Sunday, February 20, 2011

Five Rules for Etsy Success, Part I

Anyone attending the Virtual Labs when I'm in there being an opinionated buyer has likely seen some version of my Five Rules for Etsy Success:  1) Don't sell crap  2) Have great photos  3) Make your tags, titles and descriptions work hard  4) List often  5) Promote, promote, promote.

This time I'll ramble on about Rule 1. It's true that "crap" on Etsy is very much in the mind of the beholder.
I often see stuff that makes me wonder what the heck the seller was thinking, but then I'll also note that they've made sales of items I wouldn't have in my house. That serves as a useful reminder that one person's crap is another's wonderfully creative or useful thingie.

So, how to avoid trying to sell crap? First, love what you make. If you don't think it's awesome, why should anyone else? If it's just out there because you think it will sell, you're not being true to yourself, or respecting that potential buyer.
Then, ask yourself some questions:

  • Is it the best quality it can be for the price?
  • Would you buy this item if you couldn't make it?
  • Who is your competition? Does anyone else sell this item?
  • If it is a commodity product, such as jewellery assembled from standard components, what is it about your product that makes it better or more interesting or more appealing? Think about materials, technique, design, and of course YOU.

Great photos, brilliant tags, titles and descriptions, strategic listing and relentless promotion can take a shop a long way toward success, but it all starts with the items.

If you're feeling stuck, try brainstorming some ideas alone, or with friends or Team mates. Ask your customers or readers of your blog what could make your items better, or what they're looking for that you don't have. Research your competition. And of course subscribe to the Etsy Success newsletter and read the monthly Etsy Merchandising Desk articles for timely information about current and upcoming trends, features, and events or occasions that can spark fresh ideas.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life of an Item with TreeandSap

I am very excited to introduce you to the shop of Tree and Sapling, named after my husband who is 6'7" (Tree) and myself who is 5' (Sapling). Our shop is inspired by mine and my husband's need of products that are skin quenchingly good and deliciously scented! Trying to decide what products to do wasn't as easy as coming up with our shop's name. Loving everything beautiful and unique, I was indecisive and couldn't settle on an inspiration for our very first product.....

So... through my indecisiveness of what to start with, my husband had the idea to create a shave item that could help protect his skin from shave burn and the rawness caused by wearing a collared shirt and tie every day to work. Mix this with the scorching heat of Arizona, the standard shaving products currently on the market left his skin feeling sensitive and more prone to getting burned by the sun.

After researching ingredients and adding everything to my shopping cart, looking at the total, and then taking everything out of the cart again, I settled on a cosmetic base that has lots of lush ingredients and room for me to add some of my own.

I now spend lots of time mixing, measuring, and smelling to get everything just right and usually use all the bowls, spatulas, and measuring cups belonging to Tree and Sap until the sink is overflowing and I am happy with the outcome. I then assign my husband to dish duty so I can start all over again with another product!

Photographing the products and capturing the perfect snap is second best to trying the product out when it is first created. What could be better than always having a cabinet full of fun filled products!

Stop by Tree and Sap's for your next shave jellies, soaps, whipped soaps, salt scrubs, or sugar scrubs with more to come!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Its that time again to introduce our new members.

I am sure we have already met them in the labs but I would like to take this time to officially introduce them to the rest of the rats and I hope you all welcome them with open arms and lots of virtual hugs.

Drum roll please...................... here's our January members

SmithAndDaphneWhat is your given name?
Kristen DeOrnellas.

Red and White Crocheted Chain Garland for Valentine's DayWhat made you want to start an Etsy shop?
Hmmm... I like making things and thought it would be a good outlet for that urge to create. I've been on Etsy as a buyer/browser since 2007, which is also around the time I started learning to sew and crochet and really get interested in making things myself. My husband encouraged me to start a shop because I'd made a floor pillow for our dog and he thought I should sell them - I do not, in fact, sell dog pillows, but I did decide to open a shop.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
That's a hard one... I'd have to say that right now, it's the red and white chain garland. I love the colors, the texture, and the process of making it.

What do you enjoy doing when your not working on your shop?
Well, when I can find or make time, I love to read. I also love working in the garden (at my parents' house) or on the balcony (at my apartment). I also find plenty of things to make for our home or as gifts. I also spend way too much time reading blogs and "surfing the net" (do we use that phrase anymore?)

