Caitlin Betsy Bell learned how to sew as a toddler and got her first sewing machine at age six. Her love of fabrics and fiber art continued and she is now a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She runs her Etsy shop, NiftyKidstuff, while attending college.
In my freshman year at SCAD, I set up my Etsy shop, NiftyKidstuff, on a whim — I had already been selling my handmade creations since age fifteen at craft shows and on my own website. Little did I know that my seasonal business (which picked up around the holidays and craft shows) would become steady enough to be my job while in school. Being at art school, there are a lot of costs associated with all of the supplies needed for classes. Luckily I now have my Etsy shop to support these expenses!
Being my own boss while in school has taught me a lot of skills, with time management being paramount, especially in times like finals week (which, coincidentally, is right now). It is super important to budget time for school, work, and a social life. I am really lucky to have the sweetest mom who I can call on to help out if needed — she did teach me how to sew, after all!
I am studying Fibers with a concentration in Studio Production, so what I do for my Etsy shop really coincides with my studies. There is a lot of overlap, since I take studio classes like Screenprinting, Art Quilt, Weaving, Repeat Pattern Design, Embellished Surfaces, and Images on Fabric. Essentially I’m earning a degree to do what I already do, but it has been really influential in the thought and development of my pieces. These new skills allow my work to be a representation of myself as an artist and designer, rather than just making because I want to.
My goal is to provide an alternative to mass-produced throw-away toys that saturate the children’s market today. I aim to design lasting items that are to be treasured and enjoyed for years to come. I also try to promote interactivity and pretend play through my toys. I always want to create something with impeccable craftsmanship, made from all-natural fibers of the best quality, in order to provide a unique and authentic experience. I put a little bit of myself and a lot of love in everything I do.
Etsy has been absolutely wonderful in providing me with the opportunity to work while in school. Being self-employed takes a lot of commitment, but the flexibility of my schedule and the opportunities that I find through the process make it so worth it. I will be interning this summer with Denyse Schmidt Quilts in Bridgeport, CT to learn more techniques, and then I have one more year left at school. I look forward to continuing with my shop — who knows what that future will hold!
Are you or is someone you know a student running an Etsy shop? Tell us in the comments below!