The Etsy Blog

Quit Your Day Job: Colette Paperie

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Tell us about your previous working situation and how you discovered Etsy.
I actually have a fashion design degree, but always had a passion for greeting cards and all things paper. I worked in the apparel industry in technical design and production for about five years before throwing my hands up and saying, “This isn’t working anymore.” I began selling on Etsy several years ago, and it became increasingly popular as time went on, so I had zero free time to work and process orders when I came home from my day job. Etsy seemed the perfect place to sell online and it really suited my needs.

What steps did you take to prepare for transitioning into full time Etsy selling?
It was a bit of luck and perhaps fate. My mother sadly passed away last year and I came into some extra money. I held it hostage and decided I had enough to get me through until the holiday season. I believe it was meant to happen this way — it was my extra boost to go ahead and take the plunge. It was a slow transition from grieving into doing something I love, but selling these cards has been my creative outlet ever since. I also had to break the news to my dad that I quit my well-paying, benefits-giving, stable-paycheck job. Luckily, he trusted my decision!

What is your favorite part of the process in card-making?
Concept development, for sure. I have an army of idea-makers around me who are constantly sending me ideas. I love matching up a phrase with an image. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s a lot of fun trying. It’s a little brain teaser. I actually also really like the production process of printing, folding, packaging and stickering items.


What are your best marketing tips?
  • I have one rule for marketing, and it’s to rarely spend money upfront. This forces you to be very creative about your advertising.
  • I give away a lot of product for good causes, and I do giveaways on my blog all the time.
  • Once I quit my day job, I knew I had to really pimp my product. I became much more social and extroverted about my business.
  • I entered into many craft shows and tried to make my marketing materials as fun as possible. The best “business card” has been a coaster that says “You’re just grate” with a cheese grater. It makes people smile, and then they stick around my booth to look more. I love making people smile, so it’s very rewarding for me.
  • Make things fun and interesting. There’s enough boring out there!

What’s been your most popular item or line to date?
My wedding and baby cards have been very popular. It all began with “Your Baby Is Freaking Cute” — it’s what made me launch into clever and funny cards. It remains a bestseller today.

What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?
My promotions where I had to spend money upfront (Facebook, online advertising, etc.) have been my biggest mistakes. There’s no personal connection. I try to make a personal connection with every customer; they have to know there is a legitimate, honest and friendly face behind the link. Business mistakes I regret? Tons! But you can’t really regret them because they probably taught you a lesson. I have invested buckets of money into products that just didn’t turn out the way I planned. The flip side to that is to force yourself to use those supplies for trying something else.

What is the biggest challenge you face during your daily schedule?
Trying to incorporate all of the processes that this business includes: design, development, production, order processing, mailing, wholesale promotion, blogging… the list goes on and on. I have to maintain a steady routine and schedule to keep myself sane.

What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
There are slow months and you might need to be pretty frugal until a good month comes along. Also, managing all of the expenses and profits can be really daunting. It’s also hard to separate yourself from work. I am constantly checking my BlackBerry to see if I have questions from buyers — I love to respond quickly, but sometimes that interferes with my personal life!

What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? 
You are your own schedule. That alone is worth so much money. If I am feeling creative, I create. If I am feeling productive, I produce. If I feel like watching old Seinfeld reruns, that’s what I do. It’s wonderful to always be busy, but to also always be available to do things. I can hit the paper store whenever I want and not hit rush hour traffic, I can enjoy a long lunch with a glass of wine, and I can have hour-long phone calls with my stay-at-home mommy friends in my pajamas.

What is the most exciting thing that has come out of selling your designs through Etsy?
The requests my customers make. Sometimes they are quite odd, hilarious or a fantastic idea for a card. I’ve had requests for cards to be in the backgrounds of movie sets, cards for celebrity fan mail, and even “fake” calling cards that give zero contact information. Reading messages I get through Etsy is actually my favorite part of the day!

What advice would you give someone considering a similar path?

  • Be patient. It takes a while and you will make mistakes, but it’s worth it in the end if you really have a strong and unique product to sell.
  • Enlist all of the help you can. Use your resources. If you know a professional photographer well, they’ll probably help you at a lower cost. Make a personal connection even with your suppliers and they will reward you.
  • Be nice and honest whenever possible.
  • Invest in a good camera — it makes a huge difference. I bought a Canon Rebel on sale on Amazon and it’s been my best investment to date. I’m no photographer but it does the work for you if you read the manual!

