Friday, October 29, 2010

Virtual Lab Highlights

Time again for another virtual lab highlights. These questions/answers came from the Seller Chat with HeyMichelle on Wednesday 10/27/10. Due to some technical difficulties on Etsy's end, the chat was a bit short, so there's only a couple things that I have to share.

1. Can the word "gift" be used in tags? The most recent Merchandising article in the Storque was a bit confusing.

The simple answer is no
, you cannot tag items with the word "gift" unless they are something like handmade gift bags, gift wrap or something similar. Per the Etsy Do's & Don'ts:

"Tags should only state what the item is, not what the item may become or potential uses for the item (for example: yarn should not be tagged with "sweater," beads should not be tagged with "bracelet," small gift items should not be tagged with "stocking stuffer")."

The article in question is the November "From Etsy's Merchandising Desk" article. It talked about thinking in terms of what types of gifts your items would make, and creating treasuries as gift guides. The article was talking about tagging Treasuries with the words "gift" or "gift guide" which is perfectly fine.

2. Do other shops have their own unique website, and does it help bring business to their Etsy shop?

HeyMichelle decided to post this question in the room as 2 polls, and here are the results.
  • Do other shops have their own unique web site? 19 yay, 23 nay
  • If yes, does it help bring business to your Etsy shop? 10 yay, 5 nay
It was mentioned that even if you're not ready to dive into creating your own website, it may be a good idea to purchase the domain name that you would like, say one that is similar to your shop name. You can then set that domain to either forward directly to your Etsy shop or put a link to your shop on that first main page.

Well, that's the highlights for this lab. Hope they were interesting and informative. Come join us soon in the Virtual Labs!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Introducing..... our Lab Rats Team Welcome To Our Newest Members!

Introducing......... Our newest members for October!

Our team is growing and we cherish each member! We are happy to welcome our newest members by introducing them to the entire team. Here is our opportunity to meet our new teammates, make new friends and help one another in our endeavor to make our shops better.

Lets give a big Lab Rats Team welcome to our newest members!


1. What is your given name? (If you are only comfortable giving your first name that is fine.)
Heather Flanagan

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller).
Oh, about two years, I think.

3. How long has your shop been open?
I opened it in May 2009 selling handspun yarn and fibers. I recently did a big revamp to focus more on handwoven scarves, with the yarn and fibers as a side line.

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
Oh, this one, without a doubt .... my orange handwoven silk scarf.
The color is wonderful, and the drape of the scarf is just perfect.

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
Messing with my cats, reading fantasty, sci-fi, and/or trashy romance, hugging my sweetheart, that kind of thing. Essentially I'm a home-body and would rather be here crafting than doing anything else. I also volunteer (and might even get paid some day!) as coordinator for an information technology project called COmanage funded by the NSF and Internet2.

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
What are your favorite colors? I like to know 'cause it helps me think about what colors I'll be using next for my scarves!


1. What is your given name?

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller).
Since March of '09, so a little over a year and a half.

3. How long has your shop been open?
Since April of '09.

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
Wow that's a hard one; I can hardly pick just one! I'd have to go with my Blue and/or Gray Scarf. It's simple and warm yet beautiful to me. I have this thing for simple beauty. :)

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
I enjoy life itself and take advantage of all it offers me. Dancing, writing, being with people I love, hiking, creating just to create, enjoying nature in all its' forms, listening to and making music, singing, swimming; these are just a few of my favorite things to do if I'm not creating for my shop.

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
I would like to ask my new teammates: What would you like to see me make more of? Either something new (I enjoy being challenged with a new design) or more of something that I'm already selling (perhaps more bottle-cap necklaces?).


1. What is your given name? (If you are only comfortable giving your first name that is fine.)
My name is Olga.  

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller).
Approximately a year.

3. How long has your shop been open?
My shop has been open since February, 2010.

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
My favorite item in my shop was just sold recently, my next favorite is my red ruffled Iphone case.

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
I enjoy my super cute 3 little adorable kids. I am happy being a mother.

