Wednesday Interview – Ep 4 – Claire Wilson

As part of an ongoing series, we will ask all of our team members to answer 10 questions about themselves and their shops. This way, we’ll get to know one another a little bit better and perhaps pick up a great tip or two! I will personally aim to post these out every Wednesday around noon, so look out for some questions in your inbox and the posts to appear here. For those amongst you who are shy – don’t worry. It’s not compulsory to take part, nor do you have to send in any pictures if you don’t want to.

[If you are on Team Etsy Cambridge and want to be part of this series, just fill out the questions – and perhaps add an image or two – and send them over to me on Etsy (Y. Bessels / 1000crows) or on Facebook (Yvette Bessels). I’ll add them to the scheduled waiting list.]

 

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1. What’s your name?

Claire Wilson

2. What’s your shop name?

Claireabellemakes

3. How did you choose your shop name?

Claireabelle was a nickname my Dad gave me as a child and I make things!

4. What do you sell?

I sell handmade items inspired by Cambridge! Bicycle accessories, Scrabble jewellery and homewares and floral fabric rings.

5. How did you decide to do this?

I started by writing a creative blog and immersing myself in the crafting community. It seemed like a natural progression to open an Etsy store to share my creations and see if they would make money. Turns out people like them!

6. What do you love most about your products?

I love that each one is inspired by Cambridge. I have a small (giant) obsession with bicycles and only travel by bike, so I love creating things that reflect that. I love looking round antique book stores in Cambridge and the Scrabble creations are a nod to the bookish/word geek nature of our city. Lastly, I am hugely inspired by the floral landscape of the city (I’ve never lived in a city so green) and creating items out of fabric that reflect this is really satisfying. I feel like I am sharing a piece of the city with my customers.

7. Which of your products are bestselling or most popular? 

The macrame bicycle bracelets are definitely my best seller. They launched a year ago and I have sold over 300 now both in my Etsy store and to wholesale customers! The Tour De France coming to Cambridge was a great celebration for our city and it helped my sales tremendously. It was great to share the cycling excitement!

8. What were your biggest challenges in opening / running an online shop?

The hardest thing for me is balancing a shop with working full-time and running a blog which I update with new content 4 times a week. I work for the university and I adore my job, but it means I have to ensure I am super organised to balance a business too. I’ve recently taken on some craft writing work for publishers and I run craft parties too, so I guess the main challenge is ensuring my shop isn’t neglected for other exciting projects!

9. What are your wishes for your shop – are there products you’d like to add or any favourite shops whose success you’d like to achieve?

I would like to reshoot everything in my shop to show that my photography skills have improved and to give it more personality and style. One shop I love for great styling and photography is Oh No Rachio.

10. What would be your golden tip for opening and running an Etsy Shop? And you cannot say having great pictures 😉

Number one is having a product which makes you stand out! Etsy is such a saturated marketplace, so find what makes your product unique and work hard on your branding to communicate this. I have found my blog is a fantastic marketing tool for making my shop a success and it’s great fun too!

clareclare 3

clare 2

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Wednesday Interview – Ep 3 – Yvette Bessels

As part of an ongoing series, we will ask all of our team members to answer 10 questions about themselves and their shops. This way, we’ll get to know one another a little bit better and perhaps pick up a great tip or two! I will personally aim to post these out every Wednesday around noon, so look out for some questions in your inbox and the posts to appear here. For those amongst you who are shy – don’t worry. It’s not compulsory to take part, nor do you have to send in any pictures if you don’t want to.

[If you are on Team Etsy Cambridge and want to be part of this series, just fill out the questions – and perhaps add an image or two – and send them over to me on Etsy (Y. Bessels / 1000crows) or on Facebook (Yvette Bessels). I’ll add them to the scheduled waiting list.]

This week, as one of the Team Leaders, I’ll be answering my own questions.

 

1. What’s your name?

Yvette Bessels

2. What’s your shop name?

1000crows

3. How did you choose your shop name?

I wanted to pick a name that’s both evocative and memorable.  I am a bit of a goth / metalhead at heart and thought of all the ol’ classics – but most names were either too ‘out there’ or already taken! Then I remembered a psychology article I read a while ago how titles with numbers (5 reasons to… / the 7 best…. etc) make people curious. I was also aiming for getting higher in alphabetical order (numbers before letters) but I don’t think Etsy provides that specific option.

So I became 1000crows. A little creepy and not uncommon.

But very memorable.

4. What do you sell?

Vintage and Antique goods and some of my own wet plate collodion photography, which is a photographic technique that was invented in the 1850’s. But mostly vintage goods seeing I have not developed my line of photography product very well … yet.

5. How did you decide to do this?

Because of my partner’s work we travel around quite a bit and since 2008 we have lived in Necastle-upon-Tyne, Leamington Spa, Sheffield, Sydney (Australia), Deventer (The Netherlands), Dusseldorf (Germany) and now in Cambridge, so I realized halfway through I needed a job that can move with me. I had been selling online before so it was a small step to get back into it.

