Free time during the pandemic led Annie Hunter to create her own Etsy shop
Written by Amanda M. Socci
Human biology helps us predict the metamorphosis of a three-year-old toddler girl into a stunning young woman at the age of eighteen. What isn’t as predictable is realizing that childhood doodles and paintings can potentially fuel further creative passions. This is what happened to Annie Hunter from Warrenton.
When Hunter was just three years old, her mother helped her older brother enter an art exhibition at the Fauquier County Fair, an annual event held in Warrenton each year. The fair gives county residents opportunities to exhibit local agricultural products and participate in livestock games and events. It also gives budding artists a competitive space to showcase their art, awarding nominal dollar prizes and ribbons to the winners as determined by a point system. Art exhibitors may contribute handmade, original artistic creations in multiple categories using assorted media, such as fine arts, digital media, food, and floriculture.
Three-year-old Hunter didn’t reallyknow or care about all those categories, but she knew enough that she wanted to be a part of the fair. “My mom knew about it [the fair] and had my older brother entering. I just decided to do it!” she explained, with no additional special reason why she wanted to make simple art and enter it into the fair. After participating the first year, Hunter caught the fair bug and decided she wanted to continue being part of the art exhibitions each year. She spent the next fourteen years making diverse art projects and submitting them to the fair.
“I always loved making things,” noted Hunter. It felt natural for her to create things at home. Participating in the county fair at first was just something she did; it grew into a desire to make more art. Each year, the fair published a pamphlet announcing categories for exhibitors to showcase their art. Hunter used that pamphlet to guide her in taking photos, making decisions on what she would do, and planning her entries, thriving on the organizational aspect of this approach.
Between 2011 and 2015 when Hunter was in 3rd – 7th grades, she ramped up production of her art and submitted at least 100 items each year, winning the fair’s Debbie Cornwall Exhibitor award for most points earned among the exhibitors for five consecutive years. She immersed herself in paintings, photography, digital art, jewelry, baking, and flowers, as just some of the examples of artistic works. She also became highly competitive, not just wanting people to see her art, but having a strong desire to win in her categories. Hunter’s self-discipline and inner motivation led her to win the fair’s Debbie Cornwall Exhibitor award for submitting the most items and gaining the most points among the art exhibitors. She was surprised and proud to win this award five years in a row.
Deeply proud of her accomplishments as asteady art exhibitor at the fair, Hunter was looking forward to the fair in 2020, but when the pandemic hit, fair organizers felt it was in the best interest of public safety to cancel the fair this year. Perhaps Hunter was disappointed with the news for a brief time, but she didn’t rest on her laurels for very long for a unique reason: she was bored!
As it turned out, Hunter isn’t just creatively talented, she is academically gifted as well. An honor student at Kettle Run High School, Hunter had all As in her classes at the time schools were shut down in mid-March 2020. Her teachers told her that her good grades would carry over to the end of the school year and she would not be required to turn in additional assignments. Without the obligation of going to school or working on additional assignments, Hunter had plenty of time to spare.
”I had free time during corona. One day, I happened to be cleaning the basement because I had nothing better to do. I found an old box of beads and made a beaded necklace. I texted some friends and they asked, ‘Can you make me one?’ “ noted Hunter with the same ease as she did when describing her initial decision to be a part of the Fauquier County Fair at the age of three.
Hunter made her first necklace using string. Seeing the positive response from her friends made her enthusiastic to make more. She watched YouTube videos and tutorials and learned how to use the correct tools for beading, stringing beads, and adding clasps. She purchased the supplies she needed and began making necklaces, bracelets, bracelet sets, and earrings.
That original spark she had from participating as an art exhibitor at the county fair all those years was igniting a new passion. Since she could no longer make art to showcase at the fair, she turned her efforts to making art for others and selling it. “It gave me some purpose during corona,” stated Hunter. Less than one month after schools closed, Hunter had already made a bunch of jewelry, established a business name, designed a logo, created distinctive packaging, and set up a shop on Etsy.
April 18 marked the day Hunter finalized her plans and made her Etsy shop public. Since then, the teen entrepreneur has enjoyed successes in leaps and bounds with her first business, Beaded Works Studio. On July 17, just one day shy of being in business for three months, Hunter was ecstatic to learn her Etsy shop had just generated its 100th sale. “This morning I woke up to find out I reached 100 orders! I can’t wrap my mind around it…” exclaimed Hunter on her business Facebook page.
Hunter has been understandably excited with her experiences in business, but she has remained humble in her thinking. “Before I had sales, I was still happy creating something on my own with my own ideas.” Next up for this teen entrepreneur is college. She is starting her first year at Virginia Tech in the fall and already has plans to continue her business on campus.
To purchase lovely handcrafted works from Annie Hunter, please visit her Etsy shop at etsy.com/shop/BeadedWorksStudio
Jenny Hunter took all photos of Annie holding the jewelry and the pictures of Annie when she was young.
Annie herself took everything else.