A year and a half ago, I was offered the opportunity to design home decor products.  It’s something I had considered. and even hoped for, for a long time, but it just never came together.  I was such a hands-on creator that I struggled with trying to communicate my vision to someone else.  I also had to learn how to design something that could be manufactured (and shipped) on a larger scale.

Well, the opportunity was “learn-as-you-go” and I have learned a lot.  It took designing hundreds of products to learn what would sell and finally, some of the products that sold, have hit the market.  (It takes a long time!)

A few of my products have been floating around for a while, but none of them were branded.  The other day, I received a message from a followers on Instagram.  She had found some enamel signs at Hobby Lobby labeled with my Miss Mustard Seed hang tag.

“Are these yours?!”

“Yes!!”

I was so excited!  I didn’t know these had hit stores!

So, of course, my mom and I had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby the first day she was here, so we could hunt them down.  After searching half of the store, we found them on one of the display “islands” towards the front of the store.

And, of course, my mom and I had to buy one of each!  Even as I was putting them in the cart, it seemed a little silly.  But, even though they are just simple, black & white, metal signs, they are something I designed and they are being sold in a store with my tag on them and I wanted to celebrate that.

Here is how the design started…

Of course, I designed dozens of variations with different words and fonts and shapes.  Design work of this sort can be a buckshot approach – design a lot, make a lot of samples, and see what buyers like.  Hobby Lobby picked up six of the designs.

(Market, Welcome, Laundry, Ladies, Gentleman, and Farmer’s Market.)

They also picked up this wooden sign…

They wanted a chicken instead of a pig, so the sign was modified to meet their request.  This one didn’t have my hangtag on it, though.

Another product I designed that hit the market, but didn’t have my branding on it was this Christmas tree sign…

I designed it over a year and a half ago and, this Christmas season, I finally saw it for sale!

I have many more designs that have been purchased, but I don’t know where they are being sold or even if they hit the market, yet.  Since I’m designing for the manufacturer, not the retailer, I’m pretty far removed from the customer.  So, the life of a product is something like this…

  1. I design and submit a product
  2. The manufacturer makes a sample of the product and takes it to the retailer/wholesaler market and/or shows it to buyers who visit their factory to buy direct.
  3. Buyers order a sample of the product to take to a retailer’s market, like AmericasMart in Atlanta.  (Some larger retailers will skip this step and order a large quantity for their own stores, cutting out the need to take it to market.)
  4. If a retailer likes the product I design, they place an order with the wholesaler who then places an order with the manufacturer.
  5. The products are then produced, shipped to the wholesaler, then to the retailer, then they are available to the end customer.

Whew!  This process means it takes a long time for products to become available for purchase and they jump through a lot of hoops to get to market.  It also means that I don’t always know who buys what and where the products will end up.  So, it’s like a little treasure hunt and it’s always exciting when I stumble across one of my designs that was sent out into the world.

One of my favorite designs that just hit the retailer market is this ice cream sign…

I designed it over a year ago and had the opportunity to fine-tune it when I was in China.

(My hair tools blew up the first day, so I was doing my best!)

My licensing agent just spotted it in several showrooms at AmericasMart last week…

I am hoping to get my hands on one!  (Update: One of my readers found the ice cream sign for sale HERE)

I have learned a ton going through a full design life-cycle with a few products.  I’ve learned that there are satisfying moments, like filling my cart with products that finally made it to a store, and there are frustrations, like when my favorite designs don’t get picked up, because they are too bulky to ship or too expensive to reproduce. I’m also having to learn a new customer base.  I knew what would sell at Lucketts, but on the mass market?  That’s a totally different animal that I still don’t understand completely.

I don’t know where this design work will lead.  Maybe it will just be a little side thing, as it is now, or maybe it will grow into something more.  As I’ve shared many times, though, I started this business simply to earn some grocery money.  It has far exceeded any hopes I had for it, so I view opportunities like this one with optimism, but not with expectation.

