Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
I am a lady who loves to sew and create things from fabric. I have lived in New Mexico most of my life and I love the natural landscapes, the light, and the open sky. I am trilingual Spanish, English, and French speaking, reading and writing. I am married and have a supportive husband and two kids that are teens.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I started on Etsy in 2008 after a few successful local art and craft shows. I was encouraged and mentored by some friends who were also on Etsy and thought my products would be great to sell online. I tried Etsy and it was easy to set up and I started to get some sales within the first month, so I have stayed.
Tell us a bit about your products.
I create bags and other fabric accessories like eyeglass cases, pocket wallets, headbands and scarves. I also make items for kids like stuffed animal carriers and teeny totes that match a plush pet. I have recently started creating decorative pillows and pillow covers.u
What inspires your work?
The love of fabric really moves me! I love cheerful color and prints from vintage to modern. I am inspired by Frida Kahlo’s art and Dia de los Muertos style fabrics and art.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
I am looking forward to refining my product line over the coming year. Working on new ideas for products and hope to surpass 700 sales this year and get close to 800. I will continue to participate in local shows and events and sell at a consignment shop in town. My dream is to continue this business and contribute to my local and Etsy community as much as possible in the future.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
Many people sell bags and mine stand out as unique by my style, which is influenced by Frida Kahlo, the artist and my home state. New Mexico is a place with bright sunlight and strong cultural influences from the Hispanic and Native American arts and I try to incorporate the style elements from those cultures that I admire in my work. I love cotton fabric and a sewing machine as much as I love embroidery floss and hand embroidery and I strive to incorporate my skills into my work. I have become interested in using stencils and fabric paint to create expressive new prints on fabric and make pillows or bags from them.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I have a studio at home in a room upstairs where I can keep my supplies and sewing machines and also photograph and display my merchandise. It’s nice to have a quiet and undisturbed work space to create in! I can work and listen to podcasts and still be available to my family and pets.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
The unexpected will happen. I try to give the best customer service and communication possible but I stay open to admitting if I messed up or forgot something. The relationship with the customer is the most important thing and you need to respect each other and work together to resolve any issues. The same goes for creating, if something I sew doesn’t work, I always try to recycle the fabric into something else. Sometimes I think you just need to focus on the experience and then let it go and move on with gratitude for learning from it.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Etsy is a dynamic place where things often change and you just have to be committed to keep learning and working on your craft and your shop. There are many resources and inspiration to be had from teams and off-Etsy blogs and groups. So many free tips and support can be found out there so don’t get frustrated, just reach out and get help.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I like sewing and embroidery and I come up with projects that help me to keep learning and mastering new skills. I make clothes and am learning to upcycle them into new objects. I stay busy with my pet cats, chickens and turtles. I am learning to garden and create landscaping in my yard too. I hope to get into my vintage RV visit some state and national parks this year too.
What is your favorite quote?
Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Frida Kahlo
Where can people find out more about your business?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I would like to say that I feel there are many talented people in the world and I encourage them to share their gifts with others, whether through teaching or making and selling. It makes our world more beautiful and rich to know that a person created useful and everyday items by hand just for 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.