Member Feature: Gillisflowers

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Gillian of Gillisflowers, our featured member!

Gillisflowers

Gillisflowers

Tell us about yourself.

I’m Gilli, I’m 56 years old divorced and I have a wonderful daughter, son-in-law and three gorgeous grandchildren.

I love creating, designing and I love making my jewellery and seen the pleasure it gives to other people.
About four years ago I was diagnosed with quite serious arthritis in my neck together with damaged discs and had to undergo surgery. Although it was successful, I have developed some other problems as a result including mobility problems and chronic pain in my neck shoulders and my arms right down to my fingers. Because of this I had to initially change my job role and go part time but I am now seeking early retirement.

As well as my family and my faitcrafting taking up origami and gradually developing its to where it is now has been really positive for me. It’s almost like therapy. When I’m designing folding or making jewellery I am completely focused on that and it brings a great sense of achievement. It brings me into contact with the new people both in the real world and on websites and developing my skills and knowledge of social media etc stimulates my brain will stop it is also a really good Rachel and press a seven-year-old grandson when you share a video you have made with him and then tell him you have your very own website!

The ironic thing is, that if it wasn’t for having become disabled and having to give up what I was doing I would not have the business that I have today. There are times when it’s difficult, when I’m too exhausted or in too much pain to make anything but even then I can sit and workout designs in my head or watch a video linked to selling on Etsy and online marketing.

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

I am Gilli and I set up my businessGilli’s flowers about 15 months ago now. I I sold through local designer markets initially and although I opened my Etsy shop in the latter half of 2016 it’s really been since January this year that I’ve been putting more effort into it and been working on it and my brand more.
I took up origami about three years ago after I was told by physiotherapists that I had to give up my previous hobby of cruelty and patchwork due to arthritis in my neck which also affects my shoulders and arms. I was advised by occupational therapy to find a way of exercising my fingers and after trying several things I discovered origami. I gradually found that it was easier for me to fold small items with dinner paper (although even with this I am limited in how much I can actually fold in a day) and so this led to me into making jewellery. I particularly love flowers and so this became central to my brand and while I do make the more standard origami jewellery fans, leaves and birds I also want to really push the boundaries. I decided to open my business because as I’d had to go part time at work some extra money was useful and because of the best will in the world there are only so many piece of jewellery any one person can wear. I also love what I make and create and I wanted to share this with other people.

Tell us a bit about your products.

Although I obviously have to use bought jewellery findings as well as the occasional bead or crystal in my designs the bulk of them is traditional origami folded from paper. I use lots of different kinds of papers, pearlescent paper, Mulberry tissue paper and a range of specialist origami papers as well is also recycling old books, sheets music and vintage maps.

I sometimes customised paper either by layering its are or adding additional colour or texture to it. Most of my pieces are made folded squares of paper measuring between 1 to 2 inches although for some designs such as the lily of the valley flowers in the next picture I folded squares of paper measuring just 3/4 inch and had to use precision tipped jewellery tweezers to help with this.

I use good quality waterproof varnish – either liquid or aerosol depending on the design when finishing my pieces and typically apply around 5 coats of varnish. This not only adds to the finish of the piece but also adds strength, durability and water resistance.

Due to the materials used and drying time it can take me up to 5 days to get a piece completed and an individual pair of earrings can easily take up to an hour to make once the time taken to fold, varnish and assemble the piece is added together.

What inspires your work

Nature is probably my biggest inspiration not just the flowers themselves but natures colour combinations which are also inspirational. I always seem to have more ideas to things I want to make than I have time to make. In many ways although the bulk of it is themed around flowers my inspiration takes in Victorian and vintage jewellery as well as Art Deco and is even a touch of Gothic thrown in.

Sometimes the inspiration comes from the paper itself which wants to be used in a particular way. Film and television period dramas are also a rich source of inspiration and the next photo is of a piece that was inspired by some Victorian mourning jewellery worn by one of the characters in a recent BBC television series, Taboo.

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

My immediate goals for this year are to sell consistently on Etsy and raise my profile on social media. I am now having to take early retirement and so to have an additional regular (-ish) source of income would help me continue to buy the occasional treat not so much to myself as for my grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law. I’ve had some very positive response to my jewellery, for example this year II am one of the winners of the #small business Sunday competition run byTheo Paphitis (former TV Dragon and owner of Ryman’s), and I sell well at markets. The next stage is to transfer this success to online marketing.

My dream is for this to become a shared business with my daughter, we are very close in many ways and it would be wonderful for us eventually to be able to develop Gilli’s flowers together.