And I’m just going to soak in each little victory as it comes, even if it’s a small metal sign with my tag on it…

Oh!  And I just found another one…

 

103 Comments

  1. Anna

    I saw the “fresh cut trees” sign and instantly fell in love! I am tickeled pink to know that a favorite sign of mine was designed by a person/brand I know!

    Reply
  2. Marty Oravetz

    Oh I have to go see if I can find them anywhere. I have been trying to find a laundry sign for ages.

    Reply
  3. CoCo

    Seriously so excited for you! It’s been so much fun to follow your journey from making ornaments to painting furniture to your move and now these signs. You work really hard and deserve all good things! Congratulations and big hugs, CoCo

    Reply
  4. Brenda

    I’ve seen the Christmas tree sign and had wondered if it was you. I am so excited for you! I would have bought some too! Congrats!

    Reply
  5. Caroline

    Hi! I just read all this and felt familiar with your “Farmer’s Market” sign. It was part of the house of a popular YouTuber that I follow and I thought it was so pretty!! I think she got it at Target.

    Anyway, wish you the best with this experience and the next ones that it might open!

    Reply
  6. Lisa

    Congratulations Marian! So happy for you. If you find out where the Homemade Ice Cream sign can be purchased will you please let us know. I would love to get one! Enjoy the time with your Mom. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Susan

    Awesomeness!! 🙂

    Congratulations on all you successes … big and small.

    Reply
  8. Linda

    Congratulations Marian!!! I can’t imagine how exciting it must be to see your products in a store. You’ve worked so hard for all your successes and I’m so happy for you. Thanks for sharing them with us. 🙂

    Reply
  9. Fran

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to go to our Hobby Lobby to hunt for these signs too!

    Reply
  10. Shanna

    Off to Hobby Lobby this week.Congrats. Wonderful work

    Reply
  11. Sian

    So incredibly awesome!! Congratulations Marian!!

    Reply
  12. Brooklyn Limestone

    That is so wonderful! I can’t wait to run into one of your pieces and bring it home.

    Reply
  13. Deanna Rabe

    So great, Marian!

    I’ve loved watching your business grow and change and I appreciate how you share it all with us, not just the victories but the learning curves, too!

    I need to get to Hobby Lobby!

    Reply
  14. Mary in VA

    This is fantastic, I can’t wait to go to Hobby Lobby. So happy for you as you pursue this new venture.

    Reply
  15. Diane Henkler

    How exciting for you!!! I am looking forward to a trip to Hobby Lobby to see your merchandise. On another note, I thought of you this morning when I was listening to the weather channel and saw all the snow that is hitting MN. Any differences from a PA snow storm?

    Reply
  16. Connie

    This is so wonderful for you and such a blessing from God & proof positive that He continues to provide for those who love & honor Him! Can’t wait to pick up a few of these for gifts & even one or two to enjoy in our home!

    Reply
  17. Allison

    I bought one of the market signs probably three weeks ago and love it! I had no idea you designed it but after just looking I see your name on the tag. Great job!!!

    Reply
  18. B. Folk

    I think I’ve seen that same “Fresh Cut Christmas Trees” sign on other blogs/Instagram sites, just can’t remember which ones. (I regularly read The Lettered Cottage’ “5 Instagram Photos” series, as well as several other bloggers.) Wish I could remember. At the time, I thought, “That looks like something Marian might design”.
    Guess I will keep my eyes peeled next time I go to Hobby Lobby:-)
    Anyway, congratulations on your success!

    Reply
  19. Valeri

    Congrats! I saw the Christmas tree sign and really liked it. Now I know why.

    Reply
  20. TERI

    Homemade ice cream was being sold by Antique farm House for $48 ( sold out) maybe they’ll do their creamery sale again xx

    Reply
  21. Lee

    I was at Americasmart last week but I missed your sign.. I would love to carry them in my store. Can you tell me what company featured them? Want to get an order in.!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I believe RAZ and Creative Coop are carrying them.

      Reply
  22. Kim

    Congratulations, Marian! Woot! Woot!
    Silly retailers, don’t they know you have a huge following, and they should have a sign on the door;
    Miss Mustard signs sold here!
    I am off to Hobby Lobby!

