Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a jewelry/home decor artist based just outside of Boston. I’ve been enamored with all things nature since I was a child, and nature is the focus of my work. I’m also a foodie, and like exploring the creative intersections between the culinary and craft worlds. When I’m not making things, I’m cuddling the furry creatures in my life, foraging for materials, and I may have seen a “Housewives” episode or two!
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I started on Etsy full-time in 2010, and was a part-time maker before then. I was laid-off during the recession, and struggled to find a full-time position in my field with comparable pay/benefits to what I’d had, so I decided it was time to try to make a go of my own business.
Tell us a bit about your products.
I started out solely selling my jewelry online and in stores, but have since expanded my product line to offer a variety of home decor items, including etched glass vessels, wall-art, ornaments, magnets, etc. The botanical theme is present in all of my products; I sculpt miniatures from polymer clay and combine them with preserved natural elements to create “miniature terrarium necklaces,” make ornaments, magnets and wall-art from preserved, foraged and created natural materials. I etch glass vessels with my original botanical illustrations of culinary plants for use as decanters, oil pourers and diffusers. I am always working on developing pieces that will be interesting and consistent with my brand.
What inspires your work?
There is plenty of inspiration in nature. I think I am on an everlasting quest to try to capture it, in its most perfect form.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
I aim to increase my sales outlets this year. I will be looking into more brick-and-mortar venues, which I’ve generally avoided in the past because my jewelry was so time-consuming to make and the price of consignment/wholesale so steep. Some of my new items will work in for consignment/wholesale much more easily. Ultimately, I could see running my own brick-and-mortar shop.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
I try very hard to make original products. Of course, when you come up with a good idea, someone is bound to try to do their own take on it. I always strive to create items that are different from what’s currently in the marketplace, and hope my customers can distinguish the value of my handmade work from others trying to replicate it. “Terrarium necklace” yields a lot more search results than it did when I began making them, and while I don’t see others identical to mine out there, a flooded marketplace means it’s time to move on to new things!
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I do have an in-home studio, as of 2015. It’s small, but it really helps with production!
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
The importance of meticulous record-keeping. Tracking expenses for supplies, travel to purchase supplies, to craft shows, the profit you make on the sale of each item, etc., it’s all very tedious. But it means the difference between a viable business and a potentially costly hobby. I was really reluctant to break down the numbers initially, particularly since with jewelry you’re literally talking about the cost of a single bead sometimes… Had I not, I would’ve probably abandoned my business long ago, I would have had no understanding of how to actually profit in my business.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Do your homework! There’s a wealth of information in the Seller Handbook. Ask questions of seasoned sellers in the forums. Etsy has changed a lot since its inception, the days of tossing up some listings and waiting for sales are gone.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I watch so much tv! I hate to admit it, but having it on in the background helps me destress. I love Zumba and sing in a community choir as well. I love trying new restaurants and try to find a new one each week to test out. And Netflix documentaries are the best!
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t have one, really.
Where can people find out more about your business?
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks so much for including me in this feature!
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.