Member Feature: True Earth Designs

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Candy Frizzell of True Earth Designs our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.       

I am a wife of almost 40 years and a mother of 2 grown children with 1 beautiful grandchild.  I live near Nashville, TN and am closing in on 60.  I have always loved arts and crafts, so when I started having some health issues, I started a hobby.  First, it began with making things from clay, then that led to my love of gemstones.  I started making jewelry, which has evolved and grown over these past 5 years.  I love designing and creating classic looks with beautiful, opaque gemstones.  I also like glass and wood for fun boho and tribal designs.

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

May 2014 –  I needed a place to sell my pieces.  Like many hobbyist, we collect too many things.  Etsy is a great online site and easy to set up and use.  My shop is still a hobby, which I can enjoy and Etsy makes that possible.

Tell us a bit about your products.           

My Classic Gallery Line is made from semi-precious, opaque gemstone jewelry.  I am always looking for unique, new stones.  When I can find them,  I like to  use high grade gemstones, like Malachite and Rhodochrosite, however it can be hard and time consuming at times to search them out.  You have to be knowledgeable and always aware of imitations.  My other jewelry lines are boho chic glass beads and tribal style in earth tones and colorful wood.  Gemstones are cool to the touch, have a nice weight to them and each one is like God’s fingerprints made permanently in nature.

What inspires your work?           

My love for nature and color.  Gemstones especially have both, along with character in the form of line and circle striations.  It is the contrasts in color and in the natural designs of the stone, put together with unique cuts and faceting which can make the piece sparkle.

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

Working toward my first holiday season and then a new spring jewelry line of pearls and shell.

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

First, you have to love what you do and make.  You also need to find a niche, something a little different than the next person.  I believe I can stand out with my gemstone jewelry because of my use of beautiful, opaque gemstones, trying to use the highest grade I can find, as well as the quality of findings (sterling silver).  I put extra work into each piece to insure they are well made and are a great investment.  I describe this process in all of my descriptions of my jewelry, so that the customer knows what they are getting.  Lets not forget, great customer service.

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

All over the house!  Mostly done at my table, where I take my pictures and my organizational area of shelves and bins.

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

https://www.facebook.com/trueearthdesigns http://www.pinterest.com/truearthdesigns
my blog that I need to catch up on – http://trueearthdesign.blogspot.com/

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs. buying mass-produced products from box stores?

Handmade are usually one of a kind pieces, rather than thousands of the same look.  Handmade has usually better quality, because you (the designer, creator and seller) are the person they will do business with and your reputation is on the line, so you do the best job you can.  Whereas the person who is making a mass-produced piece may not take as great of care when making the pieces and they can tend to use cheaper products.

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

Over time how to make my jewelry better in the craftsmanship and selection of gemstones, watching out for those imitations that are out there.  Having been burned a few times with glass – thought I was buying Quartz, man-made Malachite instead of the real gemstone and dyed Magnesite instead of true Turquoise.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Be patient, enjoy the journey, make what you love and work hard without stressing to the point of burnout.   Also, be realistic, if you want it to become a full time business, it may take years.  I prefer a hobby and Etsy gives both the opportunity.

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

This is my hobby, but I also enjoy my new grandbaby, spending time with family and the occasional trip to the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, beautiful in the fall.

What is your favourite quote?        

“For he (Abraham) was looking forward to the city with foundations (gemstones, Rev. 21) whose architect and builder is God.”   Hebrews 11 –  God loved using beautiful gemstones.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?        

Remember those who are sick or disabled, as well as their caregivers.  Find ways to help or encourage.

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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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Member Feature: Ghirlandiamo

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Lia Russo  of Ghirlandiamo, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.       

I live in Salerno, a beautiful town on the sea in the South of Italy. In “The Devine Comedy”, the greatest Italian poet Dante Alighieri talks about a girl – whose name is Lia – who is preparing a flower wreath for herself.  My name is Lia, I’m no more … a girl but I’m fond of wreaths!  That’s much more than a coincidence: it was an encouragement!

