[00:00:00] [00:00:00] Sophia Lebano: [00:00:00] Hello, you guys. What’s up. Welcome back to another episode of Hear and Now Podcast. I’m very excited to welcome Elayne Miller from annunciation designs today to talk about creativity, changing careers, all that fun stuff. So Elayne, welcome to the show.
[00:00:12] Elayne Miller: [00:00:12] Thanks so much for having
[00:00:14] Sophia Lebano: [00:00:14] You’re so welcome. So why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience?
[00:00:18] Elayne Miller: [00:00:18] Sure. Um, my name is Elayne Miller. I run annunciation designs and I stay home with my two little boys I’ve been married for eight years or so. Um, and I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic schools and have just kind of learn more about my faith, um, especially in college. And then kind of since then, um, have just kind of tried to dive in a little deeper.
[00:00:41] Um, let’s see, I majored in engineering in college, worked as an engineer for a few years and then taught for seven years and kind of along with some of that time started, um, my small business.
[00:00:56] Sophia Lebano: [00:00:56] That’s
[00:00:56] awesome. So, yeah, engineering, that’s crazy. How was that? How was that for you?
[00:01:02] Elayne Miller: [00:01:02] I always really liked math.
[00:01:04] And so I went into engineering knowing that it was math heavy and I liked studying engineering. Um, I knew before I. Had gotten my degree that it probably wasn’t really the thing for me. I didn’t like the actual application of it. I just like taking the, taking the math classes. Um, but I met my husband there, so that works out.
[00:01:26] He’s an engineer as well. Um, And I had decided before I got done with my, um, degree that I would eventually teach. And I knew that it would be possible to transition with an engineering degree. So I decided it’s worth it to have the engineering degree to fall back on after college, I decided to, um, try to pay off my student loans before I started the low income career.
[00:01:53] Um, so I, I did work as an engineer for. Uh, about a year and a half. Right. Kind of as I was getting engaged, getting married that kind of time. Um, and I studied civil engineering, which is like roads and bridges and buildings, but I worked as a kind of mechanical engineer, um, on, uh, car parts. That’s so
[00:02:12] fun though.
[00:02:13] Sophia Lebano: [00:02:13] Did you enjoy it? Was it a very, I guess, fulfilling career for you?
[00:02:18] I think that’s the big thing for me that made me know that it wasn’t for me is I enjoyed it. Um, I liked it, especially the job I had was fun. It was great people. It was, um, interesting work. I liked learning about all of it, but it was not fulfilling at all.
[00:02:33] I just felt like I was putting all my time into making someone else money. And that was kind of the whole, that was everything. But that was the whole job was just make the company money. And it just wasn’t for me, my husband, like I said, is also an engineer and he loves it. Um, so I think it just kinda depends on where each person is called.
[00:02:50] Um, but for me, I knew it was, it was not going to be the fulfilling career. Yeah,
[00:02:54] definitely. So how did you kind of use your engineering background as you did to [00:03:00] transition into this new career?
[00:03:03] Elayne Miller: [00:03:03] Yeah, I think. I use the engineering background, definitely to transition into teaching, which was kind of my next step.
[00:03:11] Um, it was kind of a plus for, uh, principals at schools to hear that I had real-world experience and to hear that I had used higher math and studied higher math. And so I became a high school math teacher. So that’s why they were interested in that. And, um, That I think the engineering background was really good for me.
[00:03:32] I also took some education classes and through that I could see, I was glad I did not just do education, um, that I don’t think would have left me quite prepared for teaching like the calculus and stuff that I taught, um, to high schoolers. And then from there really, um, transitioning into running my own business.
[00:03:55] I definitely see. Major benefits to having the math background as well as kind of the artistic side and the creativity that I do now. Um, I know a lot of other artists and kind of makers that really struggle with the financial side of running a business. And so I’m really glad that I have that background to be able to understand what these, you know, tax percentages mean and, and all of the financial side of things.
[00:04:22] Cause it just makes. The creativity be a lot more fun when I don’t get bogged down in the math side. No,
[00:04:28] Sophia Lebano: [00:04:28] totally. Um, I mean, as a small business owner, myself, that has been the biggest hurdle for me to figure out, and yes, there are resources out there, but to figure it out yourself is kind of fun. Right. Um, so what have been some of the biggest things that you’ve used in this background, besides the financials, if anything, to kind of drive your small business career
[00:04:55] Elayne Miller: [00:04:55] Yeah, I think the biggest thing I’ve used from my own background is really the teaching aspect. I really try to connect with my audience and not necessarily teach, but still bring that kind of bring new things to my audience and help them, um, learn about our faith. I run a faith based business. So I think, yeah, the idea of teaching and not necessarily, of course, like.
