How did you get started on Etsy?
I sort of stumbled into it, like falling down a hole. I was making brooches with vintage buttons as Christmas presents for friends, and sometime around then I read about Etsy in the New York Times. It sounded easy and fun (I got that half right), so I signed up and started selling jewelry.
The vintage items, and the total obsession, came a little later.
What's your favorite part of being a shop owner on Etsy?
It’s a visual feast. I love browsing around the front page or Treasuries or my favorites and discovering fabulous, creative works and then often getting to know the people responsible for them.
What challenges have you faced during the process?
This is the flip side of the previous question. With all the fantastic, creative items on Etsy, it’s hard to get your own meager offerings noticed. Some people come to Etsy after establishing themselves elsewhere, whether in a B&M shop or online. But I needed to learn everything, from crafting jewelry, to researching and pricing vintage items (I already knew how to buy them), to shipping, marketing, and tax prep.
Of course, the best—and worst—part about it is that you’re never really done. There’s always something new to learn, something that could be improved.
What inspires you?
In general terms, art, nature, and literature, but in terms of my Etsy shop, I’m mainly inspired by the past—by the history and design of times gone by. Much of the attraction of selling vintage is imagining who made a particular piece and who used it and where. The past also provides inspiration in my jewelry, which is mostly made from buttons and other vintage components. I love the way modern art and design echoes what went before it, and it’s fun to mix and match—a Victorian glass button with an Art Deco celluloid, or chunky mid-century plastic buttons with vintage metal buttons or watch gears.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I write fiction, when I get the time, and I love to read, hike, watch movies, listen to music, travel, and hang out with my friends and family, including my husband and two teenage boys (when they let me). We also have two dogs, a 1-year-old chocolate lab and a 4-month-old husky, so it can be fairly wild around here.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Everyone has different backgrounds and goals, of course, but my most generic advice is to make it fun. Make connections with other sellers so you have friends to share your triumphs and miseries with, to learn from, and to help each other out. Enjoy and find pleasure in the work of others, and resist the temptation to be jealous, because there’s always going to be someone more talented who gets more attention.
As with everything else in life, it helps to have a sense of humor and perspective. For me, when things get frustrating, all I have to do is remember what it was like going to corporate board meetings, and I’m happy as a clam again.
Visit Susan's Etsy Shop!