Since I was a little girl, my mom let me developing my manual skills: I built nativity scene houses with medicine boxes, I prepared ” collage” and many other crafts. So, in addition to my job as consultant, I always expressed my creativity by working dried flowers, leaves and other natural elements, to create home décor.  I love nature and I much appreciate its beauty, disclosed to whom are able to look with sensitivity at its shapes and its incredible colors.
I filled up my friends’ home – and mine, too, with my wreaths and decorations for many years.  When relatives and friends could not stand any other of my gift….. they suggested me to sell them!

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

So I opened my shop (Ghirlandiamo) at the end of November 2013 and I’m here, on Etsy, trying to seduce you with my creations! That’s life: what was just a hobby, now is a job and I dedicate most part of my days to it. When I begin a new decor I generally have not a prearranged design; I only let flow my creativity stream. Among different decorations I work on, I prefer – with no doubt – creating (wreaths)! But besides that, I also create wedding favors, jewel boxes, decorated baskets and so on. For my decors I try using, every time is possible, natural materials. There are so many: wickler, jute, dried flowers and leaves, branches, rope, shells, berries and much more.

Tell us a bit about your products.           

I try to limit at most artificial components, using them only if strictly necessary. My decors are generally one of a kind. For that reason too, I think that a wreath is not only a door decor, (saying that is reducing), but it can worthily stay on a wall, instead of a picture, giving a unique touch, as it’s a handmade product! My customers ‘ opinion is that my works express a smart and cheerful design and completely reflect what people generally expect from a (“made in Italy”) product. I do love home décor and I think any home must have a particular touch that can express the personality of people living there. So I hope to give people, buying one of my crafts, a little emotion, that’s what I feel every time I look at it.

What inspires your work?           

I’m of course influenced by the place where I live: a town in South Italy, just on the sea, sunny weather and warm temperature. All around me the nature has strong colors. Furthermore I’m very near to Paestum and Pompei, with their great Greek and Roman ruins, testimonials of the most ancient civilizations. All that influences and inspires my works, in addition to my creativity.

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

I hope my creations could reach many countries all over the world, as I’d like to give anyone a bit of Italy through my handmade decors.

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

I think the difference consists just in their origin. Design, style, colors and arrangement clearly express a “made in Italy” handmade product.

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

Unfortunately not yet possible. So as my son lives in London, I use his room as work space! That means when he come home for Christmas and summer holidays, I have to free the room from all materials, what is really a big task, much more than creating and selling!

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

I’m at disposal for any customers request and for personalized decors. For more information about me and my products please visit:

www.ghirlandiamo.com
www.etsy.com/it/shop/Ghirlandiamo
www.facebook.com/ghirlandiamo

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs. buying mass-produced products from box stores?

As we are surrounded from years by mass-produced products, some people feel the necessity to distinguish themselves by purchasing handmade crafts, that are never equal. Any handmade product has a soul, keeping inside something of the creator, I think. Furthermore many items can be personalized, according to the personality of the person who will receive the object. What else more?!

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

Creating beautiful things is not enough; it’s only the starting point. It’s likewise important studying SEO, web marketing, how the market place you chose works, how to use Facebook and other socials.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

When I opened my shop on Etsy, I was in a hurry to insert all my items. I was wrong! First of all it’s necessary to visit forums and read, read and read about different topics, to avoid mistakes and get suggestions from older sellers.

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

I like reading and take care of plants (I’ve a green thumb!). It’s also very pleasant for me to take a walk on “Lungomare”, the long beautiful promenade on the sea.

What is your favourite quote?        

“Don’t take anything for granted.” Indeed, every time I forgot it, I was in error!

Is there anything else you’d like to share?        

Etsy is technically a great market place, but first of all is a place where you can meet many lovely people. Some of them are now my friends, counselors, good critics and … admirers!

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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.

Member Feature: DJ Wood Crafts

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Donald Bauman of DJ Wood Crafts, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.       

