Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Lisa — I live just outside of San Francisco, but I’m a NY native. I’m married to an amazing guy named Mike — the love of my life. For work, I’m a computer technician and soapstress — two full time jobs that take a lot of dedication. I’m a member of a couple guilds here — Etsy Green and Clean, California Crafters Club and SF Etsy. Outside of Etsy, I’m a member of the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I bake, cook international cuisine, and run for health and fitness. I love to read also — huge sci-fi/fantasty fan and a die-hard Stephen King fan. I love music — hip hop and “world” music is what I listen to most often.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I grew up in an Italian American household, where creating things for others — specifically cooking for others — was a way to show love and caring. I use that approach to my crafting, and I dedicate my craft to my grandparents and family.
Please describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc).
I start with a recipe. I sit down at my computer, with my cookbooks (yes, really!) and take a look at what makes a delicious dish. Then I consider, how can I translate that to soap? What kinds of spices, petals, colorings, scents should I use — what kind of texture, design, feeling, can I evoke with a bar of soap? After that, I experiment, test and refine the recipe until I’ve got the product I want. If it’s not right, I scrap it or use up the prototype myself and try again!
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My grandfather was a woodworker — so he has left behind many handmade items for our family. One of my favorites is still in NY, haven’t found a way to bring it to California yet. It’s a lovely handmade Adirondack chair.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and websites (besides Etsy).
Books: The Stand, The Dark Tower (series), The Bread Bible, The French Laundry Cookbook and Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts.
Movies: The Princess Bride, Robin Hood, Desperado, The Fifth Element, The NeverEnding Story
Music: Dr Dre, Marisa Monte, Feist, Ani Difranco, Digable Planets
Websites: digg, wikipedia, urbandictionary, flickr and the consumerist.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
I encourage new sellers to really stock up their store. I see many new sellers with 10 items or less — when a window shopper stops by your store, the odds that they will find something they would love to buy go way up if you have a nice, full inventory. The conventional wisdom is to list one or two things a day, slowly — at least, that’s what I read often in the forums. I advocate listing big batches, often. Make a big impact! But never count on search results alone for exposure.
I suggest taking the best photos you can possible take. Flash kills — washes your details out, looks unprofessional. Light your work well, and keep a steady hand (or use a tripod).
Treat your customers with respect at all times. Don’t complain publicly about disputes — even if that buyer doesn’t see you, your potential buyers DO see how you handle problems. Keep that in mind at all times. Thank your customers, make sure their items are well presented and packaged, and never cut corners.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love treasuries and hearts. They are such a fun way to see what people are “buzzing” about. I also love to visit the forums and get to meet people.
I would love to see shipping tiers, so that I can cap shipping rates so they don’t get out of hand. I would love buyer’s email addresses to be “mailto” links on receipts, and I would love a printer-friendly receipt that is just the basic order, without images. I would love for the Sold page to list customer’s names and order numbers and be searchable.
How do you promote your work?
Banner advertising, Craigslist, Flickr, and talking about my craft in other forums outside of Etsy brought me a lot of exposure. Exposure helped me get sales, which helped me list even more often. It is a snowball effect — and so is networking with blog owners and other crafters and guilds.
Spend money on advertising! Really! Set aside part of your budget specifically for marketing, and draw up a plan. Just like you should have a business plan, you need a marketing strategy like any other business.
In ten years I’d like to be…
I don’t really know how to answer this question! I would love for my family to be happy and healthy, and financially secure. Ten years ago I didn’t even know I’d be living in San Francisco, so who knows what the next decade may bring.