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What’s my Story?

The post What’s my Story? appeared first on Ann Neville Design.

What’s my Story?

by Darya Shakhunov

July 10, 2017

 Hi friends!

I just want to start of saying that the ultimate goal for this blog post is to share my story. It has been TWO years since I started my paper flower business, and I want to share how it was, how I started and grew, and how did I respond to disappointment and failures. I also want to share about what to look forward to when it comes to having a business at home. Now, just to throw that out there, I do not have a degree or certificate in business. I am speaking through experience and lessons. You are more than welcome to disagree with anything or everything I say. You may have a different story or you are still building up your story.  I believe it’s a great thing to learn and relate to others. I want my personal story, my experiences, my failures, to become your success!

During my pregnancy with my first born ( I was still in college, haha), I was blown away by paper flowers that I saw at Macy’s in 2014.

I was amazed! It was ART. Later, I began browsing around Pinterest just saving and screen-shooting photos of beautiful backdrops. About 2 months later, I made my first set of paper flowers.

Although, I am little embarrassed of how the flowers looked a bit off now, back then I was extremely happy. I was amazed of what my hands could create out of paper, glue and scissors. It was so exciting that I made a mini photoshoot backdrop for my daughter! If your wondering how I had time with college, paper flowers and baby? Well… Glory goes to God. I have no other explanation.

I found a few photos of paper flowers on Pinterest and tried my best to replicate them. The more paper flowers I made, the more I craved and  desired to make them. I remember sitting on my dining table, looking down at my paper flowers on the floor and just being filled with joy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE college and being a stay at home mother.

As mothers, we get so busy in our daily routines that we want something for ourselves. Very Commonly, we go for hobbies. It makes us happy. And, that is what I did. Sorry for jumping around. As I was sitting in our dining room, I couldn’t help but think… “What if I can make these for others? What if I can share my passion and joy with other people?” I quickly ran to my husband and told him all this craziness jumbling in my head. The only thing he said was ”You should start a Instagram page for paper flowers”. Hmph. Men, right? We pour our hearts out, and in exchange we get one sentence.

Surprisingly, that response was the first step to my business. It was a CHOICE to take that first step. For many, it’s the hardest choice. We get filled with even more questions like… “What will my business name be? What is my goal? How can I get people to like my work? How will I get orders? What if I fail? What if this doesn’t work out?” These questions and fears are normal to have.

Fear establishes the limits of your life. If you are afraid of failure, you’ll never try anything. Bible says to “fear not” 365 times, one for everyday of the year!

Here is a photo of my daughter on July 16, 2015, with one of my first paper backdrop I had ever made. 

“Those days led to these days” -Christy Wright

When I started my Instagram Business page, my husband threw out a name, which was Ann Neville Design. My daughter’s name is Aneville, so we decided to somewhat steal her name, which gave the business something personal. It was special to us. I started taking photos of my paper flowers that I made. Obvously, I went all out with the photos; adjusting the blinds, and moving my stool all over the place just to get the perfect shot. I, even purchased a professional camera to make the photos pop. A little later, I begin making paper flowers for friends and family to advertise my work. I did all for free, hoping I would have my first client from Instagram. Guess what? I got nothing. Then I began to drown in doubts and negative thoughts like “Why doesn’t anyone ask about what I do? Is my work not good enough? Why do I not have any orders?” I felt like a loser and told myself that I was stupid for even trying this out. All the hard work I did and all the love I poured out unto my paper flowers and they received no recognition!

I remember crying and praying while feeling so defeated and discouraged. After a little while, I got my first order and I posted my backdrop on my Instagram page. More orders came in. Posted more photos and more orders! It was amazing! The joy and motivation I once had was regained!

I was getting loaded with orders along with school, baby and wife duties but I LOVED IT. Just the feeling of doing so many things at once gave me much satisfaction. I felt the strength. I felt empowered. Super woman status! Tee-hee. It was doing good. However, it was too good to be true. After a summer of orders, winter hit and I got no new messages or emails. Orders simply went into hibernation. Another breakdown. My confidence was completely destroyed. Again, I began to doubt all my efforts. “What did I do wrong? How do I get back on track? Is winter the season for no flowers?” I was so confused and lost. I couldn’t help but lose hope. Who wouldn’t?

Not giving up,I created a Etsy page. There I sold pre-made paper flowers on craigslist and offers up. I worked so hard trying to grow myself.

There on Etsy, I had my first angry-client experience. That can be a harsh experience and almost a quitting point. No one likes an angry client…

On top of that, I had my own set of critics. The, “why is she doing arts and crafts?”, “you really think you can make good money off of this?”, “Don’t get your hopes up!”, etc.

