Stick(er) to the Plan(ner)
By Chuck Palmer
Shannon Leigh Brewer was always a doodler. She was drawn to art at an early age. “ I was always that kid that took coloring the kid's menu at restaurants seriously. I think I started shading with crayons at age seven! I was never into sports as a kid so my hobby was art,” says the 2015 graduate of Villa Rica High School who has turned her love of art into a successful online business. Shannon Leigh, as she prefers to be called, is the owner and creator of The Honey B Shop, an Etsy store that specializes in hand drawn planner stickers designed by the artist/owner and appreciated by thousands of loyal customers.
Busy people like to plan. Planners now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In recent years, planning and scrap-booking have crossed paths and the planner sticker industry was born. Artistic stickers give people organizing their schedule a way to do so that is more pleasing than just writing out “doctor’s appointment “ or “staff meeting.” Leigh shares that there are “people who use their planners to document their day-to-day activities. I have stickers like "vet visit", "doctor appointment", "coffee please", and even a sticker that says "organize stickers!". Students can use the stickers to plan homework and after school activities.
It goes far beyond simply documenting a schedule. The Honey B Shop produces a series of stickers that are inspiring, funny, and heartfelt. One of the things that attracted her to the “planner sticker community” was the emphasis on positivity and support. “I found my people when joining the community and the market. I've met so many awesome friends for life. I actually traveled to Nashville, Tennessee in April of 2017 to the second "Go Wild" conference (Planners Gone Wild is a group of over 42,000 planner enthusiasts). Speakers at the conference included Olympic Gold Medalist Michelle Carter. She's a planner! People are shocked when they learn what a huge, loving community planners are.”
Making art a successful business is a dream that few artists realize. The Honey B Shop is proof that it can be done. To date, the Etsy store has had over 37,000 online transactions. With a five star review rating, the shop also ranks in the top fifty worldwide in its category in sales. According to craftcount.com, the Honey B Shop ranks in the top 3% of all Etsy stores of any kind nationwide.
Even though she considers herself self-taught with regard to the kind of art she produces, Leigh thanks Ms. Erin Dean, her Art Teacher for four years at Villa Rica High School. “I take my hat off to Ms. Dean. I do believe that if I had never met Ms.Dean at VRHSl, or had her as a teacher all four years, I wouldn't have stuck to art. I mean, I might have wanted to be artsy-fartsy, but I don't think I would've stuck with art as a career. She always inspired me and pushed me to grow into a better artist. She allowed each student to always express themselves, and I think that's where a lot of art teachers fail. They want students to create these prestige paintings, and I don't think that's what art has to be about. Ms.Dean taught me that art is the way self-expression and emotion are most evident. I always think about her when I finish pieces that I'm really proud of.”
Shannon credits her parents, Tony and Shondell Brewer, with her “entrepreneurial hustle” and “drive to be my best.” “They weren’t on board with The Honey B Shop. They wanted me to focus on college, but that just made me work harder. They just didn’t understand the whole planner sticker concept. Now they get it. My Mom went from stay-at-home mom to Mama Bee!” Ms. Brewer now works for the shop preparing and filling orders. Shannon is proud that the success of her business has afforded her mom an opportunity to work from home instead of other options she had considered.
Ironically, Shannon Leigh says the one thing she didn’t do when starting the Honey B Shop was plan. “I had an idea and just started. I had an Etsy shop before for my photography, but it just didn’t do anything. When the stickers took off, well, let’s just say taxes are for real. When I started I didn't bat an eye at taxes. And boy, do I regret that. SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS. Keep track of your business expenses. Get organized. Don't make the mistake I did and have to go through a year of purchases to figure out how I can get that big tax number down! In the beginning, I never expected to make enough to have to pay taxes, and my business shot off. Start your business as if it really is going to be a big deal and don't expect less.” Maybe a planner with The Honey B Shop stickers would help.