Hey ladies! Welcome to another Member Spotlight, featuring our members — influencers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and girl bosses alike! Next up: Darleen Rodriguez, founder of SunnieStateOfMind, a handmade gifts & home decor shop! Read on to learn about how Darleen balances her full time job and side hustle, what inspired her to start her business, and more!

Q: Tell us a little about you, girl!

A: I live in Buford, but my 9-5 is at a renowned law firm in Midtown. I learned macrame from YouTube and other online tutorials in the summer of 2018. I started my Etsy shop Autumn 2018 with just my macrame goods, but soon expanded to include vinyl cut goods, laser engravings and laser cuts. Wood, leather, acrylic, cork and fiber are the mediums I primarily work with.

Q: What inspired you to start SunnieStateOfMind?

A: Adulting is hard. The constant stress of bills, mortgage/rent, family & work responsibilities pile up. Somewhere between all that, crafting and creativity fall by the wayside. I had forgotten my deep appreciation of art. After creating some string art at a girl’s night at my friend’s house, I realized I craved that creativity back in my life. That’s what spurred me to create SunnieStateOfMind – to share memories, activities, and creations that make me happy, and in turn, bring some sunshine into others’ lives, no matter the climate outside.

Q:  How do you balance your side hustle with your daytime job, marriage and life? 

A: Sometimes, it can be hard to carve out time for my side hustle, because my 9-5 is my main source of income. It comes first. There are days where I am exhausted from work, but I really want to macrame, cut some vinyl using my Cricut, cut or engrave on my Glowforge… but I have to remind myself not to stretch myself thin. My side hustle makes me happy & I don’t want it to turn into something that feels like work. It’s better to just relax the rest of the day and make stuff when I’m really refreshed; I want to create quality goods instead of worrying about the volume of goods.

Q:  What’s the most rewarding—and most challenging—part of your work?

A: The most rewarding part is when I get to be a small part of an individual’s or brand’s story. Whether it be engraving name tags for JJ’s Flower Shop, engraving leather luggage tags for bridesmaids’ proposals, or cutting vinyl for custom t-shirts for a preschool classroom… it is an honor that they trust me to be a part of their daily operations / special event. 

The most challenging part of my work is probably engagement on Instagram. With a platform that is growing so fast every day, it is continuing to be a challenge to stand out from the crowd.

Q:  What are some of your favorite ways to gain inspiration for new designs?

A: Keeping up with my wonderful fellow maker friends in Atlanta (and beyond)! We have such a talented, supportive community and I’ve made so many friends since I started SunnieStateOfMind.

Q:  What advice do you have for women looking to start their own business?

A: There’s no perfect time to start something. There’s always an excuse NOT to do something, but how will you know if you don’t take a risk?

Q:  What’s next for you and SunnieStateOfMind?

A: COMING SOON: I’m adding polymer clay earrings to the mix! Stay tuned to my Insta posts and Stories! 😉

There you have it, ladies.

A little peek into Darleen’s journey with her side hustle, SunnieStateOfMind! We’re always inspired by the positivity, kindness and support Darleen brings to our community and highly recommend supporting her small biz! Follow along on Instagram and shop here.

Who should we spotlight next?! Leave a comment below!

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