How did you originally get into jewelry making?
For the past 15 years, my parents have been making and selling fused glass jewelry. I have always had an interest and over the years I learned a lot of the jewelry business from them as well as how to sell at art and craft shows.
Tell us about your previous working situation and how you discovered Etsy.
I worked at a shelter for abused and neglected kids, ages 1-13, who were removed from their homes by the state of Minnesota. For years my main goal at work was to gain trust by making kids smile through my off-beat humor, my even more off-beat (literally!) dancing skills, and maybe most importantly, through devoting my attention. It was a job that was heavy on the heart and soul at times, seeing first hand what people can do to their own children. After a few years, I found myself feeling blue and had a hard time not bringing the sad emotions of abuse home with me.
That’s when the need for change began to stir inside me. I had spent years taking care of other people and not really taking care of my own personal dreams and aspirations. I had gone to art college and I’ve always been an artist and enjoyed making things, so I started doing craft shows on the weekends for fun. A friend of mine who saw I was becoming more and more successful told me, “You need to check out this awesome site called Etsy. I think it’s right up your alley.” Those were the best words I ever heard!
Did you do anything to prepare for making the transition into full time selling?
Taking the plunge and leaving a constant paycheck can be a very scary thing to do. I worked a lot of overtime, saved my money and paid off my debt. Honestly, I knew I still had a bit of wanderlust inside of me and that I wouldn’t be able to travel once I knuckled down and started the business. So I went to Europe and got inspired.
What is your best marketing tip?
My Facebook fan page has been a super great free tool for me. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of Facebook “fans” on your page. Think of it as a portal — lots of buyers tell me they found me through Facebook and went directly to my Etsy shop to buy. Facebook has also provided me with wonderful opportunities to spread the word about my brand:
- I was found and contacted by the high profile website, Jezebel. They get millions of views per month by my target customer demographic and they featured one of my cuff bracelets as a prize for a contest on their website. I sold a ton that day from the exposure.
- I was also contacted by The Budget Fashionista (frequent style contributor to television shows such as NBC’s TODAY Show, CNN Headline News, E! News and ABC’s Good Morning America, etc.) through Facebook and she ended up featuring one of my lockets on her website with a link to my Etsy shop.
What’s been your most popular item to date?
My cuff bracelets! I think the whimsical, quirky styles make people smile. Plus they’re affordable, and very fun to wear.
Rumor has it a piece of yours was spotted on the red carpet; how did that feel?
Exciting! My work got close to Johnny Depp! One of my graphic necklaces was worn on the red carpet by a production member of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
Can you dish on the details of how it came about?
I have to keep it a bit confidential for them as my customer, but I can tell you they purchased the necklace here on Etsy and contacted me to let me know it was going to be worn on the red carpet. I had to pinch myself because it came out of the blue! It was very exciting and this just reconfirms that there is a wide range of people who shop on Etsy.
What is the biggest challenge you face during your daily schedule?
Time management for sure. I am an artist, a mother, a business owner, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend. That’s a lot of things to be and a lot of hats to wear at the same time. It can get very busy and easy to lose touch and get caught up in it all.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job?
My favorite thing is being able to take a day off whenever I need to! No sucking up to some demented boss on a power trip. Wait, did I just write that? To all my past bosses who may be reading this: I really enjoyed working for you.
Is there anything you miss?
I do miss having coworkers and the friendships you make at work. I try to replace that with the Etsy community. I have found lots of good friends though the Forums here and often log on to find the most heartfelt and amazing convos from them. I love you guys!
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Work doesn’t always end at 5 p.m. like most jobs. There have been some nights where I’m in the studio working late while my husband is having fun playing with our kids. Although I can say, on the rare occasions, when our two-year-old, Lucy, decides to raise the decibels just to reconfirm to herself and her brother actually how loud she can scream for ice cream, working late that night is not all that bad.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself or someone considering a similar path knowing what you know now?
One of my favorite quotes comes from George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” I wish I would have become self-employed sooner! Stop blowing your money. Save it. Pay off your debt and take the plunge. You’ll never know if you can be a successful business owner unless you try.
Have any favorite Etsy shops we should know about?
- PeaceCraneGreetings – They’re perfect for folks like me who never quite get the greeting card in the mailbox. Wendi has solved the problem — all you do is order them and she signs your name and ships them directly to the recipient. My mom actually cried when she received the “I love that you’re my mother” card.
- aandboriginals – Angela makes the coolest fingerless gloves. She uses lots of hip and beautiful colors and they’re very reasonably priced. Very cool and perfect for spring.
- bettejaneshop – I really like Rachael’s embellished headbands. They’re great styles and super comfortable to wear.
- Strangeling – Jasmine is an amazing artist and I’ve enjoyed working on a collaborative project with her.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to tell people if your sales are slow or you’re feeling kind of down, just remember, all of the people featured in this Quit Your Day Job series started on Etsy with no sales too. Keep the faith! You never really know who’s on Etsy and looking through your shop.
As I was answering these questions and preparing this interview I was contacted by the Paranormal Research Society (the same group who have the television show on A&E called “Paranormal State”). One of the members was looking through my Etsy shop and and liked my cuff bracelets. Now, after a few emails, I am going to design exclusive custom bracelets with their logo for their P.R.S. website in time for the season 5 airing of “Paranormal State” — and it’s all because of my little Etsy shop!
Thanks for sharing your story, Molly. Check out her work in the Seller’s Items below.
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