Driven by a belief that mothers should stay home to rear their children, neighborhood resident Connie Willoughby has built a successful arts and crafts business that continues to “keep her happy and bring in extra income,” she says.
“I know there are more home arts and craft shows in Dallas that are more successful, but I’m happy with the way mine are,” Willoughby says.
Willoughby is part of Dallas’ competitive home craft show market. What Willoughby and others do is create and sell crafts during home shows, art fairs, and church and school bazaars.
Willoughby began her business 10 years ago with the help of friend and fellow Waterview Church of Christ member Cynthia Thomas. The two began holding home craft shows featuring Thomas’ woodwork and Willoughby’s dolls in Willoughby’s den and dining room.
“I started this so I could stay home to rear my two sons. I’m convinced this is important,” Willoughby says.
When Thomas took over as the church secretary, Willoughby’s husband, Neil, began helping with the shows.
Today, the couple hosts three shows a year. They fill every nook and cranny of their 3,000-square-foot home with hand-made crafts.
Some of Willoughby’s favorites include a unique pierced earring holder, crystal holiday ornaments, lace angels, a long-legged rabbit and, of course, her dolls.
“I try to have a variety of things so I can hit the buyer,” she says.
Although Willoughby says she continuously comes up with new ideas, she is hesitant to hire staff to complete the crafts.
“I have hired people, but it’s frustrating because I see the product coming out a certain way,” she says.
“You have a whole lot more pride if you’re doing your own work.”
The daughter of a Nebraska farmer, Willoughby says she applies her father’s work ethic to her business. Willoughby works at a steady pace year-round to make sure she has the crafts she needs for the shows and for the buyers who drop in to shop at home.
“If something would happen to my father’s crops in July and August, then eating was slim. If I don’t have things to sell, then I’m out of luck,” she says.
“The trick is to pace yourself all year long so I have things ready to go.”
Willoughby says she makes a living comparable to a teacher’s salary because of loyal customers that seem pleased with her work.
“The beauty of the whole thing is I can have a life, because I’m the boss,” she says.