Thursday, June 24, 2010

Member Feature - GemJunkie

Name: Kelly Owens Pratlett
Shop Name: GemJunkie
Brief Product Description: Gemstones and Jewelry Supplies online, handmade earrings and necklaces in person

What is unique about your product? I try to choose really fun, bright, colors and whimsical shapes for my supply shop so that the selection is different than what the average jewelry supply shop carries. What makes my handmade jewelry unique is the price point. All my earrings sell for $5/pair. I do this because I think it's really important for women to have fun, funky, unique accessories that don't cost a small fortune. I love variety and I like my customers to be able to afford variety as well.

How did you get started? My sister saw a necklace that she loved in an Anthropologie catalog. It was over $100. She couldn't afford it and she thought she might be able to make something similar. So, she did some research online, ordered some supplies and a month later she taught me how to make jewelry. The rest is history.

Where do you get your inspiration? I am inspired by everything: nature, gemstones, bead stores, other artisans, my family, magazines. There is style everywhere and you can use what you see and morph into something totally your own.

What excites you most about your work/shop?
About a year ago, my husband allowed me to take over the second half of our office. So, I hung one of those old accordion-shaped drying racks on the wall. Then, I hung hundreds of strands of beads, in rainbow order, onto the rack. I call it my "inspiration wall". Any time I get stuck and need an idea, I just stare up at all the gems and beads hanging there and something calls my name. It's instant jewelry-making gratification!

Describe your workspace/workroom. My workspace is one of our spare bedrooms. It has a vintage couch, a teal-blue accent wall, two desks (one for making jewelry and the other for packing orders) and more shelves than you can shake a stick at.

Which do you prefer: online sales/marketing or face-to-face sales/marketing? Why? I don't have a preference. I think they both have totally separate advantages and disadvantages. That's one of the reasons I sell supplies online and my handmade goods in person. I love to talk about my craft and what inspires me to create. So, in-person marketing works really well for me and my earrings. I sell supplies online because they're a little bit less personal. If you take really great photographs and can write a killer description of the supplies, they pretty much sell themselves.

The key to being successful online is customer service. If you get an order on Monday, you should ship it Tuesday. This is a mantra I live by because, as someone who makes jewelry and sells supplies, I can't tell you how frustrated I've been, waiting over a week to receive an order I placed for supplies I needed, like, yesterday. I am not a patient person and I think most crafters are similar. They choose supplies as they need them, not in anticipation of what their next creative endeavor may be. So, like I said, ship your orders, and similarly, answer questions, in a timely fashion. I strive to answer any convo I get on Etsy the same day I receive it. So, if I don't have a definitive answer for the person writing to me, I still respond and let them know I'm working on it for them. Going the extra mile earns you a loyal following.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? Oh, gosh. I'm pretty happy with the way things are trending right now. I hit 1,500 sales in my Etsy shop in April 2010, so in five years, maybe I'll have 5,000+ sales. Maybe I will have developed an earring line I can sell online rather than just in person.

What do you feel is the most important skill you use in your business every day? My ability to give great customer service. With my earrings, I'm always willing to customize them to make they're something a customer really wants and will wear. With my supplies, I try really hard to answer questions as soon as I get them and ship orders the same day or next day at the latest.

What do you like about EtsyAustin? I like the sharing of ideas, the ability to be inspired by other people and their crafts and the friendships that I've made.

What do you think makes EtsyAustin Street Team unique? Austin makes the EtsyAustin Street Team unique. I feel like the culture of Austin is the kind that fosters creativity, open-mindedness and friendliness. That being said, I think EtsyAustin is particularly unique because of the sheer spectrum of artists we have. People make everything from felted purses to jewelry to clothing to fimo clay sculptures to feather-covered headbands.

Describe something about yourself that may be a surprise to people on the team. There's nothing particularly surprising about me. My sister is Tracy of polishedtwo, and she's the one who taught me to make jewelry. Our mom was crafty our whole lives, making us sock monkey, dolls and doll clothes when we were little. She still dabbles in crafts, from crocheting flowers to wet-felting purses and making cute, little bubble refrigerator magnets.