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

My unique designs. I take traditional origami folds and use of a new ways as well as modifying them and developing my own folds. In seeking to recreate vintage bone china flower jewellery to the use of origami I’m doing something very different and pushing the boundaries of this form of jewellery making. The row use colour and a variety of papers I use also makes me stand out as does the fact that my work is mainly about flowers. As part of that I link my floral designs to the traditional language of flowers as well as to folklore adding a meaningful aspect to my jewellery and including information about this with each piece that I sell.

I also got permission from the William Morris Gallery in London to use original designs from their collection in my pieces, something else which makes my jewellery stand out.

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

I use what used to be my daughter’s bedroom. It’s a lovely light room,( although it does get very hot in the summer) which is perfect when trying to fold small piece of paper or assemble jewellery. I have set up so that I have four main work areas for photography, paper storage and cutting, varnishing and folding and assembling.I store my finished pieces in the kind of disposable plastic containers used by take-aways. They are cheap, it’s easy to see what is inside and they stack neatly. Downstairs I have what I term my office area with my laptop, printer records and so on.

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

That the designing and making elements is the easy part and in many ways the fun part. However like everything else in life you won’t succeed unless you put time and hard work into the background work, reviewing and updating Etsy listings, networking and making good use of social media. It’s like an iceberg, the part you see is the finished items on sale at a Designer Market or on a site such as Etsy, but underneath them is the hours of not so exciting work which is needed to make any business successful.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

It’s not enough just to have a good product and some decent pictures. There’s lots to learn about how to make sure listings standout and are noticed so I would recommend joining one of the many Etsy help groups that are based on social media sites such as Facebook. And from most sellers it would take a while to get noticed and get regular orders so stick with it. To make it work you have to put the effort in.

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

Because of my particular situation in terms of my disability I can only work for around three hours a day and these have to be spaced out. At other times, and when I’m not resting I enjoy watching dramas, reading or listening to audio books and best of all spending time with my family.

My main hobby has become my business so it’s just as well I enjoy it.

What is your favorite quote?

He did not say “You will not be tempest-tossed, you shall not me work-weary, you shall not be discomforted.” He said “You shall not be overcome”
Dame Julian of Norwich

Where can people find out more about your business?

Facebook: @Gillisflowers
Twitter: @Gillisflowers
Instagram: @gillisflowers
Website: gillisflowers

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Always be open to new challenges and new opportunities.

________

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.

Advertisements

Member Feature: Eleven11Designs

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Jennifer of Eleven11Designs, our featured member!

Eleven11Designs

Tell us about yourself.

Hello, my name is Jennifer Gamble and I’m a self-taught Jewelry Designer currently residing in Akron, Ohio.   Art is one of my biggest passions and I enjoy dabbling in all different types of art; drawing, painting and photography just to name a few.

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

I opened my shop on Etsy in January of 2009.  One of my relatives suggested that I look at ways to start selling my handmade jewelry after she received one of my handmade bracelets as a Christmas gift.  I did a bit of research and stumbled upon the Etsy website.  What started out as hobby, quickly turned into a little shop on Etsy which I lovingly call Eleven11 Designs.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I create unique handmade jewelry and most pieces are one-of-a-kind.  My collection includes bracelets, necklaces and earrings.  I would describe my design style as ethnic bohemian with a touch of vintage.

What inspires your work

I would say that nature is my inspiration when I’m creating.  I love to use the vibrant color combinations that I may have seen on a butterfly’s wings or the multiple colors you may find in a garden of flowers.  Nature produces the perfect color palette in the form of birds, flowers and insects.

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

To continue to grow my business and learn new jewelry techniques so that I can offer a wider selection of jewelry styles to my customers.  I also plan to add a line of colorful mini paintings to my shop.

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

I believe it is my choice of color combinations and mixing different types of elements (metals, beads, patinas, etc.) to create unique pieces that you can’t find anywhere else.

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

My current work space is my dining room table.

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

I have learned that it is extremely important to use the right tags and titles to describe the items in my shop so that I can be found among the thousands of jewelry listings on Etsy.  Also, that posting regularly on social media is a must if you want to grow your business and keep your customers engaged.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Go for it and have fun!  Sell items that you are passionate about.  Read the Etsy Seller’s Handbook, it contains a lot of great information that will help you every step of the way.  Take the best photographs that you can of your products.  Appealing product shots are key to the success of your Etsy shop.