Where does your shop name originate from?
Good question. I just kind of made it up. I debated over the name for way too long and got to a point where I really needed to just pick one so I could open my shop. I liked the association of "Smith" with making things... blacksmith, silversmith, etc. It's also generic, which was something I wanted because I don't know if my shop is going to stay in the direction it is now (housewares) or move into other channels - and I didn't want to box myself in with a too-specific name. The "Daphne" is due to my love of the plant; the smell of daphne immediately makes me think of home. It's also got a link to mythology. I like that there's history to the words in my shop name, that like the crafts I practice, those words reference the past and for me, they reference home and the things I love as well.

DaisyDoeWhat is your given name?

Rose the Pink Bunny (Crochet Soft Toy)What made you want to start an Etsy shop?
Seeing so many wonderful creative individuals out there with their own Etsy shops really inspired me to start my own. Making items for Etsy really allows me to take my mind off every-day events and just relax. It's also pretty cool to receive nice comments about my items, and to see people enjoying my items.

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
Oh that's a tough one, but I think I would say my favourite item is "Rose the Pink Bunny", she's just got such a cute and innocent look about her (and plus, I love pink!)

What do you enjoy doing when your not working on your shop?
I enjoy designing and building websites, drawing and photography.

Where does your shop name originate from?
My love of nature - both flora and fauna. I find that even though daisies are a bit plain, they are still beautiful flowers,  and deers are very alluring with their gorgeous big eyes. I thought the name "Daisy Doe" was unique, but not so much that others wouldn't be able to relate to it.

What is your given name?
Mokuzai Ninja Valentines Edition: Heart of Gold polymer clay mini art figureMy name is Sandy~ :) Though I've been using my nickname Chi on Etsy since it's part of the shop name and would be easier to remember.

 What made you want to start an Etsy shop?
The thought of opening an online handmade business has never crossed my mind until I had made our wedding cake topper out of polymer clay (It is also the avatar I use on Etsy). It had received some great response from those who attended and a few of our friends and family had planted the idea to sell figures like this~ and when I stumbled across Etsy while shopping online one day, I found the perfect place to start a shop~ :3

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
It's quite hard to choose just one... as I like different aspects of each character creation. I guess an overall favorite would be the Mokuzai Ninjas (Ninja tree stumps), which is the first in the series that has the ability to merge with the "environment" (by turning 180 degrees around~ haha~). For some reason I really like making tree stumps!

I also have a real liking for Ninja Spheria (from the Ninja Shapes series) and have one of her charms dangling off the zipper of my bag~ (I also put her boyfriend, Ninja Square, on the zip of Bon's bag! X3 hehe) I also really like Miss Couch Potato as she reminds me of myself sometimes~ X3 although she haven't been as popular as the ninjas she will be having her own series (Exercise with Miss Couch Potato) out soon, which I hope will inspire the couch potato in us to exercise along with her~ ;) 
What do you enjoy doing when your not working on your shop?
Bon and I really like playing video games~ X3 (see the inspiration for Miss Couch Potato?) Though I haven't been playing as much after starting the Etsy shop... We also love playing volleyball, although I can't say that we're pro's at it... Bon also loves soccer/football and we are Barca supporters! :D My favorite player is Xavi~ Bon's favorite would be Messi~ X3 I also love karaoke, but haven't been singing for a looooong time (other than in the shower... does that count?)

Where does your shop name originate from?
The name Bon&Chi is from the last characters of my hubby (Bon) and my own (Chi) Chinese names. Although we were born in Hong Kong and Taiwan respectively, we actually grew up in Australia and New Zealand (so my Chinese is actually not that good... I wish I had paid more attention at the Chinese classes my parents had sent me to when I was younger... :() I first used the Bon&Chi name on T-shirts that I had designed and we wore at the volleyball game during our wedding (Yes! Instead of "first dance" at our wedding we had the "first serve" haha~)

EarthyHabitatWhat is your given name?
Bright Orange Tagua Pendant Necklace Eco Friendly  UnisexMy first name is Sandra but my friends and family know me by my middle name which is Fiorella (or "Fio").

What made you want to start an Etsy shop?
A couple of years ago, I began attending craft fairs and selling my artwork as well as some jewelry pieces. I enjoyed the experience a lot and opened a physical store along with another local artist I had  met at my workplace. A year later, I changed jobs and had to move two hours away from the area the store was located at. My business partner and I agreed that it would be easier for us to just part ways. As I was working on the idea of opening my own store in the town I now live in, I found out I was pregnant and all my plans were put on hold. Then, one day, I somehow ended up on Etsy while browsing the internet for baby items. At that point, I just knew that an online store was the way to go. 

