The story of Kirstie Rickert, the founder of , is deceptively simple: a once shy girl finds her confidence and emerges as a hardworking leader of a multimillion-dollar business. If you go deeper, however, you’ll find the real message: far too many of us box ourselves into lives of frustrated potential simply because we lack the confidence to try something different. As you read Kirstie’s story, ask yourself if you can relate to her and, if so, how you can take one step out of your own box onto a new, exciting path for your life. Where might that lead you?
Kirstie’s story begins when she was 17 and about to vomit inside a restaurant kitchen. “It was my first night on the job,” she recalls, “and I had to make balloon animals for the customers. My boss had just told me that I would be fired if I wasn’t friendly enough. No problem for most people, but I was about as shy as you could get. I probably would have had an easier time shelving books in a library.”
Her anxiety and nerves melted as she made a balloon dog for a child. “Everyone likes balloon animals. It’s such a simple, silly thing,” Kirstie says. “Somehow I bonded with both the child and her parents as I made the dog, and I just started talking to everyone. It gave me both the confidence to survive my first night and a lot to think about on the way home.”
Kirstie would spend a lot of time thinking about her real personality and why she had been shy. “I realized that I didn’t have to remain ‘the shy girl.’ In fact, if I let myself be confident, I could have a completely different life, one full of opportunities. I went for it.”
That different mentality led Kirstie to eventually start her own business, AmourPrints, in 2012. “That was quite a step,” she states. “I took that leap of faith even though I didn’t have any money or the usual business education. I just knew what I wanted to do, so I got going.”
AmourPrints centered on unique, custom-canvas wall decor. Kirstie reached two milestones when she started her Etsy shop in 2013 and then made her first sale. “Both were incredible,” says Kirstie. “I eventually dropped out of college to do this full time, and so did my fiance because it became our dream to run our own successful business. It was a real adventure for both of us.”
Etsy became troublesome, taking down their shop multiple times without basis following their first successful year. “After trying to contact Etsy about my shop takedown and getting nowhere, we decided to move to a different platform,” Kirstie says.
Shopify offered more potential for growth and was a lot less limiting. “We began automating each process and worked to understand what we were doing. It was not easy, but we finally felt that we were getting the hang of things. Shopify certainly was not easy like Etsy because you had to do everything from the ground up. While Etsy did most of the work for you as a seller, Shopify was simply your template. I had to learn web design dev, SEO, staff management, ads, and much more. Despite these obstacles, during our first year, we were able to make $50K. My fiance focused on the designs and production while I did everything from A to Z. Our second year, we brought in $100K,” Kirstie states.
Despite the hard work and sales, Kirstie and her fiance were still battling the opposing opinions and comments from those in their inner circle regarding their business endeavors. “Our families would often express their concern for our decision to drop out of college. They feared we were making a terrible choice and suggested many alternate occupations, which we refused to do,” she explained. Shortly after the two got married, they had a sign of good faith when their business had its first big month and they could miraculously live on their own. During their first months as a married couple, they put even more into their business. By the next year, they were able to buy their first home, and Kirstie and her husband had their daughter, who is now 4 years old.
During 2019, AmourPrints faced a do-or-die moment, and Kirstie and her husband were forced to make a life-changing decision. “We were losing thousands of dollars each month, but something was telling me not to give up, to instead push through. This later turned out to be one of our wisest decisions regarding our business,” Kirstie tearfully explained.
2020 dealt AmourPrints another blow when COVID hit, and businesses all around the world faced uncertainty. Kirstie and her husband didn’t know if their business would survive, but Kirstie determinedly pushed through once again. She began researching how to increase store visibility and implemented more effective business strategies. “I upgraded to Shopify Plus and took a risk and invested all of our money. Last year, in 2020, we somehow miraculously made $3.6 million, and this year we are on track to double our earnings,” Kirstie says, beaming. “I have worked so hard, and I give God the credit for helping me through this. Our families are proud of us and now understand why we didn’t give up.”
Staying the course would allow AmourPrints to reach $4 million in sales in only four years. “That has given us the ability to help other people,” Kirstie says. “My husband and I believe that as Christians, we must be good stewards of the money God gives us. After praying over how to use it, we decided to donate a percentage of our sales to World Vision. Global homelessness really weighs on our hearts, so by donating to World Vision, we can help to fight it.”
Kirstie is thoughtful as she reflects on the journey she’s taken since high school. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing, of course,” she says. “You can look back and understand everything you wish you had known when you were younger. I sometimes wish I had known sooner that I didn’t have to remain shy. However, I am very happy with where I am today, and I think the path forward for both me and for my husband will be full of adventures that we can’t wait to experience. God has a plan for us and for AmourPrints, and we can’t wait to see more of what that is.”