exciting news.

February 18, 2012

Wow. I just realized how long it’s been since my last post. I am so bad. Anyway, so much has happened since I last wrote to you all. First, I recently made my 90th sale in my Etsy shop! I remember, not too long ago I might add, how excited I was when I reached my 10th sale. It seems that the more sales I make, the faster they start coming. At the moment. I am averaging about four sales a week. I hope to start making at least one sale a day. My next bit of good news is that I finally finished my graduate school application for the distance learning program in Historic Preservation at Goucher College. I decided this program suited me best, because I won’t be geographically confined to any particular place. Acceptance letters will be mailed out on March 12th. I don’t like knowing a precise date. It makes me nervous. Still, I’ve decided it’s out of my hands now. I gave it my best effort, so if I don’t get in, it’s not meant to be. In other news, I went back to my old job at Hope House! It’s only part time, so I have time to pursue my other interests. I really missed everyone a lot, especially after looking through some old photos. Here are a few of them:

Anyway, they are awesome, and I am happy to be working with them again. I also recently got a second job as Gardener’s Attendant at Hermitage Museum and Gardens, which is a historic house museum/art museum. The house rests on twelve acres of gardens and wetlands overlooking the Lafayette River, so I think I’ve got my job cut out for me. I’m looking forward to spending some solitary time outside, digging in the dirt. I’ve interned and volunteered there in the past, so I’m really excited to get a paid position!

Apparently, two jobs and a jewelry business weren’t enough for me. I am now a co-owner of a new shop called Kitsch! A very nice and talented crafter named Michelle just so happened to see some of my jewelry through a mutual friend on her facebook newsfeed. She contacted me and we became friends. She introduced me to some other cool girls, who were brewing up a plan to create a place dedicated to the arts and crafts community. In addition to selling handmade goods and art from fellow Virginians, the shop would offer a variety of awesome classes and workshops. Once we realized we had enough financial capital to fulfill this shared vision, we jumped right in. We found a great spot located on a side street of a main thoroughfare in downtown Norfolk, in a very artistic-minded community. We were able to find most of our fixtures either for free, or for dirt cheap from thrift stores and flea markets. We also didn’t need to spend any money on merchandise because everything is on consignment! We already have over forty consignors, many of whom are from the Hampton Roads area. We found the rest of our consignors by scouring the many shops of Etsy. I must say, we have quite a lot of wonderful things including jewelry, clothing, housewares, bath and body products, and other random cool things. Our grand opening weekend extravaganza is February 25th and 26th. We plan to have live music, good food, crafter demos, and free craft projects of course! Stay tuned for photos and like us on facebook!

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etsy love.

December 30, 2011

I love Etsy. I always have. Since the moment I laid eyes on it after a Handmade Parade craft show back in (I think) 2006, I knew it was a happy place. This particular craft show was one of my first experiences with authentically handmade culture. The bright colors, the good smells, and the hopeful people stirred a new sensation within me  -one of complete consumeristic joy mixed with a bit of envy. I had always loved creating things but never considered selling them to be a viable money-making option. Here all these people were selling things that they had made -magical things to me.  As I walked around marveling at the most unique products I had seriously ever seen, I realized just how much hard work the sellers put into their respective businesses, not only the product but the presentation and the professionalism. On top of that, everybody was so nice and enthusiastic about what they were selling. Either they truly loved their job, or they were really good actors. Sadly, I could not afford to buy everything I wanted that day, but I was comforted to know that I could one day -thanks to a few letters printed on almost all of their business cards –etsy.com.

I was extremely curious and went straight to my computer when I got home. WOAH. The very first page was entrancing. My eyes tried to focus on the items displayed in a rectangular arrangement of visual splendor. It was a few minutes later that I realized the sheer magnitude of this handmade phenomenon.  I couldn’t believe all of the categories of handmade and vintage things just waiting for my consideration.

Needless to say, I was on Etsy for a few hours that night. My eyes ached when I finally went to bed at 3 am. And I had to work the next day too! It was no longer just about buying things. It was so much more.  It was a welcomed vacation from the craziness of life to a land of limitless creative possibilities and passions pursued. The PASSION oozed from the product photos and descriptions, and the sellers’ intimate bios. What I loved the most was the story and feeling that sellers brought to life in each handmade listing. I bought a few more things that night, and for the second time that day, I felt really good about the transaction. In a way, I felt like I sort of knew the people, and by owning and appreciating their handmade creations, I was helping their dreams come true. When I learned that listing a handmade item was only 20 cents, it finally occurred to me that I could try if I really wanted, to create something that another human being might want -with very little risk involved. It was such a happy, exciting feeling.

Made by Merriweather Council

Etsy has been the best study guide a novice jewelry seller like me could ever have. It’s fun, interactive, and enthusiastically helpful. There is a plethora of resources available to all levels of Etsians from buyers to prospective sellers, to beginning shops, to well-established businesses. Clearly, the learning process never ends. YES. It is overwhelming. YES. It is easy to get lost in a sea of worldwide handcrafted loveliness. YES. It is a lot of work. But it’s like a fun game too. It’s a challenge to make, photograph, name, and describe something I create that will hopefully reach out to at least one other human being. Essentially, I can play the role of designer,  inventor, photographer, marketing specialist, salesperson, financial analyst, and authentic human being all at once. This continuous cross training of professions is very time consuming but to me, never boring. And when I do manage to sell something, it is an indescribably wonderful feeling.

I am very new to selling my handmade goods. Every day I gain crucial knowledge in building a successful business. In fact, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that just a few minutes ago, I discovered Etsy’s Shop Stats. With this amazing tool, I can analyze my shop statistics and hopefully increase my shop’s exposure and appeal to the world -even through other venues like Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, and even WordPress. In fact, this is what prompted me to write such a glowing review of Etsy. Just by reading my Shop Stats I learned that my recent attempts to start a blog and Facebook page have really paid off, significantly increasing my level of exposure and subsequently my sales. This feature also showed me that people are drawn to both brightly colored photos against a stark white background, and photos of real people wearing my jewelry in a visually pleasing way. The words “Bob Dylan” and “Navajo,” have earned special places in my heart as winning item “tags” since Shop Stats informed me that they are my most searched keywords. I am so glad I am now aware of this highly informative feature. Checking my Shop Stats will become part of my weekly routine, pushing me to constantly learn ways to improve my product as well as my effectiveness as a seller. I hope to one day make a person think, “wow this girl has really taken her craft to the next level…”

Perhaps the best thing about Etsy is that it is collaborative. You can join teams, attend craft labs, post in forums, and just talk to other sellers. In my experience, most people are happy to share helpful bits of advice with an inquiring newbie. Etsy WANTS you to success. Of course, they benefit from your success, but they also understand the importance of cultivating small businesses, promoting independence and creative thinking. Basically, I just love Etsy. I could talk about it all day. I like to look at it as a sort of frontier for craftspeople of the world, a place where handmade dreams become reality. It is corny but true. Just see for yourself.