You can find more GemJunkie at...
GemJunkie's Etsy Shop
GemJunkie's Facebook Fan Page
Kelly's Facebook Page

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Etsy!

So, I realize I'm a little late on this, but in between preparing to move next week, working, and everything else life throws at you, it's been too crazy to post until now. Last Friday was Etsy's birthday party, and Etsians all over the world celebrated, including Austin's very own Etsy street team.
Yours truly was in charge of organizing and planning the team's craft party for a crowd of 75. Needless to say, I was freaking out a little bit at the prospect of doing this all the way up to the party when I was too busy manning the oven (for the shrinky dinks) to freak out. And who says being busy doesn't have its advantages?
Prepping for the party definitely came down to the wire (especially with me running a little behind schedule that day), but if there's two things you can count on our team members to do, it's making things pretty (or making pretty things) and doing so efficiently. Once the party started rolling, my fears of running out of food, possibly violating fire codes, and ensuring guests had a good time melted away. And no, I don't think that was the toaster oven talking.
Though I was mostly involved in baking shrinky dinks and helping guests to make buttons, magnets, and keychains out of their hand-drawn creations, there was plenty more going on at the party. We took the team Yudu (gifted to us while participating in a South by Southwest craft event) out for a spin, and Debbie of Debbie Carroll Designs printed bags, tees, and aprons for everyone who brought one.
Amy (Craft Chi) also stopped by to screen print the *famous* Etsy is Cool screen design that Etsy commissioned her to make for the birthday goodie boxes. So, you could say we had an Etsy celebrity on hand, which is pretty cool if you ask me.
Our third craft that we had running for our guests was button making. Judging by how much our party attendees liked this, I'd say you're never too old to make or wear one! Beth H (Snuggle Herd) provided guests with a hands on tutorial for button makers and provided fabric and eclectic paper scraps for custom-made buttons.
All in all, I'd say the party was a hit. Our guests all left smiling and with plenty of party favors in hand, we had yummy food left over (even if the cupcakes were running a little low at the end), and as for the fire code I was worried about, totally not an issue. For more pics from the party, check them out here.

Action Jackson out!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

Team EtsyAustin has begun planning for the annual winter holiday vending/shopping event. It will take place Saturday and Sunday, November 20th and 21st at the Marchesa House in North Austin.

Applications go online and more details will be available on July 1st!

Shop Crafty application deadline: 6/17 at 5pm!

The Lone Star Ladies are bringing Austin another amazing show, Shop Crafty! If you are an Austin-area artist, crafter, maker or teacher, check it out! The deadline to apply has been extended to Fri, 6/17 at 5pm. Don't miss out!

The Lone Star Ladies Present: Shop Crafty
 is a family-friendly celebration of the Handmade Community from Austin and all over the Nation!

Saturday, October 16th, 2010, 10am to 5pm
The Marchesa, 6406 N. IH-35, Ste. 3100, Austin, TX  78752

This one day festival will feature Austin-area Studio Sponsors in our exclusive Craft Lounge - teaching you how to make crafts, jewelry, sewing projects and much more!  You can also shop unique items handmade by over 60 artists, crafters and designers from across the US.

Shop Crafty is also a charity shopping event to raise funds for
Crafting Comfort, a local organization that provides comfort to those in need through gifts of handcrafted items.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Craftrepreneurs: Rosalie Gale, Tara Gentile & Megan Auman

 I've come across some very cool, helpful resources for indie craft biz owners recently & wanted to share. I am simply in awe of the brilliant ladies behind these organizations. Hope you find them as interesting & inspiring as I have! ~Beth H   {re-posted from Get Crafty, Austin}

First up is Rosalie Gale, founder of Unanimous Craft, a tagable, sortable index of resources for crafters, artists and indie business owners. Rosalie says,

"I was inspired to build Unanimous Craft after seeing a huge list of links to different resources that The House of Mouse posted in the Etsy forums. I wanted to make a tool that our community could use to get organized and share information.

It's sort of like Yelp for the crafty community. People can submit resources (great articles on Twitter, awesome magazines, online tools, accounting spreadsheets, inspirational blogs - whatever) and the community votes on the usefulness of each listing. Then, people can curate lists of resources that fall into a common theme like: 10 things you should do when you start your indie business, 500 ways to deal with Twitter, etc."

