In the Philippines, Christmas songs start playing the moment the first of September rolls around. The temperature drops, the excitement spreads, and you feel that the season of giving is truly in our hearts (iykyk).
And for crafters who have turned their passion into business–craftpreneurs, as we call them–this is the season where they shine the most. With the season of giving upon us, craft businesses become essential, offering a unique opportunity to turn heartfelt creativity into meaningful gifts.
At The Happy Station, we understand the magic of the holiday season for crafters and craftpreneurs alike. We specialize in providing the workshops, tools, and supplies that turn creative visions into reality. This season, as we gather with our loved ones to celebrate, craftpreneurs are at the forefront, crafting personalized gifts, holiday decor, and one-of-a-kind keepsakes that capture the essence of the season.
In the spotlight this month, we are thrilled to introduce our featured crafter, Maria Miyuki Barraca, whose story inspired us to explore the limitless possibilities of creativity and entrepreneurship in the world of arts and crafts. As the founder of @tinta.at.pintura_ph, Miyuki has transformed her passion for crafting into a thriving business that touches the lives of artists and bakers alike. In this feature, we delve deeper into her journey, one that started with humble sticker labels and a client who had faith, that led her to craft wonders beyond imagination.
Finding Purpose Amid a Pandemic
The year 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the world, and Miyuki, then just a college student, found herself faced with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Boredom took hold, and in a moment of inspiration, she ventured into selling food online. But it was then when she found that she enjoyed creating the packaging for the food she sells more than she enjoyed anything else in that venture. It just clicked.
"I enjoyed making everything so pleasing," she said. It was this very joy that sowed the seeds of Tinta at Pintura.
From Stickers to Cake Toppers: A Leap of Faith
Miyuki's early days in crafting were a mix of enthusiasm and doubt. Armed with limited knowledge and even fewer resources, she embarked on her journey from selling food to selling sticker labels–something she enjoyed a lot more. "I really didn't have any idea what materials to use or what would truly satisfy my clients," she confides. But Miyuki was no quitter. With each passing day, she embraced the learning curve, determined to find her footing.
And then one fateful encounter changed everything. A client asked if she crafted cake toppers, and even went as far as to suggest the perfect tool to help her with it: Cricut. Curious, Maria took a deep dive into the world of crafting machines. What she found was a revelation—she never had to cut all her sticker labels manually in the first place. There were machines to do it for you! By then, she had already saved up some money, and that was when Miyuki purchased the machine she found within her budget, the Cameo 4. "I can still feel the excitement I had when the package arrived. I was so happy and excited to make crafts. Ideas are popping [up] almost every day. Since most of our client[s] are bakers, I was so excited to make 3D toppers and offer it to them."
The Power of Belief and Support
Miyuki's journey was not an easy one; it’s a process of learning everyday. But a remarkable client, who believed in her talents, played a profound role. "The client who mentioned Cricut to me was super supportive of what I am doing (as in). She does believe in me and [in] what I can do. She would just tell [me] the theme of the cake and would entrust me with the design I want," she says. This trust became her driving force, propelling her to new heights. Three years into the printing business and two years into crafting, Maria has found joy in her work, even amidst the occasional exhaustion. "What she did really helped me with what I can do today."
A Craftpreneur's Daily Life
“Every day is a learning process”
Miyuki's daily routine is a process of learning new things and getting inspired. She spends a lot of her time on Pinterest, Etsy, and social media joining crafting and printing groups; surrounding herself with people who do what she does. She would scroll through her Facebook feed and read the comments to posts regarding the craft, and take in their input to apply for whenever the same concern would come up for her.
She draws inspiration from fellow crafters and their creations. Their passion, dedication, output, process, and creativity amazes her and inspires her to be productive.
Favorite Tools of the Trade
Just recently, Miyuki was able to purchase her second cutting machine, a Cricut Maker, as a gift to herself for finishing college. Before then she relies on her trusty Cameo 4, her faithful companion from the beginning.
For supplies, she also swears by Oracal and Teckwrap Vinyl for their user-friendly qualities. The Teckwrap Holographic Opal Vinyls, particularly the opal white, are her secret weapons. For Heat Transfer Vinyls (HTV), the Glittery and 3D Puff Iron-ons from The Happy Station elevate her prints to new heights. Cardstocks (especially the textured ones) are her “vice”. She always buys them even though she doesn’t have any project for them (I bet we can all relate).
For her favorite thing to make, which are 3D toppers, foam tape is her best friend. It gives her toppers the 3D effect that can’t be achieved with anything else. Plus, she also loves needle tip squeeze bottles, they make small and intricate detailing a breeze.
Balancing Passion and Business
Finding equilibrium between personal creative fulfillment and the demands of running a crafting business is difficult. I’m sure we can all relate when Miyuki says that she still can’t find the right balance between hobby and business, but she still offers a gem of advice: “What I will always do is just offer the best I can. I would do the craft depending on a client’s budget, sometimes I would go over the budget. And for me, that’s okay. As long as I enjoy what I do and I’m not losing money, I’ll do the best for our clients’ satisfaction.” Because for Miyuki, crafting is not just business; it's the art of creation, the joy of turning dreams into reality.
“As of now, we have regular clients from different provinces/cities. I was doing it part-time for almost 2 and half year[s], and doing it full-time right now since I just graduated college last June!”
Miyuki’s journey behind Tinta at Pintura is a story of passion, persistence, and the unwavering support of a vibrant crafting community. From sticker labels to intricate cake toppers, her journey is a testament to the power of inspiration and the drive to never stop learning. As she embraces her role as a full-time craftpreneur, Maria invites us all to trust the process, relish the journey, and savor the art of creation—one masterpiece at a time. Her story reminds us that within every crafting project lies the potential for magic and transformation.