Love in the Time of Coronavirus Meets Product-Based Wedding Business with Cricut

COVID-19 has certainly turned the wedding world upside down. With ongoing event restrictions all over the world, couples having to postpone their special days, and wedding professionals who serve the celebration industry literally losing their income overnight, it's no wonder this is the year of the pivot.

It’s not so different for our editor-in-chief Chelsea as her whole life changed with a sabbatical visit to the UK, experiencing 15+ weeks in government-mandated pandemic lockdown, and meeting the love of her life amidst it all. Thanks to our continued partnership with Cricut, here’s her new entrepreneurial story and how she created a product-based side hustle with her Cricut know-how and one rather wonderful Englishman.

High Oak and Co makes elegant wood wedding signs for home and life

I never planned to be stuck in England, find my missing puzzle piece in the form of a kind-hearted British guy, or start a shop selling bespoke wood wedding signs. It just happened.

With my kitty Pickles Barrington in tow, I was starting a new life chapter with an adventure in the United Kingdom, and Robert was seeking his happily ever after. I wasn't expecting to meet anyone on my trip. That sort of thing only happens in romantic comedies, right? Well, I did meet someone. He won me over with a story of saving a baby lamb's life and Christmas socks worn in February, I won him over with American strawberry shortcake, and the rest is history... until COVID-19 busted through 2020 like a seagull stealing your French fries at the beach.

Using a Cricut machine to start a wedding product based business in the UK during COVID19 times Elegant wood wedding signs for eco friendly weddings

Our relationship accelerated rather quickly when I had to leave my AirBnb earlier than expected because of my host having to return home from overseas. We must have been psychic, really. One week before the UK government lockdown happened, being the ever wonderful gentleman that he is, Robert insisted Pickles and I move into his flat until my return flight home. By this time, we already knew we were each other's happily ever afters, but COVID-19 gave us the gift of an unexpected timeline. We didn't know that travel restrictions would make my return to Virginia impossible until summertime, so in a matter of months, I learned how incredible he was at building things, and I jokingly said we should open an Etsy shop with our talents combined. The joke turned into a vision, and that vision turned into our shop, High Oak & Co.

Adorable cat who really runs the show at High Oak and Co wedding signage business Chic dark wooden wedding cake box stands for desserts and that can be personalized and upcycled into plant stands after the event

With my wedding marketing experience and knowledge of what couples actually buy on Etsy from my Tidewater and Tulle's Etsy partner relationship and his meticulous wood cutting and DIY skills, I then introduced Robert to the wonders that is Cricut. Unlike here in the U.S., Cricut is still a relatively new brand in the British crafting world, so it was just as much sharing the excitement over a different way to create as becoming the perfect scalable way to grow our shop in the long-term while consistently having high quality products to sell to couples all over the globe.

Using a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine to start a wedding product based business in the UK during COVID19 times

Since we were in lockdown, it took us 3 months to gather all of the Cricut equipment needed (which was a little tougher than usual in England since everyone else also had some extra time on their hands at home and there are fewer UK retail stores that sell Cricut at this moment), make prototypes, do product photo shoots, and create a solid business plan so we could launch on July 15, 2020.

It was a ton of fun teaching Robert how to use our Explore Air 2 machine, how to weed vinyl, and how to transfer our designs onto our wood blocks. And like everything else he does, he picked it up quickly and mastered all things vinyl.

Elegant and chic We Eloped wood wedding elopement sign for coronavirus affected wedding High Oak and Co makes elegant wood wedding signs for home and life

The Explore Air 2 machine and its premium fine-point blade allow us to cut our designs consistently each time. While our most popular font styles right now are the lovely Romantic script and the Modern Duet mix, we offer three diverse core fonts, and our machine cuts each one with precision -- even the tiny bits! Anyone who does hand-lettering knows how tricky it can be to get a consistent look. Cricut helps us avoid that issue, and our customers know that they will get exactly what they see in our shop (with exception to natural wood variations like knots, of course! Mother Nature has control over that one!).

Cricut tools to make a small business wood sign shop successful

One of our personal challenges is that the DIY world is notoriously wasteful. We have an intentional eco-conscious focus with our business and our personal lives, so we aim to recycle and upcycle wherever we can. Having a Cricut-reliant shop definitely makes you more aware of how you’re using your materials because they literally cost you money and you need to make the most out of every inch! Our cutting mats are used to their very last stickiness, and then we upcycle them into surface protectors for other home projects. Our extra wood cut-offs are either sold in bulk as scraps or used in our fireplace. Our cutting tools (including scissors and trimmers which are Cricut-branded and 100% my go-to favorite tools for anything crafty) need to be the highest quality available because we only want to replace these as needed.

High Oak and Co makes elegant wood wedding signs for home and life Spread Love Not Germs wood wedding COVID sign for coronavirus affected events

Thankfully to continue keeping us eco-focused, our Explore Air 2 machine is built to last. However, when you have a shop, it's nice to have a mini-fleet of lean mean cutting machines to stay efficient. Enough so that I'm shipping over my beloved gold Explore Air 2 machine to the UK to join our current mint green one. (Great news if you're military or having an overseas move yourself, one of the biggest bonuses of investing now versus later in a Cricut cutting machine is that all current models are dual voltage (which means you don't need a step-down electric transformer to use). Confirmed by the Cricut Support Team, you just need to get a standard country-specific power cord to plug into your Cricut power brick.)

Using a Cricut Explore Air 2 machine to start a wedding product based business in the UK during COVID19 times

It's only the start of High Oak & Co, but we have already shipped custom sign orders all over the U.S. and the UK through Etsy. Our "Spread Love, Not Germs" table sign is the most popular and definitely representative of 2020 and the onset of COVID-affected weddings. But beyond the stats, Cricut pretty much became part of my and Robert's love story. The shop brought us closer together and gave us a fun way to navigate pandemic times side-by-side while allowing us to help couples communicate important messages on the special day. It's a mushy-perfect honor to say I get to create with my best friend and my love.

- Chelsea

High Oak and Co makes elegant wood wedding signs for home and life

Photography: Kia and Co. and Chelsea LaVere for High Oak & Co. | Craft Materials: Cricut

Many thanks to Cricut for partnering with Tidewater and Tulle to tell this story! And while the disclaimer is that we were compensated to write this, the words and our loyal love for the Cricut brand are all our own. Some of the above product links are affiliate-linked and purchasing through these links helps support our wonderful sponsors and Tidewater and Tulle! You can find our full affiliate disclosure policy here on Tidewater and Tulle.