Skip to content
FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $85! | Handcrafted In Texas!
FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $85! | Handcrafted In Texas!
An original Forged Flare digital download package.

A Rough Conversation About Digital Downloads — Discussing the First Chapter of Our Business

The Unspoken Dialogue

The dawn of a new year symbolizes an opportunity for renewal — a chance to step into a world of fresh possibilities. For more than two years, I've debated writing this article, and now, after this internal struggle, the moment has arrived to delve into a heartfelt dialogue. While this discussion might ruffle some feathers among our initial supporters, it's crucial to share these thoughts that have lingered for far too long.

Chapters signify the end of one phase, offering both closure and reflection upon the journey traveled. Closing chapters provides us with a sense of fulfillment, tying loose ends while leaving imprints on our hearts and minds as we eagerly move toward the future.

From Job Loss to Entrepreneurship

When I embarked on the journey of starting a business, I was in a vulnerable place. Losing my job of nearly 11 years in late 2019 hit hard. Eleven years, particularly in the tech realm, is an eternity. Suddenly, I found myself amidst the challenging landscape of job hunting and grappling with the reality of being considered less desirable as a middle-aged job seeker in a rapidly evolving job market.

A text I sent right after I lost my job: Well, I lost my job. Going to drown in a very large vat of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

⇧ This is an actual text I sent to a relative a few moments after I had just lost my job of 11 years.

What some may not know are the chronic medical issues I've carried since childhood. I came into this world as a TEF (tracheoesophageal fistula) baby. My first breath was fraught with difficulty, requiring emergency surgery right after birth, leaving no chance for my mother to hold me.

TEF led to other medical complexities and recurrent surgeries. Chronic stomach issues, diagnosed as IBS, became a life-altering reality. Beyond its superficial portrayal as "just an upset stomach", it profoundly impacts my daily life.

My former job allowed remote work, accommodating my health issues. However, job hunting revealed the challenge of finding a role with 100% remote work and zero travel, leading to multiple interviews and offers that couldn't meet these non-negotiable requirements.

A pivotal moment occurred during an interview that initially seemed promising. However, their insistence that I relinquish freelance work and art creation — and me not willing to sacrifice my passions in life — led to their abrupt withdrawal. It was a devastating blow then but a turning point in hindsight. I realized I no longer wanted to engage in corporate games. That's not who I am.

Pivoting in a Pandemic

As 2020 unfolded, plans to venture into a handcrafted business related to the cruise ship industry were disrupted by the pandemic. Adapting swiftly, we pivoted to digital downloads and creating diverse handcrafted product offerings.

Painting a wall in the studio during our early days.

⇧ The very first step in our business initiative was preparing an inspirational studio space.

Our studio in its early days, before owning a laser.

⇧ Our studio space before we purchased our first laser. A laser wasn't even on our mind at this point!

Our very first laser, a Glowforge Pro!

⇧ Our very first laser was a Glowforge Pro. This photo was taken around the same time we got it. This was my favorite iteration of the studio. It was peaceful and the fun mood lighting brought me to a happy place. Sadly, when we upgraded to an industrial laser, this cozy space disappeared due to lack of space.

In the early days, our business journey felt like the Wild West, offering a mix of products: ornaments, earrings, watch bands, and picture frames. The excitement and feasibility of selling physical items and digital downloads seemed promising. However, challenges emerged, primarily with digital download customers seeking tech support beyond our scope.

We originally sold many items — including a digital download to this watch band design.

⇧ We originally offered many different types of products, including both the digital download and physical versions of this watch band design.

Unforeseen scenarios, like the risk of our designs falling into the hands of mass producers overseas, weighed heavily. Amidst these concerns, the uniqueness of our Mother’s Angels® surfaced, prompting a realization of our true passion for crafting these unique designs.

The Evolution from Digital to Handcrafted

The conflict between our digital download venture and our core passion of creating handcrafted items intensified. Eventually, a decision was made to pivot solely towards crafting Mother’s Angels®, signaling the end of our digital download era. We stopped offering Mother’s Angels® digital downloads in October 2021 and ceased all digital downloads in January 2022. Despite careful communication about this transition, managing disappointed customers became an unexpected challenge.

Our original Calla Lily Mother’s Angels® design.

⇧ The Calla Lily was our very first Mother’s Angels® design.

Six months after we stopped selling digital downloads, around June 2022, we gave our website a fresh makeover. Prior, we had removed these files from the visible part of the website, but we also cleared them from the backend and removed the entire software system infrastructure managing digital sales. These changes allowed us to refocus our efforts solely on designing, creating, and selling our beloved handcrafted angels.

Challenges

Transitioning away from digital downloads was tough. We began receiving emails from several upset customers, something we hadn't anticipated. It seems some assumed we were backup storage for their files. As someone who used to work as a graphic designer, I've experienced firsthand the importance of downloading and backing up files immediately after purchase. In my case, I always make sure to store my files both in the cloud (I recommend sites like Backblaze, Google Workspace or Dropbox) and on an external hard drive! Learning to be accountable for digital assets often comes from tough lessons. We empathize with the frustration of losing access to files, but we can't comprehend the anger directed at us for discontinuing support for a product that's no longer available — especially years later. We also can't be held responsible for customers not taking necessary precautions to protect their purchases.

Embracing Our Journey

Two years after our digital download phase, we've made significant strides. We've begun distancing ourselves from past designs while embracing a future focused on our unique creations. We're actively crafting new designs and refining existing Mother’s Angels®. While there are other angels out there, it's important to note that we aren't connected with these sellers in any way. Nonetheless, showing support to these fellow artists is encouraged! Just a gentle reminder, we can't guarantee the quality or materials used in their creations.

In December of 2022, we upgrade our laser.

⇧ In December 2022, our brand new industrial laser arrived. This machine is an absolute workhorse. But the change wasn't all sunshine and roses. Because of its size, we had to remove our cozy sitting area.

Our path has been one steep learning curve, teaching us to embrace change and growth. Despite the challenges, we remain committed to crafting unique Mother’s Angels®, aiming to leave a lasting, colorful imprint in the hearts of our patrons. To our original digital download supporters and the amazing fellow laser artists we've met along the way, your encouragement and backing have meant so much as we forge ahead in our path. We extend our heartfelt wishes for success and fulfillment in your own unique journeys.

In 2023, we designed new box packaging.

⇧ In 2023, we designed new box packaging and worked with a box manufacturer to bring our vision for new Mother’s Angels® packaging to life. We'll begin rolling out these new boxes after we finish using our current packaging. We want our beautiful angels to have a nicer package for you!

And remember, if you ever feel the desire to add a special touch of beauty to your space, we're here, creating our beloved handcrafted angels with passion.

Previous article The Ripple Effect of Customer Reviews in the Handmade Marketplace
Next article Recognizing the Unsung Heroes: Why Treating USPS Delivery Drivers with Kindness Matters More Than Ever

About Jen Street

Jen Street is the Founder & Creative Director of Forged Flare®, a business that specializes in creating unique ornaments that are reminiscent of stained glass. Handcrafted in Texas and perfect for gifting, her Mother’s Angels® ornaments make people feel seen, appreciated, and loved. Sign up for the newsletter and save on your first handmade ornament today.

Dive deeper into more fascinating reads.

Discover more articles in this series or explore additional topics.