I was introduced to the lathe and tried my hand at a few wine bottle stoppers and was hooked. I started making pens and things progressed from there. I find turning beautiful wood relaxing and creative.

The first step in crafting quality wood goods is choosing the material. I craft my products from beautiful wood from all over the world which makes it interesting. Every piece is one-of-a-kind. I use different finishes such as the CA finish, friction polish or oil finish. I use attractive and durable hardware in stainless steel, antique brass, rose gold, gun metal, and chrome.

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

May of 2013. I was enjoying creating items and each one being so different and I was giving many away as gifts. I was encouraged to start selling my items and looked into Etsy as DJwoodcrafts was started.

Tell us a bit about your products.           

My products are one of a kind and each created differently. I let the movement of the lathe and whatever comes to my mind at the time create my pieces. I use domestic and exotic wood. I use quality metal components for my pens, wine stops, wine corkscrews, key chains, letter openers, pepper mills.

What inspires your work?           

The thing that inspires me is creativity the lathe allows. I believe quality is just as important and creativity. If it is not a quality piece of craftsmanship the creativity will not stand alone.

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

I would, as most, love to do this full time. My goal is for many people to enjoy my unique and quality products as much as I enjoy creating them.

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

I feel my business stands out because of the great care to detail I put in every item.

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

I work in my basement at home. I like being able to create when I want. Right now, it is the perfect place for my business.

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DJwoodcrafts http://www.djwoodcrafts.com http://www.pinterest.com/djkbau/dj-woodcrafts https://twitter.com/djkbau

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs. buying mass-produced products from box stores?

My products are very much one of a kind and are a perfect gift item as well. My items are made with great detail and care. I have had several repeat customers which demonstrates that my items are what they are looking for. I have had some people state that the item has to feel good to them in their hands and the wood has to speak to them.

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

I would have loved to have found Etsy before now. I have learned that you never know what people will be drawn to.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do not be in a hurry. People will find you. Keep creating.

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

I do work full time now but hope to just create wood items full time.

What is your favourite quote?        

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. – Zen Proverb

Is there anything else you’d like to share?        

Never be afraid to do what you love.

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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.

Member Feature: Bungalow 42

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Connie Lee of Bungalow 42, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself.      

I answered the most difficult (for me) question last though it was the first one on the questionnaire. One of the most challenging aspects of opening my Etsy shop has been the need to overcome my propensity for privacy. Also, I just don’t see myself as that interesting.  Not great fodder for an engaging bio question – right? If I pretend that I am talking to a new friend who has expressed interest in my life story I would probably summarize my professional career in the music business.  Not the glamorous side mind you… my roles were predominantly tech related and in project management.  Next I would probably describe my creative endeavors which spanned years but intensified significantly after my mother passed unexpectedly five years ago.  I found some vintage African white heart beads that I subsequently learned were very old while cleaning out her studio.  This was surprising as my mother was a potter but she was always squirreling away odd bits and pieces with the firm belief that she would eventually find a way to use them.   It was shortly after my mother passed that I had an opportunity to seriously focus on jewelry design.  My first formal design included those vintage white hearts.  Heartened by the support of friends and family and the pure joy derived from this creative process, I decided to seek instruction, research tools and techniques all while working to improve my skills. I am grateful to my aunt Dianne for constantly reminding me that my mother would be so proud of her daughter’s new endeavor.

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

May 22, 2014. As is probably true for many Etsy shop owners, I started making “adornments” for the women in my family:  relatives and what my friend Kathy calls the “family you choose”. My friend Audrey christened my work as adornments which sounded perfect to my ears.  I also owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Hilary in NYC who has her pulse on the nuance of what’s kitsch and what’s “krap.”  And an “oh wow” to my cousin Kelleigh who was delighted to report that my shell earrings were a hit at her local LA coffee shop. This family of women has been my inspiration, guinea pigs, unfaltering fan club and enthusiastic supporters of this new endeavor. Also, like many others, no doubt, I decided to open my Etsy shop because of their encouragement and belief in me.  I can only imagine how many Etsy folks first heard the words “you could sell these!” from a member of their family.  I personally found these words to be humbling, inspiring, exciting and frightening.