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

I love to travel, spend time with family and friends, play sports, visit art museums, attend festivals and listen to live music.  As far as hobbies, I enjoy photography, drawing and painting.

What is your favorite quote?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoureau

Where can people find out more about your business?

Etsy:  www.eleven11designs.etsy.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/Eleven11Designs
Instagram: www.instagram.com/eleven_11designs
Pinterest:  www.pinterest.com/eleven11designs/my-jewelry-creations-eleven-11-designs

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I have truly enjoyed being a part of the Etsy community and connecting with fellow sellers and customers from all over the world.  I’m forever grateful for the friendships that I have made along the way!   I had the fortunate opportunity in 2015 to partner with the Cleveland Public Library and teach Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Courses; it was an amazing experience!  I love to educate others and support other small businesses on Etsy.

________

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: TheNebulousKingdom

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Anne-Julie of TheNebulousKingdom, our featured member!

TheNebulousKingdom

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m Anne-Julie, I am 37 and I live in south of France with my hubby and our little girl. I am an illustrator & crafter of all things coming from the illustrations I create. I run a shop at Etsy called The Nebulous Kingdom.

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

I started my journey as a seller on Etsy in 2007, with another shop simply named “annejulie”. Etsy was new, I wanted to give a try at it and see if people would buy my illustrations. In 2009 (and because Etsy didn’t allow to change business names at this time), I took the hard decision to close “annejulie” and to open “The Nebulous Kingdom”. All my customers have followed and made the move a success.

Tell us a bit about your products.

Every things start with my illustrations, it’s the basis of all my crafted products. I create postcards from them, pocket mirrors, Art prints, stationery but also accessories, jewellery, fabric journals… I love the almost endless possibilities an illustration can offer.

What inspires your work

It comes from feelings, dreams, nature, music and everyday life.. I love colors very much, and I deeply think they influence on our feelings and ideas.

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

I’m happy with what I’ve achieved so far, and I would just love that everything continues as well as past years. But I still have goals myself to learn more creative techniques so I’d be able to offer more unique and great items in my shop.

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

I believe my illustration style makes the difference. Most of my customers are most of all fans of my Art, and they purchase items based on their favorite illustration.

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

I work from home where I have my own little studio, with a windows on the sky, literally! Lots of natural light, which helps me to have colorful ideas for my creations. I sometimes like to work in my living room, still, to share time with my family.

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

Well, I would tell myself that we must appreciate what we have now, and that everything will go fine but one step at a time. Develop an idea, then another, and take time to test it. Don’t discourage yourself, things take time, and hard work is always récompensé.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

I would tell them to get prepared to struggle from time to time, because living from our art is not easy everyday. Bills and taxes will still be there, and it can be hard sometimes to deal with it. Other than that, it’s a true dream  and I wish everyone could live from their creations. It’s truly fulfilling. Always make your customer happy, without them your shop is nothing. It’s the very first thing to remember. Learn to show your creations beautifully, with great photos and item descriptions. Try to innovate, to stand out from the others thanks to your style or your technique. Most of all, be passionate!

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

I love to spend my free time with my family. Playing games with my daughter, go outside and have a walk.

I love to listen to music and watch movies. But I also spend a lot of time crafting, reading books.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is from Anais Nin: “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”. I also more recently discovered this one “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. How positive!

Where can people find out more about your business?

ETSY : TheNebulousKingdom

FACEBOOK : Anne-Julie-Aubry

INSTAGRAM : annejulieaubry

TWITTER: @annejulieart

PERSONAL WEBSITE / BLOG : www.annejulieaubry.com

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

If you feel you have something special to show to the world, then show it! Always try to stay positive and kind to others, that’s the secret for a better living!

________

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: postcardsintheattic

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Colleen of postcardsintheattic, our featured member!

postcardsintheattic

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up a Midwest farm girl from Wisconsin but through a series of moments of self discovery I have since moved to California and live the city life in Palm Springs. I live in a beautiful contemporary home where my husband and I have designed a small but very beautiful Japanese Garden.

Unfortunately, though, the contemporary look does not blend with my passion for vintage and antique Victorian froufrou. So I have created for myself a virtual world with my shops. I welcome you to my attic filled with all the treasures found and creations made especially for you.

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

I opened my business 2011.  I have had a dream to sell vintage postcards since I was a small child.  At the time my mother informed me that it would never happen because no one would ever pay more than a few cents for the cards I collected.  I guess she was mistaken!