Pretty awesome, no? Rosalie recently added The WonderCraft to the index - check it out! We are honored! And we'd totally love it if you visited our listing & rated us, so that we might place high in the Popularity Contest.  : )

Next up is Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl fame. Tara has long been an involved & highly respected member of the crafting community through her work as the editor & head writer behind Scoutie Girl, "the blog with a penchant for the passionately handmade."

Now she's taking it up a notch with the launch of her awesome new Big Thinking for  Small Businesses blog & a "big thinking" consulting biz. The gist of it:

"We specialize in web strategy, branding, product development, community building, and marketing to help build your small biz empire. Specifically, I work with creative entrepreneurs: those interested in building their businesses by breaking down convention and finding customers who think outside-the-box too.

To help you reach your goals, I have a wide range of products & services. Here you will find self-paced products, a la carte services, and full-fledged invasion packages to suit your needs no matter what stage your empire is in. I only ask that if you decide to work with me or buy my product, you are committed to your own success – regardless of fear, opposition, and self-doubt – as I am."

Sounds amazing; Tara really knows how to cut right to the heart of the matter for small biz owners. I've been very inspired by her writing on her blogs & just bought her "52 Weeks of Blogging Your Passion" e-book! I'm looking forward to getting re-energized about my creative work & revamping my own blog with Tara's wonderful advice.

And last, but certainly not least, Megan Auman, the genius behind Crafting an MBA. Her blog is filled with tons of great information & business advice for designers & makers. It runs the gamut from practical posts on making & manufacturing to extremely thought-provoking discussions on product development & growing your business. The blog covers everything in between & above & beyond these topics, too - it is a wealth of great information! 

You can even take part in the Crafting an MBA book club! Megan says, 

"One of my goals when starting this website was to create a community  where designers and makers could come together and discuss business  related books and concepts. Its partly selfish – I always find myself  wanting to discuss what I’m reading with others. But I also want to  help others read business books and figure out [how] to apply those principals  to their own craft-based businesses."

I hope you'll check out these ladies' websites - they're all very engaging reads that inspire deep thinking about our field & offer many amazing resources for growing a small business.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Feature - LovePeaceFamily

Name: Bridget Reynolds
Shop Name: lovepeacefamily
Brief Product Description: handmade for the whole family

What is unique about your product? I create a lot of my designs. Some things are inspired by other craft projects, but for the most part I like to come up with things that are totally unique.

How did you get started?
I think the craft bug bit when I was still in the womb. I have been doing something artistic or crafty for as long as I can remember.

Where do you get your inspiration? Mostly, my family. My husband and daughter are a constant force of support, love and inspiration. Usually when I come up with a new idea for a project, it is because I have had the thought, "I can make this for C, or M!"

What excites you most about your work/shop? The end product. Since almost everything starts out as just an idea floating around in my head, I am never sure what will work and what wont. I like the satisfying feeling of seeing the real version of a thought, even if it didn't come out right the first time - which is usually the case!

Describe your workspace/workroom. Ha! Non-existent! I use our dining room for a work room. It is a total pain, and I am eagerly waiting to get an actual work space.

Which do you prefer: online sales/marketing or face-to-face sales/marketing? Why? Both! Online there is always so much more to see. Your market can change every day and you can showcase so much more of your product. But you lose out on really connecting with your customers. Buying something handmade is so much more personal and even more so when you get to meet the person who made it.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? I have no idea, gave up on trying to predict the future a long time ago. Sometimes the journey is far more important than the destination.

What do you feel is the most important skill you use in your business every day? Imagination.

What do you like about EtsyAustin? Networking with some truly gifted people in the Austin craft/art community.

What do you think makes EtsyAustin Street Team unique? The effort the team puts into being part of the local scene. We all love our city and I know that is a huge part of what makes our team thrive.

Describe something about yourself that may be a surprise to people on the team. I tend to be a jack of all trades within the art spectrum. I have studied painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, and print making during college. I have also taught myself how to sew, knit, and make pretty pictures with pixels. If it's artsy or crafty, I have either done it...or will get to it eventually!