Tell us a bit about your products.           

My “seriously whimsical adornments” pair sterling silver findings, gemstones, seashells, pearls, vintage and handcrafted beads from around the world with delicate but sturdy plastic chain, silk thread, leather and waxed linen. I have always been drawn to fun, whimsical pieces but the quality of the findings and the workmanship was always important.     Weight and humor is a major focus in my work.  I strive to create lightweight pieces that won’t weigh you down but will hopefully make you smile. An instructor who was reviewing my work summed it up stunningly.  She said that the pairing of sterling silver findings with vintage beads, shells, freshwater pearls and plastic chain conveyed a “take me seriously” element.  I was struck by how easily she succinctly described what I was trying, albeit unknowingly, to achieve.

What inspires your work?           

I have to admit this is not something to which I have given much thought… but I think that people are a primary source of inspiration and endless fascination in my work and in my life. In deciding to open my Etsy shop, to take this next step or giant leap off a cliff, depending on the day’s mind set, I thought about how intriguing it would be to make pieces for people I do not know and will likely never know. This is so completely opposite of that which initially inspired me.  I would find a pretty color of freshwater pearls, eye-catching seashells, an unusual vintage bead or bit of colorful plastic that would remind me of someone I love.

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

My goals for the business are modest.  My pieces are mostly made from vintage and/or limited stock.  I have no desire to create the same piece over and over again.  My work is not going to appeal to a massive audience.   Not everybody is going to intuit plastic or bookbinding thread as serious jewelry components.   My goal this year is to find that niche group of people with similar sensibilities. Not (previously) a social media maven, I am working to cast a bigger net for that niche group with the aid of social media.  Improving my social media tools is a goal for this and future years. My dream?  Getting the shop open and having total strangers purchase and appreciate my work… well that is pretty much a dream come true already.

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

My hope is that my business will stand out because my pieces are fun, unusual and well made.  I strive to describe the pieces as if I were chatting with a friend including nerdy history or factoids. Customer satisfaction is enormously important… being responsive to customer queries and shipping promptly are just as vital as creating well-crafted pieces from quality materials. My first five star review was such a rush.  I can only hope that every purchase will be similarly prized.

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

Not a particularly novel start, like many others my initial work space was also our dining room table.  Most of my tools and materials were stored a flight down from the dining room and many of my initial photos were taken a flight up on the balcony. Last summer we moved to a larger space where I was able to carve out a comfortable work area in our shared office and studio. Having a dedicated work bench, room for photography equipment and ample (for the moment) storage for tools and materials all in the same room on the same floor feels positively lavish by comparison.

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

http://www.bungalow42.com/content/about

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs. buying mass-produced products from box stores?

Not everyone can afford nor are they drawn to handmade products. Affordability is always a consideration in my work.  I realize how relative the term “affordable” can be but with that goal in mind I vowed to work within a retail price ceiling of $100.  Most of my pieces are well below that price point. For those who are drawn to and fortunate enough to be able to purchase handmade items, I hope that they are swayed by the unique and well-crafted elements of my work.

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

It’s still early but I hope/expect to learn much in the coming years.  I anticipate thinking “I wish I had known that beforehand” many times over.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do the homework/research.  Read the Etsy Success emails and other related documentation. If photography is a new skill, give yourself plenty of time to work on your photos.   In the first year my skills improved dramatically but of course that meant that I wanted to reshoot my entire inventory – several times.  Had I just focused on a few pieces until my skills improved I could have saved myself a lot of time. Etsy sellers are also Etsy buyers – usually not in that order.  Look at your favorite shops and think about why you are drawn to those shops.  In addition to the products sold, consider the different components of these shop that you find appealing.  If you focus on these components when you plan and build your Etsy shop, chances are that you will be pleased with the results.

