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Rising Stars: Meet Michelle Carmenate

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Carmenate. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started crafting 20 years ago when my daughter was born. I started small with personal scrapbooks and then gradually started doing them for family and friends as a hobby. When Cricut launched their Maker in 2017, I was in awe and couldn’t wait to explore all the possibilities of expanding my craft. Making shirts for my daughter, her friends, and family members allowed me to master my technique before I could share my love for designing with others. In 2019, I decided to branch out and start my own small business, where Kashell Creations was born. After a year working with heat transfer vinyl (HTV) on shirts using my Cricut Maker, I decided to go one step further and get into sublimation. This allowed me to provide my customers with more products. In 2020, I invested in a Sawgrass sublimation printer to expand my business and start to offer other items other than shirts; tote bags, coasters, make-up bags, earrings, onesies, puzzles, keychains, etc. In 2022, I decided to start my own YouTube channel to introduce individuals to how to apply HTV or Sublimation prints to their substrates along with what I offer in my shop. I am now starting to bring into my shop my hand-crafted pre-made scrapbooks for others to add their memories to look back on. I want to share my love of crafting with others in any way possible by giving them an item to express themselves, whether it’s a gift for a loved one or for themselves. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When I knew I wanted to start my own business, I felt it was key to have a good quality shirt. I didn’t want to provide a shirt that would shrink in the wash or be too stiff after one use. I wanted to provide a quality shirt to my customers that would be something I would pay money for and wear. So, I went searching for that particular shirt. I ordered a variety of brands and styles to figure out what would be ideal for my shop and who I was marketing to. Knowing my fit alone is of average size, I wanted to make sure my shirt would be a unisex fit to allow the wear of not just women but men as well. The struggle once I found the brand was how many colors to carry. Starting out I felt I had to appeal to every customer out there, so I initially offered 15 colors. After a year of running my shop, I realized that wasn’t something I could maintain, so I narrowed it down to only 10 colors. In 2020, when I started sublimation shirts, I did the same process but narrowed it down to 4 colors. Another struggle I faced was the type of heat transfer vinyl (HTV) I was using and how I adhered the product to the garment. My initial HTV product used was the Cricut brand, but a year in I switched to a better more durable product – Starcraft SoftFlex HTV. Initially, I also used an Easy Press, but later found out that it didn’t give the pressure I needed to keep the HTV adhered to the garment and so I invested in a Heat Press. This also helped me when I invested in sublimation, as it requires a certain amount of pressure that a machine can provide versus an arm to a tabletop. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Although I offer an array of designs pre-set in my shop on items I sell, I feel I specialize in custom orders. I do love interacting with my clients to learn more about what they are looking for, who the item is for, and the meaning behind the item. I feel it helps with the design process. Although clients can provide me with an image or idea of what they want designed or created, there are times where they just advise what they are looking for, and then I get my creative juices/ideas flowing and work on their design. Some of my recent custom orders have been for an autistic adult man loving elephants but wanting a subtle nod that he is autistic for others to understand his development when out in public. They were looking for 5 different style shirts, all with the same concept. I had a recent custom order that wanted a Key West girl’s weekend trip shirt. Knowing their gathering, I created their shirt design and a matching make-up bag for their trip. These are just a few ideas of what sets me apart from others, the love I put into every order. I try to give a little token gift to every order; it could be stickers, a coin purse, a onesie, a make-up bag, etc. I treat every order with the same care, whether they are a new customer or returning customer. Another thing that might set me apart is I try to get the order out within 2 business days, given the item is something I have in stock. Receiving emails or messages from clients on their order and gratitude of their love for what I made for them is the most rewarding part of my job. It is definitely why I started my business in the first place – to put a smile on someone’s face when they open that package. 

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
I supposed the first lesson I learned was to expect there to be a shortage on product. Starting in 2019 and having a minimal amount of shirts in stock wasn’t something I thought I should worry about till the world came to a halt in 2020 and then when it picked back up again with people purchasing items and not having product in stock or able to obtain the product was an important lesson to learn. Since then, I always try to maintain a good amount of inventory on what I state I carry in my shop to be able to provide my customers with a quick turnaround time. Another lesson I learned is to not jump into a trend so quickly. Back in 2021, I saw a trend in my line of work of bleached shirts and thought it could be something to add to my shop for my clients. Not taking the time and doing research prior to jumping head in, I went out and bought product to offer this. Still working on mastering the technique prior to offering this technique in my shop. 

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