Hi everyone! Allysattic here. Thank you to laurelszoo, who was willing to be the first ever Friday Feature Lab Rats member! If you missed my post last Friday, I announced that we will be featuring one of our great Lab Rats members in a blog post that is all about them each Friday.
So, let's get right down to it!
laurelszoo is a cute shop which focuses on making things for small pets as well as children. Her shop features hand sewn beds for hedgehogs and rats (and other small critters), and crocheted animals, hand puppets, and fingerpuppets for kids.
Here are her answers to the Friday Feature questions:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your shop, and what brought you to the Etsy community.
I've been crafting for about thirty years now, tho I am way too young to be saying that. Really! Stop laughing!
It started out with some booties patterns from Annie's Attic. I told my husband I bet I could sell those, and DID! :) He was really the one who took it to the next level and hooked me up with shops and craft shows. I've since seen people selling those Annie's Attic booties on Etsy, and it makes me grin with fond memories.
Designing came out of boredom at the craft shows. Many of my new things were born and sold on the same day. Eventually I decided to go with all my own stuff, and now only crochet things I've designed. I still use others patterns for some of my sewing. I'm working on it.
Coming to Etsy. Well, I could make something fancy up, but...the truth is I read a squib about it in a woman's magazine in the bathroom. How's that for a prophetic moment? I ripped the page out, looked the site up, waited anxiously for my first sale, and have been tickled and please ever since. People! Don't be squeamish! You never know when an opportunity will come knocking!
2. Besides creating beautiful things for your shop, what do you spend your days doing?
We have a very large garden for a small yard that I like to dig into whenever I get a chance. We also have tons of pets: canine, porcine, lagomorph, insectivore, and psittacine. We breed hedgies (the insectivores), so we often have prickly little babies around to play with. I read tons, mostly fiction, mostly comedy science fiction, and I have to admit I'm a bit of a gamer. I have a huge collection of NDS and PC games, and my WOW character can probably beat up your WOW character. I also watch way more tv than I should, which includes new release movies as soon as Netflix deems me worthy of receiving them, and a rather embarrassingly large collection of old movies I have at home.
3. What sources do you draw your inspiration from and what is your creative process(es)?
When I first started it was all from suggestion. People would ask "Do you have a lamb puppet?" No, no I didn't. But the next time they saw me I sure did. :) And requests from the kids. The purple alien came out of the brain of my eldest son.
I'm sure things inspire me now, but I can rarely pin a certain idea on a certain item or instance. Mostly they just percolate in my brain for a while until they finally come out. It's not always a good thing...look at the crazy legs frog! Where the heck in my brain did that come from? I'll tell you where, the slightly insane part, that's where!
4. What market (group of people) do you see your items being for?
Well, the little kiddie hand puppets are most definitely for little kiddies. I made the big ones first, saw the problems my kids had with using them, and made small ones that fit their hands. Boy, did that take off! The small pet items are for small pet owners....
Okay, my market niches may be a bit small, but it boils down to fun. I have lots of very useful stuff I make and use around my own house, but I really enjoy, and sell, the fun stuff. Most of my stuff is just for fun, or to take something that can be fairly dull...like a bed for a hedgehog...and make it fun. How fun is it to have your pet sleep in a fish? Very fun. Very very fun. :) What would you rather pick up a hot pot with, a padded square, or a little cow, complete with tail? Cow potholder is much more fun. And feet feel better in colorful handmade socks. Oh yes they do!
Sorry. Went off on a small tangent there. My market niche is people who want a bit of fun lying about their house. :)
My husband is still very upset about the time I covered an entire couch in denim patchwork. *I* liked it tho! It was fun.
5. Name your top three:
Anything by Terry Pratchett
Everything by Douglas Adams
And I'm currently anxiously awaiting the next in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Write, Diana! Write!
- Music (song or artist)
My favorite songs change frequently, so I retain the right to deny these later. Current faves are...
Paradise by the Dashboard Lights - Meatloaf
How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty
Overkill - Men at Work, I prefer the more upbeat version
- Movies or Television shows
Firefly - EVERYONE needs to watch Firefly! Go watch it now! I'll wait!
And a toss up between Farscape and Arrested Development
I don't have a favorite website. I like to just wander around looking for cool things. That's one of the things I'm really beginning to like about Twitter...I can look at cool things other people found and thought tweet-worthy, and save me some wandering around. :)
**Follow laurelszoo on twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/laurelszoo
6. What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see added?
I can watch newly listed items scroll by for hours. I discover things I never knew existed! Pouncing is also very fun. And chat! What a time-eater chat is!
I'd like to see the ability to copy and edit from an existing listing ala eBay. I know Greasemonkey has a nice feature (that I use often, thank you Greasemonkey!) but I kinda feel like I'm cheating, and you have to upload the pictures again. I'd also love to be able to incorporate some html into the body of the listings.
I'd like to see some type of relisting option that wasn't really relisting. Renewing? Reupping? Something to get you back on the top of the listings for 10 minutes or so that didn't cost 20c. Having the item expire 4 months after the original listing would still be fine, but give us a boost without giving us another bill. And I'm sure there would have to be limits on it, or people would be sitting at the computer reupping (or whatever they would call it) all day long. Eh...just a vague idea percolating at the back of my head...
7. How do you market your work? What has or hasn’t worked for you in the past?
Oh, my marketing technique is poor to non-existant. When I did craft fairs I had cards and flyers, and we approached shops for consignment and wholesale. Now it's pretty much word of mouth and wing and prayer. I'm willing to take suggestions. :)
8. What do you like most about the Virtual Labs?
Do NOT laugh...I like the fact that you can actually take a seat. And wiggle in it. And jump over your neighbor.
After that I, of course, like the information and new ideas. I don't pay nearly as much attention to the person talking as I should...I get more from the text scrolling by on the left hand side of the screen. :) Getting to see the input of many different crafters and artists on a subject is great. You have to learn something new. You can't help it!
9. What topics or events would you like to see added to the Virtual Lab offerings?
I would like to see other's experience with relisting. Did it really up sales? How did you track it? I'd like to hear what others think about the relisting old items/adding fresh items ratio and what works for them. I'd like to see input on realistic goals. How to figure out the best use of your time, and what your items are really worth. How to plan ahead for big seasons...like Xmas! Do you realize that it's only four months away? AAAIIIIEEEEEE!! And I would love to see something on what to do if someone steals your design. Not just another crafter...big corporations too. Or at least corporations, they don't have to be big. :)
I would like information on how others handle wholesale orders, health insurance, and constant interruptions from husbands. (My current favorite method: tranquilizer dart.) Most of all I would like to know how they stay up 24 hours a day for the two weeks before Xmas. We all do, don't try to hide it...just share your secrets!