The Story Behind The Store: Koala Art & Design
My name is Jamie Koala, I own the company Koala Art & Design and this is my Storenvy story.
My website KoalaArtAndDesign.com features all of my creations from my custom sewn clothing to hand sculpted and cast jewelry to my artwork. I take the photos for my website, I ship everything, screen print some of the shirts, sew the dresses and hand make all of the jewelry; I also work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.
I began my company when I was sixteen primarily offering graphic design and hand drawn portraits. Back then my only means of networking was a Myspace page and local concerts which worked out because that was my main clientele. My company slowly mutated as I became a little older around the age of eighteen and introduced my hand made clothing and accessories. I would also sell these pieces at local shows around the Chicago, Illinois scene area. At this time I also was attending college and was on track to receive my family and consumer sciences degree.
When school started becoming my main priority my business just became a side job for me. I had a little website set up by this time, it was ran through Paypal business coding; it was painful to add new products, I tried other store hosts and I did not like them. The funny thing was with in a few weeks I found out that someone hacked and destroyed my web site and web store; they had ruined everything and even got my site tagged as “scam” “dangerous” “not safe” on Myspace and Google. It was terrible; at least there was a new networking site on my horizon to work with, Facebook. For a long while I just let the site go and continued doing graphic design and web design, I did not know what to do; I just hoped that people would go on the site anyway.
Around nineteen I had started doing band promotional photography, product photography and any other jobs thrown my way, still with a semi-functioning web store that sold a few things every once in a while. It was on Facebook that I stumbled across another apparel company’s webstore, which happened to be on their Facebook page. “IS THIS REAL LIFE?” were my only thoughts. I immediately looked into it, and POW Storenvy was brought into my life. I set up an account that day, and later in the month coded up a new site to match. My web store was finally back in action!
I put out my first full line with in three months of joining Storenvy, and it did great (this was before the new Storenvy features). I put out another line that year and was able to quit random photography jobs because of how well my store was doing. Time went on, I turned twenty and with my associate degree completed it was time for me to move out to a university to finish my degree. Koala and I moved out and into a new apartment with a few friends a few hours from home; it was the good life. Well, it was supposed to be.
A few months before I moved something odd happened in a summer course, we didn’t understand it at the time though. One day when a group of students and I were working on a project randomly I began feeling light headed, dizzy and was on the verge of passing out. From that day on physically my world was never the same again.
I went to see a doctor who suggested physical therapy to re-train brain pathways; I went but it didn’t seem to do much. Nothing was too extreme so we went with the plan and I moved out, started my first week at the new school and continued my physical therapy away. Something didn’t seem right at the time though, within that week I ended up in the emergency room because I hadn’t eaten or slept in almost three days. I was puking on an empty stomach of nothing, couldn’t see straight and was constantly dizzy.
The day my parents came in to take me to the ER, they found me hunched in a corner; I was there because I knew it was the only thing that could not have been moving, there was no possibility of the walls moving.They thought it was a flu, but a week passed and I ended up in the emergency room again. Because everything was so extreme and there was no improvement, I was forced to do a medical withdraw from school, leave my best friends and move back home.
The next three months I spent in bed, not sure what was wrong with me, saw nine plus doctors, neurologists, and specialists. No one knew what was happening or why I was so sick. My mom was the one who finally found a neurologist, one of nine in the world that might have been able to help. It was at this time that we found out that I had a spatial disorder and migraine associated vertigo. Basically my brain takes in information and skews it which makes me viciously sick. In turn I am unable to be in any places that have a lot of stimuli. Places with loud sounds or lots of movement are out as anywhere but a quiet house can trigger migraines, which trigger vertigo – it is a cruddy medical problem to have.
I spent pretty much that entire year on bed rest, tried five medications, all had horrible side affects and none worked. They even put me in therapy to try and help me cope with loosing everything, not being able to attend school, lost friendships, being “different”, and overall how to live with cruddy dealt cards. My business was the only thing I had control over, it helped me through everything, gave me a purpose and something I could do in my room.
Into my second year of being sick around twenty-one I worked on a new line, literally from my bed or sometimes in a chair by my desk. I actually shot the line in my bedroom against a white wall. It took me a long time to have it ready. I paid a friend help me with a website transformation and upgrade. I released the line on Storenvy and it exploded, people loved it. The products were well thought out, well made, the images read great, the host made transactions easy and Storenvy made it easy for me to make it happen.
I released another line five months later again, created out of my bedroom. Around this time one of my items even got featured, and I squealed like a school girl when I found out. I even had a chance to chat with Adam Hendle of Storenvy on the phone about improvements to the site, it made me feel like Storenvy was there for me and my business, it was really cool. It was really nice to not be extremely worried about “real life, real jobs, school” stuff, knowing that I might be able to make my company work, and ultimately be able to be do something – and still it be from my room.
When Storenvy opened up its new features my sales increased even more than they were with my usual networking and expanding, their new features are amazing. The entire site is amazing, and I could go on about it, and do to anyone I can go on about it to.
I guess the big end of story question is “what happening in current time?” Well I am twenty-two, I just started medication number six a week ago, and I am improving physically. I can even handle going to stores and driving in cars a bit now, but no parties, bars or craziness for me and that is okay. My company is thriving, and I am planning my next big release this May, even bigger than the last! I’m making it work, and my job makes me happy.
I owe a big “Thank you!” to Storenvy for being easy to work with and literally brightening up my life. It sounds cheesy, sappy and lame, but hey I don’t think this is the fairy-tale life someone imagines or asks for, it’s just kinda’ what happened! I look forward to what the feature will bring. That is my story.
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