Now that I am a photographer I also have a passion to create my own postcards.  One of my favorite things to do is recreate the types of vintage cards that were popular in the early 20th century.  Big Letter, Tall Tale and night scenes are a few that I have dabbled in.  Of course it is much easier now since I have the advantage of digital art vs having to manipulate plates and film.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I sell almost any type of vintage postcard but at least half of the vintage postcards I sell are over 100 years old.  I have a love for anything that is paper and withstand years and years of handling.  To me it is amazing to see something that age in such great condition.  Sadly there are some that have not been able to survive fully intact but often I use those for digital art where I restore the card to a new state.

I sell my digital work on Sellfy under the same name.  I also create clip art from the designs to use for digital papers, gift tags and art.

More common are the Linen cards from about the 30’s and 40’s but while these are not rare I love the bright vivid colors that the linen paper creates.  The ink soaked in creating supernatural tones. Plus this is a period where the fun Tall Tale, Big Letter and Night Scene postcards popped.  The intense colors is almost like looking at the world through rose colored glass.  Everything in these images are vivid and exciting.

I carry a small number of recent vintage cards from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  While these often do not catch my eye I have found several political and advertising cards that are quite intriguing.

What inspires your work

I work in images.  As a photographer my style is macrophotography and closeups so I see the world slightly different.  I relate to my environment through imagery so collecting and selling vintage images is right up my alley.  In fact often seeing something in a postcard will dictate a trip or even a move.

In fact one of the reasons for me to move out West was due to the postcards from Arizona and the deserts that my grandparents sent to me.  These amazing images were such a contrast to what I seen in Wisconsin that I would spend hours daydreaming of what it would be like to visit the desert.  Now I live in the desert of the Coachella Valley.  And it is even more beautiful than those vintage images from my childhood.

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

My goal this year is to increase sales in my Postcards In The Attic shop (sure that is everyone’s goal)  My long-term goals are to build a self sustaining shop that generates enough income that it can contribute significantly to my income.  I have designed my own website from my photography www.butterflysattic.com; my long-term goal for this shop is to earn enough to use this as my primary income.  I would also like to be featured locally in either a gallery or a similar forum.

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

My Postcards In The Attic stands out visually because of my professional and creative branding and banners.  Aside from appearances; my prices are competitive, I provide excellent customer service along with free US shipping.  I also include a depth of information for most of my cards that exceeds many of my competitors.  I also take the time to research each card, what the publisher was, printer, date etc. so that the information is as accurate as it can be.

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

No but since I am photographer my work space is the whole world.

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

I had been selling vintage in general and included everything from ephemera to knickknacks, books to jewelry which took up a lot of space and time.  I also sold handmade crafted items (which part of me still loves) but this made my stores too wide spread and not specialized in anything.

I have not focused Postcard In the Attic strictly on ephemera and Butterfly In The Attic Photography on just that photography.  While I am still trying to reduce my original inventory on Bonanza I must admit it is neglected and I will be glad when I can just focus on the two.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do not over estimate the time you have for your shops.  I often do this but with working more than full-time for my day job it leaves very few hours left in the day aside from sleep and eating.  there is only so many hours in the day no matter how much we try to make it stretch.

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

I have many hobbies that includes: travel, playing the piano, photography, writing, and spending time with my 4 children and 6 grandchildren.  We live quite a ways from each of them so we are not able see each other frequently but when we can this is my favorite way of spending my free time.

What is your favorite quote?

“God would not have put the dream in your heart if he had not already given you everything you need to fulfill it” Joel Osteen

Where can people find out more about your business?

I have two blogs one on my new website www.ButterflysAttic.com and a long established blog www.ButterflyInTheAttic.com.  On the latter site I spend a lot of time promoting not just my self but others.

I am also available on facebook at www.facebook.com/PostcardsInTheAttic and www.facebook.com/ButterflysAttic
Twitter www.twitter.com/ButterflysAttic and many others social media venues that are interlinked once you find my blog.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

My shops have been slow starters and have been reshapened many times over the years trying to find what fits for my life and helps me balance my work and my business.

I think one take away is that I refuse to give up on my dream.

________

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: ClarityArtDesign

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Stephanie of ClarityArtDesign, our featured member!

ClarityArtDesign

Tell us about yourself.

I am a life loving person who adores creating. I can’t stop making things. I also love to sell things and can’t help but try to make more things that I can sell. I love living a life that isn’t completely dependent on the office life. A life that can one day travel the country freely.

