Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole DeCicco.
Hi Nicole, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Freestyle Travel Shop started as a small side business that I built while unemployed during the pandemic. Around this time, I noticed that a lot of people were traveling to the National Parks because spending time outside was encouraged and really the only thing people were able to do. It was also about this time where we saw unprecedented wildfires and natural disasters in the west and I wanted to find a way to offer support.
In just the first few months of opening Freestyle Travel Shop, we donated almost $1,000 to National Parks and are on track for at least triple that for 2021. We offer a handmade selection of unique products with National Park and travel-related designs – from tote bags and stickers to ornaments. With every National Park product sale, we donate 10% directly back to the non-profit organizations that serve the park of purchase. These organizations focus on research, education, and conservation of their parks. We have sold to all 50 states and 12 countries and have grown an international following of over 50,000 on TikTok.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It took a while to figure out exactly what we wanted to be known for, but beginning this venture was a whirlwind of excitement – and a huge learning curve! I learned new digital drawing software using a cutting machine, and there was so much research! Figuring out which sticker paper to use, how to sell on Etsy, using new programs, how to promote my products, and so much more. One of the more important things I learned from the very beginning is that with having my own business, nothing was going to happen unless I did it. That sounds very obvious, and I knew that was a fact of life, but really understanding that success and failure would only happen by my hand.
I wanted to stand out from the thousands of other shops on Etsy by providing a consistent high-quality product that was hand-drawn and handmade and never outsourced. I spent the time, money, and effort to test a variety of materials to give the best possible product to customers.
Over time, the product line expanded to include magnets, vinyl decals, acrylic ornaments, wood ornaments, beanies, tote bags, and custom orders. With more products, the holiday season was a frenzy! It was incredible and wonderful but stressful and daunting! I had recently been called back to my job but I made the tough decision to leave so that I could focus all of my time on my own business. I never thought I would have the need to do that, and it was a really tough decision.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I went to college for theatre lighting design where my raw creative energy was blended with high technical skills – this grew into my professional career as a technical drafter for events. I loved using my creative mindset to create construction drawings, site maps and collaborating on complex problems and solutions.
This background really helped Freestyle Travel Shop succeed because of time & task management, understanding research & development of products and materials, and creating a truly unique product.
Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I would consider myself as an educated risk taker – understanding what is at stake and thinking about all possible outcomes (good and bad). My boyfriend and I moved to Florida from New Jersey on a whim, but not without doing tons of research and discussing for months.
Starting Freestyle Travel Shop was also a huge risk because I was a complete novice when it came to the machines, tools, and softwares needed – and also fronting the startup costs for all these things. But as long as I was eventually able to make that money back, then it would be worth it. Little did I know that it wouldn’t take very long at all…
- Email: Freestyletravelshop@gmail.com
- Website: Freestyletravelshop.com
- Instagram: /freestyletravelshop
- Facebook: /freestyletravelshop
- Youtube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCFtBW8FXQhrwcjmyLfO68JA
- Other: TikTok: @FreestyleTravelShop