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Conversations with Courtney McKinney

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney McKinney.

Hi Courtney, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
After converting my “black thumb” to a “green thumb” I began growing my plant family. Living in an apartment and having a small porch limited the amount of plants I could have, but now that we have our own house, our plant family has grown exponentially! We slowly started adding more plants and when COVID-19 started, we began propagating our existing plants to create more plant babies. All of my propagations were sitting in window sills and on tables in wine glasses, old sauce jars, and any other container I could find. But because of the size of the glasses and jars, they took up a lot of space, so I needed to find a way to make them more compact and also more aesthetically appealing. In July 2020, I lost my job as an Interior Designer and began trying to think of ways I could still help support our household and keep myself busy during lockdown. I knew that there were a ton of people, both locally and all over the world, who had really started getting into collecting plants and starting propagations of their own, so I decided to try making propagation stations from wood and glass test tubes and trying to sell them.

I started with some simple designs that my dad and I made in his workshop. My first propagation stations may have sold to people I knew, but people liked them and that was enough for me to decide that I wanted to make more. Just like that, I decided to try starting my own business, CM Designs Company. I started selling only wooden propagation stations at the local Alton Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market, but I quickly expanded into making wooden air plant displays as well. After building up my stock of wooden pieces, I started experimenting with macramé and using recycled blown glass pieces in my designs. Customers loved the macramé and glass pieces, so they became the newest staple in my small business. Now after almost a year of being in business on my own, I offer wooden propagation stations, macramé pot hangers, various air plant displays, and live air plants. I’m so grateful and incredibly thankful for all of the support and wonderful people I have met through this new journey. I couldn’t have ever expected CM Designs Company to mean as much to me as it does now!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road! Starting a small business in the middle of a global pandemic may have sounded like a crazy idea to some people, but it has helped me in so many ways during this incredibly rough time. Early in my journey, I was only relying on in-person markets and Etsy sales. In-person markets were limited because of COVID and Etsy made me just one small crafter in a sea and thousands of other talented crafters. Creating my own website and deciding to sell wholesale to both domestic and international companies has allowed me to expand my reach and get my products in front of more people than I could have ever hoped for. The whole journey has had its ups and downs, but the general movement has always been upwards!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
CM Designs Company specializes in handmade plant accessories, from macrame pot hangers to small wooden air plant displays. I take a lot of pride in offering only handmade products. Each product is handmade by me and sometimes with help from my parents and husband. (Thank goodness for amazing support systems!) Each of my wooden propagation stations and air plant displays is one-of-a-kind and this sets me apart from others. Each wooden piece has its own special characteristics that make it unique and unlike any other I’ve created. While these wooden pieces may have the same general shape, their grain patterns, natural variations, paint colors, and handmade qualities make them very special!

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5 to 10 years, I see my business potentially shifting from the macrame trends that are coming back in style right now. Trends change all the time and we’ll have to keep up with the newest plant trends and keep providing quality handmade plant accessories that our clients are looking for!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alexis Knight

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