While some couples wouldn’t dare work together, Tammy and Alex have found a sense of solace in their current chapter. After a lifetime of creating and much too much in an office setting, Tammy and Alex decided The Spirit Den would be their full-time gig and it’s paid off. Sustainable and attainable, they’ve etched out a piece of the market for those who flourish in a darker aesthetic. With fashion and products so good you’ll be saying, Witch, please…can I get me some?
Kendra: Tammy, what pushed you to start creating this and that back in 2014?
Tammy: I have always loved creating and crafting since I was little. I’m a self-taught graphic designer and have worked in a sign shop and doing graphics for a beer distributor in the past.
Unfortunately, I had to stop my graphic design job due to chronic pain from a spinal cord injury; I was in an auto accident in my teens. I went through a phase of being depressed and feeling inadequate. On my journey of trying to heal past those emotional and physical traumas, I found crystals and the metaphysical world. It gave me new hope.
I began crafting things at home as a hobby again. Then it turned into a hobby business, making and selling to friends and family. I am still a work in progress but I feel that I had an awakening of sorts once I found crystals and the spiritual community. It has changed my life for the good, in so many ways.
Kendra: From witch vibes to New Age crystals, the aesthetic of The Spirit Den reminds me of one of my favorite friends growing up. My little goth Megan, always in black even in 100-degree weather. Was that your style growing up? Goth, alternative?
Tammy: Well, inside I was always attracted to the goth style and all things witchy. I dressed as a witch on Halloween, year after year. I grew up in a very rural area and went to a small school where the goth style was not popular. Needless to say, I felt out of place and I didn’t get to dress and express myself the way I would have wanted.
If I could have, it definitely would have been all black clothing, leather jackets, lace-up boots, flaming red hair, and some badass crystal goth style jewelry. Now that I’m older, I do have the red hair and my wardrobe consists of black, black and more black. My esoteric, goth style labradorite coffin ring is one of my favorite witchy pieces to wear every day now.
Kendra: Tammy started this while Alex was doing his thing in IT. After a quarter of a century working in the same field, were you ready to start a new chapter or was there some hesitancy towards going all-in on The Spirit Den?
Alex: I had been ready to do something different for quite a while. At first, I didn’t quite know what that something different was but I knew if I did not exit the toxic corporate environment I was in, I was headed for a meltdown physically and mentally.
For the first few months, I did absolutely nothing but spend time with Tammy, read, play guitar and catch up on classic movies. While I was decompressing, Tammy would get orders now and then, and I slowly became more interested in what she was doing.
Once my mind was clear, I finally realized that Tammy’s creations were really resonating with people and if we could just get her products in front of a larger audience, we could really make a go of it. If we were going to give it a try, this was the perfect time to do it. Our daughter had just graduated from college and was well on her own path. After all, if it didn’t work out I could always go back to the grind and at least I got to rest for a few months. After some soul searching, we decided to give it one year and see what happens.
When we officially went full time in May of 2016 it snowballed quickly and by the end of 2016, we were self-sustaining. Yes, I was a little hesitant, but the opportunity was literally pounding on the door and all I had to do was be brave enough to open it.
Kendra: Nevertheless, you’re both admirable. I love and appreciate anyone passionate about what they’re doing. Which, you both do now from your home studio. What are some challenges you faced early on that you’ve since overcome in terms of working from home and what advice do you have for those still on the fence about starting a business in the same field?
Tammy & Alex: When you work from home the hardest part is setting a work type schedule. Trying to have some resemblance of a work/life balance so that you don’t burn yourself is something you really have to do…
Finding the right e-commerce platform. We started on Etsy, which was great because people go to Etsy specifically to shop. We now have our own website, and we are thankful that it’s doing quite well. Being seen and finding your audience is a challenge in the beginning. You have to start a social media account and put yourself out there. Instagram has helped us along the way. We love to engage with our followers and have made some wonderful friends through the IG platform.
Also, something we learned that is important is to keep your work and personal finances separate. Invest in some type of business accounting software to keep track of your gains and losses. It also makes tax season much easier.
Our advice to others thinking about starting their own business would be, go for it! If you don’t try then you will always wonder “what if!” It’s not always easy, there will be challenges but you have to keep moving forward and learn from those challenges. Lastly, stay in your passion and have fun with it!
Kendra: We can find all the wonderful items you offer online but do you ever take things on the road and do craft fairs, comic cons? I feel like you’d kill at a convention.
Tammy & Alex: We have done a few fairs and shows in the past and enjoyed them. They can be a lot of work with pre-making inventory, setting up displays, etc. With Tammy’s physical challenges we have decided it’s probably better to shy away from them for now. The good news is that our online sales keep us so busy we don’t feel like we are missing out or have to do them. We prefer going to local fairs and enjoying them as guests.
Kendra: For fun, if Mr. Leo and Miss Izabel ran things for a day – what would be the first product they designed for The Spirit Den?
Tammy & Alex: This question literally made us laugh out loud. If Izzy and Leo were in charge, it would be chaos! Since they are really food motivated, they would probably design some type of bottomless feeder covered in mice toys and feathers for cats around the world.
Kendra: With 2020 fast approaching, are you two gearing up for any new collections we can keep an eye out for?
Tammy & Alex: Right now we are in “holiday mode.” Prepping for the holiday season is a little time consuming, all the while trying to keep up with everyday orders. We are always adding new designs and products to our shop but keep an eye out, 2020 may bring some actual crystals into the mix!