Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, but spent most of my time in the cities in the vicinity, like The Hague and Rotterdam. I have a degree in medicine and originally started out as a children’s physician. Later on I worked as a manager (Head of the Youth department) at a large public health organization in Rotterdam.
For as long as I can remember I have sewed my own clothes. I have made clothes for my children and myself and customized store-bought clothing to my liking.
Though working a busy day job as a manager/physician, I always enjoyed this creative outlet very much. Having a hobby and working with my hands helped to clear my mind and kept stress at bay (most of the time)!
Around 2009 I started with designing small purses, clutches and small bags as homemade presents for friends and family.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
May 2010 my husband and me were on vacation visiting my son, who worked and lived in Pasadena, USA. Especially for that occasion, my son invited friends and colleagues to meet his parents. I told them about my love for creating things and the courses I had followed to improve my skills on leather working and silversmithing. My son’s friends asked me why I had never sold my creations on Etsy. It was the first time I ever heard about Etsy.
The minute I returned home, I did some research on the Internet and opened Rinarts, my first Etsy shop in Oct 2010.
Six months later Etsy shop Rinartsatelier followed suit, featuring all of my small accessories.
Tell us a bit about your products.
At first I primarily sold leather bags, purses and clutches. Because making bags and clutches generated a lot of left over material, I could not use for anything else, I started wondering If I could somehow put all of those little pieces of beautiful leather to good use. At that time I got a lot of requests for phone sleeves and card-holders, so I set out making small accessories like wallets, bracelets, key rings, tassels, iPhone cases, etc.
Though most of my products are made from leather, last year I started experimenting with other types of material. Nowadays I use materials such as cork, wool felt, linen, antique grain sacs and post bags (often combined with leather) to create a bags and clutches.
What inspires your work?
I’m inspired by art, architecture and simplicity in design.
I love to work with different kinds of material and often combine contrasting colors and materials to make my products more striking.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
My major goal for my business is to make my customers happy with my products. This will be my goal in future too. I love to communicate with people from all over the world. Knowing that customers are delighted with items that I thoroughly enjoy creating makes me very happy.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
I think my combinations of different colors and material-combinations and the clarity in design makes my shops stand out. In an effort to surprise and draw continued attention, I introduce new designs every year to keep my shop fresh and interesting.
I take pleasure in designing everything myself and I create everything by myself: from design to finished product.
This goes to the extent that I even do the photography, the creating of the packaging and the shipping by myself. The whole process from beginning to end. I take pride in my quick communication and reachability and like to help my customers in making their choice.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
Yes, I am lucky to have been able to create a dedicated studio in the attic of my private home. I wrote about this in a CIJ blog earlier.
You can find more about this in one of my blog posts:
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
Well, when I first starting this business (as a hobby), I was just thinking about making items and how to sell them on the Internet.
I was a total newbie when it came to procedures concerning payment, packaging & shipping, client communication, product photography and where to buy my material and tools.
It would have been nice to know all of these things beforehand, but I wouldn’t want to have missed the wonderful voyage of discovery. For me this was part of the fun of setting up (and learning to manage) my own business.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Just go for it!
I already advised and helped a few Dutch start-ups to set up an Etsy shop. One of the most recent ones being a friend of mine (an artisan bookbinder) who sells beautiful wedding albums and ring boxes. You can visit her shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/1000and1weddings
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
Gosh, I just have too much hobbies to ever get bored! Besides my time-consuming Etsy shops, I attend art and architecture classes at the university and I read a lot. I follow Pilates classes and swim every week to keep me fit for my yearly ski-trip. Skiing is my ultimate holiday for many years already.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is never too late to start doing what you like most!”
And that can be a totally different thing in every phase of your life.
Where can people find out more about your business?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just follow your heart and have don’t forget to have fun being creative! If it makes you happy, you will in turn be able to make other people happy as well!
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.