Kathy Twichell, 40, has been trying for years to turn her hobby into a source of income. The stay-at-home mom of five first opened her Etsy shop in 2007 and tried to sell some of her creative pursuits: scrapbooking, blankets, wood carving – nothing caught on.
But when Twichell infiltrated the niche world”cookie”, a community of people dedicated to the art of decorating cookies, everything began to change.
She soon saw a business opportunity not selling cookies, but cookie cutters.
Today, Twichell has earned about $475,000 since she opened her store. Okvir Mountain Cookieson Etsy in 2018. In 2021 alone, she earned $230,000 in sales.
She has sold over 70,000 cookie cutters, all of which she designs and 3D prints from the comfort of her own home.
“My cutters are all over the world. It’s just crazy,” Twichell told Grow from her home in South Jordan, Utah, where the Okirr mountain range looms to the west.
“I wanted to help us pay off our debts”
Such success Twichell could not have imagined a few years ago, when her husband was the only breadwinner for a family of seven.
“Before I started my business, we had two classic car loans, credit card debt…we owed our house and we weren’t very financially stable. We didn’t know how to budget,” she says. “It started as a side job because I wanted to help pay the bills. I wanted to help us pay off our debts.”
Twichell’s husband gave her a 3D printer in early 2018. After months of fiddling with mechanics and software to get a product she could sell, opened an Etsy shop in November of that year.
“I didn’t really expect anything. I was hoping to get one or two orders a day,” she says. Now she processes 30-50 orders a day, each cutter costs $4-7. “He’s come a long way, I never expected him to grow up so fast,” she says.
“I can slow down when I need to slow down”
The collection of Twichella printers grew to 18, and they took up an entire room in the house. They buzz and buzz all day, slowly tracing sets of bright blue cookie cutters.
While the cookie cutters are being printed, Twichell is designing new cookie cutters, placing them in his store, and preparing the finished cutters for shipping.
“I work all day, every day.” she says, even on days when the store is closed for new orders. Despite the demands of running a business on its own, this still works best for Twitchell, who was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, PCOS and insulin resistance in 2015.
“My body can hardly tolerate fatigue and does not experience constant fog in my head,” she says. “I can slow down when I need to slow down and I can speed up when I need to speed up…and I don’t feel like I can do that in any other job.”
Once Twichell business began to flourish, she was able to help her family pay off their debts and start investing for the first time. When her husband was fired from his job in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitchell was able to support the family.
“Even before I made $100,000, I looked at that number and thought I never imagined in my life that I would make that much,” she says. “It’s very inspiring when you can provide for your family.”
Twichell intends to keep the business small so she can remain at the helm of her company on her own.
“It’s amazing to see something in your head turn into the real thing,” she says. “Seeing something grow and seeing something you could never have imagined in your entire life, become yours.”
More from Rusty: