Wednesday, November 14, 2007
My mom is the reason why I’m obsessed with crafting. Yes, I blame her for my need to sew in particular, but also my irrational objection to throwing anything away for fear that it could be part of some groundbreaking new craft project. Some of the earliest memories I have of spending time with my mom are of the two of us sitting on the floor in our living room, pinning down patterns for pinafores, Halloween costumes, fall jackets and other things she made for me.
She taught me how to sew (my first project was a heart shaped pillow made out of stretchy cotton) long before Home Economics class, and it was in that class that I was issued my first speeding ticket – not for driving too fast, but for sewing too fast. Mom also taught me to do cross stitch — which I can still do, barely — and most recently I used that skill to make my husband a “Man Room” sign for his record room, complete with “sitting ladies” (think mud flaps), beers, and guitars.
Nowadays, my mom and I don’t craft together much since we aren’t in the same state, but we both still craft, and sell our stuff on Etsy. She also was the driving force behind my founding of the No Coast Craft-o-rama, which drew 8,000 attendees last year, many of whom stood in line to buy my mom’s bags before she was even fully set up. I thought it might be fun to talk to my mom about her recent success crafting for business. Here’s the interview:
Q: So, mom -- you've been retired now for what, 2 years? How do you like being a full time crafter?
A: I love being a full time crafter for many reasons. First, it keeps me from being a couch potato. Many retired people that I know just do not seem to do anything. Crafting makes me feel productive and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. It also keeps the mind active and helps me stay current with the changing trends.
Q: Remember back on the pumpkin farm? What kinds of things have you crafted over the years? Successes? Failures?
A: I have dabbled into many areas of crafting. I used to make most of my children's clothing so my sewing was mostly doing essential stuff rather than "crafty" things. Failures? I guess the one I remember the most isn't exactly a failure but it sure sticks out in my mind. One Christmas I had spent months secretly crocheting Barbie Doll clothes for one of my daughters. I was SO excited because they had really turned out well and I was thrilled that she would have bunch of Barbie clothes that were different from everyone else’s. She opened the box on Christmas morning and it went over like a lead balloon. She wanted the store bought stuff. My most recent failure is my first pair of underwear that I made in my Serger class. My husband threatens to frame them - guess I am going to have to burn them!
Q: Your sales on Etsy are incredible -- 637 items sold as of today! To what do you attribute your success?
A: I think it is mainly my fabric choices. That is the most frequent positive comment I get from people. I also think that I have priced my items well. I try to figure as closely as possible what it costs me to make it and give myself a reasonable profit.
Q: What's some advice you would give to people selling on Etsy, or doing craft sales like No Coast Craft-o-rama?
A: Study what is selling on Etsy and at what price range. Try a few items and if they totally bomb - move on to something else. Know your skill limitations and stick with making things you do well. Promote your shop as much as possible. However, I think the main thing for long-term success on Etsy (or anywhere else for that matter) is GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE with a personal touch! I have lots of repeat customers and I think part of the reason is that I am respectful to my buyer, prompt with acknowledging each sale and with the shipping.
Q: You buy a lot of handmade stuff from other Etsy sellers. Why do you like buying handmade stuff?
A: I like handmade things because they are usually well done and unique. I like buying things that you maybe cannot get anywhere else. And I love the opportunity to buy from my fellow Etsiers. For the most part, they are a great, creative bunch of people.
Granny's Closet Etsy Shop