Member Feature: GwensHomemadeGifts

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Gwen of GwensHomemadeGifts, our featured member!

GwensHomemadeGifts

GwensHomemadeGifts

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised and still live in rural northern Indiana, been married to my high school sweetheart for 36 years now and have 3 grown children.  I work full-time for our local public schools as an executive secretary for the curriculum director in the corporation office.  It means I serve a lot of our special student populations, language minority, special education, high ability and transfer students. I’ve always done different crafts on and off through the years, but had to put my hobbies on hold for a while when I was at my busiest with raising kids!  But my girls have fond memories of going to craft fairs and helping me with my booth when they were young.

When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?

I opened my Etsy shop in April of 2013.  My children actually encouraged me to do it.  The Christmas before I had tried my hand at making organic lip balm for gifts.  It was wonderful! The best lip balm I had ever used, hands down.  My friends asked me if I had extra to sell, and so I made more.  And from there things grew into the Etsy shop I have today.GwensHomemadeGifts

Tell us a bit about your products.

My vision is that I have a shop with fresh, wholesome products, pampering and good for your skin and as natural as is practical. Then I package them ready for gifting.  Not all products, but almost all of them will arrive ready for gift giving.  I do like a nice simple, but attractive presentation.  Everything is available to be sent directly to a customer’s gift recipient with a handwritten handmade greeting card at no extra cost.GwensHomemadeGifts2

What inspires your work?

I am inspired by my customers.  Any time they have asked me for something, if I listen to them and take the time to research it and come up with my recipe and package my product… it has become a best seller in my shop.  If someone is asking for it, chances are others are looking for it too.  Also I only sell products that I love myself.GwensHomemadeGifts3

What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?

My goals are more long-term.  I want to steadily gain momentum so that my shop is established and making a little money by the time I retire from my full-time job.  Then my Etsy hobby will become my retirement job!  Can you tell I have to be busy?

What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?

There are a lot of Bath and Body shops out there and it’s hard to stand out.  I think that’s true of a lot of categories on Etsy, there are just so many shops.  I would like to stand out because I present products as gifts and offer free handmade card service.GwensHomemadeGifts4

Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?

I have an extra ground floor bedroom that use to be a nursery.  Now it is my craft room.  It holds storage cabinets, and work table, light box for photography and a postage scale and mailing station.  It also has a large closet for storage and a place for my sewing machine.  I love it!  Just outside its door is my large dining room table and beyond that my kitchen so it’s in a good location for me to work.  I also have a room in my basement for extra shipping supplies.  And I have another storage room upstairs for extra supplies for gift basket building and product packaging supplies.  I’m blessed with lots of space.

What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?

I had no idea what I was getting in to.  But does anyone?  I really didn’t realize how much time it would take to promote myself.  You can’t just post a shop on Etsy and expect customers to come to you. Unless you are very unique or have something people are crazy for, they will not find you in the vast sea of shops on Etsy.  I think I would have had a more well thought out plan for promoting had I realized the effort required.GwensHomemadeGifts5

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Get involved with teams. It takes a lot of promoting to get your shop noticed on Etsy and you can’t do it yourself.  Join a variety of teams on Etsy and get involved in the activities.  Your teammates will help promote you as you also promote them.  It’s more fun than doing it all alone, and more effective.  Your teams will help you promote within Etsy and on social media.  Teams will also help you make your shop the best it can be.  Improving your shop is a process that never ends and you can learn from others with more experience.  I know I did.  Without joining teams, I don’t think I would have made it on Etsy.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Etsy is my hobby!!  I love to crochet, and making soap, bath salts, lip balms, lotions.. oh I’m just in heaven when I can spend time making these lovely pampering products!  I also love watching movies, reading and learning new crafts.  Lately I’ve been taking advantage of art and craft classes at my local library.  I’ve been learning a little painting, acrylic canvas painting and also water paints.  It’s very soothing and stimulating for me at the same time if that makes sense.GwensHomemadeGifts6

What is your favorite quote?

Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching. –C.S. Lewis

Where can people find out more about your business?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GwensHomemadeGifts/

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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.

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