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates? 
Oh my, that is hard, since I have so many of them. I guess, what was the most successful thing you did, being the owner of the etsy shop?

1. What is your given name? (If you are only comfortable giving your first name that is fine.)
The name on my birth certificate is Laura but I prefer to be called Poppy

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller).
Since July 2010

3. How long has your shop been open?
Since September 2010

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
My favourite changes daily I think today it is my Needle Felted Fluff Egg Totoro Phone Charm.
5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
Looking after my 3 cats 2 rats and tortoise

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
Etsy Related - What promoting methods work best for you?
Non etsy related - What pets do you all have?

1. What is your given name? (If you are only comfortable giving your first name that is fine.)
Amber Toland

2. How long have you been on Etsy (includes the time you were NOT a seller).
Since 2009

3. How long has your shop been open?
August 2010

4. Which item in your shop is your favorite?
Monsoon Shave Jelly

5. What do you enjoy doing when not creating for your shop?
Spending time with my family

6. What question would you like to ask your new teammates?
None I can think of so far.

Welcome to team Lab Rats!  We all look forward to seeing you and getting to know you even better!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life of an Item with Franticfiberfun

Just about all of my scarves start out as a problem I assign myself to solve. Sometimes it is a fairly simple problem, like "How can I best bring out the character of the yarn I'm featuring?" Other times its "I need 1200 yards of yarn for warp and weft, and I have 3 450 yard skeins of different colors. How do I make a scarf out of this?" In the case of my latest scarf, the problem was "How do I use to best effect this pattern that I have only read about?"

Creating a scarf is, on average, a 14 hour endeavor. It start with measuring off the yarn for the warp - the long part of the scarf. Sometimes I measure off enough for 3 scarves at a time, which works out to about 280 7-yard threads. I'll spend up to 3 hours just measuring yarn! From there, the yarn goes to the loom and I have to get each thread through the right holes in the right order, and make sure that each thread is as tight as the next thread - that's called tensioning. Another 4-6 hours right there. It's only after all that is complete that its time to weave! The weaving itself goes by fairly quickly - a single scarf can be done in 4-6 hours. But wait, there's more! The scarf, when done weaving, is still not Done. After it is off the loom, its time to tuck in any loose ends, wash it to get the yarn to set in place, and press it to complete the item. If I decide to add beads or something to the fringe, tack on another 2-4 hours.

Through all of this, there are breaks that must be taken, because weaving can be hard on a body. Lots of short, detailed, repetitive movements. Fortunately, I have supervision to remind me of the more important things in life, like petting the cat!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Holiday Trunk Show Announcement

Frosty the Snowman by Yarnabees
The time is coming for our 2nd Annual Holiday Trunk Show! This year we will be having a two night event on Tuesday, November 30th and Wednesday, December 1st both at 8pm EST. Why two nights? Well, this way more teammates will be able to participate and more people will be able to attend without the evening getting too long.

Now that you know the basics, it's time to sign up! All Lab Rats members are invited to participate and present their deals. Check out this link if you would like to participate. Everyone else is invited to shop! So join us in the Virtual Labs Moon Room for this fabulous event.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feature Friday - Welcome MollysMuses!

Please give a warm welcome to Molly from MollysMuses

Where can we find you?

Little Cowgirl with Pistol color print in the mountains
My website is
My facebook fan page is
My Twitter!/MollysMuses

1) Please tell us about yourself, your shop and what brought you to the Etsy community. And walk us through a typical day from your daily life.

I am in the mountains of Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and State College (Penn State University)

I have been a photographer for 15 years, with a wedding business, portrait business and commercial. Slowly I have come to the realization I am most happy creating art pieces that I want to create. I have focused on group and independent shows. When I moved to rural PA, from Daytona Beach, Florida 15 years ago I lost the community feeling of artists talking with each other and I am so thankful I found Etsy because I love that aspect of it as much as the opportunity to sell my work.

