Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
Wife, mother and about to become a grandmother for the 3rd time! I live in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State where I lovingly make all my creations.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I opened this, my 2nd shop on Etsy in April of 2013. I decided to branch off from my vintage shop Moms Antiques N’ Things because I wanted to separate my handmade art & decorations. Doing so allowed both shops to look more cohesive and since have expanded my line into creating wedding decorations. I’ve actually opened a 3rd shop, Altered Eco 2, to offer my altered art, holiday ornaments & craft supplies there, while keeping Altered Eco Designs strictly wedding & party decor. It’s a lot of work but I love doing what I do, especially working from the comfort of my home.
Tell us a bit about your products.
I offer custom-made decor for weddings, birthdays and generally all occasions. Rustic chic, country chic, romantic prairie, shabby cottage and boho are all style terms I use to describe my products. The main materials I work with are fabric, lace, ribbon wooden dowels, jute and jingle bells. I do have ready-made items as well, but custom work is when I really get to put my creative ideas to work. I’ve even invented items in my shop that started out with no idea what I was going to make, however, through conversations with my customers, stating their needs, together with my ideas, these products were born. One example of this is I once made a life-size Maypole and Maypole cake topper for a child’s birthday party, it was a big hit, so now, I offer those items to anyone.
What inspires your work?
I love nature and therefore am an eco-friendly shop, recycling, lessening waste by using all materials and using items from nature, where I can, is important to me. It’s also important that my customers have the ability to reuse items for other purposes after their event. My garlands are great for parties, but can also be used in the home as window valances, wall hangings or mantle decor. My fairy wands are beloved by kids, both boys & girls have fun reusing them as a cosplay toy they can enjoy for a long time to come.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
I’ve just started using a new cutting machine which I’m still learning to use and hope to come up with new creations that I can produce more quickly. My dream is to grow my business and hopefully, one day, have my own “successful” website that might even attract wholesale buyers, as well as, wedding/party/event planners.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Nothing is more important than excellent customer service and I am proud of the wonderful feedback which reflects the care I put into every item I make. Going the extra mile to make sure my customers have something unique and beautiful. I also cut all my fabrics & lace by hand with a rotary cutter, this allows me to offer customers virtually any variety of colors, themes or patterns they desire, making their decorations more personable. Little touches add so much, like wrapping the dowels on my wands with ribbon, where most wand maker’s leave bare, mine look finished.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
We are empty nesters now, so I’ve taken over my daughter’s bedrooms for my crafting, photo area & storage. Also we’ve been renovating this old house so I turned one room into my office. Here, I have large industrial shelves to hold my vintage wares and my husband made a counter from oak planks we recycled from the house, refinished and turned into a shipping counter and desk for my computer & cutting machine.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
I learned that photographs are key to this type of business, so wish I had taken time to learn about and choose better equipment as well as set up an area that would produce better photos. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to take a photography class so I can improve my shop appearance.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Be patient! Sometimes it takes a long time to build up a following and reputation. If you work hard, work daily and offer quality items, everything will fall into place in due time. You can’t rush success!
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
Family is first and foremost, I love spending time with my children, grandchildren and siblings as often as I can. My hobby is definitely antiquing, thus my vintage business, otherwise I’d be classified a hoarder! My vise……..ok I can’t help it I LOVE to gamble, slots, bingo LOL. Enjoyed going to Vegas a couple of times but if one of the local casino’s in NY offer me a free overnight, I’ll do everything I can to be able to go there!
What is your favorite quote?
Eat, drink and be merry!
Where can people find out more about your business?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Etsy is such a great community and hope to be here for a long time to come! The Christmas in July team is very supportive and I am very happy to have become a member. Thank you!
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.