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

My business was very gradual. I first started with a painting of my own pet, Deja around 12 years ago. I then started selling paintings on Ebay and at craft fairs. I actually was on Etsy long ago, but didn’t invest the time into learning the nuances of the platform. In 2013 I resigned from my full time job as a legal secretary to jump into the world of selling on Etsy. Prior to that I had mostly sold from word of mouth. From there, I learned everything I could about Etsy to start myself off. This proved to be a wonderful experience and the sales and my shop have been growing ever since. I have also now just opened another Etsy shop for resin jewelry which is in its very beginnings.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I hand draw and paint each one of my pieces. My work focuses mostly on creating custom pet portraits using photographs provided by clients. Sometimes the artwork is a very straightforward replication of a photo provided and sometimes I really have to get creative with the pictures I’m given to produce a scene of multiple pets together or just go off of a really fun idea a client has. I spend hours upon hours creating each piece.

What inspires your work

My clients inspire my work! I love hearing their ideas, seeing their pictures and working with them to create something specific for either themselves or someone they love.

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

My goal for my business is to grow it to the point where I can travel eventually while still creating art. I want to build it to a point where it supports me anywhere I want to go and I don’t need to supplement with part-time income.

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

I think that us pet portrait artists all have something to contribute. My style focuses more on realism, but I think it’s just a personal preference to what a client wants. I really try to work with my clients so that everyone is completely satisfied before shipment even takes place. So far this has been a success.

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

I have a large living room that I place my studio in. I like being a part of the every day life of our home and not secluding myself into a separate studio. I’ve always lived apartment life so this to me is very normal. I actually use the desk I had as an elementary school child. When I was little my mom found it at a garage sale and sanded it and stained it for me. It’s held up for 30 years!

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

I wish I had focused on Etsy way back when it first opened. There was less competition then. I have learned though that there are plenty of customers for us all. You just need to grab their attention.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do it! Why not? I do think you need to be honest with yourself about your product though. You must have a good product. You must have good photographs and you must take the time to learn about the platform and understand that it takes time like building any other business. If you have realistic expectations, obtain the correct knowledge and work hard (as well as have a great product), then I see no reason why you won’t be successful.

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

Actually when I’m not working, I tend to make other things (to sell!). I started my resin jewelry business out of my free time. I also really love hanging out with my nieces and nephews and traveling, hiking and hanging out with dogs.

Where can people find out more about your business?

I’m on Facebook, www.facebook.com/clarityartdesign; I’m on Instagram, @clarityartdesign; Twitter, @stephclarityart and of course my Etsy shop, ClarityArtDesign.

________

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: LilacHouseFlorals

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Stacey of LilacHouseFlorals, our featured member!

LilacHouseFlorals

LilacHouseFlorals

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Stacey and I have been a crafter since my grandmother taught me to cross stitch as a child. I was an avid sewer for a long time but found floral design eight years ago and I have never looked back! Initially, I took a beginner class and have since completed a professional program to learn the art. I continue to work every week to learn new methods and to grow as a designer. I am also a wife and a proud mother of three!

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

I opened my business in April of 2016. I had made as many silk floral arrangements as I could for myself and others so I decided to give my designs a try on Etsy. I love creating pieces that add beauty to a home on a daily basis.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I create original, good quality silk floral arrangements, wreaths and faux succulents. I can do any style arrangement from traditional to modern. Regardless of the style, I try to design arrangements that have a lot of texture and visual interest while incorporating beautiful blooms of flowers. All of my pieces are meant to add that “special touch” to a room or space in one’s home.

What inspires your work

I am mostly inspired by combinations of fresh flowers that I have worked with or see in gardens, nature etc. I work to create that “fresh flower” feel into a silk floral arrangement that can be displayed at home. I love the texture and interest of succulents so I like to work with those a lot too.

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

My goal for this year is to become more established on Etsy and to continue to grow my customer base. My dream has always been to own my own business so I will keep working on it!

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

I offer many different styles of arrangements and wreaths as well as color combinations while providing the best quality and customer service possible. Also, I work hard to meet the requests of customers and give them exactly what they want when working with them on custom orders.

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

I am in the process of clearing out a room to serve as a studio for Lilac House. In the meantime, I have a small space in the kitchen.

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

I wish that I had more knowledge about SEO and how to take good product pictures. I have spent a lot of time trying to improve in these areas!

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Yes, give it a try if you are passionate about something that you create. Also, give a lot of thought to what you want to communicate about your product to your customers.

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

I love to take walks with my two dogs and I always look forward to spending time with the family.

What is your favorite quote?

“Success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” – Unknown

Where can people find out more about your business?