What goals do you have in store for the future of Colette Paperie?
My goals are to really build up my wholesale business so that I can get my products into the hands of those that haven’t discovered me online or through Etsy.

Anything else you would like to share?
My words of wisdom: Stop being afraid and insecure about what you can do. It’s never too late to do what you want in life. Be ridiculous, be fun and enjoy it all. Life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle.

Thanks for sharing your story, Keli. Check out her work in the Seller’s Items below.

Previous Quit Your Day Job posts

  • cieliblu

    cieliblu says:

    Beautiful shop! congratulations :)

    2 years ago

  • Freyasstudio

    Freyasstudio says:

    I'm glad that such a heartbreaking time in your life was able to bloom into something positive. Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your story!

    2 years ago

  • yellowfield7

    yellowfield7 says:

    I wish you all the best! Beautiful work!

    2 years ago

  • Hurray4Crochet

    Hurray4Crochet says:

    You're My Favorite Husband - that's awesome! Love your cards - simply hilarious! Congrats!

    2 years ago

  • localevintage

    localevintage says:

    I love your cards. They make me smile!

    2 years ago

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer says:

    Congrats! I've seen your awesome work around town at local shows.

    2 years ago

  • Mikono

    Mikono says:

    I love this: " Be ridiculous, be fun and enjoy it all. Life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle." Thanks for sharing! -Ling

    2 years ago

  • KatelynNinja

    KatelynNinja says:

    So pleased to have read your story! I, and I'm sure the rest of the Etsy community does as well, wish you the best of luck with your endeavors!

    2 years ago

  • SunsetPrintAndDye

    SunsetPrintAndDye says:

    Thanks from a new shop owner for all the wisdom! Your cards are great and they make me smile! Congratulations and all the best for your continued success.

    2 years ago

  • OliveandFern

    OliveandFern says:

    Great work! :)

    2 years ago

  • withlovemandy

    withlovemandy says:

    Ha! Thanks for making me laugh today!

    2 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    Your cards make me smile! It's so great to see your dream come alive out of something so sad. Congratulations!

    2 years ago

  • DyeDyeMyDarling

    DyeDyeMyDarling says:

    You are so right about the cubicle thing. I love your husband card! All the best to you and your beautiful shop! And thank you for all your common sense.

    2 years ago

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana says:

    Wow! Congratulations! I love these quit your day job stories.

    2 years ago

  • KMalinka

    KMalinka says:

    Wonderful work!

    2 years ago

  • LittleWeeShop

    LittleWeeShop says:

    Thank you for the tip about making advertising personal - This will be somthing I apply for sure!

    2 years ago

  • colettepaperie

    colettepaperie says:

    Thank you all for your sweet comments!

    2 years ago

  • MissFragola

    MissFragola says:

    Love It :)

    2 years ago

  • TheLizardFactory

    TheLizardFactory says:

    Congratulations! Your story is an inspiration to all of us!

    2 years ago

  • justbuyin

    justbuyin says:

    These 'Quit your day job' stories are inspiring and all, and it's great that some of us have been able to do that. But I am really thankful for those who are willing to work in a cubicle. Whether your 'cubicle' is the counter at a bank, the admissions desk in the emergency room, or a patrol car- lots of important and functional jobs are done on the clock.

    2 years ago

  • Castleofcostamesa
  • TerraNovaJewelry

    TerraNovaJewelry says:

    Soooo inspirational! I'm really happy for you and anyone who follows this path. Your "Just Ridiculous" section is hilarious!

    2 years ago

  • PinnacleBeads

    PinnacleBeads says:

    My new favorite quote "Life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle", now if we could only get that on a T-shirt! Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • adoreneko

    adoreneko says:

    "Fake" calling cards are a very useful. Your cards are witty and truly unique. They deserve their own category. Great job!

    2 years ago

  • OsoVictoria

    OsoVictoria says:

    What fun to be your own boss and do what you love, creating on paper. I also check my messages all the time, because I love to hear from customers, it is that live personal connection one gets when your online. Congratulations on your success!

    2 years ago

  • kjwike

    kjwike says:

    I am browsing through Colette Paperie right now and am smiling and laughing. These cards are so cute. Very inspiring interview as well, as I'm planning to venture into opening my own Etsy shop. Thanks Keli!!!

    2 years ago

  • VeniciaCreations

    VeniciaCreations says:

    Thank you so much, it is inspiring to read your story!