    Reply
    • Deb

      I agree! Your brand should be part of the promo, it would help draw customers. I’ve also seen the Fresh Cut trees sign somewhere – very familiar. Congratulations on branded items hitting the stores!

      Reply
  23. Elle

    Just curious, but how do you get your “grocery money”? Are you paid for your designs or are you paid by the items that they produce and sell? Guess I don’t know how all of that works.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      It’s a combination. I’m paid a design fee up front and then a commission on sales on top of that. It’s just a side business at this point, but I imagine it could grow to be more than that.

      Reply
  24. Ellen Shook

    I can’t believe you have pay for your own work! Why doesn’t an agent, or someone in the middle, let you know and then send you one? Anyway, congratulations. I so admire your work ethic and have watched your career since the beginning. To me it signals hope for a future for entrepreneurs.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I do get some samples, but it’s very expensive to ship them to me. I don’t need one of everything, anyway! I just want certain things. 🙂

      Reply
  25. Vicki

    Wow! Amazing and exciting! Congrats Marian! So happy for you and to see how much you’ve accomplished in just a few short years. You’re an inspiration to all of us!

    Reply
  26. mary m

    Congratulations! My mother sold American flags through the New York Times in 1938 so they could go to
    Europe. That’s where her little venture took her. Of course had they not gone in June of 1939 we all know
    what happened in September of that year. So you never know until you try. And Marian you tried and won!

    Reply
  27. Diane Wicks

    That is beyond exciting! As a former home decor store owner when we lived in Hawaii, we would hit the market a couple of times a year and it was always so fun to see the new merchandise available for us to purchase. I will check these out at Hobby Lobby! As a newer blogger, you really do inspire me. Keep on doin’ what you’re doing!

    Reply
  28. Marlene Stephenson

    Wow i am very excited for you and me, congratulations. Hobby Lobby is one of my favorites and i was just thinking today i needed to see if they had any metal signs. Have a good visit with your mom.

    Reply
  29. Connie J

    How exciting, Marian!! I wish all your designs were branded so we’d know they were yours. I’ll be on the lookout now, especially when I go to Americasmart in Atlanta in a couple of months!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I do, too! I don’t have much control over that, though. It depends on the retailer. I was really surprised that Hobby Lobby kept my branding on for these, so I hope that will happen more!

      Reply
  30. Robin

    I hope your products are picked up by someone other than hobby lobby. I refuse to shop there.

    Reply
    • Avril Schofield

      Me too! Would love to hear if they are sold anywhere but Hobby Lobby!

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        Some of my designs are sold on Antique Farmhouse, Decor Steals, and I just linked to a small online shop that has the ice cream signs in stock. I’m not sure about the small enamel ones, though. I’ll let you know if they are available from another source.

        Reply
  31. Kathy

    I am so excited for you! I’ve seen some of those signs and I feel so special that I “KNOW” the creator of them! Congrats!

    Reply
  32. Sue

    So so happy for you! You have worked long and hard and deserve all the success now and in the future.

    Reply
  33. Maggie

    What makes these any different from the hundreds of others you see everywhere with the same wording or style? I assume they are not trademarked and anyone could copy them.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      It is a tricky thing, since there are so many similar products. The key is trying to design something that is trendy or popular, but isn’t exactly like everything else. So, I make variations in the font I use, the shape of the sign, the wording (when it’s more than one or two words), the composition, etc. I can also pull from antique graphics and writing/quotes that are public domain. Each thing I design, though, is unique in some way from what I have seen on the market already, but it is hard to differentiate in a market flooded with designs that are all following the same trend. I’ll write about it sometime, because it is definitely a challenge!

      Reply
  34. Mary

    WOW!! That’s great for you!!! I like them all but the laundry “drop your drawers” one is so clever!! Well done!! And Congrats!!!!

    Reply
  35. Charlotte

    I got my “market” sign in Lexington Ky!! I had seen them but had not looked at them until I saw your post…went out that night to get one 😊I really enjoy following you–your style; tips–it adds to my day.

