Making a business out of a hobby with Emilie Otto

In conversation with Emilie from House of Hobby

In episode #61 of the Committed Creative podcast, Emilie Otto, the owner of House of Hobby, shared her journey of buying the business during the pandemic, her background as a freelance graphic designer, and how she uses her skills to enhance her business.

Emilie’s business is centered around the idea of making time for creative hobbies, which she believes are essential for mental wellbeing and can bring a sense of fulfillment and joy to people’s lives.

The importance of making time for creativity

As adults, we often lose the passion for being artistic that we had as children. Emilie believes that this is because people don’t prioritise the fun stuff and allow other things to get in the way. She says, “It’s like creativity or having that selfless me time. It’s like dessert. It’s like you always have the dinner, the boring stuff before dessert, and if you get too full on dinner, you might not get to dessert.”

Emilie says House of Hobby provides a safe and welcoming space for people to connect with others and explore their creative sides. She believes that creative hobbies are essential for mental wellbeing and can enable a sense of fulfillment and joy to people’s lives. Emilie says, “We feel like our strong point is bringing people together and helping people make time for themselves.”



Listen to the podcast

The journey of buying House of Hobby during the pandemic

Buying a business during the pandemic was a daunting prospect for Emilie. She had to navigate the challenges of running a face-to-face business during a time when restrictions were in place.

However, Emilie saw this as an opportunity to get to know the business better and figure out how to make it work for her. Emilie says, “All decisions I make with business are very heart-focused and very passion-focused of just what I love doing and kind of just keep following that and hopefully it leads to something good, which it has.”

The role of graphic design in enhancing a business

Emilie’s background as a freelance graphic designer has been a significant asset to her business. She is able to create high-quality graphics and design elements that enhance the overall look and feel of her business. Emilie says, “To have nice graphics, it can cost money like it is an outlay for your business. And I feel really thankful that I can do all of that within my business.”

Having the skills to create her own graphics has also given Emilie more control over her business. She is able to make changes quickly and easily without having to rely on a third party. As Emilie says, “That way I can make those changes and do the things that I need without having to communicate what I’m after or having to get a big bill at the end after all the changes that I’ve made.”

The importance of providing a welcoming environment at House of Hobby

Emilie believes in creating a welcoming environment for her customers. She ensures that everyone feels at ease by having a team member greet customers at the door and sit singles together at a table. Emilie says, “I always like to make sure people are feeling as comfortable as possible when they come to a workshop because I know it can be out of people’s comfort zones.”

This approach has led to a loyal customer base, with many repeat customers. Emilie says, “Yes, we’ve got our regulars, which we love. And they always I think now they know each other as well because they always come to the new workshops. So, yeah, really thankful to have a great group of regular people, regular hobbyists, that come along to our workshop.”

Building a strong team

Emilie’s business relies on a strong team to deliver high-quality workshops and provide a welcoming environment for customers. Emilie is very particular about who she hires and values loyalty and consistency in her team. Emily says, “So our core workshops, we’ve got our core group of creatives for that. So it’s always the ones that we’ll go back to. And then I’ll have some people in the team that can be backups in case they’re sick.”

Emilie also provides an onboarding process for new team members to ensure that they understand the values of the business and how to deliver a great customer experience. She says, “There’s a whole deck that I’ve put together just around our values, why we do things, why it’s so important, and it’s all these things that ensure everyone consistently feels welcome.”

The power of email marketing

Emilie’s business relies heavily on email marketing to promote workshops and reach new customers. She sends out a weekly newsletter that is simple and straightforward. Emilie says, “Keeping it simple…email subjects. I’m like, hey, new workshops inside – it’s nothing more complex than that. Then I will write a bit about what we’ve been working on that week or a little bit about how creativity is why it’s so important to me and the team and things that takeaways of the week.”

Emilie’s email list is her biggest marketing tool, with at least 75% of ticket sales coming from the list. She believes that consistency is key to maintaining visibility and building trust with customers.

Challenges faced and lessons learned

Running a business during a pandemic has not been without its challenges for Emilie. She had to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on her business, including a decrease in workshop numbers when travel restrictions were lifted. However, Emily remains motivated by her passion for helping people make time for their creative hobbies.

Emilie also emphasises the importance of outsourcing tasks that are not within her strengths, such as social media management. She advises business owners to assess their tasks and delegate where necessary to ensure that they can focus on what they do best.

The importance of making time for yourself

Perhaps the most significant theme that emerged from my conversation with Emilie is the importance of making time for yourself. Emilie believes that creative hobbies are essential for mental wellbeing and can help people feel fulfilled and happy.

She encourages people to explore their creativity and make time for themselves. Emilie says, “I always say that we’re not curing cancer, but we’re helping people find that time for themselves and hopefully making them feel fulfilled.”

Emilie’s own creative hobby of sewing has led her to create her own sewing pattern, which will be released soon. Exciting times in the House of Hobby world!

What the future holds

Emilie’s journey of buying a business during the pandemic and navigating the challenges of running a face-to-face business has taught her valuable lessons about the importance of staying true to her values, building a strong team, and making time for herself. Her passion for helping people make time for their creative hobbies has created a loyal customer base and a thriving business.

Looking to the future, Emilie plans to continue expanding her business and exploring new creative hobbies. She hopes to inspire others to make time for themselves and discover the joy of creative hobbies. As Emilie says, “Life is short, and we need to make the most of it.”

Listen to all of The Committed Creative podcast episodes here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Blog posts

Follow Us On