    2 years ago

  • fbstudiovt

    fbstudiovt says:

    "My words of wisdom: Stop being afraid and insecure about what you can do. It’s never too late to do what you want in life. Be ridiculous, be fun and enjoy it all. Life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle." Boy did I ever need that wisdom today! My day job evaporated in the federal funding cuts a month ago and it's been quite a journey taking Found Beauty Studio full time. I love it but am totally overwhelmed half the time, and am learning the fine art of stepping back and gaining perspective on how lucky I am to get to reap the rewards of my own work every day. You're right - getting to set my own schedule it's brilliant and making through the slow months stinks. And in the end it's worth every minute!

    2 years ago

  • PolClary

    PolClary says:

    Wow, those requests are so interesting. Very cool. I love your work!

    2 years ago

  • TamsyTrends

    TamsyTrends says:

    Love your work! Congratulations on the feature!

    2 years ago

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose says:

    It's always so great to see success and thanks for sharing your story!

    2 years ago

  • MemoriesOfTheSea

    MemoriesOfTheSea says:

    Inspiring interview and great words of wisdom. Thanks! Good job!

    2 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:

    Nice shop!

    2 years ago

  • shopALS

    shopALS says:

    Keli is the BEST! She makes my cards and I LOVE THEM, so do my cutomers!

    2 years ago

  • shopALS

    shopALS says:

    Keli is the BEST! She makes my cards and I LOVE THEM, so do my customers!

    2 years ago

  • paintedfishstudio

    paintedfishstudio says:

    yay! i love reading about local creatives! and i'm now a fan. also, so sorry about your mom. i've been thru it, too. it's wonderful that you're using your energy creatively and doing what you love.

    2 years ago

  • TheresaAnnVintage

    TheresaAnnVintage says:

    Your story is so inspiring! I am also one of those stuck in a cubicle, though I'm hoping not for long! Your cards are fantastic! I have my eye on the "Before and After bottles" for my cousin that is expecting. Congrats on your success!

    2 years ago

  • Leatherworks4U

    Leatherworks4U says:

    Great parting advice!

    2 years ago

  • twigandsprout

    twigandsprout says:

    I love the cheeky humor on your cards, as well as the solid advice!

    2 years ago

  • TheBloomingThread

    TheBloomingThread says:

    Amen! (from a cubicle in california) one of my favorite interviews so far...so personable! thanks for sharing what's helped you get your shop off the ground ♥ congrats on your success!

    2 years ago

  • colettepaperie

    colettepaperie says:

    thanks!

    2 years ago

  • BodamerStudio

    BodamerStudio says:

    Great feature, thanks! :)

    2 years ago

  • SandBoxStudio

    SandBoxStudio says:

    Congratulations on your feature! Wishes for continued success!!!

    2 years ago

  • sewblessedstitches

    sewblessedstitches says:

    What an inspiration! We are striving to do that same thing! Great story and continued success to you!

    2 years ago

  • Marumadrid

    Marumadrid says:

    Creating with paper. Making worth that someone pays you for sending her papers. Having someone asking you to ship something maybe someone could imitate (poorly, baddly, no emotion at all) with Photoshop, and trusting YOU and YOUR work. And rewarding you for it. That deserves a "Quit your Day Job" :)

    2 years ago

  • chaimorningdesigns

    chaimorningdesigns says:

    "Life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle"... my new mantra. Beautiful cards and great interview!

    2 years ago

  • ElloPoppetBeauty

    ElloPoppetBeauty says:

    What a great interview.. well written & full of helpful information!.. I admire your courage to take the leap of faith & do what you love to do! :) Your shop is beautiful & your cards are so funny! Best wishes to you & your business ~

    2 years ago

  • RoyalCompany

    RoyalCompany says:

    That was wonderful, and I love your store, your cards are beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that, I'm working hard to one day share my story like you.

    2 years ago

  • Ecoideologia

    Ecoideologia says:

    Great post. Her advice about the camera and patience is something i will keep in mind.

    2 years ago

  • GracefullyGirly

    GracefullyGirly says:

    One door closed but another opened. I love your perspective! You have a great product, a fabulous attitude and I bet you will go far with that. What fun. I love my mommy friends and my pajamas too. : >

    2 years ago

  • thevelvetheart

    thevelvetheart says:

    I love your last bit of advice--be ridiculous, be fun, and enjoy it all! Great advice!

    2 years ago

  • teryyo

    teryyo says:

    thanks for sharing your story. so encouraging!

    2 years ago

  • HennyPennysJumble

    HennyPennysJumble says:

    Very sweet and helpful!

    2 years ago

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 says:

    Enjoyed your shop for a while now. Congrates on a well deserved feature. Best of luck to you.

    2 years ago

  • SeedSewn

    SeedSewn says:

    Great works of wisdom Keli, thank you

    2 years ago

  • AnatomyVintage

    AnatomyVintage says:

    In a way, your mother left you a beautiful legacy! Congrats on your store and your feature.

    2 years ago

  • InuitBaby

    InuitBaby says:

    Love your shop and your enthusiasum! Congrats on your feature!

    2 years ago

  • debixiyo

    debixiyo says:

    Very cleaver lady. You took some lemons and made some lemonade! Sweet!

    2 years ago

  • simplypaperie

    simplypaperie says:

    Great article! Your words of wisdom were just the pick me up I needed this week :)

    2 years ago

  • gilstrapdesigns

    gilstrapdesigns says:

    I always just love quit your day job interviews they are all so inspiring and your interview is very good.

    2 years ago

  • VidaDoce

    VidaDoce says:

    Lots of great tips and advice...thank you so much!

    2 years ago

  • burnetcreativeart

    burnetcreativeart says:

    Good luck - great article & great cards!

    2 years ago

  • ARTAGADESIGNS

    ARTAGADESIGNS says:

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing and good luck!

    2 years ago

  • ChairToSpare

    ChairToSpare says:

    I love your Words of Wisdom, very inspirational story, and beautiful product, keep it up! :-)

    2 years ago

  • percivalroad

    percivalroad says:

    Great interview - congrats!!

    2 years ago

  • HappyBonesArt

    HappyBonesArt says:

    I'm a new Etsy shop owner and I truly appreciate your marketing tips. Love your cards - very sassy and funny! My favorite is the Push-Up Bra Birthday Card. Congrats and best of luck with your continued success! ;-)

    2 years ago

  • mimiworkshop

    mimiworkshop says:

    congrats! Great story!

    2 years ago

  • MASHUGANA

    MASHUGANA says:

    Truly Inspiring! Congrats!

    2 years ago

  • MarieVaughnDesign

    MarieVaughnDesign says:

    Great job! I think we would all love to one day be in your shoes :)

    2 years ago

  • LynJewels

    LynJewels says:

    Great job! I could feel your energy and passion just by reading this.

    2 years ago

  • ObscureBeginnings

    ObscureBeginnings says:

    Great job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love it!!!!

    2 years ago

  • raspberrybutterflies

    raspberrybutterflies says:

    Very inspiring thanks so much for sharing and your cards are great!

    2 years ago

  • Celessa

    Celessa says:

    LOVE LOVE your story ! Congrats !!

    2 years ago

  • TaliahRose

    TaliahRose says:

    inspirational

    2 years ago

  • JewelIdentity

    JewelIdentity says:

    It's always inspiring to read stories from people who have made their business ideas work. I'm just starting out on etsy and have yet to make any sales, which can feel really scary at times, as I too gave up a well paid and stable job. But, whenever I read a success story, it seems that it's because people have allowed themselves to relax and enjoy what they're doing, which in turn captures their customers imagination. Thank you for sharing your story- it really lifted my spirits.

    2 years ago

  • cpurrin1

    cpurrin1 says:

    Love the cards, and story. Just quit my job, too, so extra fun to read about.

    2 years ago

  • peskycatdesigns

    peskycatdesigns says:

    Congratulations to you! I've always loved your work. Great to hear you are doing what you love!

    2 years ago

  • TCaponePhoto

    TCaponePhoto says:

    Excellent items and thank you so much for sharing your story. Much continued luck and good fortune to you :)

    2 years ago

  • OverstockCreations

    OverstockCreations says:

    Love your items... Congratulations

    2 years ago

  • zenmasterflash

    zenmasterflash says:

    This is so inspiring to read!

    2 years ago

  • zenmasterflash

    zenmasterflash says:

    This was so inspiring to read!

    2 years ago

  • lauraslastditch

    lauraslastditch says:

    Congratulations! Your cards are hilarious. A good product and hard work is a great combination for success! I hope to be featured in Quit Your Day Job sometime.

    2 years ago

  • PaperDollBoston

    PaperDollBoston says:

    You put one of my cards on your blog once a while back, how nice to see an article about your blog! I would love to follow your footsteps...life IS too short to spend in a cubicle. AMEN (PS love "Paper rules email drools" on your shop banner!)