    Reply
  36. Kim

    Congrats to you! How exciting!!!! I will be on the hunt my next trip to Hobby Lobby!

    Reply
  37. Alicia from California

    God just continues blessing you, faithful servant.

    I just approached a salesperson at Hobby Lobby this weekend about how an idea I have could get on the market and found they are very approachable to new designers!!!! I’m so glad you are one of them and this does give encouragement to some of us who are looking to get a foot in the door. Hobby Lobby is literally a Godsend.

    Reply
  38. Melisss

    I am sure this will blossom; remember The Mustard Seed

    Reply
  39. JC at the uncommon pearl

    Congratulations! This is so exciting! Who knew the process was so long and removed from the original designer. I will keep my eyes out my next trip to Hobby Lobby.
    Ps: your hair looks cute despite your issue with blown up hair equipment!

    Reply
  40. Laurie McLaughlin

    Marian, This is so cool!!! I would be on cloud 9! I think this is a big aachievement. You broke into a new market! (Did you invent your milk paint or hire someone to do that?)

    Laurie

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I didn’t invent milk paint, but I designed the colors in my line, the branding, some of the companion products (and curated the rest).

      Reply
  41. Amanda

    How fun! I bet it’s such a rush to see one of your designs in the store! They’re all beautiful – I might have to pick up a few of those Hobby Lobby signs!

    Reply
  42. Diane

    Marian, I am so happy for you! I am excited to know some of your items are available at Hobby Lobby. It is my favorite store! I enjoy following your blog & watching you make your new home into your style. 😊

    Reply
  43. Greta

    Dear Marion,
    Your signs in Holly Hobby – how would a person buy the outside the US? Or. Will they also eventually be in your shop ?
    They look fabulous. The ‘the laundry draws’.
    Regards Greta

    Reply
  44. Sally

    Congratulations! I saw some of these signs online over the holidays and had no idea you designed them. I should have known since I like everything you design! Keep up the good work; I’ll be on the lookout for more of your products!

    Reply
  45. Karen Hoke

    VintageSOUL304.com carries your Homemade Ice Cream Sign –
    (I was obsessed with finding it 😆)!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Thanks! I bought one and shared the link. 🙂

      Reply
  46. Janice F

    Congratulations Marian! I love having a “front row” seat with your trials and successes! You go girl….God is still sending blessings your way!

    Reply
  47. MaryLisa Noyes

    This is so cool!!! I have to go to Hobby Lobby! I buy all my drawer pulls from there when I redo a piece of furniture. Have you thought of designing those items?

    Reply
    • Deb

      Hmmm, yes, some items that you think could be added to upcycled furniture! Perfect complement to the milk paint.

      Reply
  48. Denise

    My favorite “ drop your drawers here!” The humor makes this sign wonderful. Congratulations Marian!

    Reply
  49. Julianne

    How exciting, I’ll definitely keep a careful eye out! Loved all I see here!

    Reply
  50. Michele

    Marion, I saw your fabric collection on the Free Spirit website yesterday, and after viewing the swatches I thought, yep, that’s the Miss Mustard Seed I know about! Congratulations! Maybe your other readers knew this long ago, but for me it was a nice surprise. With Free Spirit, you are in very good company, indeed.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      No, I haven’t announced it, yet!

      Reply
  51. Janet

    You could definitely teach a class on this Marian and I’d be one of the first in line to learn how to license a product. Would love to know more about that on the business end!

    Reply
    • Sandy

      Me too! I would love to know how you did this from design phase all the way through. I love what you do.

      Reply
      • Marian Parsons

        I would be happy to share more on the process! 🙂

        Reply
        • Jessica | Petal + Ply

          I’d love to know more about this as well! It’s been so fun hearing about the process a bit through your posts! I’d happily take a course that really digs into the topic if you maybe want to offer that in the future! 😉

          Reply
  52. Mary Lou

    Happy for you Marian. I like to support Christians as your self and Hobby Lobby. I am curious why a couple of your followers would not shop at Hobby Lobby.

