Crafting custom cups: Made By Katie S finds success online

Junior Katie Sklaire holds up a Made by Katie S logo sticker that she decaled using Cricut.

Photo courtesy of Katie Sklaire

Junior Katie Sklaire holds up a Made by Katie S logo sticker that she decaled using Cricut.

By Sasha Blake

Twelve reusable venti Starbucks cups line junior Katie Sklaire’s desk, right next to a brightly colored spreadsheet. A growing list of orders and addresses crowd her notes — an early sign that it’s going to be a long day. She takes her Cricut, a sleek white cutting machine, and plugs it into the wall. It’s time to get to work. 

Every Sunday morning, Sklaire juggles her school assignments and her blossoming Etsy business, Made By Katie S. Since last summer, Sklaire has crafted custom Starbucks cups and sold them through the popular e-commerce platform. 

Orders range from custom college logos, customer’s dogs and other personalized decals. What started as a simple hobby to fill quarantine boredom mushroomed into a successful business after Sklaire’s months-long obsession with crafting videos. The videos she watched led her to invest in high-quality equipment, she said.

“I was really into craft videos and I kept seeing this interesting machine called a Cricut,” Sklaire said. “I decided to check it out.” 

By December 2018, the high-end cutting machine was at the top of Sklaire’s Hanukkah list. 

Sklaire started to watch tutorials on the Cricut’s capabilities, and soon discovered she could create stickers out of vinyl called decals. She used the lack of schoolwork and boundless free time in early quarantine to experiment with the Cricut. 

“At one point, I was so obsessed with using the Cricut, I was just making all of my friends their own stickers,” Sklaire said.

Sklaire’s unique newfound interest piqued some of her friend’s interests and even inspired junior Julia Gray to purchase her own Cricut.

“Watching Katie use the Cricut all the time basically inspired me to get my own,” Gray said. “She would spend so much time playing around with it. The stickers were so well-made, so I wanted in on some of the fun.”

Sklaire holds her favorite custom cup she’s made, featuring a French Bulldog and a West Highland white terrier. (Photo courtesy of Katie Sklaire)

After several months of study and practice, Sklaire was able to apply her burgeoning Cricut skills to craft graduation gifts for her sister’s friends. In those first few weeks of decaling tumblers and mugs with handmade college logo stickers, Sklaire had a light bulb moment. 

“I thought to myself: ‘I could totally be making money right now. Why am I not selling these?’” Sklaire said.

She decided to create an Etsy shop, where she could sell her designs. Sklaire uploaded pictures of her recent creations and made a business Instagram account. To kick off her business, Sklaire specialized in creating custom dog-themed cups.

“When it first started, it was mostly my friends asking for cups with their dogs on it.” she said. “I made a ton of bulldog, aussie, lab and cockapoo requests.”

Before she knew it, Sklaire’s order list began to steadily grow, exceeding her expectations. Katie can still remember the day she received her first order from a stranger.. 

“I was home alone and I got an Etsy notification,” she said. Apparently, some woman from California ordered a bulldog cup — I think I actually screamed. It was such a nice feeling and I immediately called my mom to let her know.”

Katie’s mother, Amy, has been supportive throughout the process. Every day, Amy drops boxes of orders off at the post office. 

“It’s pretty funny, the nice lady at the post office and I are on a first name basis since I’m always there.” Amy said.

Now, Sklaire has received over 300 purchases of her cups, and she plans to continue expanding the business. Though she has continued to produce her signature custom dog designs, she has branched out to also making cups with flowers, Disney characters and custom names.

“Although I’ll make almost any kind of sticker, I am thinking about expanding what I decal,” Katie said. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll start decaling phone cases or something.”