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

Spending time with my husband who is also my best friend is my favorite way to unwind. We love sharing movies, good food and wine, books, politics and time with friends.  He’s also one of the funniest and kindest people on the planet.   I am a very lucky girl.

What is your favourite quote?        

Honestly I don’t have a favorite quote, as I can never seem to commit one to memory but I am fond of this one: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ― George Eliot

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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.

Member Feature: Lucky Lizzy’s

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Scheffler of Lucky Lizzy’s, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself       

I am a Mom to five incredible children.  They are 9, 7, 5 and twins who are 3.   I’m a wife to a very lucky man (lol, just kidding, well I’m not, but I’m lucky too) and I am fortunate to have a great support system of parents and relatives who give me time to sew.

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

Lucky Lizzy’s was created December 30, 2012.  I was buying so many beautiful handmade clothes on Etsy that I wondered if I could create them.  I took a class at a local fabric store and watched hours of sewing tutorials on youtube.  I have been addicted to sewing since my first stitch!

 

Tell us a bit about your products           

My little girl clothes are colorful, happy little dresses.  They are go right over the head so it makes it easy for little ones to dress themselves.  My boys pants have fun themes such as fire trucks, helicopters and outer space.

What inspires your work?           

My kids, sunshine, anything that makes me happy.

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

I would like to double production from my first year in business.  So far I am right on target and am preparing for the big Christmas rush.

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

There are so many talented sewists on Etsy.  I stand out by my customer service.  That might sound cliche but it is truly one of the reasons I had such a successful first year.   There is nothing worse than emailing a shop owner with a question and having it take forever for them to respond.  My phone is pretty much attached to me so I can email my customers within minutes of their inquiry.

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

I have a wonderful, bright studio where I create all the clothes for Lucky Lizzy’s.  If you ask my kids though they would call it the Lego Room:-)

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

http://www.facebook.com/luckylizzysapparel http://www.pinterest.com/luckylizzys http://wanelo.com/escheffler

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs buying mass-produced products from box stores?

Hands down, you will feel awesome about yourself!  You have helped a small business owner provide for their family, perhaps you shopped local (yes, there is a search on Etsy for that) and the quality…just can’t be beat it!

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

The wealth of information you can find from the Etsy Teams.  They are a great resource!

Any advise for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Know your market and how to target them.

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

Well, my obsession is fabric so looking online for more is really fun and relaxing for me.

What is your favourite quote?        

Be creative. Be adventurous. Be original. Wonder Woman

Is there anything else you’d like to share?        

Please convo me with any special requests!  I love custom orders!

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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.

Member Feature: Kestrel Collection

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Kristen Sargent of Kestrel Collection, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself       

I’m a contradiction.  I’m not shy but I am quiet.  I could easily get up in front of a crowded bar and have a blast with karaoke and a few friends but most weekends I prefer to be at home with my husband and our 2 crazy calico cats, either reading a book or making jewelry. My career is R&D Food Science.  I LOVE working for a big brand food company where I get to make tasty trendy foods that people will bring home to nourish their families.  The analytical side of my mind is challenged every day as I focus on nutrition and safety for our customers.  I get to exercise my creative side, too, when I’m in the test kitchen making up new recipes. But I have a lot of pent up creative thoughts and energy that left me restless until I found jewelry making. I’ve always been a crafter.  When I was 14 I started tailoring and then making some of my own clothes.  In high school I picked up embroidery and shortly after college I hand sewed a queen sized quilt.    Each new project I tackle is BIG.  I like to learn and challenge myself.  I want to feel I’ve earned new skills with large goals.