Which item in your shop is your favorite?
I love almost 90% of the items I make so the "favorite" one is usually my latest creation.  In general, however, I enjoy the tagua jewelry very much. I feel good about using an eco-friendly and sustainable materials. At the same time, I also feel very proud because these seeds come from my country (Peru) and with each one that gets sold, I know I'm sharing a little bit of it with the rest of the world. 

What do you enjoy doing when your not working on your shop?
I enjoy spending time with my 5 month old daughter. When I'm not at work or making things for my Etsy shop, I'm always hugging her, kissing her and playing with her.

Where does your shop name originate from?
'Earthy Habitat' was the name of my physical store. I invested so much on  a domain name, website, business cards, flyers and other stationary that it just made sense to use it for my Etsy shop as well. I currently redirect all the website traffic to my Etsy shop (since this is what I've been maintaining the most lately). I also had FB fans for my store page, which are now finding out about the Etsy shop. 

The idea behind the name is that we all belong to the Earth and that humanity as a whole should look at this planet at their natural habitat where no boundaries, borders or any kind of separation exists. 
There are many beautiful things that nature provides us with in every corner of the world. I feel we all should make ourselves aware of that and enjoy them while we can. 

Welcome to the team and hope to see you in the labs soon.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Life of an Item with SuzyJaneB

Hello Everyone! I'm Suzy, and my Etsy shop is Strung Art at I make a whole bunch of different stuff for my shop. I started out with marionettes. I still make those, although they are always my longer term projects as there is a lot of work that goes into producing one of these. I also make soft cloth with acrylic paint art dolls, cute felt things, personalized nameboards and mirrors, and I have a range of illustrated Moleskine notebooks also listed in my shop.

I work from my office at home. I also have a workshop set up in my garage for larger projects and equipment storage, but it gets a bit cold there in the winter! So at the moment I have my projects spread throughout the whole house (sorry family!). I live in the Netherlands, the land of Rembrant, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, and the winter countryside is very much like you see in the old masters paintings, soft light and strong silhouettes of trees, windmills, and cows, actually quite inspiring! I have lived here for about 9 years with my dutch husband and two kids. Before that I lived in my home country New Zealand, where my daughter was born. One day I would like to go back there to the uncrowdedness, beautiful nature, and easy lifestyle. Its an interesting experience to feel at home in two very different countries!

Anyway, my featured item is a marionette. He has been a long time in the making, and isnt 'quite' listed in my Etsy shop, but he will be this week! He just needs hands!
With my marionettes I dont take a purely traditional approach. I start with either a wooden dowel frame, hinged with metal hooks in the joints, and a papier mache torso, or I sometimes (as with this one) use braided twine for the very long arms and legs, with knee and elbow joints of hooks and eyes. I like the lanky slightly gangly wobbly look that the thick twine provides. My head and face I sculpt completely from scratch, sometimes with a sketch to work off and sometimes just seeing what comes to me as I work. I use paper modelling clay, my favourite brand is Premier, its very light and offers a lovely smooth finish. It can also be lightly sanded and polished for a really smooth finish, but in this case I wanted a rough aged look, so I left it unsanded. I mostly use acrylic paint for the features, and for this gargoyle character I used quite earthy 'stone' tones and rubbed away some of the paintwork, again to make a quite aged worn look. He is pretty ugly!

I make the clothing one layer at a time. I make my own pattern as I go, as each marionette is different. I cut each item of clothing, and I generally hand stitch everything. Its all a bit small and fiddly to sew with the sewing machine. I find hand sewing a very meditative activity, also giving me time to plan the next item of clothing and get to know how everything needs to fit! So this guy has a white shirt with high collar, a silk waistcoat, and a sleeveless black jacket with velvet trousers. Each of these I made individually, I think this gives a very finished and detailed look to the final piece so its worth the extra time it takes.
I have modelled his shoes from Fimo, although sometimes I will also sew leather shoes or fabric, depending on the style. I have also used premade wooded clogs on dolls too! Easy to find in Holland :).

Lastly I will string these marionettes to a fairly simple handpiece, allowing for a string to each knee for walking movement, a string to each hand, one to the back for the 'bow', and one to each side of the head. The movement they provide is very simple, but easy for anyone to try out to great effect. This gargoyle guy however wont be strung yet - I am going to list him as either Art Doll suitable for hanging on the wall, or offer the marionette stringing if desired.

I hope you like him, he is so ugly but I hope someone loves him! If you would like to see more of my work you can find my blog at, or follow my Facebook fanpage at - I have started posting 'how to' videos (currently a Valentines Heart Felt Mobile) and plan to do a downloadable project feature about every month or two, just for fun :)