Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Morales.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Kim. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
So I’ve always been a very crafty and hands-on person, with hobbies ranging from drawing to scrapbooking to making jewelry and so on. But my journey really started when I was in my third year of college. My parents wanted me to focus on school and not worry about having a job, so I started doing projects for people as a way to make some extra cash. I started my Kim’s Custom Crafts business by making hand-stamped jewelry and little keychain dreamcatchers. Eventually, they became really popular online and suddenly I had my own little side hustle. Everything was going great and for the next few years, my business continued to grow. It wasn’t until spring of my senior year in college that I noticed more and more people were reaching out to see if I could use my creative skills to decorate their graduation caps for them. Once I started sharing my designs online, everything kinda just blew up from there.
About a year after graduating, I was contacted by one of the employees at Instagram and they wanted to feature my graduation caps on their main page. This led me to create a separate website solely for graduation caps, apart from my crafts website/page. After I was featured, I was shocked to see that over 25,000 people had followed my grad caps page… Ever since then, I have been fully booked year round for graduation caps for the last five years, while still finding time to tend to my crafts business making dreamcatchers and selling online and at in-person events. I consider myself very lucky that I’ve been able to utilize social media to share my talents with the rest of the world. I definitely consider myself a workaholic, always trying to find my next project and seeing how I can grow my business. I love what I do and I feel so lucky and blessed that I am able to work from home and that people all around the world appreciate and support my work.
Has it been a smooth road?
When I first got started, I was terrified of starting my own business. There were so many uncertainties that haunted me….Will people like my stuff? Will they actually buy? Can I even maintain myself doing something like this? I had never met anyone who had started their own online business, so it was all uncharted territory for me. After graduating, I found a job working at a school because I felt that’s what I “needed” to do, something that related to my degree. I slowly realized that it wasn’t for me and that by being at my job, I was neglecting and putting my booming online businesses on hold and struggling to balance everything. The thought of being a full-time online shop owner scared me to death…but after a month of working at a job I hated, I realized that it’s what I was meant to do, even if it meant taking a leap of faith into the unknown. Little by little, I figured out how to make a website, ship out items, promote my business and eventually generate sales.
Going full time was the best decision I ever made and for the last five years, I have been able to grow my businesses and not only survive but thrive. I have been very lucky that my work was and is well received on social media, but something I often struggle with is not being able to keep up with the demand. I am a one-woman business. I only have two hands and oftentimes, I feel like I can’t keep up and that having 24 hours in a day is never enough time to finish everything on my never-ending to-do list. My responsibilities include making my hand-made items, product photography, managing my website, packing and shipping orders, responding to customer emails and handling all of my social media. As Shark Tank (one of my favorite shows) investor Lori Greiner once said, “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” That couldn’t more true in my case. Although what I do is very demanding and tough at times, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love being my own boss, tackling challenges and pushing myself to see what more I can do.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kim’s Custom Caps & Kim’s Custom Crafts – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
So I actually have two main businesses.
The first is my Kim’s Custom Crafts business where I specialize in making jewelry, handmade mini dreamcatchers for people’s car rearview mirrors and handmade ears that people can wear to the Disney parks. While there are tons of other small shops like mine, I definitely stand out as the “dreamcatcher” shop, where my designs have expanded not only into handmade dreamcatchers, but into pins, patches, stickers, and more. I love coming up with new designs and sending out what I like to call “magic mail” to customers all over the U.S. and other countries as well.
My second business is my graduation cap business, Kim’s Custom Caps. Every year, I am fully booked for hand-painted caps and I recently just ventured into printing digital designs onto cardstock toppers that I can ship out to graduates without needing their physical fabric cap, allowing me to cater to more students than my usual workload allows with hand-painted caps that are more time-consuming. I work individually with every one of my graduates to create a custom design that represents who they are and what their academic journey means to them. The majority of the graduates I design caps for are first-generation Latino students and as a first-generation child of immigrant parents myself, I pride myself into showcasing the amazing accomplishments of students who have gone through the same struggles I have been through. I like feeling like I can truly connect with my customers and create a beautiful piece for their special day. I’ve done hundreds of caps over the years, and I can honestly say it NEVER gets old! I love what I do.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
One thing I love and always have loved about living in the LA area is that we are so diverse. I feel lucky to have grown up surrounded by so many different kinds of people. I’ve learned so much from the people in my life and I embrace the fact that others have different cultures and beliefs than my own. I grew up near the Long Beach area and I can honestly say I have always felt “at home” here, even when surrounded by strangers. I’m Mexican, so I love that I can walk into stores and businesses and instantly click with people over our common experiences and language.
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I feel like LA gets judged a lot and has so many stereotypes that are not always true. People see LA and Hollywood in movies and just assume that that’s all there is to our city and surrounding areas. This narrative fails to include our amazing diversity and the vast array of people that make up LA. Yes, we have celebrities but we also have tons of small businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and just so many different kinds of people that it is such an injustice for everyone around the world to just assume that people from LA are a certain kind of way based off how we are portrayed in the media.
- Custom graduation hand-painted caps starting at $35+
- Customizable graduation cap cardstock toppers $25
- Premade graduation cardstock toppers $15
- Mini dreamcatcher rear view mirror dreamcatchers $20