I am also a licensed bail bond agent that works from home, so a typical day without a bail client... I am up with my children, send them to school and I always check out what’s happening online. Then I like to look through images I am working on and edit pictures. If it’s nice outside I like to go and create more pictures. I am off and online all day and I love attending virtual labs since building an online business is newer to me.

If I have a bail client, well let's just say the day can hit the fan, depending on which courthouse, jail and family I have to meet with. I say it can hit the fan because I can't go a day without my photography so I make all of it happen :)

Classic Car Vintage Pink Cadillac fine art
3) Name your top 3:

Books… My favorite books are The Red Tent, The Help, The Kitchen God's Wife

Music… I am huge into Pandora with stations like Johnny Cash, Jane's Addiction and No Doubt but my favorite band right this minute is Thousand Foot Krutch

TV… My husband and I are currently re-watching EVERY Xfile season:)

Web sites… Website favorites for me are FACEBOOK (I admit it) (it's my families hobby) and Pandora because I work along side of it all day

But if you ask me about blogs....

I like and of course the labrats!

4.) What are your top 3 shops on Etsy?

It is very hard to narrow my favorite shops to 3. BUT I am obsessed with I have a print in my kitchen :)

5.) What projects are you currently working on?

My current project is working on featuring a different each week on my blog for a handmade countdown to Christmas. When I started a bucket list last year I decided I wanted to buy a year of handmade gifts so this is one way I am sharing that with others.

I am an area coordinator and photographer for something that I feel blessed to volunteer for and it is an on going passion.

6.) Where do you hope your shop will be in a year?

In a year I hope I have tweaked my shop to have a consistent sales and have a 2 new lines of work, one based on the fruit of the spirit and the other surrounding a carousel horse I found in the trash... we will see;)

Beautiful Large SpiderWeb in Nature 8x10 print color photography
7.) What suggestions/tips would you offer to someone new to Etsy?

My favorite tip for Etsy is buy something. Until I made some actual purchases and received them and saw the packaging, the quality and uniqueness it was really hard to feel like I was a part of the community :)

And by the way - for the month of October, Molly is donating 10% of sales from all of her images with PINK to the DuBois Regional Medical Center, Hahne Cancer Center for the MONTH OF OCTOBER for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life of an Item with JellyBeans

Hello everyone! My name is Angie, and I'm the person behind Jellybeans! Named 'Jellybeans' after the most wonderful sweet thing in the world. I'm based on Ontario, Canada and I work out of my tiny student apartment. In my shop, I sell mostly watercolors of the 'tree-variety', but I also work in Acrylic, and I have begun to dabble in oil paints the past few months.

For my watercolor trees, once I have an idea worked out - either in a sketchbook or maybe just simply in my head, I draw the outlines on watercolor paper. The outlines are always very simplified: the trunks and the general shape outline of the tree. I paint the trunks first, and then items in the trees, if any - such as apples. Lastly I paint the leaves. It's pretty much a random notion how I go about painting the leaves. Sometimes there will be order, and sometimes not - I think that's what I enjoy most about these watercolor paintings, there's so much freedom in my work.

My non-tree watercolors are planned out much more rigorously, since once you lay something down in watercolor, it's hard to take it back and sometimes even harder to cover it up. In watercolor, there is a lot of commitment - but the beautiful transparent colouring of the paint is so beautiful. I try to 'reserve' white spots - meaning that I do not use white paint, I just try to keep that piece of the paper clear of all paint.

I also try not to use black in any of my artworks - watercolor, oil or acrylic. I have a grey colour for my watercolors, but I only use it on pieces where grey is requested - and sometimes I'm still even able to mix a sort of grey from my colours. For the other two mediums, I just mix a certain red and green together to get a colour similar to black, but without that 'empty' feeling. I do use black to paint the sides of my gallery canvas' when requested, but that's not really 'part' of the painting. Thus, in watercolour - since I'm not using any white or black - I'm completely painting in all 'true' colours, which I'm sort of proud of :) That being said, everyone has their own way of painting, and I would never judge anyone for their way - that's the beauty about painting, the diversity among all painters.

Treasury Challenge Winner!