    2 years ago

  • jenjenpb

    jenjenpb says:

    I love your cards! You are correct...photography is key to selling!

    2 years ago

  • NowISee

    NowISee says:

    Your "Before and After Bottles" are hilarious! It's your sense of humor I love the most. Best wishes for you and your wonderful shop;)

    2 years ago

  • chiquiita

    chiquiita says:

    What a beautiful and interesting interview..congratulations!!!!

    2 years ago

  • CindyEllison

    CindyEllison says:

    Your cards are fAntAsTiC! What great designs! It is so inspiring to read your story of making your dream come true! May you have continued success! ♥

    2 years ago

  • AlpineGypsy

    AlpineGypsy says:

    Great perspective, and I love your advice of 'be patient', and 'be ridiculous'! These are mantras I try to practice daily, hehe.... Heidi

    2 years ago

  • ViennaIsLove

    ViennaIsLove says:

    I love the quote. Its so true.

    2 years ago

  • zany500

    zany500 says:

    Alright! I've always wanted a sister....

    2 years ago

  • FleurDeSoleil

    FleurDeSoleil says:

    Really enjoy your work. Be patient and be ridiculous...very true, life has to be fun!

    2 years ago

  • GraceAndGravity

    GraceAndGravity says:

    Very inspirational! Your cards are AWESOME, love the humor! Best wishes to you and your business.

    2 years ago

  • RianjaFashion

    RianjaFashion says:

    Congrats and best wishes to your success! Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom.

    2 years ago

  • ZinasBoutique

    ZinasBoutique says:

    I am also a very new on Etsy, I just opened my shop and I am afraid of not being successful !!! You really encouraged me and gave me hope!! I too quit my corporate and good pay job and trying on my own, so will see!! I love your shop and your cards, funny and great !! Thank you for you advise, great interview!! Keep up the great work!

    2 years ago

  • jeniphr1436

    jeniphr1436 says:

    I love, love, LOVED your statement at the end of this article. " Stop being afraid and insecure about what you can do. It’s never too late to do what you want in life. Be ridiculous, be fun and enjoy it all. Life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle." I haven't heard such a good quote in a long time. :o)

    2 years ago

  • sweetonveg

    sweetonveg says:

    This is so inspirational. Thank you Colette! Congratulations!

    2 years ago

  • GummyCola

    GummyCola says:

    Thank you so much for all the useful advice. Congratulations and best wishes!

    2 years ago

  • honeymoonmuse

    honeymoonmuse says:

    I recently graduated last spring from a 4 year fashion design program here in Vancouver, and while I haven’t been able to secure a job in the apparel industry, this has given me time needed to spend on my Etsy vintage shop. While Ive been on several interviews, Ive come to realize that I would be much happier focusing on building my own small business where I have the freedom to do what I love (when I want!), than working in the high-stress field of apparel design. I already have established a formula of sorts thus far for what works for my customers, my product and the shop since starting out two years ago here on Etsy casually while still in school. I too have a parent that passed a year ago, another hurdle to try to overcome grieving while finishing the last year of my degree. In the end, this afforded me not only some greatly needed perspective on life and what it means to be happy, but also the financial stability to move out into a one bedroom apartment where I now work from home, and the opportunity to visit NYC upon graduating from the fashion program, a dream come true since I got to visit the Etsy labs out in DUMBO. Yet Ive been too afraid to take the plunge into full-timer status, instead holding onto a part-time retail job (which I don’t need) because I feel that it is the norm for my generation to hold onto two jobs at once if you aren’t employed in a stable capacity. It can be scary putting faith in oneself and their skills. Personally, being 22 and telling strangers, “yes I have my own online business – full time” seems nuts but I can’t wait to do it! My happiest days are my days “off” here at home working on my business. Hopefully the time will come soon and I will force myself into the independent state I long for in life. Thank you so much for your optimism, and this article. Because of a few similarities, it has clarified a many things for me, and I wish you the best of luck with your business! Love your work, you have a very classy take on design.

    2 years ago

  • miraclegirl13

    miraclegirl13 says:

    Thank you for telling your story in Quit Your Day Job. For years I have been told that I should use my creativity to support myself and my dreams, but I pooh-poohed everyone as just being nice. Deep down I know I have talent and am blessed with a high degree of creativity, but lack the self-confidence to do anything to create an income from it. Well, your Words of Wisdom have inspired me. You're absolutely right, it's never too late to do what I want to do, and at 52, I'm going to do just that. Again, thank you very much for the inspiration.

    2 years ago