    Reply
    • Patricia

      Many people will not shop at Hobby Lobby due to their refusal to provide insurance coverage for contraception for their female employees. Thus requiring their minimum wage employees to pick up this expense entirely on their own, should they choose to use contraception. For this reason, I also will not support the store and instead give my money to companies which support their employees fully.

      Reply
  53. Sheri

    How very, very exciting to find your creations in a store!! I don’t blame you at all for wanting to buy one of everything! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  54. Chris Moore of Seattle

    Is this the result of the China trip? I’m confused…

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      It’s not a result of the China trip, but the China trip was a part of developing products, seeing them in person, etc.

      Reply
  55. Ronnie

    Congratulations! I would love to have them all in my store! Going looking…. 🙂

    Reply
  56. Elizabeth L Pickle

    Hooray!! So glad your items are being offered. It must be very exciting. I can’t imagine why a manufacturer would go to the expense to license your designs and then not use the brand as a value-added when selling on down the line to wholesalers/brokers and retailers. It’s all about branding. If they just had one sign (which costs practically NOTHING at HL, they’d build traffic and incremental sales on other products. I hope you have a good agent for this. Your brand needs to be handled with great care. All the best to you – loving your blog for years now!

    Reply
  57. BIllie

    I just went to the Hobby Lobby website and saw your signs and it does show
    your name as the brand. Congrats!

    Reply
  58. BIllie

    You are indeed on Free Spirit website too. You go girl!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes! I didn’t know they had made it public, yet! I’ll be sharing all of the details of that on my blog soon!

      Reply
  59. Norma Rolader

    So proud of you and best wishes for even more surprises…Congratulations so well deserved

    Reply
  60. Machee Whitesides

    I bought one of the Fresh Cut Christmas Trees sign in November and love it! I’m sorry to say didn’t have your name on it. I love your style and will be on the hunt for more of your products!

    Reply
  61. Teresa

    How exciting it must be to walk into a store and see your name on a product you helped design and market. Its like a singer hearing their song on the radio the very first time. I must admit I am not a big fan of re-pop décor as it never seems to have the same patina and character as true vintage but I do like your Fresh Cut Christmas tree sign.

    I saw these signs on a smaller scale at Target this year but it didn’t have your logo so that has be wondering if there are a number of different manufacturers producing this same sign?

    Reply
  62. Jennifer

    How wonderful! Every time I go into Hobby Lobby they have items that imitate your style and I think “those stinkers stole Miss Mustard Seed’s ideas!” Who knew it was really you! Congratulations. Put it toward your boys’ college fund!

    Reply
  63. Becky

    Cracker Barrel has some really cute large ” farm house” and ” wash and dry” signs in their stores and online right now. Wondered if they are your design. Congrats!!

    Reply
  64. pamela

    so neat! I’m heading to my Hobby Lobby tomorrow to see if they are there.

    Reply
  65. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!)

    So happy for you, Marian! I pray that your business will increase! What a great place to carry your items! I love Hobby Lobby! I also admire their Christian stance on so many things! So great to see them stand up for things they believe in! God has blessed Hobby Lobby greatly! May He continue to bless you, too!

    We do not have any Hobby Lobby stores here in Canada where I live and I sure miss them. They have such a great selection and their prices are really good too! Next time we go down to the U.S. I will look for your items! I really need some of them for our country home!

    Blessings! Have a wonderful week!

    Reply
  66. Janice Propst

    Marian so PROUD of You, from someone whose watched your business for a while now! Keep following your dreams and doing the things you love. Blessings to you.

    Reply
  67. GeriP

    LOL… too funny! Went to Hobby Lobby looking for candle holders … and the only two things I really wanted were the “Welcome” sign & the Organic chicken wooden sign…. little did I know they were yours…. didn’t get them because they weren’t candle holders but now I HAVE to go get them, since they are yours!!

