What is your Special Sauce?

What is your Special Sauce?

Ever wonder if there is a secret to success that all the big sellers on Etsy must know but you somehow missed the memo? Yes, there are formulas and road maps, but one of the most important ingredients any successful seller can bring to the table is their own personal Special Sauce. 


There is a recipe of ingredients inside of you that makes you unique.


Everything you do and create contains the essence of a mix of ideas, thought processes, values, and other qualities that are important to you. 

I mentioned in a prior blog post that a friend once told me that I was taking for granted all the lessons I've learned about being in business as a maker and creative entrepreneur. Sometimes we are so close to things that we can’t see what others are seeing. 

It’s time to step away and take a good look at what your special sauce is. What makes YOU unique is generally what makes your handmade products unique.

Grab a journal and let’s go through some questions that may help you identify what makes up your Secret Sauce. 

As you read through this list, write down things that pop in your head. Don’t question them. Don’t try to figure them out. Don’t worry if they seem weird or confusing. Just get them down on paper. Let’s get started!


Go back in your mind to when you were a child. What did you like to do? What activities brought you joy? What creative processes did you learn during this time?

Our inner child artist created without inhibitions.


We created without comparison or indecisiveness or doubting thoughts. We just created things because we had an idea. We were using our imagination and constantly discovering new things. 

From the time my grandchildren were babies up to their Middle School years, they spent several days a week with me. I watched them build, create and draw things and observed their child artist at work. 

I was envious in a way as to how freely they dove into creating. They were experiencing a freedom that I had lost and wanted back. 

There is so much our inner child artist can teach us and can remind us of what we have lost or forgotten. Let your younger creative self lead you to some valuable lessons and treasured memories of creating and discovering art that is part of your Special Sauce foundation. 

What is your Inner Child Artist telling you?


What catches your eye? What details do you notice when you walk into a room, go for a walk, visit a new place? 

What you notice can tell you a lot about your artistic self.

When my husband and I walk into a building we both see different things. 

He notices the architectural details and structural qualities because he is a 3rd generation carpenter and retired general contractor. He specializes in Finish Carpentry so details matter to him. He learned old school techniques from his father and grandfather that aren’t taught in educational facilities anymore. He knows quality work when he sees it because that is his measuring stick. 

What I notice is color, shape, texture and shadows. I love looking at the details up close. I didn’t grow up doing that, at least as much as I remember. I think it all began when I started taking my camera with me everywhere. (I didn’t have a smartphone then). I intentionally took more photos of my surroundings and the details of my environment. 

Our creative perspective is something we often grew up seeing and experiencing. It may not even be something we were taught but instead it could be instinctive or intuitive. 

What is your creative perspective?


Another creative filter is the style you are drawn to. Is it modern, eclectic, retro, minimalist? 

You may reflect this style in the way you dress or decorate your home/apartment/studio. Perhaps you have a collection of things that you surround yourself with that gives you a feeling of peace, joy, or nostalgia.

It is likely that you use that style as you create your handmade items. 

Our personalized bags reflect several parts of my upbringing and are all nostalgic or vintage in some way because that is what I grew up with and have wonderful memories wrapped up in those things. 

What is your creative style?


We’ve looked at several contributors that make up your Special Sauce recipe but there is probably at least one thing that sets you apart from the crowd. 

You may want to make a list of all the ways you would describe your handmade product from broad to tiny details. List the materials, construction process, and every single aspect of what is important to you as you create it. 

Why are those details important to you?

Where do you source your materials and why did you make that choice?

What construction methods do you use and how did that come about?

How did you come up with the idea for your handmade item?


Is there a story behind your product?

A story for you that will hopefully clarify this point. 

One of my favorite local places to visit is Arlington Gardens. It is a natural habit for small wildlife and California native plants with wandering paths and shady spots with benches to rest and observe the beauty. There is also a “wishing tree” filled with weathered, handwritten notes. 

In 2013 I had a life experience that prompted me to create a similar tree in my front yard. We call it a Gratitude Tree. We invite anyone to stop, use the supplies we have available in a box by the tree, write a note and tie it to the tree. 

Our home, in and of itself, is not one that necessarily stands out in our neighborhood or our town. What separates our home from any other home is the Gratitude Tree that grows in our front yard and is filled with weathered gratitude notes that flutter in the wind and get wet when it rains. That is our Secret Sauce!

What is YOUR differentiating ingredient?


As I mentioned, sometimes we are too close to things to clearly see all the moving parts. Just as my friend pointed out something important to me, perhaps you have a friend who can help you answer some of the questions. 

I’m often surprised by the feedback I get from friends and loved ones when I ask questions like what we just looked at. I know my perspective can be tainted with doubt or second-guessing.


Sometimes the fresh eyes of someone close to us can give us a helpful fresh perspective.

By now I hope you have a full page of thoughts written down that you can mull over this week. It’s okay if you still need to sift through these things. You are on a journey and it can take some time to nail things down. That’s okay. You have permission to do that! 

I’m hoping these questions have helped you discover your Special Sauce!

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