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Life and Work with Alli Clements

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alli Clements.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been a multi-passionate person and I love the experiences and the art of learning. Those passions manifest themselves in my life in a variety of ways: I’m a second-language Spanish speaker; I love to travel (especially to Spanish-speaking countries); I love developing skills in speaking and teaching; I love singing; and finally, I love making things with my hands.

This year, I’m starting my 7th year of teaching high school Spanish, and while I feel as though I have grown as a teacher each year, I also have developed a strong desire to start a business and give something a little different to the world. StoryFolk began a few years ago as a simple Instagram feed named “The Cozy Keep”, and I focused primarily on sharing my joys and DIYS in the home decor lifestyle. I loved building community on the platform, but I first got the itch to take it a step further when people began requesting my DIY items for themselves. I always knew I had a little crafty edge, but sticking my guts out there on social media and receiving some feedback allowed me to see what others viewed as valuable, and ultimately those requests from people to buy my projects ignited within me a joy to produce something of worth for someone else in the marketplace.

For a while, I would make anything and everything DIY, but I focused heavily on wood projects. I love the feel and look of wood grain, and there is something very oddly therapeutic about working a full day and coming home to work with power tools in the outdoors. I learned how to put away my phone and make good things, and that’s an awesome feeling. However, as I’ve learned more about business, I realized that I needed to master and scale what I was making. That’s when I zoomed in on the messageboard – a vintage-style letterboard made of wood that allows people to put custom sayings and more in the rows on the wood. I changed my name to StoryFolk TX this spring because I love all the possible stories that could be told with my products, and I aim to continue to make products that serve as a storytelling platform. It’s a side-hustle job that is steadily growing, and I love every bit of it to pieces!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Yes and no. Because I work a full-time job, I don’t currently battle the struggle to make ends meet financially. I hope to always keep my business debt-free, and that goal alone keeps me in check as far as growing the business at a pace that is appropriate and healthy for my lifestyle. However, if and when StoryFolk TX goes full time, I think I’ll come to empathize with that entrepreneurial struggle a little bit more.

On the flip side of that, I have absolutely no background in business, and sometimes the journey of learning brand new information on top of your full-time work can be completely overwhelming and exhausting. There will be days when I come home from work and every bone in my body wants to take a nap, but I”ll have orders to fulfill or administrative work to take care of. I love doing it all, but I’ve also quickly learned the limits of my body and the capacity of my mental state on long days such as those.

For women who may be on the side-hustle journey like me, or are hoping to start one soon, I would wholeheartedly recommend two things: don’t shy away from the background work, and pursue work that you can get lost in for hours. The background work is what keeps your business moving forward, even though nobody sees it. Take time to check your emails, write good copy, research, listen to podcasts, and read. Your customers won’t see this, but these things will make or break you. And finally, if you’re hustling after work that you can get lost in, you won’t mind staying up late or waking up early, because your heart is already beating for it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with StoryFolk TX – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am the creator of StoryFolk TX, and in that business, I make vintage-styled messageboards and other storytelling goods that are inspired by American pastimes. Each message board comes with a letterset, and you can use that letterset to say whatever your heart desires. If you look at my messageboards, you may recognize traces of old hymnal signs in churches or analog ballpark signs like the Green Monster at Fenway. I’m also launching more frames these days that can hold prints of any type, and the frames nod to old wooden signs that you might see on campgrounds or on park trails.

I craft every messageboard by hand using a variety of power tools and hand tools, which is usually a conversation starter. There are plenty of women who have pioneered the trail for other women to have a space in the power tool world, and I’m just reaching the tip of what they do. I think my customers appreciate that the items are handmade because it demonstrates the value and love I have for my work. Also, letterboards are very popular decor items today, and the message boards I create put an even more vintage and handcrafted spin on an American favorite, which I think people appreciate.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
Both my parents are workers by nature. They are action-takers and that is a trait that has definitely been passed down to me. I am often hungry to challenge myself to a new thing, and I see that quality in my parents often.

My granny and mom have never been afraid to work with their hands, and they are both DIYers themselves. They are not afraid to get dirty for the sake of making something awesome, and those memories have rubbed off on me in the way I approach challenges and creativity. I think there’s something empowering about women seeing women who deal with the tough stuff and don’t back down. In a world that places an unhealthy amount of value on superficial and fleeting qualities, I believe it is crucial that we teach other women to lead lives that are more deeply rooted and significant.

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Alli Clements

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  1. D Tellez

    September 10, 2018 at 3:19 am

    I’ve been a fan since The Cozy Keep. I love that everything is made with dedication and love. Way to pave your own way!

    • Alli Clements

      September 12, 2018 at 1:07 am

      Thank you Dora! You’re the real MVP!

  2. Susie

    September 11, 2018 at 1:49 am

    Ali is my great niece. She is very dedicated to faith and family. She has always been focused. I agree wholeheartedly that she has strong female influences in her Mom and Grandmother.

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