Aside from the business, I had a baby at home and a ton of college homework. It was overwhelming at times. Juggling all of these tasks and responsibilities always made me feel like I was hanging on a thin thread and like I was walking on a tight-rope, constantly having the treat of losing my balance and  falling off. I shed tears once in a while because I couldn’t juggle all these roles. I didn’t know how to organize my time or how to deal with stress. It was a struggle.

Guess what?

I didn’t give up. I kept going anyway.

You have to keep going even though it hurts, even though your scared and you have lost faith in yourself. Keep going anyway. I love what Christy Wright said during her conference, Business boutique, “Fear is normal, failure is good, fear is a choice. You cannot succeed if you never failed.”

Later on, I got inspired to learn how to make a rose. I saw a paper flower with a rose center from a Instagram post (You can read about that in my upcoming blog, “My inspiration board”). After learning on youtube, it was so difficult for me to make a rose. So, I decided to make a rose my own way and create my own Ann Neville Design template. An easier way to make paper roses. With months of practice, I finally got it down, and I shared it with the world. That’s when I grew rapidly.  I made something I loved and helped others love it too. It was such a joy to do something you enjoy and others enjoy as well. Hold up… It’s not about me, it’s God. This is God’s work. He gave me the courage. He gave me hope and patience. He wiped away my fears and gave me strength. I wouldn’t be able to take on all these responsibilities in my work life and personal life. God is GOOD!

Here are some pointers I learned in those 2 years:

  1. You need to start somewhere.
  2. Fear is normal.
  3. Prayer is powerful.
  4. Don’t let failure crush you completely.
  5. Don’t give up.
  6. Being busy is a great thing.
  7. Follow your passion.

That’s my story. This is what led to my business today. There are easy days, and there are hard days. Managing a business at home is not easy but its enjoyable because we have freedom. We are own boss. We love our jobs aka paper flower making, and if you are a mom, you can be with your children!  But, it is not easy because we have failures and disappointments along the way. Whether its a angry client, overload in work, a struggle learning something new, new challenges arise etc. But, you know what? It’s okay.

Be patient.

Take a deep breath.

Keep going.

I love how Dave Ramsey says, “Success isn’t a gleaming, shiny mountain. It’s a pile of mistakes that you’re standing on instead of under.”

As I mentioned earlier, maybe you have a different story or you are still building on it. Our stories are what shape us.

What’s your story?

In comments below, you are welcome to share your partial story or what you learned about having a business. There may be other women who can relate to you. Let us be there for each other and hold one another up!

The post What’s my Story? appeared first on Ann Neville Design.


  • What an amazing testimony! Thank you so much for sharing your words of wisdom and encouragement. They mean more than you know. I’m at the very beginning of my paper flower journey and reading this has inspired me to keep on going even when the going gets hard. Thank you again!

    Alicia Greene on

  • I was literally crying while reading this! I am in the process of trying to start my small business. I offer a mod podge of items that I love to make, but paper flowers is my passion! I have been feeling very discouraged recently and was talking to my husband about it and told him I needed to give my business to God and trust that He has a plan for me! It was totally God that I ran across your post today!! It was so uplifting and encouraging!! It’s almost like a lite a fire that was starting to dwindle inside me. I wish I could just sit down and have a cuppa coffee and pick your brain… LOL! I really believe God lead me to your article for such a time as this that I needed!
    Shannon on

  • First off, I just want to say that I LOVE how you put God first and give Him the glory. It was absolutely refreshing to read the story of a sister in Christ who was going through the same thing back then that I am going through now. I’m only 16 and I’ve started making paper flower arrangements/ bouquets by hand. I haven’t gotten any orders yet and it’s been a little over a month, but thanks to your story I am not giving up hope, as I now see that you made it after this point, and all I need to do is keep going. Thank you so much, and glory be to God in the highest! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Who was, and is, and is to come! Praise Jesus

    Randy K Bland on

  • I was opportuned to read you story and I was really blessed
    Thank you for sharing your story to help people like me coming up,am into event coordination,planning though upcoming
    When I saw the paper flowers 🌺 I fell in love with it please I want to learn it and go into it
    How do I go about it
    Thank you
    I not

    Ijeoma Maureen Ezekwe on

  • Hi I just wanna say I cried with your story so powerful. I admire you! Your so talented, brave, strong, you put God in everything and it’s wonderful. I’m 18 I love making paper flowers I made a paper flower wall for my sisters 15 birthday and I am about to start a business. Your story truly, truly inspired me, on my side everybody tells me I need to do something with my life and they don’t believe I can do it on my own and have a business it’s always been my dream. But like you said God is GOOD, fear is good failure too men I really appreciate you sharing your story. I have more courage and confidence after reading this, Thank you! May God bless you, your business, your family, and give you the desires of your heart ❣. :)

    Cristal on

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