University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumni Dean and Carrie (Kosek) Duehring took a risk in 2008 by starting their own business during a severe economic downturn. The Oshkosh couple opened Craft-E-Corner—a successful online craft supply store—that makes them especially jolly during the holiday season.
“As a retail company, the gift-giving season is particularly busy for us,” Carrie said.
Craft-E-Corner grossed $1.2 million in revenue in its first year alone. About half of their annual sales take place in October, November and December.
“Our sales on Cyber Monday are typically the same as the entire month of July,” Dean said.
While the couple earned their degrees at UW Oshhkosh in fields of study that don’t typically relate to scrapbooking and other crafts, they said their experiences on campus prepared them well and contributed to their success.
Dean graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1996 in secondary education, with a minor in economics and went on to earn his master’s in 2003 in educational leadership. Carrie earned her undergraduate degree in 1999 in psychology and her master’s in 2001 in industrial and organizational psychology.
“My graduate school experience at UWO prepared me with the hard skills I use every day in my work,” Carrie said. “The skills of researching, analyzing, organizing and producing conclusions have helped Craft-e-Corner change and grow.”
Dean said it takes leadership to make your vision of a business become a reality.
“I learned a lot about leadership in the process of earning my degree,” he said. “My father started his own business, and it was something I always wanted to do. When we had our first child, we decided that Carrie would leave her full-time job at Kimberly Clark to be home to raise a family.”
As a stay-at-home mom who enjoyed crafting and scrapbooking, Carrie began to sell used items on eBay.com to increase the earning potential to support her and Dean’s growing family.
“I enjoyed the task of selling out of our home, and it allowed me to enjoy many great moments with my daughters as they grew,” Carrie said.
Their top-selling product was a die-cutting machine called the Cricut.
“We were blessed with a lot of success selling this product,” Dean said. “From there, we added more and more craft products. We also added a website and started selling on Amazon.com and other sites, as well. That is when I decided to leave teaching and help her keep the business striving forward. We’ve been on a dynamic adventure ever since.”
Dean said Carrie really made the business happen.
“Carrie is the main reason why our business is successful,” he said. “She is great at researching things and using that information to make good decisions. Plus, she is the hardest working person I know.”
Carrie attributes their success to their “hard work, ability to problem solve, determination to work through challenges, willingness to take risks others wouldn’t, ability to see a situation from multiple perspectives and passion for accomplishing what some others only dream about.”
The company will celebrate its fifth anniversary in February, and Carrie said they could not be more pleased with the growth and the great employees they’ve hired over the years.
“Each day Craft-e-Corner evolves, and we adapt to see where it takes us,” she said.