Are you ready to take a leap, revamp and grow your Etsy shop, but don’t know where to start? I’ve seen many now very successful sellers launch a creative, cohesive product line and a full-time business all in the same go; it’s a great place to start. Composing a balanced line of work can get you thinking about target markets, your brand aesthetic, packaging and making a plan to get the press you deserve. I asked Etsy sellers for their top insights on creating a product line; here’s what they came up with.
Why Create a Product Line?
Laila, the owner of Brooklyn, New York-based Etsy shop Lai Grai launched a fall line and changed the name of her business at the same time. When her new line launched, she could barely keep up with the attention and sales. I asked Laila why she created a line in the first place. “Deciding to create a collection is a great way to add focus to your work. As an artist who makes one-of-a-kind pieces exclusively, it was a great way to connect the threads — literally.”
Coming Up With Your Line
Historiette Shawl by Lai Grai
Laila insists having a clear point of view with your new line is essential. “Stay true to yourself, as well as your brand, and your new line will make perfect sense with the rest of your shop. Start with descriptive words that you find personally compelling. It is important to try to define what mood you are trying to capture through the creative process early on. You also want to consider what niche/gap you would be filling with the new line. Essentially you are creating a sense of focus with a cohesive collection, so it is important that you outline exactly what you are interested in.”
She adds, “Don’t forget to keep your story in mind while creating. I started projecting and imagining where the pieces live, ideally almost from the beginning. I was picturing log cabins and rustic settings. You need to make sure the ‘set’ suits and highlights your first descriptive words and your actual completed pieces’ aesthetic. It helps to purchase props that enhance the mood of the line. It helped me to do a few shoots with just props, essentially to see if they were working to flush out my concept (rather than cluttering).”
Elegant Rope Chain by FallenAngelBrass
Karen and Tina, the duo behind Bay Shore, New York-based shop Fallen Angel Brass, agrees, and adds, “Having a clear presentation of your product is essential. So is presenting a shop vibe”. They go on to explain “Our product is new but aged, so our whole shop look is antiqued, from the font of our shop banner to the background papers used for our product photos. You want people to just ‘get it’ without having to read a thing.”
Testing, Testing, One, Two
Peapod Mother’s Necklace by new hope beading
Caroline, the artist behind Flemington, New Jersey-based jewelry shop new hope beading, draws from her experience in fashion. “When starting a product line, always make mock-ups out of less expensive materials first. When I was in the fashion industry, years ago, samples were always made of muslin first. So now when I want to make a new product out of PMC (precious metal clay) I commandeer my 7-year-old’s air dry clay and make mock-ups to see if I like the design. Only when i am sure I like the design and know how I want it executed do I whip out the ‘good stuff’ and make the true sample for photographs.”
Share Your Process
Leaf Form Earrings by Lila Ruby King
Don’t forget to let your family, friends and fans in on the process of creating this line early on. Mitsy of Hasselt, Belgium-based ceramic shop ArtMind, uses beautiful photos and a little bit of secrecy to grab attention before the line is even ready to roll. Mitsy worked with Athens, Greece-based Anna Fatovich of Lila Ruby King and af jewellery to create a beautiful collection together, so I asked her for a few key words of wisdom.
“Blog about the work in progress ahead of time. It piques people’s curiousity and interest. When creating a line with fellow Etsy seller Anna Fatovich of Lila Ruby King we decided to keep our collaboration secret and started referring to it as ‘the secret project’ on my blog. I started making samples in my studio, showed pictures and shared processes on my blog. We made people guess who was my collaborating partner and the first one to guess right got a creation from our collaborative work.”
Read more about this collaborative project in Quit Your Day Job: Lila Ruby King.
Keeping an Eye on the Calendar
Jennifer Masterson, the owner of Cottonwood, Arizona-based shop Smash Gardens reminds us to think ahead. Time is your biggest tool when launching a new line. “Start launching your line about 2 months ahead of season. So if it’s a Halloween type item, release it in the summer. If it’s a summery type item, release it in the spring” she reccommends. Laila agrees, “Designing and fabricating a cohesive line takes a lot of long hard work. You should start the concept process at least a couple months ahead of time, if not a full season. My fall collection, Ply Away Home, is in my Etsy shop now. I just started working on my winter collection this past weekend, which I am aiming to have completed by October.” And don’t forget, if you’re looking to pitch this line to print magazines, they’re looking for work three to six months in advance. The sooner you can get your product line out the door, the better.
A Few Finishing Touches
Blue Olive Soap For Men by A Breath Of French Air
But wait! You’re not finished with your product, yet. Your creative vision for a new line should extend all the way to its packaging. Elizabeth, the owner of A Breath Of French Air knows how important it is for the feeling and themes of your new line to follow through all the way to way you wrap and ship your items. For her shop, which operates out of St. Louis, Missouri, “Consistency is the key” she explains. “Packaging is very important (for my line)” she says, “because you want people to recognize your product as soon as they see it.”
Reaching Out to Your Community
Reach out to your network. This can be through your own email marketing campaign via a newsletter tool, or a social media outlet. Use the channel you feel most comfortable with to keep your fans current on all your happenings! Ryan from Portland, Oregon-run shop littleputbooks agrees that communication is key when releasing new work. She suggests those breaking out a new line “send out a mailing list update before you launch (‘coming soon!’), and then one again on the day of or day before.” Jackie Kaufman of Floridian shop Rock My World Inc adds, “Whenever I have a new product I have postcards printed up with the items and send them out with all my orders. I always get orders and interest from this. These customers already like my products and the look, so I have a chance to sell them something new.”
If you want to take things one step further, consider reaching out to bloggers who may be interested in your new line. For example, I recently found out about a new line by Suffolk, Virginia-based shop Chakra Pennywhistle by browsing through one of my favorite blogs, Poppytalk. And there you have it! Creating a successful new line demands a lot of hard work, focus, and outreach, but can also be a great tool and motivator in taking your shop to the next level. Not ready to launch a whole new line but want to give your existing line a tuneup, read 3 Ways to Refresh Your Product Line. If you’re a new seller and still struggling to develop one strong product, check out Develop a Winning Product in Five Steps. Have you successfully launched a line, and want to share your own experiences and advice? Let me know in the comments below.