But that quilt took me a year and during that time I didn’t feel I could share with anyone until it was perfectly finished.  My creative outlet was still stifled because after all the quiet work at home I wanted to get on that stage and sing out my art to anyone who would listen. Then I found jewelry making and it was perfect!   Each piece could be a new challenge and each piece would be small enough to tackle in a few days and then I’d be showing it off to the world.   At first I just made things for myself and everything I made was an excuse to learn a new skill.   Wire wrapping? Sure! Bead weaving? OK! Pearl Knotting? Bring it on! I love to sketch out jewelry I see as I watch TV or while I’m out and about so I can try to imitate the parts that inspire me.   (Yes, my lab notes at work are sometimes accented with earrings and necklaces doodled in the corners!)   So I’ve even improved my drawing skills through jewelry making. The funniest thing about all this is my mom said I used to fill notebooks as a wee girl with drawing after drawing of shapes I’d call earrings.  I’d tell everyone I was going to design jewelry when I grew up…and that I was going to be a scientist.

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

I opened my Etsy store in April of 2013.  Having been an Etsy shopper in the past I knew it would be a supportive environment and that they have the technical tools in place to make start up easy. It was an easy decision to open my hobby into an Etsy storefront because the amount of jewelry I had made in just a few months was out of control!  I had more than I could ever possibly enjoy on my own.  Many people were stopping me at work or when out shopping to compliment the pieces I was wearing and even asked to buy the jewelry right then and there.  When I realized other people like my art work it became less about voraciously trying new skills and more about refining my skills and making the best product.

Tell us a bit about your products           

My current focus is wire wrapped jewelry and strung bead work.   I work mainly with glass, pearls, and natural stones but I also like to use vintage beads of any material type.   Most of my work is one of a kind. I feel jewelry should be as unique as the person wearing it.  My customers should know that no one will have exactly what they picked out.  For this reason, I like to buy beads in small quantities and pick out everything I’ll need for a particular piece at the same time.   Right now I sell necklaces, earrings, and bracelets and I’m working on adding hair combs and barrettes, bookmarks, and anklets too. I also do custom work for bridal parties and brides, or any other custom request.

What inspires your work?           

My inspiration is quick as a flash of lightning.  An idea will come to mind and I’ll race to sketch it out wherever I am, at home I pick my materials and colors, and get started.   Inspiration comes from anywhere. You’ll see my shop is a little eclectic and tends to go in waves of ideas. Currently period costumes in movies and TV have my eye. I also take inspiration from nature and my love of fantasy fiction so you’ll see a lot of flowers and fairy themed items.

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

My business is small and still gaining traction.  I have a ton of goals! As far as the business goes: This year I want to increase my page views and favorites over last year’s highest 30 day average. I plan to solidify my branding by making a matching banner, icon, and business/thank you cards. I want to get some Christmas and Valentine’s Day themed items out ahead of schedule and with promotions lined up. I’d like to create a few standard bridesmaid listings with lots of variations and options to choose so the customer can pick out what they like (even every girl with different jewelry) and really see what they are building. As far as my skills are concerned: This year I plan to learn bead weaving and I’ll reverse engineer a few complex pieces I admire.

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

You never know what styles you’ll find in my shop.  I love everything!  The one thing you can count on is quality.  I am very focused and very picky and I won’t list any product until I’m sure I can be proud of it.

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

I have a secretary’s desk that houses all my materials right now and shelves where I keep the finished products and shipping supplies in labeled baskets.

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

I have a Facebook store page www.facebook.com/KestrelCollection

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs buying mass-produced products from box stores?

Buying handmade supports the artist.  Whether like me the artist loves hand making for entertainment and personal growth or perhaps the artist is supporting herself on her art, either way that is so much more real and exciting to me than buying mass produced. Also I think the quality of handmade can’t be matched.  A great artisan will only sell things that are good for their name and they will stand behind their work because it’s good for the customer. And my third reason… variety!   The Big box stores always follow each other doing the same trends with barely any spin on them.   I like to give people options!

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

Marketing and promotion, the business end of the business takes up a lot more time than I thought. In the last year I’ve developed a few systems that help me work more efficiently but it would have been so much better to know that going in and had my systems ready to go.

Any advise for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Go for it!  And be sure to check out teams and the seller’s handbook for great tips.