Congratulation to BySaraLynn!  You are our October Treasury Challenge winner!

Just a Bit Eerie - by BySaraLynn

All of the treasuries were amazing, but this one won the voters over!  Congratulations!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Time to dust your shop?

It's only reasonable that the focus of most shops is their items: making or acquiring them, taking those awesome photos, writing titles and descriptions, and toiling over tags.

But just as bricks-and-mortar shops need routine cleaning and maintenance to stay fresh and interesting, Etsy shops deserve an occasional tidying too. Some handy links take a look at making the most of those non-item shop elements:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life of an Item with 2nd Coming

Hello my fellow labrats! I'm so honored to have been selected for "The life of an item" series.

I've chosen to discuss my "(Frida Kahlo is) Strongly Vaginal" print. It all started one night while I was watching the Big Lebowski with my husband, the infamous scene came on screen where Maude Lebowski is explaining her art to Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski:

I found the scene to be hysterical, yet poignant and it really resonated with me. I identified with idea of creating art from a definite female perspective (strongly vaginal), much like Maude but I found it to be ridiculous how seriously she was taking herself and her art.

That planted the seed in my brain to create a piece that speaks about the idea of "strongly vaginal" art but captured the humor of the scene AND my body of work in general.

So I carried that little seed around for awhile until one day Frida Kahlo randomly popped into my head. I thought to myself, "Frida is the poster child for strongly vaginal art!" But I was worried about how to successfully integrate the two concepts, stay true to my sensibility and not create hackneyed Frida Kahlo art.

During this time I was also really interested in hand drawn typography, so I tried to figure out how to incorporate the words "strongly vaginal" with an image of Frida. Soon, I started thinking about her signature eyebrows and the rest is history :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Treasury Challenge Finalists

As always we had amazing entries for this month's Treasury Challenge, but we've managed to narrow down the entries to the top 4.  Congratulation to AgelessThings, BySaraLynn, RolyzCreations, and SarahUndercover!

A Halloween Story - AgelessThings
Just a Bit Eerie - BySaraLynn

Black Pumpkins - RolyzCreations
Halloween Lab Rats Treasury Challenge - SarahUndercover
The curator of the winning treasury will be featured in our Rat Spotlight!  Be sure to vote for your favorite here!

Vote for your favorite Treasury!
SarahUndercover free polls

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feature Friday

Please extend a warm LabRats welcome to our Feature Friday artist this week, Dee from 4GetMeNotTreasures!

Where can we find you on the web?

1. Tell us about yourself, your shop, and what brought you to the Etsy community.

I’m 48, married, have 3 children and a grandson that will turn 1 in December. I live on Long Island, NY with my husband, two sons, a menagerie of dogs & cats and a turtle. I’m heavily involved in Boy Scouting & help plan events for hundreds of Scouts through the year. Needless to say – it’s a busy – and cluttered household in more ways than one! :)

I’ve always loved collecting things. I’ve been collecting ever since I can remember – and the older I get, the worse the compulsion is. It’s in the genes. My grandmother & grand aunt were both “antiquers” – well… aunt collected just about anything. And…my mom collected anything AND everything, & this apple did not fall far from that tree!

I’ve also been crafting since I was in the single digits. The diorama eggs I started making when I was around 8 years old. I love turning trash into treasures. Add to all this that I am an extreme sentimentalist – or as some would say – a pack rat. I save just about everything! I love junk…it almost always turns out to be quite the treasure (at least in my eyes). In what little spare time I have, I like to craft (usually using some “junk”), cross stitch, & garden (where you’ll see more “junk”).

I found Etsy in some magazine years ago and, of course procrastinated on looking into it. One of the collectibles newsletters I receive suggested Etsy as a venue for selling vintage & antiques, so I looked…lurked…& liked what I saw. I could blend both worlds that I loved – collecting & crafting into one place….and moreover it was a community – not just a “site”.

