I came across Paloma’s Nest, when I was looking for a bowl for the ring bearer at our wedding. I was going to just use a regular bowl, when I discovered on Etsy that a company was making this very cool and earthy bowl designated precisely for this purpose. Then, when owner Caroline Colóm Vásquez and I started chatting about the personalization on the bowl I ordered, we discovered that she also lives in Austin and right down the road, no less.
Caroline has made a name for her company by designing customized heirloom products, most notably, the aforementioned ceramic Original Ring Bearer Bowl™. Her goal is to create products that her customers will cherish forever and that will ultimately become family heirlooms. I (as a designer, female entrepreneur and happy owner of a Paloma’s Nest product) wanted to know more about Caroline and her company- so we did a little Q & A…
Catherine Nicole: What’s your favorite thing about having your own design company?
Caroline Colóm Vásquez: I have always wanted to be my own boss- to be in control of my own destiny, and to have the freedom (and responsibility) to create the life I want to have. Being able to combine that entrepreneurial spirit with my passion for design is an amazing feeling and something I am grateful for everyday.
CN: Tell us one thing about business you had to learn the hard way.
CCV: Knowing when to get help was a huge challenge. I think many small businesses owners try to do everything by themselves. The reality is, you end up limiting yourself and the potential of your company (not to mention the personal stress in trying to do it all!). Hiring or outsourcing specific tasks is key to being able to grow. And, don’t be afraid to hire people who are more knowledgeable than you in certain areas. Just because you are a great designer doesn’t mean you will make a great bookkeeper or marketing expert.
CN: How do you handle motherhood and owning your own business?
CCV: I won’t sugarcoat it- it is a constant balancing act! But again, knowing when to ask for help, recognizing when to say no to certain opportunities or projects, and committing to turning off the cell phone and computer at a set time each evening- these things I have learned along the way and each year the balance becomes a little better.
CN: You’ve done remarkably well on Etsy, which is quite a feat for a lot of people. Do you have any tips or tricks for Etsy success?
It’s been said before, but the single most important aspect of selling on Etsy is your photography. Since your customer can’t hold your product in their hands, your images need to make them feel like they can imagine doing so.
CN: What inspires you? (Totally cliche question, I realize, but people like to know….)
CCV: My designs are inspired by the concept of heirlooms. I am fascinated by history, genealogy, and family, and how items or objects are saved and passed on to future generations. This inspires me to create pieces that hold meaning by commemorating a time or occasion, and to design them in a style that is elegant and timeless. I hope to design things that will still be beautiful in 100 years.
CN: What is your favorite design you’ve ever done?
That’s like choosing a favorite child! I feel a great sense of pride when creating custom, personalized pieces for our clients- knowing that the piece I handcraft today will come to hold so much meaning to them and their family tomorrow. Creating the Original Ring Bearer Bowl™ is very gratifying, as it has so quickly become a new, modern tradition in wedding ceremonies, and a new “type” of heirloom for couples around the globe to cherish and enjoy.
From my wedding day…..
(shot by our wedding photographer Stacy Cross)
Ours was personalized with our newly shared last name and our anniversary (which I will now never forget!). As you can see, I still use the bowl daily and remember the handmade treasure that was part of our wedding day.
Thank you, Caroline, for being creative, original, and making your customers a special and meaningful product!