If you had asked Jackie Lindsay what she wanted to be when she grew up, it is highly doubtful she would have said an online content creator while being a stay-at-home mom and doing her own house renovations.
But here she is now, living what she calls the dream, successfully navigating the online world with thousands of followers on her Instagram page. No small feat living in a small town like Smithers.
It is a huge difference from where she was working full-time at a potash mine in Saskchewatchan with a master’s degree in occupational environmental health.
It all slowly started with a couple of sewing projects. When she found out she was pregnant with her first child in 2014, she started making some things for the baby. After the baby, a girl, was born and while she was on maternity leave, Jackie needed something to keep herself busy because Emma was an easy baby and her husband was gone a lot for work.
A couple months into her maternity leave, she had finished sewing all the things Emma needed but she kept on sewing and started an Etsy page to sell the extra things and also sold some stuff on the local buy and sell groups.
“I’ll never forget laying bed one night and I got an order from somewhere in the States,” she recalled. “Because that’s the cool thing about Etsy you can get an order from wherever and thinking someone who doesn’t know me, bought something of mine, which was really cool.”
She took her sewing projects to some markets as well, and her little online business grew. She went back to work at the mine after her mat leave was up, part-time. The Lindsay family moved in 2017 to Smithers, in part, to be closer to her parents who own a lodge on Nadina Lake. She quit working at the mine and decided to stay home full-time with her daughter.
They bought a house in town that needed some updates. Jackie then started taking her sewing projects to local markets in Smithers and her business grew even more. She created a scarf, and that proved to be an incredibly popular product. She couldn’t keep up with demand. She had some of her products for sale at Out of Hand and she continued to sell online. The scarf sales solidified for her what she was doing.
She discovered that sewing scarfs and having a launch was a better way for her to sell them than just continuously having stock on hand. Each launch sold out instantly. She had to hold some back for Out of Hand, which saw local people rushing to the doors to grab one.
Jackie then had another baby. Little Leo was born in 2020. She did one scarf launch after he was born.
“And I just remember thinking, I just can’t keep up. This just isn’t gonna work. I got to a point where I had to make a change. So I either had to charge a lot more for my scarves to make it worth my time, because I was working my butt off.”
She didn’t want to hire someone and she really didn’t want to raise the price.
“The rule in sales is if you’re selling that many, if the demand is there, then you can charge more, right?. I just didn’t feel good about that. I just didn’t want to raise the price.”
But her joy of sewing was slowly diminishing.
At around the same time, her dad helped her build a baby gate for Leo at the top of their stairs. She thought the gate was too nice for the unrenovated staircase.
“I started ripping the stairs up not really knowing what I was gonna do,” she said.
She documented the reno on Instagram.
“That project kind of escalated. And people were so invested in this. I was sharing it because that was taking up my time.”
It turns out, she really enjoyed it and people really enjoyed following along. While she has always been handy, she has no formal training in construction. Her dad taught her a few things growing up but mostly, she figures things out on her own.
Having baby Leo also freed up some space in her head for something new.
“We’ve been wanting to renovate the house, but it’s been kind of on hold. Because through all our fertility issues, in the past several years, I was always reluctant to start anything. Being pregnant and then not pregnant and then recovering from that. It’s just these whole physical and mental waves of up and ups and downs. So I wasn’t really wanting to do a lot of physical labour,” she said.
She made the decision to renovate and document it all on Instagram. Even if it doesn’t make her money, she is investing in her house. However, making money is always a bonus. It doesn’t come easy in the social media world though.
Jackie tried to reach out to DeWalt because she has a lot of their tools. But they weren’t interested at the time in working with her. She didn’t really know how to get a sponsor. The guy who represents that tool company also represents Craftsman and he suggested a partnership with them. She was sent some tools from them.
“I’ll never forget when it landed on the doorstep, the box came right to the house. And it was like Christmas morning. I was so excited,” she said.
Having sponsorships and making money from Instagram has been a huge learning curve for Jackie.
“There are a lot of companies who they just want to send you free product but they want to send you product in exchange for your review, or for you to share content with it. And not pay you. So sometimes that might be okay. Like, if it’s a really large item, or there’s a lot of value in the item. I’ve gotten something where the value is $20. And then they want you to make videos, take photos, share reviews. Well, when you think about your hourly wage, like you’re not even spending one hour, right to make that content. And it’s really not worth my time.”
She said this has been a struggle, learning to say no and how to value her time.
Jackie’s Instagram page, @sewbrightcreations, has more than 12,000 followers. Her next project is to start offering virtual workshops, keep documenting her DIY projects around her house and hopefully make more money so she can continue to be her own boss.
While she has closed her Etsy page and she no longer has her sewing products at Out of Hand, she has slowly started to sew again, and more importantly find the joy in that hobby again.