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:


Waterrose said...

Wonderful interview and I love your entire shop....your photos are fun too!

Brian Western said...

Fun and informative interview style...enjoyable read--the large ensemble photographs are especially appealing!

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

Great interview, and great advice about remembering to consider Etsy marketing themes when stocking our shops!

themagiconions said...

OH my gosh... you guys are utterly adorable!!! JUST like your shop :-)
Love Donni

PonderandStitch said...

Great interview! You have the best photos, too. ;)

RosaMarĂ­a said...

lovely interview!! glat to know more about you Jill!!

Nancy Wallis said...

fabulous interview! so great to get to know you better!

rachel said...

Wonderful interview, I'm a big fan of your shop!
~ Rachel

JenSan Candles said...

Wonderful enjoyable and informative read. Jill, it was great to get to know you better and Margot, you are doing a fabulous job with the interviews.