DeeAnna Snider enjoys personalizing ornaments so much that she decided to pursue it as a business.
“My business, Personalize It Ornaments, was a business owned by a fellow friend and Fishers resident, and I bought the business from her when she felt it was time to go in a different direction in her life,” Snider says. “I bought the existing business and the existing name.”
The previous owner had created a following for the business by participating in local craft fairs, the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show in Indianapolis, and fundraisers for local hospitals.
Snider helped her for years, and was familiar with how the previous owner did her purchasing, organizing and selling of ornaments in various venues.
“Creating the startup was not necessary, as I bought the business, and I also had a workable system in place from the very beginning,” Snider says. “I must credit her with the tough legwork.”
Snider bought the business approximately 11 years ago, after her mother passed away.
“The caregiver responsibilities no longer were my number-one concern, so it left me with the option of changing the direction of focus in my life,” she says. “I knew I needed to do something, and I also knew I loved working with the people and the challenges of this type of business.”
Snider says it is not an easy business, because it is full of manual labor, getting materials to shows, setting up tables, going over inventory at venues, spending long hours at a show, and then reversing the process and taking all of the materials required for the show back home.
Her business involves hard physical work and long hours, as many of the shows run from 9 or 10 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. After a show is over for the day and Snider returns home, preparations continue so she is ready for the next day’s opening, which includes getting additional inventory, making food for lunches, and more.
The saving grace is that her business is like many seasonal businesses, with the demand being heavy during the winter holiday season.
“Also, the craft fairs and shows run for several days of the week, and then you have a break to regroup,” Snider says. “Each year I know I will be doing long days, from about mid-September to the middle of December with the shows, and an Etsy business. Then for the rest of the year ornaments are not on people’s minds.”
With the onset of COVID-19 all of Snider’s shows stopped, forcing her to consider an Etsy online shop.
“The platform helped me keep connections with some of my customers, and is at least a point of contact for me,” she says. “It has been fun getting orders from about every state in the union, and watching the orders come in from different time zones.”
Snider does not make any of her ornaments, but she does purchase them from several suppliers.
Snider believes one of the greatest rewards of her business is getting responses from customers who truly love having personalized ornaments.
Snider has cried with parents and grandparents over baby ornaments she has personalized, and made special hearts and halos on an ornament for a baby who passed away.
“I have cried with a burly security guard over a dog ornament personalized for a service dog who was killed in the line of duty,” Snider says. “I have watched a giant, elderly African American gentleman hold a small African American princess ornament in his hand, and tell me he has never had an ornament on the tree that looked like like a member of his family with their name on the ornament.”
Snider also shared a customer’s desire to create “The Twelve Days of Christmas” in ornaments for his partner, as they celebrated Christmas on a cruise ship.
“I have replaced an ornament for a 6-year-old girl the day after it was purchased, because she slept with it in her hand overnight, and her hand lotion smeared her name,” she says. “How can you not love this?”
Two ladies from Anderson, Indiana, have been at Snider’s booth at the Gift and Hobby Show for as long as she can remember. They come prepared with preprinted labels with family member information on them, ready to be attached to a selected ornament.
“I look forward to these ladies every year,” she says.
For many customers, the ornaments are just ornaments.
“They are ornaments that they buy because they do it each year,” Snider says. “For many, however, who make this a yearly ritual, they are passionate. Ornaments are small things, but for some represent a connection to others during a time when family and friends are first and foremost in the Christmas season. I love the reactions of those that are passionate about what they pick out, and what they want on their ornaments. They make me keep coming back.”
Snider has ornaments for just about any category including sports, zip lining, pets, animals, professions and new homes. She also covers schools and school activities such as choir and band.
“I also do ornaments for babies, weddings, engagements, travel, travel destinations, ornaments for kids, and hobbies such as fishing, camping, cooking and sewing,” she says. “I also have family ornaments for families that have members from ages 2 to 12, as well as Christmas-themed ornaments. You name it, I have it, from turtles to trains.”