[00:05:21] Lecturing, which I was never big on as a teacher anyways, but just kind of opening up, like here’s something we could talk about and bringing it to the people who follow me, I think has been. It’s been really good that I had that background and I’m able to have those conversations with
[00:05:39] Sophia Lebano: [00:05:39] Definitely.
[00:05:40] Yeah. Um, just from a personal standpoint, any tips on taking calculus, I’m taking calculus in the fall in class. So
[00:05:50] I think looking at calculus as like a, it’s like this combination of every math you’ve taken up to this point, like, it, it, it’s [00:06:00] where the geometry comes from. It’s where the algebra kind of.
[00:06:03] Starts to make sense of like, why, why you need that stuff. Um, and so I think looking at it as this like combination you’re like reached the peak of like what all the high school math was about. Um, I think it’s really beautiful. So if you can kind of get out of the, like, my head hurts from all these letters, I think it’s, it’s really beautiful and, um, just, it makes so much sense of why everything you’ve learned up to that point in math.
[00:06:31] Works and why you needed it. That’s what I keep in mind.
[00:06:36] Pre calculus in my senior year of high school, I really enjoyed it. Trigonometry. I sound like such a nerd, but trigonometry was my favorite subject to learn about. Um, but I’m taking applied calculus as a summer class, so it’s like cut in half. So it’s
[00:06:50] just jam packed.
[00:06:52] Elayne Miller: [00:06:52] Yes. Those cuts, those short ones are real tough. So
[00:06:56] Sophia Lebano: [00:06:56] we shall see how that goes. But yeah, you’re right. Now we’re introducing the alphabet and just like negatives and invisible or whatever the heck they’re called numbers and everything like that. This is why I’m not a math major.
[00:07:09] Elayne Miller: [00:07:09] That’s okay. Not everyone is.
[00:07:12] Sophia Lebano: [00:07:12] Um, so we’ll walk us through, through how you got started in your business.
[00:07:16] What’s the backstory that kind of led you to leaving your teaching career and getting into the small business world.
[00:07:24] Elayne Miller: [00:07:24] Yes. So I had been a teacher for a few years when, um, I was pregnant with my oldest son. And so I. Uh, had realized that while I love teaching and it’s still something that, um, I continued to do for awhile.
[00:07:43] And I hope to do again in the future. Um, teaching is really, really intense and draining and I just saw, I don’t see how I’m going to sustain doing, pouring all of this into my students while I also wants to be there for my son. And so I started. Could I do that would help me be home with my son. So I, um, had a long break from like related into the summer.
[00:08:11] And so I had like three months with my little baby and, um, as hard as little babies are they also. Like sleep a lot and you can’t really interact with them. So I was kind of mentally bored. And so I started using some hand lettering that I’d picked up along the way. I don’t want to make it sound like babies are easy, but they’re, they’re like a special kind of like interact with them very much.
[00:08:36] Um, and so I started kind of thinking, well, I’ve learned this hand lettering stuff. And, you know, maybe I can use that as a way to be able to take a break from teaching and stay home, you know, with this little guy. And so I, um, at my son’s baptism, his godfather had mentioned to me, like, that’s my present over there.
[00:08:59] It doesn’t have a [00:09:00] card in it because I couldn’t find a baptism card, you know, at the store, but that one’s mine. And so, um, I realized like, oh, there’s kind of a need for. Cards that someone, you know, younger like me would just pick up. Um, and I think was a nice design for a baptism or for any of the sacraments, things like that.
[00:09:22] And so I thought, okay, I can do the hand lettering, and this is like a low cost way to get into a business. And so I started designing greeting cards. Sorry. If you can hear my kid, that’s me a stutter and they’re on their way. And so, um, So I started designing greeting cards, which is a wonderful way to jump into having a small business without having to like, make a huge product and find a manufacturer, do anything big.
[00:09:50] It was a little way. And so I started on Etsy about five years ago with just greeting cards. And then after a year of teaching part-time with my son being home with my son, the rest of the time. And running the small business kind of slowly growing it. Um, we actually, um, decided to move. And so I left my teaching job and I don’t know if I would have necessarily left teaching or left at that time.
[00:10:20] Um, but since we moved, it just made sense. And so that’s when I kind of really jumped in like, okay, let’s make this work so that I don’t need to find another teaching job right now. And from there we started growing, um, we. Um, learned to screen prints. I had never screen printed before, but it seemed like a good way to put hand lettering onto things.
[00:10:41] And so I, we learned a screen print and I screen print, um, towels and shirts and tote bags and things like that. And we kinda learned some other skills along the way, and then found partners to produce some things for us as well. And now I stay home with the boys all the time and I have some help come over.
[00:11:01] And they do some of the kind of nitty gritty work so that I can focus on the creative side. That’s
[00:11:07] Sophia Lebano: [00:11:07] incredible. Wow. So how old is your business now??
