Alumni Spotlight: Hannah Simons
Hannah is a Bryn Athyn-based entrepreneur who sells her products to stores across the United States, and online to a worldwide audience. In fact, this writer was in a remote town in the Big Sur area along the California coast a few years ago and happened to notice a breathtakingly delicate wooden stand displayed in a boutique. Upon further inspection of the beautiful piece and its label, it was discovered that it came all the way from the creative mind and talented hands of Hannah Simons herself. From iPhone stands to jewelry boxes to book ends, the smooth cherry wood and graceful carvings are signature elements to her work. We wanted to know a little bit more about her business, and she was kind enough to share some details with us:
ALUMNI MAG: Tell us about your business…What do you do? How long have you been doing this? How did you learn the trade?
HANNAH: At the beginning of 2011 I launched my business, Hannah’s Ideas in Wood, at the Buyers Market of American Craft (now known as
the American Made Show) – the largest American made trade show in the country. I design and create accessories made from solid cherry wood, sustainably harvested and local to Pennsylvania. Since the beginning of the business I’ve collaborated with my father, Jonathan Simons (of Jonathan’s Spoons www.woodspoon.com), learning from his 35+ years of experience designing and making spoons. I work out of a studio attached to my home in Bryn Athyn. I have an online store through my website (www.hannahsideasinwood.com), through Etsy, and I sell my work to about 150 stores across the United States.
ALUMNI MAG: What is it like owning and running a business? What are some of the challenges you face?
HANNAH: A lot of aspects of running my own business can be both a blessing and a curse. I love being able to create my own schedule, but it also means I have to keep motivated to get things done, and even if the clock says the day is over, I may still have more work to do. There is always more that I can learn, and more that I can do to help the business grow. I spend time researching how to effectively manage social media for small businesses, how to create a website, how to take better product photos, and the list keeps going. It keeps things interesting, and I like working on all aspects of the business. It can also be difficult to keep up with everything, and when things fall through the cracks, it’s my responsibility to sort things out.
ALUMNI MAG: Are there any new or exciting plans for the business?
HANNAH: This past summer I actually moved into a larger studio space in my very own house! It has allowed me to expand, and run more efficiently. Being able to more consistently keep up with the pace of orders means that I can begin to focus more time and energy on new designs.
ALUMNI MAG: How do you think BAC helped prepare you for what you’re doing now? What was the most important thing you learned while at BAC?
HANNAH: As a student I appreciated that the BAC community encouraged students to think about who they wanted to be as whole people, not just what job they want to do. I’ve always loved the Swedenborgian teaching that religion is how you live your life – not just what you believe. I like maintaining those principles in my business. I do not have the personality to be a lawyer or a doctor, but I can help create things that are ethically made from start to finish, and add functional beauty to people’s lives.