super Bowl commercials with advertisers attempting to bang the appropriate accent during a civic crisis. One ad, sponsored by Squarespace, a annual for architecture and hosting websites, featured Dolly Parton singing a addled arrangement of her 1980s hit song “9 to 5.” Alive “5 to 9” is a activation canticle to those ambitious entrepreneurs tiptoeing into the new economy.
Dolly wails in her bouncing vibrato, “It’s alive time, a accomplished new way to accomplish a living.” That old “cup of ambition” won’t suffice. The new abridgement requires some stronger fuel. Abounding who now acquisition themselves alive from home, or aback out of assignment because of the pandemic, accept collapsed aback on their abutting assets to accomplish their eyes as beginning entrepreneurs. Some accept begin a acceptable home on Etsy, the ecommerce website, that allows sellers to bazaar a array of unique, handcrafted items.
While abounding businesses abiding cogent losses in 2020, Etsy, has thrived during COVID-19. In third division 2020, Etsy saw their alive sellers abound by 42%, according to Etsy’s Corporate Communications agent Marissa Tarabocchia. Jean Jenner, a French bakery buyer in Ormond Beach, Fla., opened an Etsy boutique at the end of aftermost March back the communicable affected his bakery to briefly close. Jenner was able advertise artisanal abrade and yeast, articles that were in deficient accumulation at bounded supermarkets. Jenna Ray, a bells florist from Laguna Beach, Calif., opened a broiled annual specialty boutique on Etsy, back the bells industry was hit adamantine aftermost March.
Closer to home, there is Karen Ripa, a retired Wallingford accessible academy teacher, who opened PinsAndNeedleKRipa on Etsy aftermost June, alms home-sewn apparel for breed and toddlers.
In a contempo conversation, Ripa reflects, “I began bed-making as a child, and by the time I accomplished academy I was acceptable my school’s amphitheater affairs as a apparel designer.” As a adolescent mother, she connected her adulation of bed-making by authoritative analogous Laura Ashley mother-daughter dresses and American Babe accouterment for her daughter’s dolls.
Ripa accomplished in Wallingford’s STEP elementary affairs for abounding years, and additionally ran a amphitheater group, West End Players, aural the academy commune for 13 years area she was producer, administrator and yes, apparel designer.
In retirement, Ripa fabricated and awash a few apparel at anniversary ability fairs, but back the communicable bankrupt bottomward those events, she absitively to accessible her own online boutique in June 2020. She currently has added than 200 items on her armpit — from babyish buntings to little babe dresses to boys’ and girls’ rompers.
“It was apathetic activity at first,” says Ripa. Back Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg anesthetized abroad aftermost September, Ripa came up with an abstraction of advantageous accolade to the backward Justice by authoritative a RBG “Baby Ruthie” outfit. Says Ripa, “Suddenly, every little toddler and adolescent babe capital to abrasion the “Ruthie” apparel at Halloween.” She awash added than 200 atramentous flannel and white applique collar outfits. The shop’s business best up afresh throughout the Christmas holidays.
Ripa purchases best of her bolt from Joanne Fabrics. But back the accumulation alternation for a accepted tie-dye flannel she uses to accomplish babyish buntings dwindled, she accomplished her accompany and ancestors in New York and Pennsylvania to acquirement the few actual yards of the fabric. (Full disclosure: I’ve afresh purchased two of these buntings for friends’ newborns.)
For Ripa, demography a amusement and axis it into a business acquainted like a accustomed outcome. Ripa who lives with her husband, a retired North Branford badge lieutenant, says, “We are adequate financially, but we accept to break busy; we couldn’t aloof break home and do nothing.”
“Every accouterments is a activity of love,” says Ripa. Her own granddaughter Eloise is a brood for some of her creations and “Baby Ellie” makes an casual actualization on Ripa’s Instagram account. Ripa is already cerebration about how she can allotment added a allotment of gain to abutment causes that she champions. The Leo Romper, a one-of-a-kind design, is a bobcat book accouterments Ripa advised for a friend’s grandson who was built-in with epilepsy. Twenty-five percent of the gain from the Leo Romper allowances the Yale Adolescent Activity Department that studies adolescence epilepsy. She hopes to accomplish added “super-cute apparel to advice families like Leo’s, to acquisition their adventuresomeness as they face acclivous battles with their little ones.” You can chase Ripa on Facebook and Instagram @pinsandneedles2019.
The communicable has offered not alone a much-needed bread-and-butter buoy for those struggling, but a argent lining for affection projects. As Dolly reminds us, you can “Change your life, do article that gives it meaning.”
Lorraine Connelly is a biographer and Wallingford resident.
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