[00:11:11] Elayne Miller: [00:11:11] Five
[00:11:11] years old. That’s about five years. Yep.
[00:11:13] Sophia Lebano: [00:11:13] That’s
[00:11:14] awesome. Well, congratulations on making it this far. Um, how did you come up with your business name? I love it a lot.
[00:11:21] Elayne Miller: [00:11:21] No, thank you. I was looking for something that. Made sense with, um, greeting cards. Cause that’s how I started, but I knew I didn’t want to like lock myself into just doing that. And so I thought the enunciation where, you know, Gabriel brings the good news to Mary would be a perfect way of like, These greeting cards are our way of kind of announcing good news or being with someone in their sorrow.
[00:11:45] If it’s a sympathy card or something, they’re kind of a way of bringing the good news to people. And so I thought the was a fitting, uh, kind of patron for our shops. So that’s how it came about. Incredible.
[00:11:57] Sophia Lebano: [00:11:57] I always love. Just having faith [00:12:00] background behind your business, but that leads me to the next question.
[00:12:04] Is your faith, how has that become an integral part of running a business and influencing your
[00:12:12] Elayne Miller: [00:12:12] Yeah, it’s so interesting because I run it’s entirely like a Catholic business, like that’s my entire audience. And so it’s definitely, my faith is a huge part of. All of my social media and my audience and everything I make.
[00:12:31] And it’s been really interesting as I’ve kind of looked at what kind of products I want to make. I’ve dug deeper into different, um, saints and different quotes. They said, and different parts of the Bible that maybe aren’t as common, but maybe I could bring out a quote that would, um, Get across a certain idea.
[00:12:54] And so I’ve really learned a lot about different saints and the liturgical calendar and the things that I just didn’t necessarily learn growing up. Um, and. So it has really deepened my faith in a way that like portrays like the, our church. Like I had a, I had a faith, um, you know, before this business.
[00:13:17] And like I mentioned, I kind of got more into my faith in college, but this has really introduced this to me too, as a faith background and tradition, um, in the church. And that’s been really good for me. To grow and to kind of connect with, um, our church, like throughout history. Yeah,
[00:13:39] Sophia Lebano: [00:13:39] no incredible. I love con you know, finding that connection between faith and business.
[00:13:45] Um, I, myself am a business owner and I, I work with Christian women to work their business. And it’s just that unique niche that I love so much because you can have faith filled conversations with people and not worry about offending them, or, you know, you always have that common ground there. Um, So as far as business goes, what are some tips you have for small business owners who maybe do have a faith background and are looking to start a business
[00:14:16] for any business owner?
[00:14:17] Elayne Miller: [00:14:17] The most important thing is your audience is going to be. Um, and so if you decide your audience is going to be people of faith, if that’s important to you and who you want to speak to, um, then I think you just. When I look at, you know, where are those people? How can you speak to those people? Um, or, you know, whatever your, you think your audiences, um, regardless of if it’s faith-based or not.
[00:14:42] Um, I think focusing on who your audience is, is just going to help make every decision so much easier. Like, do I want to make this particular product well, does this audience. Want to, you know, this is who I’m talking to, is that what they need or want? Um, or, you know, what should I post on my [00:15:00] social media?
[00:15:00] I, what does this audience want to see? What are they interested in? What are they engaging with? And, um, I think if we’re just focused on like our side of it, like I want to make money or I want to tell my story or whatever it is that, um, there’s not necessarily anyone on the other end connecting with that.
[00:15:18] And so just really starting with. Who, who your audience is, can really drive everything. I
[00:15:24] Sophia Lebano: [00:15:24] totally agree. That’s why it’s one of the first things I work with clients on is finding out, okay, well, who’s your audience? Who are you trying to serve? Um, and it’s, it’s a huge thing to try and nail that down first, before you do anything else.
[00:15:37] Um, and then another question is how do you balance your business life with anything else that you have to do for you, motherhood, for us, some people college and everything. What are some of your big tips for the app?
[00:15:50] Elayne Miller: [00:15:50] Yeah. I think knowing what you want to get out of it is a good place to start. You know, there’s been times where I’ve just kind of been growing my business because.
[00:16:01] That there’s an audience there and I can, and then there’s other times where I realized like, no, I need to be intentional about how I’m growing it. So whether it’s classes that you need to attend to, or, you know, the kids who are outside knocking on the door or, you know, whatever it is, I think focusing on, okay, what do I want?
[00:16:21] So for me, I want to be able to stay home with my kids. And so if I put, if I start like having someone come over and watch the kids every day, well, I’m not really home with my kids ever anymore. I’ve kind of totally bypassed the entire idea of what I’m doing here. And so I think just keeping in mind, That goal.
[00:16:41] And so, you know, again, if you’re a student, you just want to make enough money to pay a little bit of your college and not have as much loans or something, just focusing on what your goal is. And again, kind of letting that be the leader in how much you want to grow, or how deep you want to get into it, or how much time you want to put into it.
