Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
Avid collector and dreamer. I see things with a different eye than other’s and always have. I was the”different one” growing up from my large family of cousins. I made necklaces from dried watermelon seeds.
I drew with pastels and oils when others were into colored pencils. I liked my uncle’s dark and dusty garages filled with old cars and tools, now vintage.
My husband of 14 years and I love to travel and since he’s gotten the “bug” he loves to hunt across the South with me. He even goes out in the mornings before work on Fridays and hunts down the local estate sales. It’s got it bad now!
But I have a great task before me, my mom passed away after 3 strikes with cancer. She was a true shopper. And I have been slowly taking thing’s from the house to my home and to sell here at Barbara Anns Creations.
I may re-paint them but she had a good eye and shopped every where from Pasadena CA to Temecula CA before it was a known wine country. Dad’s still in the house but we are close to the time when he will no longer be able to live alone.
Every bit of time off we can get is based on going somewhere a winery is and can we hit some small out-of-the-way shops.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I have had a few ventures before my Etsy shop. I was in the custom gift basket business in the 90’s. I ran it out of my house and was always on the look out for unique items for my themed baskets. I was most popular for my large custom bows. The biggest compliment I loved was that no one wanted to open them because they didn’t want to disturb the bow. I love color, texture and dimension.
Which I think completes my love for collecting. I love rusty, splintered and wobbly. I am challenges to see what I can do with it.
My biggest love is old linens and fabrics. I like ironing them. Yes I still iron my clothes today. And we only use cloth napkins in my house daily.
I then went on to having a brick & mortar shop. I recycled and refurbished all my display pieces. Found at yard and estate sales. I got so many offers to buy my displays!
When I closed that shop I still wanted to keep my hand in collecting and selling. But how?? I thought about creating my own website, but how would I drive business there. Then a friend suggested Etsy. It took me a while to decide this was for me. But in 2012 I took the leap and got my first sale the same week. I was hooked. Now it is a habit I can’t break. We still are on the hunt for unique finds and to refurbish all the furniture we have collected.
Most of the task in keeping this shop current is photographing and listing. Oh and storing till it sells.
This week my Hunny Bunny is getting estimates to have a She-Shed built for me! I have old wooden windows he found in an alley and a wooden panel door to use.
This is a passion we now share together and that make’s for fun trips anywhere. He just bought me an old VW Bus that we are refinishing. Once it is done we are planning a trip on USA Route 66, picking all the way of course!!
Tell us a bit about your products.
I list products I know about and love. I have a better feel for things I love & have a passion for. I am able to give a complete description of items when I list what I love. I am planning to branch out into vintage clothing a bit. I was intrigued by items I would see in the Old South last year. But I am still in the research process.
Many items are from my own collections and from my mom’s home.
But every week we scour the estate sales for some great finds.
What inspires your work?
Doing what I love. Finding items I would like in my home. And what I see happening out there at vintage markets and magazines. I love creating vignettes in my home. Old items are being used in new ways and with a different eye. Who would think that all those old Corning and Pyrex bowls would be so popular. I still have mine from 1975!! I’m Vintage !!
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
First goal is to get back to setting aside one day a week, at minimum, for all thing’s Etsy…photographing, listing. Organizing and proper storage. My sales do better when I do this. But I care for my Dad and this comes first. Lately it has taken about 4 days a week. Next is to get the She-Shed build. I hate that I will have to lose my water feature but I need to get my outdoor patio/living area back. We spend lots of time out there during California Summers. And I feel I have cheated my Hunny Bunny by having the patio full of my furniture waiting to be refinished or painted.
Next is to get into more vintage markets to sell locally. I participate in one down the street from me in Claremont. It is small but in a great area and give’s me that chance to get my feet wet. My dream is the Vintage Marketplace now in Temecula CA. But I am just a bit pensive. I will gain some courage, wine, and shoot for this.
My vision for my Etsy shop is to learn all I can to promote and sell. Teams & forums are a great place to learn.
I want to make 2016 the year I start a blog. About the thrill of the hunt for items and what to look for.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Vintage is a different animal. Great pictures, which is on my list to re-do most of them, and descriptions.
But Customer Service is a big #1. I do all I can for my customers to make their experience here a good one. Special wrapping, fast shipping and always communicate with them.
If I can meet their needs the it is a success!
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
My work space is all over our small condo. Inside and out. My garage has never seen a car in it. And I now store items at my Dad’s garage. Finding items to sell is never a problem, its storing them till they sell. This is not a jewelry business. My items range from a china tea-cup to a vintage ironing board to a dresser or large mirror. So it requires a lot of space. Hence the need for the She-Shed!
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
More social media.. I never did Facebook. And I really still don’t. I loved Pinterest and added a board for my shop. And I use Instagram to show all my items when I find them just before I list them.
I would love to promote better.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Just Do It!! This is the easiest thing to start. Read the policies and forums. Join teams and you will see how simple this is vs running your own website. In my opinion.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
My Hunny Bunny and I are wine collectors. We go to wineries in Napa, Santa Barbara, and further north. We are club member to a few and drive out to pick up our wines and hit estate sales and antique shops on the way.
Hubby has a passion for Diners, Drive-in and Dives. He has the app on his phone so no matter where we are he looks for a spot to visit. South Carolina, Mississippi were good spot this fall!! BBQ!!
Otherwise we are at hockey games. We are Ducks fans and we are usually wearing the orange proudly!!
What is your favorite quote?
That Which Does Not Kill Ya Makes You Stronger. I love any quote from Steel Magnolias. Those Southern Ladies are real charmers..
Where can people find out more about your business?
Follow me on Instagram. I have lost to list in my shop and I usually hit them there first so I can get, hopefully, views to my shop. I show where we go and do and our interest. People can get a feeling for who I am.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I will continue to keep this shop open for as long as Esty will have me. There are changes, that’s with anything, but stay with it. I am luck that it is not a sole source of income. But this is fun and fun is good!
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.