My mom and I loved to shop flea markets, second-hand stores, antique stores, garage sales and auctions (you’ve got the idea!). She had so many plans for us and our collecting frenzies but unfortunately passed on before we could see any of it come to fruition together. And, like many people it’s time for me to begin to pass on some of my – and my family’s – treasures. In a few years I plan on moving to my mom’s house…a house which is considerably smaller than my own & packed with just as much stuff (if not more). No matter how much I have tried to ignore the obvious, I now have to face the reality. My packed house and her packed house are impossible to combine (that is if I want to be able to actually live in the house :) )!!

4Get-Me-Not Treasures is in a sense, a tribute to mom. Her favorite flower, combined with the promise that I will forget-her-not – nor the promises, dreams, and times we shared. She and I can still work together side-by-side while in different worlds. What more could anyone ask for?

2. Walk us through a typical day in your life.

I get up at 7 AM turn on the computer en route to making coffee. While that’s brewing I open up the 7 windows in my browser that I bounce in throughout the day and any of the other “windows” I’ll be needing. Usually – by then – I can steal the first cup of coffee. I glance through emails & threads to see if there is anything earth shattering that I need to know. By then…it’s time for a refill & I begin to figure out the day. If there have been any sales I print out invoices etc. I look at the first page of my shop & then see what’s expiring. I’m trying to list/renew at least 4 items a day now while trying to vary the type of items I list daily (that saves on having to rearrange things later). I make sure that I have all I need to list the items for that day & then figure out what I’m going to be listing the next day. (I’m trying to stay at least one day ahead). Then, it’s time to figure out what I’m low on so I know what to research.

By this time – it’s time for cup 3…and grandbaby usually arrives around this time. For the next 8 hours – the day is a grab as I can. When I research I write outlines for every item that also include the tags, weight & price, & picture numbers. So, at some point I find the outline for the item(s) I’m going to list and put together the description so it’s ready to be listed at its “proper” time. I try to do this while the baby is napping. When he is up & playing - I research (my train of thought can be interrupted then).

The holes in the rest of the day get filled with the various other things – packing orders, cleaning items, polishing silver, etc., whatever needs to be done. I also spend a good deal of time in one of the other clubs I’m involved with here on Etsy.

After grandbaby leaves for the evening, I enjoy another nice hot cup of coffee while catching up with folks in the club. Then – it’s serious quiet time – where I pull together as many of the dangling threads of the day, gather stuff for hubby to take pics of, & really buckle down into the research. This is also when I might make an egg or figure out a new cross-stitch design…or something else crafty. My day ends…around 12 – 1AM.

3. Name your top 3...

  • Music - old...and that I can understand the words.

  • Movies - not a real movie person of today
  • TV - Only have the TV on when I go to bed - and only HGTV.
  • Websites -couldn’t even begin to list them. Research takes me everywhere...and I love it.
4. What are your top 3 favorite shops on Etsy?

Top 3? Are you kidding!? No way….can’t do it. Sorry.

5. Where do you hope your shop will be in one year?

500 items with consistent sales and a reasonable monthly income.

6. What projects are you currently working on ?

Too many. I have about 6 cross stitch designs in my brain that I need to put to paper; five eggs that I’d like to get to…and finish, including the Halloween one I started a month ago. I'm trying to bring up all the sections in my shop to a minimum of one full page each, get to 250 items in the shop, and have a backup of 25 listings & pictures for them ready to go at a moment’s notice so I don’t feel so harried all the time.

7. What suggestions/tips would you offer to someone new to Etsy?

Oh, I have a lot! Patience, time, lower your expectations but raise your personal bar. Sales don’t happen right away – and certainly don’t happen just because you listed an item. Don’t worry. Keep listing; keep creating; keep listing. Learn all you can…but you don’t have to apply everything all at once – every time. If you continue to worry & perfect the same 5 – 10 listings you’ll never move forward – you’ll be stagnant. Potential customers will only see those same 5-10 listings, they’ll get bored & not return. Improve over time. Customers will see that…and respect that – and…at the same time see just how creative & wonderful you are because they’ll see all the fantastic new stuff you’ve listed.