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

Etsy and jewelry making is my hobby!!  But I also unwind from this, too.  I love to read, fantasy and science fiction mostly, but also comic books.  I’m a terrible couch potato, watching Netflix documentaries and having British TV drama marathons late into the night.  My husband is a movie critic so we go out to the movies usually every weekend.

What is your favourite quote?        

“So much to grok….” From the novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein.  Grok means to learn something and understand it so thoroughly that we become a part of it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?        

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to share.   I hope everyone enjoyed the read and invite you all to come have a look in my shop, kestrelcollection.etsy.com.

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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.

Member Feature: AV Custom Designs

Contributor post by Anna of Unexpected Treasure

Please join us in welcoming Angela Frazier of AV Custom Designs, our featured member!

Tell us about yourself       

I am a mother of a 22 year old son, married to the man of my dreams and I have a spoiled rotten Bull Mastiff that thinks he owns the house. LOL  I work my Etsy shop full time and am still trying to leverage home life and work. I always said if I owned my own business I would work Monday thru Friday 9-5 but that’s not the way it is. Sometimes I work 16 hour days, but at least I work from home.  I wouldn’t change a thing – I LOVE what I do.

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

I opened my shop Dec 2012 after I got frustrated looking through the web for a blinged out pair of heels with a jeweled bottom.

Tell us a bit about your products           

I create custom wedding designs, everything for the bride except the dress including bridal party gifts. I try to push the limits with my designs stepping as far outside of the box as I can. I try to create designs that people think about but are to shy to mention to others.

What inspires your work?           

I am inspired by so many different things. I can be walking in a store and see something and say “Oh my, that would look great as a veil” or I can be fishing on the lake and come up with designs that I will put together the next week.

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

I have this silly goal but it’s fun for me. I want to have my custom creations in every state of the U.S. by the end of 2014. I only have seven states to go. My dream is to design custom wedding dresses, I already have some designs sketched out so it is definitely something I see in the future.

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

The great thing about my creations are that there aren’t really any other shops that do what I do. Before I create something I look around the web just to make sure there isn’t anything out there like what I am wanting to create.

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

I have an office and shop combination. It is separated by my shipping station. Me and my husband plan on building a new home by the end of this year or early next year and I plan on my shop being huge. My husband owns his own business where he builds homes so he has already started the plans for the new house.

Where can people find out more about you and your business?

Etsy About page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AVCustomDesigns/about
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/avcustomdesigns
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/afrazier362/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaFrazier11
WaNeLo: http://wanelo.com/avcustomdesignsandmore

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs buying mass-produced products from box stores?

People who create handmade designs put their heart and soul into it – I know I do. When customers purchase these products they know that there is a story behind it, a unique gift for someone special to them and it will last longer than something that is mass produced.

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

Even though I was a store manager for multiple retail stores for over 25 years the online world is completely different. You don’t have the customer in front of you to talk to and they aren’t able to see or touch your item. The hardest thing I have had to overcome is giving great descriptions and taking great photos. I can’t tell you how many times I have redone all of my photos, descriptions and tags.

Any advise for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

It is best to research Etsy and how things work with them. Read up on forums and join in on team discussions. Ask a lot of questions so you will be able to do it right the first time and not have to redo things over and over again. It will save you a lot of time and frustration in the end.

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

I LOVE to go to the lake with my husband and fish. There is nothing more relaxing for me, it is so peaceful. I am always sad when its time to come back home.

What is your favourite quote?        

Life is like a camera… FOCUS on what’s important. CAPTURE the good times. DEVELOP from the negatives. And if things don’t work out, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have this posted in my office and read it every day – It is just uplifting to me.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?        

I am all about helping the other guy so I have created a new Pinterest board called AWESOME ETSY SHOPS. There are so many shops on Etsy that some amazing shops tend to get lost in the crowd. This board is dedicated to the shops that create stunning pieces but have less than 100 sales. If you would like to pin your favorite shops with less than 100 sales to this board send me your first and last name via Etsy convo and I can add you to the list ( you need to have a Pinterest account for me to do so). Help me help these shops make the sales that I know they deserve.

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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.