6. What do you love most about your products?

Every single item is unique and some are so very tactile – the vintage finds as well as the photographs. There can be a lot of similarities between 2 things but none are identical. And both hold a lot of surprises: going out to buy stock is a complete treasure hunt every time, taking a photo on wet plate can have very unexpected results.

7. Which of your products are bestselling or most popular?

I seem to sell a lot of boxes, of all shapes and sizes. I sell boxes in leather, wood and metal mostly but the shell ring boxes always do well and chestnut brown leather items never seem to go out of fashion, no matter the season.

8. What were your biggest challenges in opening / running an online shop?

Buying stock and not worry too much about the initial layout. I started pretty much with £100 to buy my first items and took it from there. I always get nervous spending (what are for me) large sums of  cash and not knowing when you get it back. When you sell on a market you have your face-to-face negotiations and you can adjust your price, online you have to do your research, price your item accordingly and sometimes keep your fingers crossed you got it right.

9. What are your wishes for your shop – are there products you’d like to add or any favourite shops whose success you’d like to achieve?

I would like to spend some more time on adding my photography items as I have been putting it off way too long. That might be because of the initial research and layout involved in getting things printed etc. I have been creating new work, which I believe is of a much better standard to some of the items in the shop now and it’s time I get my skates on!

10. What would be your golden tip for opening and running an Etsy Shop? And you cannot say having great pictures!

I’m sure there is not just one golden tip! I really had to think hard about this one, there are so many great pointers to choose from.

Make sure that when you open your shop, you have enough items in there, of enough variety that you span a wider search area. There is no use opening a shop with 3 postcards or 4 t-shirts that all have the same titles, description and maybe ARE exactly the same. Be creative with your tags and descriptions, see if you can connect any of your items with one of the most popular Etsy Categories (weddings and holidays anyone?) or think of other ways to use an item. If a small box could fit a ring, call it a ring box! If it could fit a small gift, call it a gift box, gift wrapping or gift presentation box even if it was not originally intended to be one. Play with popular search terms – Art Deco, Steampunk, Modernist etc. even if it is just ‘in the manner of’.

If that’s not a great option for you, have you thought about expanding your range of products? Either by developing a new product or seeing if you can get some second-hand. If you sell jewelry, you could sell boxes or gift bags – if you sell wool, you could sell knitting patterns – if you paint, you could personalize furniture – If you screen print t-shirts, you can screen-print bedding etc etc.

They don’t need to be expensive or best-sellers, but they will pull people into your shop via the wider net you are casting 🙂

 

This brown bag had been in the shop for about 4 days
This brown bag had been in the shop for about 4 days
some items are not very valuable, but photograph well indeed!
some items are not very valuable, but photograph amazingly well!
One of my own wet plate collodion photograph on glass
One of my own wet plate collodion photographs on glass

 

Me, just outside my front door
Me, just outside my front door

Wednesday Interview – Ep 2 – Debbie Poyser

This week, I’ve asked Team Leader Deborah Poyser to answer the same 10 questions that were presented to our Team Captain Louise.

[If you are on Team Etsy Cambridge and want to be part of this series, just fill out the questions – and perhaps add an image or two – and send them over to me on Etsy (Y. Bessels / 1000crows) or on Facebook (Yvette Bessels). I’ll add them to the scheduled waiting list.]

1. What’s your name?

Debbie Poyser

2. What’s your shop name?

Weaversfield

3. How did you choose your shop name?

What I most enjoy making is woven wire jewellery.  When I moved to a village just outside Cambridge and saw the street name ‘Weavers Field’ , it stuck in my mind. I got a picture of a shady and mysterious lane leading to a meadow where a weaver worked in a wooden hut, very 17th century! And I thought… I’ll have that! At that time, I hadn’t even got an Etsy shop, and only the vaguest idea about selling my jewellery, but I never forgot it. It also feels like a nice word to me, very flowing and quite evocative.

4. What do you sell?

Handmade jewellery.

5. How did you decide to do this?

I’d been wanting to make things for years, and I’ve always really wanted a creative job. And I love jewellery. I started learning to make it as a hobby, and before long I became kind of obsessed with it. Life is short, too short not to do what you love if you can possibly make it work.

6. What do you love most about your products?

I adore the look of woven wire! I also like it when I make something really ornate and it looks spectacular. I like to think my more elaborate pieces, especially the earrings, are little works of art. That’s what I hope, anyway! Of course, I do make more classic pieces of jewellery that are similar to what you might see elsewhere, but in the case of my more individual pieces, I hope you won’t see anything quite like them anywhere else.

7. Which of your products are bestselling or most popular?

I have a couple of earring designs that seem to meet with most approval. One is a swirly, curly large earring called Mistral, because I thought it looked a bit like the wind in old illustrations. Whenever I make a pair of those for a craft show, they seem to sell, and I’ve also sold a few on Etsy. The other is an Art Deco/Egyptian stylised bell-flower earring made in wire. I make a short and a longer version, and the short one especially seems to go well.

8. What were your biggest challenges in opening / running an online shop?

When I had my full-time job, the massive challenge was to find any time to develop my skills or to make pieces! My head was full of ideas for what I wanted to make, and the frustration was immense because I didn’t have the time. Now I’m not doing a full-time job, one challenge is to make enough money. Another is to create a reasonably coherent range of products that sell, and another is to get them seen by as many people as possible. I’m trying to get my head around online marketing and I’m learning all the time.

9. What are your wishes for your shop – are there products you’d like to add or any favourite shops whose success you’d like to achieve?

Wishes for my shop: to sell enough to make a living, to refine my designs so that they all do exactly what I want them to do, to find and engage with my ideal customers, and to improve my photography. I would also like to make some more ambitious ‘art’ pieces. I have a few ideas but not enough time! I’d also like to add rings, which I’m just starting to make, and do a lot more necklaces. I understand earrings the best of all jewellery, as I’ve always been a huge earring fan and have bought bucketloads of them throughout my life. But I don’t have the same feel for necklaces yet, so I’m working on that.

10. What would be your golden tip for opening and running an Etsy Shop? And you cannot say having great pictures!

That’s a tough one! I’m not sure I have one single golden tip. I guess I might say ‘be yourself’, in what you make and in all your interactions, but with so many jewellery shops on Etsy selling almost identical items as each other and still doing well, I don’t even know if that’s a golden tip! One tip you can’t really go wrong with is ‘look after your customers’. Bend over backwards for them, firstly because you’re a great person, aren’t you? And secondly, because you are in this for the long run, and they can be your greatest help, as well as a big source of inspiration if you listen to what they say to you. Communicate, engage, and always set it right for them if anything goes wrong. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are happy with their purchase, and whether they will write a review for you. Have a decent shop banner. And take great pictures. 😉

 

Mistral making
This is one of my best-selling earring designs, mid-manufacture! I recently was asked to make two pairs for one person, just with different coloured stones
Weaversfield deco bellflower earrings
This is an earring design of mine that people seem to like. I love Art Deco!

Debbie

 

 

Wednesday Interview – Ep 1 – Louise Player

Hi everyone!

As part of an ongoing series, we will ask all of our team members to answer 10 questions about themselves and their shops. This way, we’ll get to know one another a little bit better and perhaps pick up a great tip or two! I will personally aim to post these out every Wednesday around noon, so look out for some questions in your inbox and the posts to appear here. For those amongst you who are shy – don’t worry. It’s not compulsory to take part, nor do you have to send in any pictures if you don’t want to.

To kick us off, I asked our lovely Team Captain Louise to answer our questions first.

1. What’s your name?

Louise Player

2. What’s your shop name?

Spin City

3. How did you choose your shop name?

I was living in London at the time of opening my shop, and I thought to myself how much the London Eye looked like a spinning wheel every time I went past it on the train! I used to take my fold up wheel back and forwards across London as I commuted to my Textile Degree course at Chelsea College of Art and Design – it felt like a Spin City to me!

4. What do you sell?

I sell handspun yarns, luxury fibres for Spinning and Felting, unique resin drop spindles and kits for spinning and dyeing.

5. How did you decide to do this?

It was a natural progression for me after studying Textiles at University. At Chelsea, they really encouraged you to experiment and research ancient techniques and make them relevant and exciting for today. I specialized in knitwear and I really wanted a specific kind of chunky wool yarn, which I couldn’t afford on my student budget, so I decided to spin my own! I was given a fleece from the local city farm which I dyed in my bath, carded and spun. Eventually I was spinning more than I could knit so Spin City was born!

6. What do you love most about your products?

I love how you can turn piles of sparkly fluff into gorgeous squishable balls of yarn! It’s like magic!

7. Which of your products are bestselling or most popular?

People love my Learn To Spin kits. I think there are a lot of knitters out there who are interested in how a yarn is made- and just imagine how satisfying it is to spin your own yarn, and then knit it!

8. What were your biggest challenges in opening / running an online shop?

It’s been a real journey and I have learnt a lot. I think time management has been my biggest challenge as I do everything myself- from visiting the farms, washing, carding, dyeing and blending the fibres, pouring resin, taking photographs, writing descriptions and replying to emails. That’s a lot of different processes and you almost need several different heads to be able to manage them all!

9. What are your wishes for your shop – are there products you’d like to add or any favourite shops whose success you’d like to achieve?

For ages now I’ve been thinking about adding a new twist on my drop spindle kits where you can have Resin spindles and themed fibres.

10. What would be your golden tip for opening and running an Etsy Shop? And you cannot say having great pictures!

I think the online market is expanding rapidly and you have to be able to stand out from the crowd. Taking the time to learn about online marketing strategies like SEO (search engine optimization) has really helped me. Essentially- you need to be able to market your product in the way a customer might search for it. For example, I always used to name my fibre blends with these imaginative names like “Buttercup Martini” but people who want to buy wool for spinning aren’t necessarily going to be searching for that! What they want is an item named “Spinning fibre!” It sounds obvious but being very clear about what you are selling is the first step in getting your item seen.

IMG_4535 Spindle2 spinning3