Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
A lifelong crafter — I still have fabric I bought in high school! And very curious about how things are created. Even when a skill set might be beyond my reach (or level of dedication), I like knowing how something is put together or made. I’m drawn to color and texture. I think a good portion of my interest in sewing was really my attraction to the fabric, especially combining textures and patterns. At some point, my number of unfinished projects led me to the conclusion I was more infatuated with fabric than the process of sewing. The desire to”do-it-myself” extends to other projects, like the graduated color mosaic in our bathroom and repainting of our kitchen cabinets.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I had closed a retail store and seemed to have a lingering desire to create displays. That took the form of making wreaths which began to overtake the house. My son encouraged me to sell them and my sister-in-law suggested Etsy, where she was selling her jewelry. So, in March of 2011, I took the plunge and opened my Etsy shop. At first the ribbon was a sideline in the shop, but gradually it became the dominant product and I retired the florals. I still make the occasional wreath or arrangement, but I more enjoy helping other crafters have a wide assortment of ribbons for their creations.
Tell us a bit about your products.
I carry ribbon and a variety of craft supplies from several sources, always looking for quality and reasonable prices. We have luxury ribbons as well as well-priced value ribbons. Many are used by crafters in making wreaths and decor items, but we also have satins for weddings and laces and trims for sewing. When making a wreath, it can often be hard to find the finishing touch or embellishment for a particular theme, so we stock artificial birds, fruit, berry sprays and other accoutrements.
What inspires your work?
My infatuation with fabric – ribbon is actually small sized fabric – and the enjoyment of helping other crafters.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
To get caught up with listings! There seems to always be more ribbon waiting to be photographed and listed. To spend more time on our website, especially to provide photos and ideas of ribbon combinations.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Variety and service. We carry ribbon from several companies and stock seasonal designs all year. We fill orders promptly, and to accommodate both hobbyists and professional crafters, we sell most of the ribbons in short lengths and full rolls.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I have a dedicated space in our house which is where I keep the most active products and fill the orders. As the inventory has grown, and especially during the busy fourth quarter, boxes of ribbon are leaking into other areas of the house. Luckily, it’s a big old house.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
The basics of creating a webpage! It’s been and continues to be a big learning curve. I think Etsy is the best selling platform for a small craft business, but it’s essential to a online-only seller to have a separate place where you can display your products in more open arrangement and explain more about your categories. Think of Etsy as the mall you’re in and your website or blog as your store’s display floor and informational signage.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
There’s something to be said for just jumping in, but if you are serious about selling as a business and not a hobby, you have to consider that a business has significant expenses and be willing and able to invest in it. Time is an expense, one that I think many women tend to devalue, but cash is also necessary to build your inventory and have enough products, properly presented, which requires spending on a camera and basic lighting equipment. Photographs are your sales force and your storefront.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
Read, mainly mysteries and history. Not always “serious” history, I’m drawn to small, sort of wacky topics like the history of donuts or Macy’s. Movies – TCM is often on while I’m working, but I prefer seeing new and classic movies on the big screen – and listening to music with a special love of live rock and jazz.
What is your favorite quote?
This is a hard one. I have many favorite poems and song lyrics. But right after seeing this question, the next book I opened started with this quote, which I think applies to so many facets of life and business:
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
Where can people find out more about your business?
Here are all the links:
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
One of the nicest things about Etsy is the ability to form connections through teams. By choosing only a few and taking part in some measure in the ones you join, you will enjoy your business so much more. Cross-promotion is part of it, but the friendships you gain and support you can give other small sellers is far more important.
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.