[00:17:01] Um, and like I said, we’ve kind of. Gone back and forth with, are we going to grow right now or is this the time we actually need to pull back or kind of keep things steady? Um, just based on what’s best for our family. And it’s just important to be intentional about what you’re doing there. You know, sometimes success can come along when you’re not necessarily expecting it and you have to be intentional about, is this something I want to do or not?
[00:17:26] Sophia Lebano: [00:17:26] Being
[00:17:27] intentional is one of my biggest, um, things I, I a need to work on and be that I, I did talk a lot about in earlier podcast episodes this year. Um, especially around the new year, you know, now it’s in June and it’s halfway through the school year, halfway through the year. Um, and you’re just like, okay, now I need to really shape up and keep those new year’s resolutions going.
[00:17:51] Um, So any big plans for growth in the future, any new products you want to hint at and coming out soon, I’m excited to hear about that. [00:18:00] That,
[00:18:01] Elayne Miller: [00:18:01] yeah, we are always kind of looking for ways that we can better serve the people we serve. And so, um, yeah. Um, I’ve written, um, a book for moms on kind of. Not necessarily running a business, but kind of doing, doing all the things and how we can kind of order our life, um, correctly.
[00:18:24] And so I’m looking at maybe writing something, um, different for kids in the future. Um, I haven’t. Quite decided if that’s going to that’s one of those things around, like, I have this idea, I think it’d be great. I think my audience would receive it well, but I don’t know if it’s going to fit into our life right now.
[00:18:42] Um, and then, so we’ll see, we’ll see how the summer goes. And, um, we’re always kind of working on new designs and new products. I can’t think of anything specific right now that we’re coming out with. We’ve been so excited to. Um, started partnering, start partnering with, um, a fair trade. Can you hear my kids?
[00:19:06] Sorry about
[00:19:09] Um, we’ve been so excited to start partnering with a fair trade, um, organization that, um, produces towels and banners and woven. They weave them for us. And so, um, That’s been a big transition for us and something I’m really proud of. I really like working with them. Um, and then we’re also looking at, um, potentially kind of starting a little bit of a spin-off, um, group for, um, Kind of Catholic kind of a way to connect people who are looking to fill their homes with, uh, beautiful Catholic things and, um, Catholic, small businesses and artisans.
[00:19:54] Um, and so we’re kind of diving into ways that we could best, um, kind of bridge that gap. Um, and so we haven’t quite decided on, um, where that will go, but it’s something that, um, I really like to do. I really like to kind of work with, um, Bringing people to different small businesses. Yeah,
[00:20:15] Sophia Lebano: [00:20:15] totally. Um, and you said you have your book, so tell us a little bit more about that.
[00:20:19] I know you gave us a brief snippet.
[00:20:22] Elayne Miller: [00:20:22] Yeah. Um, a few years ago I wrote a book called Fiat ordo, um, and I self published it. Um, and it’s this guide that walks you through 28 days of kind of reflecting. And it’s really about that intentionality that we were talking about. Um, it kind of walks you through writing a mission statement.
[00:20:40] Um, just to kind of really keep you focused and help you help guide your decisions. And it’s just kind of about, um, making routines and coming up with a way that your life can serve you instead of kind of feeling like you’re always overwhelmed by life. And so it’s aimed at [00:21:00] moms. Um, although I’ve heard from some people that, um, you know, it’s not necessarily just for moms, um, Because everyone gets overwhelmed.
[00:21:09] Sophia Lebano: [00:21:09] Absolutely. I can attest to that. Um, so where can people buy that if they’re interested in
[00:21:16] Elayne Miller: [00:21:16] Yeah. That’s currently only available on Amazon. They’re so great about printing and shipping it with prime and everything that it’s available there. Great.
[00:21:25] Sophia Lebano: [00:21:25] Yeah. And if people are interested in learning more about your products and buying some of your things, where can they find that too?
[00:21:33] Yeah, we’re on our own website now. So it’s an annunciationdesigns.com and then we also hang out on Instagram a lot. So that’s at annunciation designs.
[00:21:43] Awesome. Yeah. Well, Arlene, thank you so much for coming on today’s episode. It was great to hear about your career change and just how faith influences your creativity.
[00:21:54] Elayne Miller: [00:21:54] Thanks so
[00:21:54] much for having me Sophia
[00:21:55] Sophia Lebano: [00:21:55] you’re so welcome. Well, thank you guys for tuning into this week’s episode of hear and now podcast. Have a wonderful week.
It’s the 94th episode of Hear and Now Podcast! Thank you for joining me this week as I have Elayne Miller on to talk about her small business, Annunciation Designs.
Enjoy this unedited episode of Hear and Now Podcast!
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