Don’t worry about the “Front Page” and treasuries. Learn to do everything else well…and those will come in time. Focus on building your shop. And though pictures are very important – pictures are not how people will find you. Titles and tags are what lead people to your shop…descriptions and pictures are what sell your items. Remember, in order for them to buy from you – they have to find you first.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Photography is tricky enough on its own. To make it even tougher on us, there is the color red. With the holidays, you can't avoid it and so, while I am no photography expert, here's what I have to offer. It's AuntKarensCreations this week that asks,

  How on earth do you take a good picture 
of a red Christmas stocking?

First thing about photographing any color or product is getting a proper set up. Natural light is a necessity and (typically) easy to come by. I take photos next to a south-facing window. If you're in the northern hemisphere this is the direction from which you'll get the most light. You'll also get consistent light from the north with less worry about harsh shadows, but work with what you've got. Avoid direct sunlight as it creates harsh shadows and can alter the color of your items in photos. On a sunny day, this may mean setting up in the corner of the room while on a cloudy day you can be right in front of the window.

My set up is very simple. I have a large piece of white foamcore board on the floor and one standing vertically oppostite the window to reflect some light back on the product. In the afternoon the sun starts to intrude upon my workspace, as you can see, and so I typically try to take photos in the morning. For someone taking photos of small items you can do this on a smaller scale. This works well for me as I have a range of product sizes.

Now you take your wonderful photos and load them on the computer for some basic editing, which I feel all images should go through no matter how good they are on their own. I use picnik and there are a few things I do to every photo. First, I up the exposure and contrast. Next, I do a little color correcting. The easiest way to do this for me is to use the neutral picker feature and select my white (or gray) background. One thing neutral backgrounds can do is pick up the color of the product. For this photo using the neutral picker took the red hint out of the white background.

For editing a red product photo, I found that adjusting the saturation is helpful as well. In my experience, red tends to photograph brighter than it may be. By lowering the saturation you're able to get the cardinal or maroon that your item might actually be. These two simple color correcting tools can lead a good photo to a great photo.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

October Treasury Challenge

Fangs Necklace by itsastitch
It's October! To me, it's obvious that we just have to do a Halloween treasury so that's just what it's going to be. Give us your best whether it's all ghosts and goblins or just a bit eerie. Make sure you follow the rules though:
  1. Use at least 8 Lab Rat members. You can use our members list in the sidebar.
  2. Include "Treasury Challenge" in the title of your treasury
  3. Tag your treasury with "labratsteam"
  4. Tag your treasury with "labratchallenge"
  5. Tag your treasury with "halloween"
  6. Link back to this post to encourage others to participate
  7. Leave a comment on this post with a link to your treasury for official entry
  8. Promote! 
Your judges this time around will be Molly from MollysMuses and Laurie from LauriesCustomCreate. Get your entry in by the end of Friday October 8th and our judges will pick the finalists. Popular vote selects the winner and the winner gets to be featured in our Rat Spotlight. Good deal, huh? Make the Lab Rats proud - head to the Treasury or take a peek at how to make a treasury first. Don't include your own items, but make sure you have fun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Partner Critiques!

We all attend the virtual labs and help new sellers learn to hone their shops.  With the holidays rapidly approaching let's take the opportunity to share a critique with a teammate!

Helping a friend.
This week we will pair up those of you who would like a shop critique!  To get a partner, just comment on this post with what you would like to have critiqued. Give the url to the item or profile etc... We will pair up shops and email or convo each of you as to who your partner is.  Then you will have 5 days to do your critique.  In the October team meeting you will have the option to share the results with other teammates but otherwise they stay private.  Please complete your critique - your partner is counting on you for help. 

Don't feel "qualified" to critique?  Think like a buyer!  What would get you to buy from your partner?  Plus we have a great guide for you to use in your critique. 

Use this link to give yourself a guideline for doing a critique:
I can do this!!

You will have the opportunity to share your critique with the whole team at the next Lab Rats Team meeting, if you choose.

The pairing up of participants will be done by AuntKarensCreations and Eccolights.

This is going to be great fun!  C'mon and join the fun!