Thursday, November 3, 2011

Member Feature: Efrat (PetekDesign)

Featured: PetekDesign
Interview by: margotbianca

Tell us a bit about who you are and how you got where you are now.
My name is Efrat Elie. I am 31 years old, and I live in sunny Tel-Aviv (and loving it!)  I have a B.A. in Visual Communication from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

I worked for many years as an art director in a leading Design studio in Israel, most of my works were in the fields of Branding and Package design, so I got used to seeing my works being displayed on the supermarket shelves.

After that I was approached by a premium pastry factory, and became their in-house designer, in-charge of all brand identity for both local and international brands: In Israel – "lachmi", and abroad – "Elsa's Story". My work there was very fulfilling, and every year I worked on new collections for Christmas and then Spring, including gift boxes sold at Costco, Walmart etc.

After 4 years I became an independent freelance designer. I always knew Etsy as a great place to find new exciting designs, and to get inspired by talented artists. When I got married (in 2008) I looked for some unique jewelry and accessories for the wedding day, and it was then that I started dreaming of having my own Etsy shop. It took me a while, but eventually I did it and opened my own shop called "Petek Design" (Petek in Hebrew meaning 'a piece of paper' or 'a note').

Do you have a job outside of selling the work we see here on etsy? if so, what is it?
In addition to selling my artwork at Etsy, I continue working as a freelance, on design projects for a variety of clients. This includes logo design, corporate brand identity, packaging, website design, and all graphic design aspects.

You can see some of my latest works here.

I feel really fortunate that I can now work from my cozy studio, next to the sea shore of Tel-Aviv, and I am my own manager, choosing my own projects, and setting my own working hours. This is really the best way to work :).

What is your favorite piece that you have in your shop right now? Why?
Well, I love all my artworks but if I really need to choose…My favorite piece is the new and recent Spooning collection – including fine art photographs of vintages spoons, lying on miniature pillows. See example.

This idea was developed from my previous graphic version posters of "spooning", after it became my most popular item.

The spoons I used are part of a collection I've started to collect during my trips with my husband all around Europe. The miniature pillows for the photo shoot were made especially for this project, by my dear friend from babytogo. For each couple of spoons we developed a special and unique "bed set". I then worked with my talented and dearest friends Arie & Yasmin Photographers. And so, all these good people believed in my idea, and helped my dream come true :)

Currently, I continue collecting vintage spoons, and my friends and family know what to get me when they travel at flea markets all around the world…

How do you find ideas for your work?
I find many ideas all around me - from everyday life and from everyday situations and conversations, strolling around in Tel-Aviv with "Lychee" (my puppy).

I also enjoy going to galleries and exhibitions all around the city, which has a surprisingly wide selection of design & art styles.

I have to admit that my best ideas were born in bed while I "blah-blah" to my hubby at night before going to sleep. He doesn't have any choice but to participate… and so together we come up with fun ideas and concepts, for my "Petek-Design" shop on Etsy.

We're at "the bottom of the hill" in terms of the holiday rush time, on Etsy. I'm wondering if you can share a few tips that you've learned about managing sales, taking care of customers and maximizing your season with us.
From my experience, there are several aspects which are always relevant, but especially relevant during the holiday rush season. First is the marketing aspect. I always try to think of fresh and original ideas for products. Though it's the same holiday, one should take the challenge and try to look at it differently every year. Be creative, be original, and if you can - add humor to the photos and texts in your listings. That way you can also enjoy the process.

As for the logistics aspect, one should be ready ahead of time with all the necessary stock and supplies (including packaging materials etc.). I also found it important to let customers know in advance that delivery times may be longer during the holiday season, and that I am always there for any questions or issues.

Do you have any long term goals for your shop in mind? Any changes or things that you are looking forward to in the coming new year?
My vision in not to be "the biggest" in what I do, but rather to be the most creative, to reach new audiences that will love and appreciate my work, and to feel satisfied and proud of my ideas. I also hope to continue visiting new and exciting places in the world, that will inspire me, and give me the energy and motivation for the future.