    Reply
  68. Elizabeth

    This is me clapping and jumping up and down. Way to go, Marian! Thanks so much for sharing the thrilling moment of seeing your completed, branded designs in a local store. So much work and patience went into this on your end. I had no idea how chaotic and drawn out the process was. It makes your accomplishment all the more impressive. May this be the start of many satisfying moments like this one. I’ll bet it was a proud moment for your mom, too. It’s cool that you were able to share it with her.

    Reply
  69. Cynthia

    Way to go Marian. I had no idea the designer was so far removed from the final product. You just keep growing and growing!

    We had 5 inches of snow in Colorado last night and I know from family today that there is 12 new inches of snow and still coming as I write. I’m coming “home” Thursday and can’t
    wait!

    Stay warm!

    Reply
  70. Michele (Finch Rest)

    Oh my gosh – I am SO proud of you. This is absolutely awesome.

    Well done, Marian. You are so talented – and make this world a cuter place,
    that’s for SURE! Thank you – keep up the good work!!!!!

    Reply
  71. Nicole Davis

    I ran into the same signs during Christmas and my sister bought a few for me for Christmas gifts. I was flabbergasted when seeing the Miss Mistard Seed label and didn’t know if I had missed this posting on creating products or not. I was just really excited for you, even though I don’t know you personally. Good luck and I hope many more good things come to you!!

    Reply
  72. Edwina

    Can’t wait to find your products on my next trip to Hobby Lobby! Congrats on your continued success!

    Reply
  73. Jen

    I picked up the wooden market fresh rooster sign several months ago! The pig would have been so cute too! Congratulations on another success!

    Reply
  74. Angie Kraeske

    This must be so exciting for you. The products are all wonderful. I saw the Fresh Cut Trees last fall and loved it. So glad to know it was one of yours. Can’t wait to see what else you’ve designed!

    Reply
  75. Janice Thoni

    Marian,
    I am so excited for you. I think I will make a trip to Hobby Lobby too!

    Reply
  76. Cindy A Redman

    Omg! Even I get a thrill seeing your tags on them! I love the Market sign. The font is perfect! They’re really cute! I’m totally gonna keep a look out now!

    Cindy

    Reply
  77. Jessica | Petal + Ply

    How exciting that your designs are finally hitting the shelves!!
    I will most definitely be on the lookout.
    You should consider adding a tab to your site showcasing your designs that have been picked up, that way everyone will know what products to look for when they’re out shopping!

    Reply
  78. Julie

    So, so happy and excited for you!!

    Reply
  79. Kristine

    I remember your post about designing and creating the Christmas Tree sign, and your trip to China as well. And, over the holidays, I was wondering if the Christmas Tree sign would be available. I am so happy knowing that all that work has come to fruition. So glad that this venture has a happy and successful outcome !!

    Reply
  80. Shelly Fuller

    So awesome! I picked up a few items from Hobby Lobby this last Saturday and the ‘Laundry’ sign caught my eye! I have it and about to hang it on my laundry room door! LOVE IT!

    Reply
  81. Linnie Marie

    Very nice designs! Love the Laundry sign! I’ve been following you since I purchased your milk paint for painting my closet shelves and will definitely be keeping my eyes open for your products. I’m a bit curious about the manufacturing process. Did you submit designs to a manufacturer or did the manufacturer approach you? I’ve created some designs and am playing around with the idea of finding a manufacturer. Any advice/knowledge you’re willing to share on finding and submitting designs to a manufacturer would be appreciated. Thank you and best of luck with your designs!

    Reply
  82. Gavin from across the pond

    Yay so pleased for you 😁
    Any international sellers? I believe Trumpy is visiting later this year ask him to include it in his trade talks

    Reply
  83. Bonnie

    I’m so happy for you and delighted that your enamel, metal signs are being sold at Hobby Lobby. That is one of my favorite stores to shop at and I will be sure to look for them.

    Reply
  84. Deborah Ricks

    I bought your christmas tree sign at a locally owned retailer in Houston, TX last fall. It is so amazing! I got so many compliments on it. Its a nice size and looked great on my porch for the holidays. So cool to learn you designed this!

    Reply

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Hello!

Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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