Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about Painted Songbird.
We are two great friends who live in the West Midlands in England. We are both mothers (two boys each) and we love our business as it fits around our children.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
We decided to open our business almost 2 years ago as we shared a love of vintage items and painting furniture & home ware. We were already friends and thought it was a brilliant way for us to get together and share our joint interests while making money in a way that fits around our children like no other job could.
Tell us a bit about your products.
We have a range of vintage finds which we source from a wide variety of places. We love seeing our vintage items being re-used and re-loved in new homes. That’s what vintage is all about. We also love sourcing our vintage plate cake stands which we make ourselves. They’re unique and adorable.
Our painted furniture and home ware complements our vintage items and are mostly vintage themselves. We paint in colours we love and only produce things we would want to have in our own homes. In fact, some of our favourites don’t make it in to our shop as we can’t let go of them.
What inspires your work?
We mostly are inspired by the piece of furniture when we are painting. We often have ideas we would like to use but quite often we have to wait until the right piece of furniture comes along. The beauty of painting existing pieces of furniture is that we can never predict what our stock will look like in 6 months time. We acquire a piece, assess our paint stock, discuss design, finish, pattern and wax type then we make a start. We often amend and adjust our painting plan before we get to the end but we always agree on where the piece is going. If one of us is dead against the design idea then it doesn’t happen. That’s our only rule that we should both agree and as we have such similar taste, more often than not we’ll both have the same idea in the first place.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
This year we are focusing on turning our products around quicker. Our procrastination has been our downfall in the past. We are so time limited that we really do need to be focused when we are together so we aim to list items as soon as possible after acquiring them.
Our dream for the business would be to have a full and busy on-line shop sending out lots of orders a day.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Our painted furniture is painted with 3 coats of paint minimum and waxed thoroughly. We offer extremely reasonable commission rates which we love doing as we know we’re creating something someone really wants. All of our pieces are original and almost impossible to replicate.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
We work from both of our homes. We photograph at one home and paint at another – a mixture of experimenting has brought us to this conclusion and it splits the chaos evenly. It works really well for us this way so we are able to drop everything if we have a child emergency.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
We have learned so much since we started its so hard to think back how far we’ve come. We talked today about the craft and vintage fairs we used to attend with a stall and how we are so glad that we don’t do them any more but equally we’re really glad we did do them originally as it helped us to see what Painted Songbird stood for, how we worked and to help us feel like a real shop. We wouldn’t change the learning process at all as it has really helped shape us. Things are so different to the way they were when we started but we had no idea what form the business would take back then and we’ve loved every minute.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Selling on Etsy has worked well for us but we do have some higher value items. If we don’t sell a larger piece of furniture once a month our figures don’t add up that well. It works for us because it fits around our availability but we do work at it. Photographs are key. We took a brilliant course run by Lyndsey James http://www.photocraft.org/ who taught us so much about product photography. We are not brilliant but her tips were invaluable and we think we’d have given up before now if it wasn’t for her course (which she does on line too by the way).
If you’re going to do it you need to join teams, invest some time interacting with people and be patient. Interacting with people can be really helpful. If you like someone’s work tell them. Make a treasury, write them a note, like their item. Etsy is like karma. Share the good and good will come back to you.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
When we’re not working we’re mainly looking after our children but we also both love to read, sew, chat and eat cake, make strange lunches from the contents of our fridges (the avocado and cheese toasty was developed this way and is amazing). We love hunting for vintage items, spending time with our families and having friends over.
What is your favorite quote?
But First Tea
Where can people find out more about your business?
You can visit our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThePaintedSongbird which we update regularly with our stock, thoughts, vintage pictures and behind the scenes snaps.
Our twitter link is https://twitter.com/BeeMacneil1 and we’re on pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/songbirdpainted/
If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.