Visit Efrat's Etsy Shop!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Member Feature: Lorrie (LennyMud)

Featured: LennyMud
Interview by: NancyWallisDesigns

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and other interesting tidbits you care to share.
My name is Lorrie and I am an Etsyholic.  My family considered an intervention when they discovered that I was sneaking the laptop into the bathroom with me to check on convos.

My husband thinks my Etsy shop is my mid life crisis. If so, I think it's better than 5 vials of botox, a cherry red convertible, or a 20 something blonde in terms of making me feel renewed.  I now embrace my pear shape because it means I can call myself a hipster.  The truth is that I am painfully shy and somewhat socially phobic.  Etsy gives me a vehicle to connect with many people that I never have to actually meet in real life.  Online I can pretend that I am everything I wanted to be when I grew up: which was specifically a beautiful Japanese woman with an English accent.  (No one can say I didn't aspire to greatness.)

I just recently moved from New York City- where I have lived since the 80s- to the beautiful suburbs of New Jersey.  I have two amazing children that I like to refer to as "The Spawn."  My most recent purchase for our new home was an owl cookie jar.  Did I tell you I was an etsy addict?

When did you first hear about Etsy and how long did it take before you set up your shop?
I am sure I stumbled upon Etsy on some wine fueled google search a few years ago.  That would certainly explain my shop name (more on that later.)  I opened my account in March 2009, made my first sale in April and was probably on the forums hundreds of times between asking people to critique the 8 darkly photographed items in my shop.  I literally gave things away when I first opened shop on Etsy.  And I don't mean a rock bottom price: I mean I literally went into chat rooms and if someone admired something I made, I would send it to them for free.  Who knows if it was deep artistic insecurity, well meaning generosity, or a result of being drunk.  All I know is that in order to reconnect with the process of creating, I had to reconnect with the process of work moving away from myself and out into the world.  Pull up a chair:

I went to a karaoke party once and a girl there was a fairly well known backup singer for B List performers.  She refused to perform karaoke; gave some high faluting speech about it being her "craft".  After finishing a rather horrid rendition of "Total Eclipse of The Heart" I reflected upon what she had said, and then developed my own philosophy which is vehemently opposed to this kind of artistic self indulgence.  The ability I have to make stuff is a gift.  It is something that moves from outside of me and through me--I am just the vehicle for it.  I get pure pleasure from the act of creating--from the process itself.  I have never made something that I didn't give away or sell happily.  For me the joy was never in the end product: the true high is in the act of imagining and making, the icing on the cake is when you get to put it out in the world and share it.  So for Gawds sake people, if you are able to sing- sing for others!

When browsing in your shop the words bright, original and clever come to mind.  Humor is obviously a big part of your life and it shows in your designs.  Where do you come up with these ideas? and what's your inspiration?
Coming up with ideas is EASY!  Coming up with ideas that don't totally stink is the hard part.   I find everything inspiring.  Truly.  My mind is always racing 100 miles a minute and I am easily distracted by squirrels and shiny things.  If I do ever find myself a bit "stuck" I usually contemplate cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry.  The mere thought of housework usually generates several I MUST MAKE THAT RIGHT NOW ideas.

Is it true that you named your Etsy shop after your cat?
Yes.  Lenny is the name of my studio cat.  I make the pots, Lenny breaks them (that way I never run out of shelf space).  Depending on who I am talking to, Lenny is either named after Lenny in Steinbeck's novel, or Squiggy's compadre on Laverne & Shirley.  I rescued him from the streets of Harlem and he rewarded me by getting rid of the mice that infested my workspace.  When he was 3 months old, Lenny fell into a 6 gallon bucket of glaze.  He has been "challenged" ever since.  Lenny makes really bad choices.  And he is not for sale.  Probably not.

Your business goes well beyond your Etsy shop and some of us might not know that.  Can you give us a little background to your company and success.
I started a company called Our Name is Mud on a cardtable at streetfairs in NYC in the 80s and along with my wonderful husband built it into a pottery business that started the "paint your own pottery" craze on the East Coast in the very early 80s.  I owned four bricks and mortar stores in Manhattan, including one in Grand Central Terminal, and launched a wholesale company in the early 90s that made my ceramics available in thousands of stores worldwide.  I sold Our Name Is Mud to a large giftware company three years ago, but I still continue to design for the brand.   I am not your typical Etsy store owner in that I straddle a world where I am involved in manufacturing overseas and in big commercial ventures, but also try to pack my handmade mugs in materials that are eco friendly.  Getting to be listed as the #11 on in the pottery category has been just as exciting as growing a really large business.

Sometimes I think we rely on Etsy too much to sell our products.  What advice do you have in terms of marketing and advertising?
Etsy is amazing.  I love Etsy.  I think Etsy is a bit like that John Travolta movie; The Boy in The Bubble.  Etsy is safe.  Etsy is Easy.  Etsy does a lot of work for you.  When you love Etsy, Etsy often loves you back but still respects you in the morning.  The choices Etsy shop owners have to make about marketing and advertising really depend on where they want to end up - what they aspire to - how they personally define success.  Many of the fine people I have come to know don't want to grow their business to the point where they would have to sacrifice time with their family, or have less time for the actual act of creation.  Know what you want.  When you know what you want, figuring out how to get there isn't as complicated as many think it is.  Hope that didn't sound too Yoda-ish.  Maybe I should have just recommended people tweet and get a facebook page.

What specific things are you doing for your Etsy business to get ready for the busy fall/holiday season? 
I am trying SO HARD to do one significant thing:  Say No.  I suffer from the disease of yes.  Which means that when someone convos with a tale about how only the set of espresso cups I made 4 months ago will make their dying uncle in Italy smile again, I say yes when I should say no.  Multiply this by 3-5 special requests a week that I jump through hoops for and you'll understand why I am up at 5 am each morning.  And I seriously am up at 5.  Because Etsy also cannot interfere with the fact that I volunteered to help out with the PTA.  Or that I need to water my neighbor' plants while they are away.  Or give blood.  I'm seriously trying just to learn this one word: NO.  It will make a huge difference in terms of getting ahead for me stock wise.

I am also seriously limiting the time I spend on the computer.  I am rather CDO  (that's OCD but in alphabetical order)  my son has special needs and my husband has ADHD - I run my house and my life like a drill sergeant and I schedule, make lists, throw the bowling balls up in the air and tap dance while I juggle them.  I write down what time periods I will answer emails and convos, etc.  and I find that scheduling things that can be a time suck can find you time you didn't know existed because you were comatose while stalking a friend's facebook page.

What techniques do you utilize to keep yourself organized with all your orders, packaging and shipping.
I do the things I absolutely HATE and DON"T WANT TO DO *footstomp, pout* first thing. Always.  I withhold the things I really want to do as rewards for the things I must do.  I schedule times to process orders, answer convos and am very focused during those times: just like when I am with my family I am ocused on them -- you know, when I'm not checking convos wink wink nudge nudge.
I recently hired a vagrant with a bushy beard named Dan to help out a few hours per week with shipping.  He's not really a vagrant.  Probably not.  The key is knowing when to ask for help--and knowing when getting help will actually help grow your business by giving you more time to invest in it.

What's been playing on your ipod lately?
The Spawn have loaded it with Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus along with the odd Disney musical like Mary Poppins.  So I pretty much have had Pandora Radio on to the "Cat Stevens" channel most of the time, when I am not listening to the African Childrens Choir or a little Celtic harp.

If you could go on a vacation right now, anywhere in the world and money is no limit, where would you go?
Honestly, a week at home to catch up on everything would be heaven.  I'd clean out some drawers, paint the bedroom, make some of the food I've drooled over on Pinterest.  And of course, remain close to the lap top.

Visit Lorrie's Etsy Shop!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Member Feature: Jill (bellalulu)

Featured: bellalulu
Interview by: margotbianca

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, family or other interesting details?
I have been married for 10 years to my high school sweetheart. We have two young daughters and one big Weimaraner dog.

I graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Interior Design. Before kids, I worked for a design firm and then for an architecture firm. My clients included schools, churches, an electric company, and even Wal-Mart. As you can imagine, budget and creativity were sometimes very limited.

When my oldest daughter was born almost 7 years ago, I left my job to stay at home with her. I started selling on Etsy just as a hobby about 3 1/2 years ago. Now it is truly a part time job. I fit in here and there throughout the day, but do most of my work after everyone else is in asleep.

Other than family and Etsy, we are active in our church and keep busy with our daughters' activities. I also like to run, and completed my first marathon last Fall.

How did you first find out about Etsy? Did you sell vintage items somewhere before coming to Etsy?
I first saw an Etsy ad in Home Companion magazine. I went to the site and was instantly hooked! At the time I was selling vintage items out of an antique mall. I still have a booth at a local antique mall, but (shhh, don't tell them) I put all of my favorite finds on Etsy.

Where do you find such cool stuff? How much time would you guess that you spend shopping and sorting through treasures, compared to the other things you have to do to keep your business thriving?
My favorite and reliable source is our local Saturday flea market. I grew up going (sometimes begrudgingly) with my mom, and now I am almost never miss it. My mom still goes too, although usually not as early as I do. I also shop at estate sales and antique malls. It varies week to week, but do spend a lot of time hunting for treasures- that is the best part of this job! Listing and shipping aren't quite as much fun. To hold myself accountable in those areas, I make sure to list at least one item every day and to ship items quickly.

As I look at some of your first sold items, and then watch your progress over the past few years, I notice a real evolution in terms of the way you've presented your discoveries to shoppers. Can you talk a little bit about the things you've learned since the beginning of your Etsy experience?
In the beginning I didn't realize how important it was to have really good photographs. About a year and half after I started selling on Etsy, I was in a front page treasury for the first time. I saw how much attention that quickly brought to my shop. Eventually I got a better camera (a Canon Rebel) and took a photography workshop (Ashley Ann Campbell's SnapShop). Thanks to that valuable training and lots and lots of practice, my photographs and my shop have a better and more cohesive look.

Your shop announcement promises "at least one new listing every day." When did you start this practice? Have you noticed that this helps with sales, and if so, how long did it take to notice a change?
I used to do the "one new listing every day" just for a month every once and a while. When I would take a break from that, I did notice a decrease in views and sales. Honestly, a big reason I like to that is just to keep myself committed to listing at least once a day. I do think it probably helps bring customers back to the shop to see what has been added.

I so often see advice coming down from Etsy to make our item descriptions narrative and whimsical. It is a style that I think works for some shops and some items, but it is nice to see an alternative style flourishing. Your item descriptions are appealing because they are broken down into little sections that make it easy for customers to understand immediately what they are buying. Is this something that you've always done, or did you develop it as you learned?
I just started with this type of description fairly recently. It has helped speed up my listing process a bit. I was finding myself staring at a blank screen trying to come up with good descriptions. This way I can just type out the facts, whether "good" or "imperfect" and hopefully add some fun comments here and there too.

Your shop is packed with such lovely, unique back-to school themed pieces right now. Together, they work to make a visual story that is cohesive and thematic. I'm wondering how you balance marketing strategies and personal inspiration when you make decisions about your shop, and how far ahead you must plan in order to keep your shop looking seasonally appropriate.
I am currently participating in Poppytalk's Back to School Market. When it opened last Monday, I added 12 new items all at one time to my shop. They all relate to the "back to school" theme. It is so much fun to gather things for Poppytalk's themes, and often it matches up with Etsy's Merchandising Desk suggestions. I need to be better about keeping up with current themes, seasons and holidays all of the time.

How do you think your personal aesthetic effects the kinds of treasuries you make on the team?
I do tend to pick the things I really like for treasuries. I guess that means I tend to incorporate fun, imperfect, sometimes quirky, and of course many of the wonderfully creative handmade items on Etsy.

Visit Jill's Etsy Shop!

Other places to find Jill:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Member Feature: Rachel (Rachelink)

Featured: Rachelink
Interview by: NancyWallisDesigns

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mother of two little ones; Maxwell is five and Catherine is two.

I have been married for ten years this August. My wonderful husband’s name is Keith.

I have a BS in architecture from the Univ. of Virginia and a Masters of Architecture form the Univ. of Washington. I’ve been practicing on my own for a few years now.

I am from Bucks County, PA (north of Philadelphia) originally, lived in Seattle for 10 years for grad school and work, and then returned back to the Philadelphia area when Maxwell was born.

I work mostly in the evenings and during naptimes and find time somehow to squeeze my Etsy work in. Drawing makes me happy.

How did you get started selling your work on Etsy?

I always wanted to have a card shop but considered it a dream until a few years ago when I heard people talking about Etsy. A friend of mine opened a shop, my neighbor shopped on Etsy for her clothing and moms talked about it on the playground. I was pregnant, not working very much, and was given a computer and a scanner. So I bought a nice printer, scanned some older Christmas cards that I drew and made a little shop. I was amazed that people actually bought them.

What do you enjoy most about selling on Etsy?

I love that there are people out there all over the world making and creating and sharing their creative gifts with others through Etsy.

My favorite thing about selling on Etsy is doing custom work for people who find my shop and like my drawing style. It is rewarding and encouraging to know that there are people who value what I am creating.

Do you remember your first sale? Can you tell us about it and how it made you feel.

I do! My first sale was to my dear friend Dawn. I felt so much gratitude for her starting things off – and also humbled, because I would have given them to her for free. But I was even more surprised when complete strangers started buying my cards.

Your shop just brings a smile to my face and these words to my mind – happy, colorful, whimsical and clever. Where do you get your inspiration for your illustrations?

Thanks for your kind words! I think since my real work as an architect is so structured and focused, Etsy has become a real outlet for me. A place that is all mine – to be silly, happy, whimsical and free.

I get a lot of ideas from spending time with my family…slowtime, playtime, wandering time.

I like to draw what is around me and then add playful elements to them to make them whimsical or special.

A lot of my ideas are also designed originally for my family members and friends – I have a lot of fishing and music card ideas I made for my dad, flower cards for my mom, typewriter, pen and truck cards for my husband, beachy card ideas for my friends, etc.

I used to get a ton of ideas from Alchemy on Etsy. I developed some of my most popular designs in response to Alchemy requests. Hopefully Etsy will bring back that feature one day.

Do you have any specific goals or plans for your shop coming into the fall season? Such as new products, perhaps promoting your work or changes or improvements you want to make in your shop.

I would like to introduce more original work into the shop, and I have a lot of ideas for custom and personalized illustrations that could be sold as original artwork rather than as cards. I love doing architectural renderings, and I would like to expand that into custom maps for weddings and save-the-date cards.

I would also like to expand on some of the themes I have in my shop – I think of many concepts as a series, but have trouble finding the time to develop the series. For example, I want to draw a whole marching band of instruments having a party, but I have only gotten to the trumpet so far. Every year I add a winter pear card, a bike, and now I seem to be drawn to lobsters.

Your cards are carried by a number of stores and boutiques. Do you have any advice for others looking to sell their products outside of Etsy on a consignment or wholesale basis. How did you initially get your cards into these stores? Are there things you would do differently based on your experience now?

I have been very lucky in that I have never done anything to promote myself (except for my mediocre Facebook page). Shops just seem to find me regarding consignment and wholesale. We joke that my Rachelink store on Etsy is growing despite my lack of time and promotion. I am excited for what may happen when I can find more time to focus on bigger projects.

My advice for consignment would be to make sure you have a good relationship with the store owner, and to be diligent about keeping track of your inventory. Also, remember to take your time and calculate your shipping/packaging costs into your wholesale pricing. I tend to underestimate these hidden costs.

Apart from creating things for your shop, what do you like to do?

Before I had children I was an avid reader and movie buff – I look forward to finding time to do these things again one day. I love to bake, read cooking magazines, knit when it’s cold outside, and travel. I like to exercise when I can. I love spending time with my family.

Putting practicality aside (and all those other things in life that can hold us back) where would be your dream place to live?

If I could return to the east coast and the city once in a while, I would love to live on Lopez Island, which is in the San Juan Islands in Washington State, but my husband would rather live in Wyoming, so I guess we’ll need a helicopter.

Any special summer plans for you and your family?

We will visit my parents at their cabin in Canada. This is one of my favorite places to be. I have gone there since I was a child).

We will also try to go to Ocean City, NJ for a bit off-season. We love the shore but not when it is super hot and crowded.

Visit Rachel's Etsy Shop!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Member Feature: Shannon (Shannonblue)

Featured: Shannonblue
Interview by: Margotbianca

Tell us a little bit about who you are and what makes you who you are.
The basics: I was born in Louisiana but have also lived in Rhode Island, Florida, Texas, and now Colorado. I’ve been married for 14 years. We have a 4-year old daughter, 2 ½-year old son, and a 14-year old dog named Dharma.

In another life I worked as a chemical engineer, then later as a software test analyst. After I had my daughter, I just wanted to stay home and hold her all day long. I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my job to do just that. And take millions of lousy pictures of her. Thus started my quest to become a true photographer.

I notice that you share your work in several places online. What is the relationship between selling your work on Etsy and your use of social networking and blogging to get your work seen by more people?
When I first started out, I fell into a great group of new moms much like myself on the photo-sharing site Flickr. We were all interested in photography and looking to improve. We did weekly photo challenges and later a 365 project, where we took a photo every day for an entire year (during much of my second pregnancy and the birth of my son). I made a lot of connections through Flickr, learned a lot about photography, and gained a lot of exposure on Flickr’s Explore (much like Etsy’s front page). I was encouraged to pursue selling my work on Etsy.

After I opened my Etsy shop and waited endlessly for my first sale, I realized I needed to work at it a bit more. I started a checklist of things to do: Facebook – check! Blog – check! Twitter – check! Flickr was a great start for me, but I don’t feel like I’ve been using these other social networking tools as effectively as I could be. I’d love to share more personal things and feature other artists and create more of a relationship with my followers. But I honestly don’t have the time to keep up with it all. I do what I can.

I read in your profile that you were inspired to begin photography as a way to document the growth and milestones happening in your family. I'm wondering how you balance enjoying an experience with your family and your desire to create an artifact of the moment.
There are definitely times where I have to tell myself to “put the camera down, Shannon.” It’s a struggle to balance it. On occasions when I do leave the camera at home, I find myself sneaking shots with my iPhone.

What is the biggest challenge you face as you work to make a living from being a photographer?
Right now my biggest challenge is time, balancing family with photography. Being a stay-at-home mom is my top priority, and a full-time job on its own. I fit in the photography when I can because I love it, and I try to finance it through my Etsy shop.

My goal in the next few years once my kids are in school full-time is to continue the fine art photography, but focus more on portraiture. I’d love to be able to be my own boss, schedule my own hours, but still bring some money in.

What qualities set your photos apart from other photographic work on Etsy and elsewhere?
That’s a tough question. There are so many wonderful photographers on Etsy, and each has his or her own style. There’s a large array of work, from the photographers whose work is largely SOOC (straight out of camera) to those who do a tremendous amount of post processing with textures and other techniques. I try to keep my images fairly true to reality, but enhance them to magnify the subject’s true beauty. I love taking photos of ordinary objects and making them beautiful, making the viewer see them in a way he or she may not have seen before.

You describe your work as always evolving. Can you talk about a few ways it has evolved already, and share the changes you see happening in your work in the future?
You can look at my photostream on Flickr and see the evolution as I searched for my style. Much of it was a learning process for me. My first forays into Photoshop were rather scary – from creepy eyes that were too white and blue skin tones, my obsession with bokeh and blur, to my overuse of textures. I’m a lot more confident in my photography and my processing now, with a much cleaner look. Also much of what I started with was flowers and nature shots, and I’ve since been gravitating toward other subjects. I’d love to start working more with actual people. I also want to try more film photography.

Are you engaged in other creative activities, aside from making photos?
My daughter keeps me busy doing art work with her. Does that count?

What do you do when you take time off from work? And, what are your plans for the coming summer months?
Just last weekend it was finally warm enough for me to plant my vegetable garden. I love having fresh tomatoes during the summer. And we’re trying to plan a trip to San Diego in the fall – our first real family vacation since our family went from two to four. This winter I hope to get back to snowboarding, which was put on hold these last few years.

See Shannon's Etsy Shop!

Monday, June 13, 2011

TeamT's First Treasury Giveaway

16 members from TeamT International participated in our first treasury giveaway. Shannon of shannonpix took responsibility of organizing this event and randomly picking the winner. She created this treasury and we kept the comments open for one week as we gathered views, clicks and comments.

Some stats on the treasury:
739 clicks
Lots of time in the #1 hottest of hot treasury spot

The winning number was #367: Jessica of
inspiredmama75 . Congratulations, Jessica, on winning all the items in this treasury!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Member Feature: Lisa (ThatOldBlueHouse2)

Featured: ThatOldBlueHouse2
Interviewed by: NancyWallisDesigns

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I majored in Fashion Merchandising in College, wanting to be a Store Buyer. By the time I graduated I had worked retail since I was 16 and realized retail is a weekend and holiday proposition, so I decided enough of that. After I graduated I worked selling Interior Plantscapes (plants and maintenance for commercial accounts) and that is where I met my husband. While dating I took a Stained Glass class at a local shop near my home in Texas. I made suncatchers for friends and family, until I ran out of people to give them too. A friend opened a floral shop and asked me if I wanted to put a few pieces in her shop. Well, a couple of days later I sold a piece...and I was hooked!!!

When my first child was born (I have three – ages 24, 21 and 14) I decided I wanted to be a stay at home mom (with my husband’s consent of course!), so I sold my suncatchers at craft shows, consignment shops and craft malls. Over the years (20+ ouch!) my work has evolved to where it is now.

How did you get started selling your work on Etsy?
I found Etsy through a friend, who heard about it from another vendor at a Wholesale Market. He said he loved Etsy and suggested she look into it. At the time, we both were at a turning point in our business...we had suddenly lost our Sales Rep who had been very successful for us, and it was also during the economic downturn when a lot of the stores that bought "handmade" were beginning to go back to the cheaper imports. I decided to try it - that was just over 2 years ago and I haven't looked back!

What do you enjoy most about selling on Etsy?
There are so many things I love about Etsy! Being computer stupid, it is easy for me to figure out, and what I can't do, I am learning. Through Etsy I have sold to many different locations worldwide, which is exciting. But most of all, I love the "family" feel of Etsy. I have made lots of friends and of course found some fantastic artists, art and customers. Who could ask for more!

When I look at your designs I can’t help but imagine who the owner was and where this little bit of fabric might have originated. I envision tablecloths draped under tea parties and grandmother’s quilts. Where do you find all these little bits of history?
Since I use "tattered" quilts and lace, I have a fairly easy time finding the imperfect items. I go to antique shows, malls and occasionally auctions (when I have a lot of time). I just had someone send me a bunch of her old torn hankies, because she didn't want to throw them away! I in turn made her a pair of earrings, since she didn't want payment, and I have some nice pieces that otherwise would have ended up in the trash.

What inspires you?
Inspiration for me, comes from the fabric piece itself. I love to pull out the old quilts especially the crazy quilts, and I may see a square that a month before didn't interest me at all, but for some reason, I see something in it that day that gets me really excited. I love the crazy quilts, because they are heavily stitched by women who had tons of chores and responsibilities, but yet they created these beautiful quilts & used them....they didn't hang them on the wall to enjoy. The fabric is tattered, but most of the embroidery is still strong and beautiful. Most of these quilts would be thrown away or put in a closet and forgotten today. But to me, they are truly works of art!!

It’s lovely how you can create a wearable memory for someone using a treasured keepsake fabric. Do you have a favorite custom piece that you have made for someone?
Right now I am working on lace necklaces for bridesmaids to wear for a wedding. The bride has 9 bridesmaids and fortunately, the lace she wants I have exactly 9 pieces that match. I have also made pieces for people with their family lace or quilts. These are usually from Grandma, and are made as keepsakes for the children and grandchildren as a way to remember her.

As Etsy has grown over the years and the competition increases you have really been successful. This is no small feat, especially in the super saturated category of jewelry. Can you offer some tips, advice, perhaps share improvements that you have made to your designs and shop presentation to get to where you are today?
As a jewelry artist in a saturated jewelry market, I don't have a lot of advice.

A few suggestions would be:

  • wonderful pictures
  • find a niche, but do what you like, don't try to do something because it seems to work for someone else or you won't be happy
  • have different price points
  • always try to find new have to stay ahead of the pack
  • have good customer service

What flavor of ice cream would you order?

What’s the last book you read or movie you saw in a theatre? Did you like it?
The last book I read was by PD James - Unnatural Causes. I am a mystery lover....
Last movie in the theatre I saw was Indiana Jones...yep, I don't go to the movies very often! I am a big cry baby and don't like to watch things that make me cry...which is just about any movie. My kids love to look at me if anything is sad on tv to see if I am tearing up....

Apart from creating things for your shop, what do you like to do?
When I am not working I am usually attending my sons ball games. All three of my kids were athletes, so most of our social life was with the other parents at the games. We have a big garden, although I hate to weed, but do enjoy time outside. Oh, I have lived in the country for 22 years now and wouldn't change it for the world!

Visit Lisa's Etsy Shop!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Member Feature: Efrat S. (TsuraLi)

Featured: TsuraLi
Interviewed by: NancyWallisDesigns

As one of the newest TeamT members we would like to get you know you better. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself.
My life has always been about creating. In the army I was a photographer. When I finished my service I studied graphic design and worked as a graphic designer for a while. When I was pregnant with my first child I worked in a photography studio as a wedding album designer. With my second child on the way I felt I needed a break and took time off.

About two years ago I was looking to start a business of my own. I started making accessories for my daughter and slowly it became a small business (still is). I turned the computer corner into my studio (small and colorful). I began selling my accessories, with a little push from friends and family, at local shops and doing holydays sells with fellow designers.

You opened your shop in December 2010 so you are new to Etsy as well. How did you get started on Etsy?
I have been familiar with Etsy for quite some time. I started as a buyer and got caught up in this wonderful world of supply and handmade designs. Some friends who have shops on Etsy got me interested in opening a shop of my own. I pondered about it for a while, reading lots of articles and information about what it takes to open a shop and finally jumped into it. So far it's exciting and fun for me.

Your shop is so fresh and happy looking and visually appealing. Your photos are especially eye catching. Photos are challenging and often a place where new shops fall flat. Do you have any advice on taking such great photos?
I'm trying to keep the shop fresh and inviting by improving the photos all the time. I take photos with day light. Natural light is the best light for most products. Also creating a scene for each item makes it more vivid and appealing. Keeping the shop unified is very important, just like a real shop. I love taking close up pictures and highlight segments of my designs.


What challenges have you faced in opening your Etsy shop?
Time management is definitely the most challenging issue for me. I can say I'm an addict and I need to keep the balance between my family and the shop (and other interesting stuff on the net). The time difference is not helping either. When it's morning in the US it is early afternoon in Israel and all the "action" starts late at night.

Another challenge is the shop visibility. Trying to keep up with so many beautiful accessory shops is hard thing to do.

What’s your favourite part of being a shop owner on Etsy?
The interaction with customers and sellers is my favorite part of being a shop owner, besides designing and creating. It is so rewarding to hear good words about what's in your heart. I also love making treasuries. It is so much fun finding so many gorgeous shops.

Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
My children, my home, colors, patterns, shapes, fabrics, clothes, drawings, contemporary art, vintage decor. Inspiration can be found anywhere and in anything.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
I enjoy reading design magazines, watching a good movie, shopping, eating and spending as much time as possible with my family. I take great interest in home décor, sewing, fashion design, interior and industrial design. Papier mâché is an old love of mine. Especially, making dolls.

If time and money (and generally all those things that get in the way) were not an issue what is one thing that you have always wanted to try to do?
Definitely study fashion design!!