The FEARLESS: 3 Entrepreneurs Who Didn't Let Fear Stop Them

Photo credit: Heather Hambor

Photo credit: Heather Hambor

Mary Lynn Schroeder
Founder and Owner of In Blue Handmade, Inc.

Mary Lynn’s advice to other small business entrepreneurs:

“My advice is to figure out what you love to do and try to make a living out of it. The reason I started sewing was to become more self-sufficient, and I fell in love with making art along the way. My goal was never to get rich or become the #1 leather shop on Etsy or have 300 wholesalers & 8 employees. In Blue Handmade is a labor of love----tons of hard work, surrounding myself with great people, and of course a bit of luck.”

At 25 years old, Mary Lynn Schroeder had a cool job working in the Chicago music distribution and booking industry. To most 25 year olds, she had it made and was living the dream. But in 2009, she decided to quit her job, move to a small farm in southern Illinois, where she stopped along the way to buy a sewing machine. After learning how to work that sewing machine, she started her business making beautiful hand-made leather products (journals, wallets, purses, phone cases, etc.)

Let’s be clear. Mary Lynn had no experience producing hand-made leather goods. She also had no experience in how to make a living selling her wares. All she knew was she wanted to make a business out of it – one way or another. It was about this time that Etsy, the popular eCommerce marketplace where people from around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods, was created. So Mary Lynn started posting her products there – and In Blue Handmade had its start.

Five years later, In Blue Handmade has more than 32,000 Etsy sales, 300 wholesalers, eight employees and a new home in Asheville, NC. The company has done $1 million plus in sales since 2012 and is on track to have their first $1 million dollar sales year.





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