Etsy – LilacHouseFlorals
Instagram – lilachouseflorals
Facebook – lilachouseflorals

________

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: zouzousbasement

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Please join us in welcoming Susannah of zouzousbasement, and ZouZousBasementToo our featured member!

zouzousbasement

zouzousbasement

Tell us about yourself.

I am a mom of two boys, wife, art instructor, artist, animal lover, sister, daughter — who lives in a 100+year old house in Richmond, Virginia. I love the history of my family (French Huguenot) and the history of my neighborhood (Ginter Park), as well as what the future holds for my boys and my family. I live with a chronic illness that I do not let define me. I teach art to Dementia patients and am very aware of the cycle of life and not wasting a minute of it.

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

I have been creative and making things my entire life, largely self-taught, but had never really thought of myself as an artist, my creativity has always just been me. About twenty five years ago I discovered hundreds of terra cotta flower pots in my grandmother’s basement and was encouraged to take a bunch home. I started painting on them and giving them as gifts. Soon people were asking where they could buy them, and that was the beginning of my business. I have explored different media but always return to the same subject matter: gardens, desserts, animals, and ancestors; and color is always my first artistic decision. I now have a large studio in my home (in the attic, not the basement) where I focus on paintings, collages, note cards, and other paper/paint related products.

Tell us a bit about your products.

I make a lot of original paintings and collages, some of which I have scanned. The scanned pieces become limited edition prints after I sell the original piece, as well as note cards. I also make other note cards using paper, photos, and letters from books, all of which I cut and paste by hand, and then have printed.

What inspires your work

Color, first and foremost. I wrote my senior thesis on the effect of color on our psyches, and the moods derived from certain colors have always been magical for me. I use bright and happy combinations of colors, often on grey which makes them pop even more. I am constantly inspired by the life around me: flowers and nature, desserts and sweets, and animals of all kinds although I’m partial to dogs, and have been for my entire life.

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

I just held my first opening at my home for my paintings — removing all of the pieces on our walls and putting my pieces up. I was stepping out of my comfort zone and had no expectations, but it far exceeded anything I could have imagined, with close to 100 people showing up and about 27 paintings sold. I hope to make this an annual event. I would love to do more wholesale business on the national level. I hope to be mentioned or introduced by a few bloggers to get my name out there and get more traffic to my sites. I would love to tip the scales to spend more time creating and less time marketing. I hope to continue to grow my business each year and continue to find new venues for my work.

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

My animal collages have been really popular and one of the best things I did was to make prints of some of them, to offer a big range of price points — there is something for everyone. The addition of paper and unusual color combinations have also made them stand out. As humans we all seem to relate to animals so matter how different we are from one another, and I believe I have been able, in some cases, to capture that feeling of connection.

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

My studio is in the walk up attic — the largest and messiest place in our house. Friend and visitors love to go up there. It’s chock full of paper and paint, ribbon, tape, glue, scissors, prints, and cards. But also walls painted by various art students, funny and inspirational quotes, old hats and ephemera from my grandmother, candy, music, and tons of half finished projects.

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

I started a Daily Painting habit about a year and a half ago and it has helped in so many ways — I get ideas out or started that I’ve been thinking about, I practice more, I’m less detail oriented and thus a faster painter. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of the day — by 7 am I have already made a painting, and sort of gets rid of that urge for a few hours. I have also learned to reduce the
quantity of items I am having printed. I am still learning new things every day, even after all of these years in this business. Variables change all the time and I know I have to change too, to keep up.

Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Post each day. Join teams. Like other people’s stuff. Blog mentions help a lot.

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

Any hobbies? Too many. Yoga, cooking, reading, gardening, writing, walking, hanging with my family-friends-dog, reading magazines, napping, hanging out at bookstores, skimming Pinterest, illustration, house DIY projects, drinking wine, buying shoes. Truthfully, owning a business that is open 24/7 makes it hard to unwind. I am trying to take one day a week away from the computer and any work things to get a fresh perspective.

What is your favorite quote?

Cultivate your garden — (Voltaire)
or
Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment — (Monet)

Where can people find out more about your business?

Etsy: zouzousbasement
Website: zouzousbasement
Blog: susannah-zouzousbasement
Facebook: zouzousbasement
Instagram: zouzousbasement
Pinterest: zoub

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve taught children, especially teenagers, for a long time. My advice to them, or anyone, is:

Find your passion, nurture it, and keep practicing. Practice is really the only way to get better at anything. Malcolm Gladwell said that you have to practice something for 10,000 hours before you become an expert at it.

________

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.