Making Wearable Art….

Now enough about my business.  I want to tell you why I started crafting in the first place.  I started crafting because I always admired wire wrapping and wanted to learn how to create great wearable art myself.  So four years ago I enrolled in a community college jewelry making course and learned the art of crafting wire into wearable art.

The course I took introduced me to the world of wire and the many shapes that one could use to create jewellery.  There is the ubiquitous round wire which is used to create most jewelry and what most people are familiar with.  There is also a “flat” or square wire which is good to use in order to obtain a more “geometric” look for jewelery, and lastly there is “half round” wire which is used for binding wire together. 

Like most people, I started using copper wire as “practice” wire because using silver wire can be quite expensive—especially if you make mistakes and have to “re-do” the whole piece.  However, the more I used copper the more I liked it.  The wire was a lot easier to handle than sterling silver wire and kept its shape a lot better than silver.  Not only that, it looked great with its earthly warm colour, it would develop a great patina over time-unlike Silver which would develop an ugly tarnish if not polished regularly.  People would also comment how they liked wearing copper jewelry in general because of the health benefits associated with it.

So there you have it.  Crafting with copper is fun, you could create great looking jewelery with it, and it has added health benefits to it too.  My inspiration comes from experimenting with many different techniques and styles which wire artists use to create beautiful jewelery.

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The Etsy Community

Now that my shop was open, I wondered what to do next.  The next logical step was to start promoting it.  But how?  I thought it would be a good idea to get to know my fellow sellers at Etsy and see what they were doing through the forums–It was the best thing I ever did.

The Etsy community is wonderful.  You don’t get the sense that the owners of Etsy are watching you and shamelessly trying to promote themselves.  They take a more laid back approach and let the community on the forums run themselves.

The forum sections themselves are nicely sectioned off into: Announcements, Site Help, Business Topics, International, Ideas, Bugs , CPSI (Consumer Protection Safety Act) critiques, techniques & Materials, Team Events, Promotions, and Etc.

The sellers on the forum are welcoming to all, provide valuable insights into running and promoting an online business, and are great at networking. 

I was so surprised and delighted to find that everyone there has welcomed me with open arms and have even helped me promote my site through an introduction to my shop in the Oddist’s blog:  http://etcetcreadallaboutit.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-08-05T13%3A38%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=7

and a treasury made by Team Discovery, an Etsy team formed to help promote and nurture new shops:http://www.etsy.com/treasury/4c73d7506aa68eef913322ce/plum-passion?sort=hotness&order=desc&page=2#comments

The community created has been a wonderful experience to date.  I’m learning a lot from my fellow sellers and will keep coming back for their insight and support.

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Business Plan? What Business Plan?

I started my Etsy shop on impulse, as you may have already guessed from my very first post.  It wasn’t carefully thought out or planned in any way.  I started it because I genuinely liked creating jewelry and had gotten great feedback from friends.  It was a colleague at work who was overcharging coworkers for her beading that sent me over the edge to sell my work.

Now that I’ve opened my shop and have gotten know other serious full-time sellers on Etsy I’ve realized that crafting and being an artist is not only a labor of love it’s a serious business as well.  There are so many of us vying for attention it’s so easy to get lost in the shuffle.

So the advice to anyone who wants to make a full-time living out of Etsy is to write a business plan.  The first step is to ask yourself:  am I making a product or selling a product people want to buy?  Who is my ideal customer and what makes them buy a product.

My ideal customer is what I’m struggling with.  Am I targeting “hip” young women who want something “funky”?  Or is my customer the more “timeless” one who likes jewelry that never goes out of fashion such as the Victorian or Vintage buyers.  I think it is leaning more towards the women who like the vintage look so far.  But then I shouldn’t be so hasty in categorizing myself yet.  I have to give it more thought.

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Why Etsy?

So why did I come to Etsy?  I first heard of Etsy about four years ago when members of a beauty blog used to rave about it on their forum.  Some of the members over there even had their own shops on Etsy.  I would visit their shops and admire their creativity and style.  I even started to shop there myself as I always liked handcrafted items and want to support Artists in general. 

Then I got crafty myself and started to create items although I never had the courage to sell them.  Well, as you have read from my previous posts I finally got the courage to sell online myself but wasn’t sure if Etsy was the right “site” for my stuff. 

I did a little research and found that there were other competing sites such as:

  • Artfire
  • Ebay
  • Amazon marketplace

to name a few.  Artfire, I didn’t know anything about and didn’t like their monthly fees.  Ebay could be dicey, as fees are high and bids tend to be low, and Amazon didn’t seem to be “Artsy” enough.  So I thought it would be best to stick with what I was most familiar with -“Etsy”.

Indeed the competition is going to be tough.  Some quick stats from Etsy’s July 2010 Weather report:

  • 1,988,188 new items were listed in the month, 9.8% higher than June’s 1,811,258.
  • 260,267 new members joined the Etsy community in the month, up 27,100, or 11.6%, from June.
  • 736,602,776 page views were recorded on the site in July
  • With at least 260,000 new members and potential shops joining each month, I have a lot to do to stand out from the crowd and establish myself.

    I’ll talk about that more in my next few posts.

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    Let me take a step back-why I opened a shop….

    Let me take a step back and explain to you why I opened a shop in the first place.  I had learned to wire wrap and create jewellery through a part time continuing education community college course about 4 1/2 years ago, and throughly enjoyed it.  There were a couple of people in the course who were genuinely interested in running a business, but most, like me, were there out of pure interest and just wanted to create something beautiful to wear.

    Since taking the course I acquired a lot of supplies, namely wire and beads, and have made a few pieces here and there, mostly for friends and family.  Selling pieces was still not my main objective as:

    1.  I still felt I had a lot to learn about wire wrapping and I still wasn’t confident about my skills
    2. I hated pricing things and taking too much money from friends or strangers.  You have to be aggressive these days to sell.  I was also apprehensive about selling to strangers.  What if they complained?

    So what changed my mind?  This year a co-worker who works on my floor had acquired an interest in beading.  Her beading was very basic and her creations were from cheap materials (mostly glass beads from China).  However, she was passionate about what she was doing and was selling to everyone on the floor and also to people who she commuted to work.  I asked myself, “how was she able to do this”?  For example, she charged $5.00 for a bookmark that I knew only cost her $1.00 to make and 5 minutes to put together.  The answer was simple:  she wasn’t afraid to put her work out there.  Since she wasn’t afraid why should I be?

    However, on some level, I didn’t want to be like her and hound my fellow coworkers to buy my stuff-although a couple did when I did bring my jewellery in to show them.  I wanted something I could have to myself -away from work-if that made any sense.  So “Jewellery by Citygirl” was born.

    Now I have to think like a small business woman and learn new skills.  It seems daunting but exciting too.  I’ll try to scope out business plans in my next few postings.

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    I started an Etsy shop…now what do I do?

    I decided to start this blog to document my journey operating an Etsy shop.  I’m quite apprehensive as there are quite a few Jewellery shops on Etsy and the competition is fierce.  On top of that I have a full time job and I don’t have as much time to spend on it as someone who is free.  However, many people have told me that I should do it.  So I finally have the courage to open something modest.

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/citygirl32

    How does one stand out in a sea of jewellers?

    Now I have to learn how to:

    1. Take half decent pictures using my sony cybershot
    2.  Use Photoshop CS4 properly
    3. Promote myself

    How will I ever get through all these things?

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