One of the wonderful things about being a free-flying writer is choosing who and what you want to focus on. I write about who and what I feel is worth writing about. I am free to focus on who I find inspiring, what I am learning or want to learn, or even just whatever grabs my attention, passion or fancy. I choose. It is one of the few places I feel I have complete control, and I have opportunities I do not accept as my time is limited, and the joy for me is in the freedom to write as I will, or feel led- as I go.
I enjoy interviews, and have been interviewed BUT really love being the one asking the questions. I love finding out about individuals and their unique lives, challenges, what makes them tick, and what they are passionate about and all the little quirks that make them who they are. You could say I am a people person. It’s a funny thing…I find many people can be around the same people all the time and never know them. It is my joy and pleasure to draw out individuals and learn who they are and why they believe they are on this good earth.
I am honored to have a fellow Planner Girl and businesswoman here today to share her creative entrepreneurial journey to date. I have had the pleasure of watching her flesh out her dream from scratch and bring it into vivid, living color.
Christine Miranda began her business in her imagination, as so many businesses start. It was a dream, then a whisper, and before long it was a plan, and soon after – 2016 to be exact, it became a reality. Starting out with hand stitching her journals, to investing in a heavy-duty sewing machine and being interviewed as a new local small business owner, Christine is a business woman on the move. She is progressing, growing, learning along the way. Her husband Cris (the other Cris in Crisdori) helps with the details, often behind the scenes. Together they are becoming something wonderful, something they have yet to fully imagine!
I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about the heart behind the business, though it is but a small glimpse. Feel free to ask a question in the comments, and Christine will be by to answer as she is able.
Tell us about Crisdori Studios – a little background and timeline. What has the journey been like?
I always had an interest in leather work. My brother Paul made our mother an Indian mask out of deerskin that she aptly named Chief Pouty Face over 25 years ago. When he passed 8 years ago, I got his tooling supplies. As much as I wanted to use them, it’s a learning process and apparently a skill I do not have yet. Putting these tools aside, I searched for a way to honor his memory.
I saw an opportunity to make a quality leather notebook cover at a reasonable cost to the public and set out to research this field, which only fueled my passion for leather work. I could see so many opportunities that I was getting ahead of myself a bit. It’s been an amazing journey. Learning the craft, putting our own twist on them and the many plans we have for the future and Cris and I finding the time to make it so!
We work out of a spare bedroom which is honestly a little small. Cris is wanting to extend out the room so we can have more space. All of our leathers are here and our guests usually come back here to enjoy the smell!
Tell us about Christine. What did you do before Crisdori Studios for work and who and what are your loves?
Me? I’m a nut. I see beauty everywhere and try to add that beauty into our notebooks. I’ve worked in many fields over the years from retail, optical, secretarial and in healthcare in the administrative area. My favorite work was in oncology, where I would review insurance payments and make sure they paid instead of my patients. Was always a good feeling when I told a patient not to worry about a bill, they had enough on their minds.
I met my husband Cris back in 1994 and instantly knew he was the ‘One’. Weird how that happened! We married two years later and recently celebrated our 22nd anniversary! My best friend, co-conspirator and hubby. And all our animals through the years. Max and Katie our Chow Chow (who I can my furry bear) and Katie who is a nine month old Staffie (Staffordshire Bull Terrier) play pretty much all day. I’ve had Rio, our 13-year-old Maine Coon, since he was a few days old. He lays curled up in front of the window.
I got hurt in 2003 and had to have two back to back surgeries on my lower back the next year. (Had a previous back surgery many years ago). The first surgery in 2004 the doctors added bone from my hip and an exterior source and a bone morphogenic protein to assist with healing. At the one month checkup, it appeared my fusion was not holding. The next month, the bone and protein had dissolved. That was a rough time for us. Six months later, another fusion was performed and that surgery was over 8 hours. I’ve never been able to come back from that.
The limitations I had after the recovery presented many problems and I was harder on myself for not being able to do what I once did. Cris suggested I try to work with my loves, which is first and foremost animals. I see a furry baby and my voice goes up several octaves and I squeal PUPPY even if it is 15 years old and walks like I do. Same goes for cats.
What was the AHA moment that led to your decision to pursue your own business?
I was a little late to social media and became a member of Facebook. I heard of a product called Midori, a simple piece of leather that had a few elastic cords in it and could be refilled with inserts or notebooks. Nice and a good idea but Lordy the price! Having done some research on leather in the past I knew deep down this was something I could do and provide a quality notebook at a reasonable price to the public. The AHA moment was in May of 2016 I went out to our backyard to sit, think and pray for direction. Should I do this? Can I do this? I asked for a sign, inwardly laughing Right. Like you are going to get a sign. A few minutes later I looked up at our tree line. Right above the trees was a cloud was a vivid white Cross. After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I said, “No way.” I snapped two pictures and sat there soaking it all in. Then I said “Okay”, went inside, set up a logo and Crisdori Studios Travelers Notebook was born.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur?
The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome as an entrepreneur for me is twofold. One is my back and the challenges it presents. I work around them as much as I can but Cris is my saving grace in this business. He is a huge help, from cutting, dyeing the leather and sewing when I can’t. He’s a gifted carpenter and can measure, cut and create like he’s on a job site building out a room. The other obstacle I’ve had to overcome is doing the business portion of this. Paperwork. I tend to get caught up in details and have to have copious amounts of hot chocolate to get me through it.
What has been your favorite journal creation so far?
My absolute favorite journal we’ve produced so far is the Old Time Kodiak. It’s rugged, has a great texture and a nice pull up effect which can lighten the color when it is stretched, such as when adding your phone into the front pocket. The oils in the leather redistribute when you use it. I’ve never had a great sniffer so I can’t really smell the leathers but Cris loves the smell! We have three different leather hides we’re dying to cut into and those will be coming very soon!
What do you hope to offer that makes your brand unique in this ever-growing industry?
One of the things we strive to focus on is again, twofold. Hand in hand with our notebook quality is our customer service. We will not call people who purchase our notebooks our customer. They are our Clients. Customer seems so impersonal to me. We want your experience with us to be beyond just a notebook purchase. We want to make it for you. When we set out to open Crisdori Studios, we didn’t want to be ‘just another company’ who made notebooks. We want the experience to be something you will remember and I believe that will bring our clients back to see what we’ve been up to and what is new and upcoming. We have taken things slowly so we don’t have the many hiccups a new business has. We want to do things right.
What has been your biggest source of joy since you’ve been in business for yourself?
When I get a message from a client who is so happy with her purchase! We can just about hear their excitement in the reviews and the messages we receive. Cris and I always want to do the very best we can and knowing we made someone smile and feel joy is what this is all about.
What advice or tip would you like to pass on to other women who may be considering going into business for themselves?
First and foremost – trust your instincts! They will not lead you wrong. Shush the negative thoughts that can yell from the background telling you are not good enough. Ask for help when you need it. I have been seeing a SCORE representative from the Small Business Association for help setting up our books and how to do the accounting. This is a free service they offer and my counselor has been an immense help to us. Research your field and have a good honest friend who will try out your products, put them through the ringer and offer suggestions that you may not have thought of.
Like Cris told me – nothing ventured nothing gained. With the debilitating back issues I’ve had, I feel a sense of purpose now. And that’s a good feeling.
Be sure and visit Crisdori Studios on Etsy and Instagram:
My Videos Featuring Crisdori Studios: