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!