Not long ago, I learned of a shop opening in San Francisco, California called Urban Fauna Studio. Its owners are Blas and Jamie, the husband and wife team behind MaryJanesAttic here on Etsy, and they made it their mission to open a brick and mortar venture. This exciting project would not only expand upon their own Etsy success, but they also decided to help out other similar Etsy shop owners through consignment in the store. Because of their recent selling success on Etsy, Blas was able to quit his regular day job to fulfill Etsy orders and expand their home business into the new brick and mortar shop. Keep reading to find out why they hold Etsy so near and dear to their hearts and what made them want to share that passion by helping out other Etsy artists.
When you first started selling on Etsy did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
Blas and I had been dreaming of opening our own store for years. We
couldn’t really decide what to sell and how to sell it, at first. With a
lucky twist of fate, we focused on handmade fiber art and supplies. We
joined Etsy at the beginning of our handmade selling career as
MaryJanesAttic. We were not quite sure how it would affect our sales,
but it turned out to be an incredible resource for testing products,
finding new customers and networking with other artists. Our Etsy
business has been contributing to our income for several years, but only
recently has Etsy enabled us to open our first brick and mortar store.
We only felt it fitting to use our store to highlight other Etsy
artists and that’s how Urban Fauna Studio was born. Urban Fauna Studio
was our way to sell our handmade goods, commercial fiber art supplies
and handmade items from over a dozen different Etsy artists!
How long were you selling on Etsy before taking the plunge into selling full time?
have been selling on Etsy since 2005, and we made the decision last year
to dedicate most of our time to selling online and in person. We open
Urban Fauna Studio from Friday to Monday, and from Tuesday to Thursday,
Blas packs Etsy orders and makes products.
What was the deciding factor resulting in your pursuing Etsy as your full time job?
we looked at other success stories, we networked with other Etsy
sellers, and that taught us a lot about what it means to find your
happiness. We were told by several sellers that there never is a “good
time” to start a business. That was really a deciding factor for us,
the realization that our dreams would never be met waiting for an ideal
time or a bigger number of Etsy sales. We had to pursue our business
with full dedication! We also were in career transition. I was
finishing graduate school and my husband was between jobs. We really
needed to make our handmade business work for us. It had to be more
than a hobby in order to pay the bills and put food on our table,
especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Did you do anything
to prepare ahead of time before taking the plunge?
did do some preparation. Since we already had our business licenses and
tax papers we knew we had to work on our business plan. I looked at the
Small Business Administration web site and learned about how to start writing our business plan as a brick and
mortar. We have also worked hard to develop an identity with a
distinctive logo and web presence.
We started wholesale
accounts with various distributors and manufacturers so that we could
have raw materials to use in our products. Now in our store we carry
items on consignment and wholesale from other Etsy artists. As the
business has grown, we have found that we have less time to produce
handmade goods, so our brick and mortar store was created to carry
handmade goods from trusted Etsians. We carry goods from Etsy artists
such as: travelingrhinos, thespunmonkey, girlontherocks, redsheep,
sighfoo, knittydirtygirl, theweekendstore, vozamer, nutandbee,
craftyscientist, buttonarcade, alyssaettinger and more!
made decisions to invest in Quickbooks and Point of Sale Software that
would enable us to watch what we sold and inventory all our items both
on the Etsy shop and in our brick and mortar. We understood it was
important to track which items were selling and which were not.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s you’re best marketing tip?
think some of the best ways to promote our Etsy store was to start a
customer newsletter, start a blog (or two or three!), submit your
products for review by other popular blogs and magazines, participate
in Etsy Street Teams (we belong to the SF Etsy Team, Etsy FAST and The
Needlefelters Team) and vend at local craft fairs. It is the combination
of all these things that make up our promotional strategy, and we
believe it gives us a chance to get higher visibility among a wide
variety of customers.
Our best marketing tip? Encourage feedback and
word of mouth! We believe each of our customers is valuable and we tell
them that each time they purchase from us. We acknowledge the value of
their opinions and ask that they continue to keep us and other handmade
artists in mind when shopping for products. We believe when your friend
tells you about that “cool indie shop around the corner,” it’s worth
loads more than any newspaper ad could communicate. A customer’s
satisfaction is important, so always see that as your #1 marketing
What have you found to be unsuccessful promotion or something that’s just not working for your shop?
have found that print coupons and ads don’t always come back to us. We
attached discount codes and vary rarely did they get used. We also
found that doing regular sales in the Etsy shop were not very
effective. Instead we price our items at what we believe to be fair
price points and stick to them. Our customers have been loyal to us
because of our affordability and consistency, not because of any fly by night sales.
Would you walk us through what a typical workday might entail being your own boss?
boy, we wish we had something you could call typical! Honestly, it can
change from day to day for us. But we do have some routine on days the
shop is open to the public:
- Get up, answer e-mails and check Etsy shop.
- Pack orders
- Walk dogs
- Drop off packages at post office
- Grab coffee and go to store
- Do inventory, stock shelves
- Answer e-mails and order products as necessary, attend to customers
- Pack second round of orders
- Close shop, drop off second round of packages and home again to walk the doggies!
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job and is there anything you miss?
Blas, he can say that he will NEVER miss having a boss full time. He
enjoys being his own time manager. It makes us both feel empowered to
be able to make our business decisions together without any other
outside influences. He does miss the collegial atmosphere of having
many co-workers. It can be isolating in many ways to own your own
store, but the nice thing is you can get some interaction by popping
over to the Etsy Forums and Teams, which are just a click away!
If you could go back in time before you took the plunge, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you know now?
your press materials sooner. Make more efforts to promote your products
and your business on a regular basis. Systematically collect and record
customer suggestions and comments about products. Inventory! Inventory!
Inventory! If you don’t know what sold and how many, you’ll never know
exactly what the moneymakers are.
What advice would you give someone else thinking about taking the plunge to sell full time on Etsy?
it slowly, in stages. Don’t give up. You will make mistakes. We all make
mistakes, and the best we can do is grow from them. Surround yourself
(online and in person) with friends and colleagues who support what you
do and share common goals. It’s important to have a support system. We
would never have gotten this far if we did not have the support from
lots of fellow crafters and business people.
How’s it going so far? Are you supporting yourself?
doing well. We are
getting incredibly good feedback both online and in person. It means a
lot to us that our Etsy customers see the potential our business has to
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year for your Etsy business?
We want to sell more of our handmade kits and increase our product offerings by 30%.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
has been a lot of support and inspiration for us. Thank you! You are
helping us pursue our dream jobs. We are incredibly thankful for all
the people that shop here and the crafty friends we have made along the way.
Thanks to Jamie and Blas for sharing their story and business with us! Check out the related items below to see some of their items. You can
find some of our previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.