We all want to do what we love, but we don’t always create the space for it. Even fewer of us find a way to turn our creative passions into a career. Through hard work and ingenuity, Denae Zamarron did just that. She started Zamarron Designs in 2019 as a way to earn some extra cash as a stay-at-home mom. Since then, the company has grown into a bustling business serving the south Denver community and beyond with custom wood signs, DIY kits, and creative events.
With a professional artist for a mom and a CPA for a dad, both creativity and business were championed in Denae’s childhood home. She also had three uncles who were professional woodworkers. As a kid, she watched in awe as they crafted flawless furniture. Denae adopted the craft and put her spin on it.
“I call myself the lazy woodworker. I took a bit of the artistic side and a little of the woodworking side and put them together,” Denae says. “Now I have three lasers, a CNC machine, and I make 3D engraved and acrylic signs, as well as tumblers.”
At first, Denae created signs as a way to gather with friends and craft together. However, when the pandemic hit in 2020, Denae found an even greater need for fun, at-home activities. She sold DIY kits that included paint and wood signs for people to complete at home with their loved ones. The most popular kit was a simple square piece of wood and vinyl that said, “When the world shut down, we learned how to be together.” Families were instructed to place their handprints on the sign as a finishing touch.
Now that events are back, Zamarron Designs hosts monthly Make-N-Takes at Two22 Brew in Centennial and Purgatory Cellars in Parker. She provides all of the supplies people need to create personalized signs, door hangers, or charcuterie boards.
“Events are one of my favorite parts of what I do,” Denae says. “I meet amazing people who paint gorgeous things. It just blows my mind. You really get to see everyone’s personalities, and it shows that everyone can be creative.”
In addition, Zamarron Designs makes interchangeable signs that people can switch out with the seasons. Denae provides different inserts that customers can either paint themselves or order pre-made, allowing your decor to move seamlessly from summer vibes to Christmas cheer. In addition, she takes custom orders for individuals and businesses alike.
Advice from Denae Zamarron
How to Convert Your Creative Hobby Into a Business
Denae and her husband transformed Zamarron Designs from a hobby to a side hustle, and then from a side hustle to a main hustle. Here are a few of the practices that helped them succeed.
1. Create the Space
Entrepreneurship takes time and intention. Create the space to practice your craft, both physically and figuratively. I work on Zamarron Designs from my garage during "in-between" life. Between drop-off and pick-up with my three kids, I'm at the schools three times a day. I find pockets of time when they're away or asleep to really focus on my business.
2. Collaborate With Your Community
Having support from your community is crucial for business success! Leverage the power of online Facebook groups and find other local makers you can learn from. It's also helpful to find people who you can share resources with. I am friends with a few guys in the area who also use lasers for work, so we can lean on each other if our equipment happens to fail.
3. Control Your Calendar
If you want to scale from a hobby to a business, knowing when to say no and when to say yes is a crucial skill. As creative people, we enjoy what we do and often want to say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. However, knowing your limitations and homing in on your niche will help you succeed (and avoid burnout!) I also recommend setting boundaries around personal and family time, as the impulse to work on your business all the time is a real temptation.
Learn more about Zamarron Designs and explore the catalog at zamarrondesigns.com. For specific order inquiries, email Denae at firstname.lastname@example.org