Tell us about your line of goods and what inspires you.
My product line is a collection of appliqued hooded sweatshirts, housewares, and design items for children. I make everything in my home studio in Portland, Oregon.
Does living in a creative area like Portland lend to your artistic energy?
Oh yes! Portland is so full of creative people making inspiring things and so many shops that are selling wonderful local goods. I love living here and I really feed off the support of the creative community.
Tell us about your previous working situation and how you discovered Etsy.
After art school I waited tables for ten years and also spent some time as a shop girl designing and selling wedding invitations.
I opened my shop in 2006 after a friend introduced me to Etsy. I had an eight-month-old baby girl and every intention of being an active seller, but the demands of motherhood caused me to neglect my shop. After the birth of my second daughter in 2008, I had fallen back on waiting tables instead of sewing and making art. I had a conversation with my mother one evening when she gave me this advice: “Take some money from your savings and follow your dreams — if in three months you are out of funds and have not sold anything you will know that you need to take another path.” It was great advice and I am so glad I decided to take the chance to follow my dreams.
How did you transition into full time Etsy selling?
I spent a month cleaning, organizing and preparing my studio before going full time. I knew I needed my work space to be ready to handle whatever my life, business and my creativity would throw at it. I also set aside enough money for three full months of my nanny, by far my biggest business expense.
I also developed a logo, and set about branding my shop so that it would be consistent with all of my other promotional materials. All of these preparations took place before I started selling full time on Etsy. I wanted to make sure I was ready to face my customers in a professional way.
What are your best marketing tips?
I use my Facebook fan page to let people know about new products, sales and promotions. By far, the most important way to get press and blog coverage is through great photography. Working on your photos, styling and even spending money on professional photography is the best way to get your products noticed.
What’s been your most popular item or line to date?
My hooded sweatshirts! I enjoy designing new styles and making each and every one. The feedback from my customers is that they are happy to have an everyday item like a hooded sweatshirt that is comfortable, cute and unique.
Have you made any business mistakes you regret?
The business mistake that I struggle with the most is not to buy too much inventory. I tend to get very excited and buy too many materials at once, only to find that the product I was going to make is either unpopular or too time consuming to be profitable. Now I often make a list of pros and cons to help me decide what to do. I try to look at mistakes as a way to gain experience instead of letting them bring me down.
What is the biggest challenge you face during your daily schedule?
Without hesitation, my biggest challenge is balancing my family life with my professional life. It is a challenge for me to turn off my work life when it is time for me to focus on being a mom. I spend many late nights working after the girls go to bed.
About a year ago I added another day of my nanny to the schedule. Not only did my sales increase, but I was able to be a better mother because I was not trying to fit in my work when my girls needed my attention.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Anything you miss?
I truly enjoy the freedom I have working for myself. Making a living from my art is a dream come true. What I miss about working for someone else is never thinking about their bank account and leaving work at work!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself or someone considering a similar path knowing what you know now?
- Save, save, save and have a very solid plan before you make the leap to quit your day job. I think you should have at least three months of your expenses saved up (plus a little extra for the things that come up).
- You should have an organized work space that is ready for production and clear goals that you are constantly working towards.
- Keep all of your receipts for business expenses in one place because taxes are stressful enough!
- Believe in yourself, have an original product that you love making, and when you think you can’t work any harder push yourself just a little more. If you really want it, go get it!
What goals do you have in store for the future of Anna Joyce Design?
I am so excited about the future of my business! My goal is to write an applique and lifestyle book, sharing some tricks of the trade, patterns of my designs and advice on mixing pattern and color. I would also like to expand my product line into a collection of textiles, paper goods, wallpaper, upholstery — I could go on forever.
Thanks for sharing your story, Anna. Check out her work in the Seller’s Items below.
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