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The Cautiously Created series is back and I couldn't be more excited to share a little bit about my fellow midwest small business owner Stefani Arden of Arden Trading Co.  Stefani was kind enough to answer a couple of questions for this Cautiously Created series, below are her answers.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself: 

 My name is Stefani, I am a 29-year-old Minneapolis native, who loves art, writing, travel, yoga, the outdoors and textiles. In the past six years I have lived in Colorado, Minnesota, LA and New York. Recently back from NY, I moved home to Minneapolis about two years ago and started drafting up ideas for an online bohemian shop. Right now this is the main focus of my life. Arden Trading Co. is an online boutique for bohemian dreamers that supports artisans worldwide. Everything you see on our site is one-of-a-kind, ethically sourced and artisan made.

How did your business come about?:

I've known for a while that I want to start my own business, in my early twenties I began reading entrepreneurial magazines and brainstorming ideas for the future. It wasn't until early April of 2015 that I knew I wanted to open an e-commerce store. I began reading countless books on the subject and one day it hit me. I have such a love for travel, textiles and foreign cities and cultures, and as a creative, I also have a strong magnetic pull towards artisans and makers. I think a recent love of decorating and design has also shaped the development of this company. I'm at the age where I want to settle down and make a home beautiful, and I think all of that has a lot to do with how Arden Trading Co. came about.

Describe your typical day:

My typical day consists of a wide variety of multi-tasking. Every day is different, but I typically have several emails every morning regarding creative partnerships or artisan inquiries, I take an hour or two each day responding and prioritizing these communications. Thirty minutes to an hour each day is spent editing photos or planning upcoming images to post on the site or various social media channels. As an online store without a brick and mortar, images are our most important marketing tool, and besides copy, it is our only way of properly conveying our brand to the masses. A good amount of time is spent researching shipping, running to the post office and packaging up goods. I'm kind of a perfectionist, so I make sure each package that goes out looks and feels special. I want to make people smile when they open our goods and I want it to feel like a present from a close friend or loved one.

Describe one challenge that you've faced since starting your business?:

I've faced several challenges along the way as a business owner so far, and every time I find a solution, a new challenge arises that I never considered. A lot of these are good problems, but it definitely keeps me on my toes. Here are a few example of the natural progression of challenges I have recently experienced. My first problem was - "Where am I going to find artisan goods and how am I going to keep them coming consistently?" Since then, this problem has solved itself, I get anywhere from 75-100 inquiries a month from artisans who want to sell on our site. My next problem was, "I have the goods, now how do I sell them?" With a recent growth in sales, this problem has solved itself. And now my current obstacle is - "How do I get the capital to buy a large quantity of goods?" I'm at the stage where I'm starting to look into investors and this is definitely new territory for me.

Describe your greatest achievement so far:

Honestly, I think I am yet to accomplish my greatest achievement. But I think sticking with Arden Trading Co. for a year before I launched the company publicly was an achievement in itself. It's hard to work on something 24/7 that has no immediate payoff. It helps a lot to have people around you that support and encourage you to keep pushing on.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own business?:

If you know in your heart that you have a good idea and it is something you are passionate about - you have to stick with it. If everyone around you is telling you "wow, it is really amazing what you are doing" you have to believe them and believe in yourself. I think being an entrepreneur can be extremely exciting and lonely, all at the same time. But in essence, having a business is like having a plant or a flower. You have to water it everyday, nurture and care for it, and in time, it will grow. So my advice is to stick with it!

What inspires you?:

Creative and hardworking people inspire me. Innovative, smart, motivated, big thinkers inspire me. There's nothing that inspires me more than other entrepreneurs. When I see people working really hard, following their passions and making them a reality, I truly admire that.

What's one thing you can't work without?:

Music, coffee, my to-do list.

Coffee, tea or neither?:

Coffee first, always. Then tea all day.

And just for fun, what's your favorite quote and why?:

I have a few favorite quotes. I like this one from E. E. Cummings - "The voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses" 

I also like this one I discovered recently. "Art and love are the same thing: It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you." - Chuck Klosterman.
I think this quote is so true, you love the things that feel like you.

A huge thank you to Stefani for being kind enough to answer a few questions for this series.  If you're interested in learning more about Stefani and Arden Trading Co., please head over to her shop and be sure to follow her on Instagram.  


*all photographs utilized in this blog post are property of ©Stefani Arden of Arden Trading Co.