Friday, June 1, 2007

Part 2 - Out On My Own and the Etsy Beginning

Emily of the Etsy Goddess and owner of The Black Apple ( had told me multiple times about Etsy and I finally signed up! Of course, it took me a while to actually list anything. A bit more than a month went by and then I finally listed a few items. And that was kind of it. I hadn't looked in to the site very much or read any of the tips on getting started until I started wondering why I wasn't selling anything! I then started looking around at others shops and reading some of the forums. And learning things I could do that would help. My original photos were very boring. Since most of what i do is entirely metal, there were no color and I had used gray backgrounds b/c coming from an art school background, your backgrounds shouldn't be anything of interest. I started adding some little plants or flowers and noticed that my view shot way up. This was the first very encouraging sign. Simply by changing my photos, not the product, a lot more people were looking.

The next thing that happened was a sleepless night where I was thinking about all sorts of things. One of which was I need to make note cards. I've been working one day a week at a friend of mine's store. Some days would be really busy, and other days there would be lots of down time. And I thought "I need to be doing something that is earning me money outside of this job, while I am here" And for some reason, making note cards is what appealed to me. So I started doing a variety of different ones. and the first thing I sold was a set of notecards! Granted, I think the customer found me the same day I had my first item on the front page! And why did I have something on the front page...? Well it started by emailing sweet Angela of Angela Lui Designs ( I fell in love with her stuff and just had to tell her how much I loved her bags. Which then prompted her to ask if I could make a bracelet for you, so I made several bracelets and listed them for her and one of those made the front page! I was so excited. This was about a month after I started listing. I was so excited to have something on the front page I emailed everyone I knew! So that prompted a few friends and family members to buy things from me - which was very sweet. Friends and family really kept me out of a "normal" job when I was starting out. After that things were kind of slow. I wasn't all that great about listing, definitely not every day. I was selling some, but not a whole lot.

Etsy wasn't my main focus. Actually, nothing really was! I had decided to have another show which was quite successful, not as much as the first one, but still, pretty fabulous. I like being on my own and being self-sufficient. But I also didn't feel like I really had a direction. I wasn't sure what I really wanted to do.

I had this great idea to send out promo packets to boutiques I thought might be interested in carrying my stuff. Total disaster. But I'm glad none of that panned out b/c I've decided I don't want to sell wholesale, and I'm not really all that big on consignment either! I really like being in charge of my own stuff and dealing directly with customers. After working customer service jobs for 8 years or so, I realize it really is something I enjoy. I like knowing who my jewelry goes to and I like for people to know where their jewelry is coming from! Good customer service makes people want to come back to you. I've been very fortunate and have not had any bad customer issues.

Christmas was pretty good, though I had wished it was a bit better. January was okay, February was good, March was terrible! and then April was the best month I have ever had. Ever - since I got my first job in high school. Not just on Etsy but I got a couple of large commissions that were a very nice addition. By this time I had learned to live on very little. I also learned a lot from doing my own taxes and had quite a mental shift after that. I started figuring out bills I could either totally do away with or at least decrease. I also starting believing that I wasn't poor. I don't think money is everything, obviously, I decided to make a living as an artist! But I'd been fighting that mentality of being a "starving" artist. Something I never called myself and never believed I would be. A lot of what went on during that time was really all about feeling and is kind of hard to describe in words. In short I started feeling/believing there would not only be "just enough" money to pay my bills, but that I would have more than enough. Which is exactly what started happening. After April was so spectacular, I wanted to hold on to that belief that I would continue w/ the same success I had the previous month. And may turned out to be even better on Etsy that it had been in April. I didn't get quite as many outside commissions, but overall, still an amazing month. Now that it is June, I am holding on that feeling of prosperity.

Yesterday I set up my new Etsy shop - http://BethCyrYogaStudio Once again, based on a strong feeling I had. Similar to when I started doing the note cards, I decided I wanted to start screen printing the yoga poses on T-shirts. I wanted to get my shop set up separate so when I start doing all the shirts, my store will be ready. I'll be listing more of the note cards - hand painted ones, and ones made from the postcard/prints I had done and my Om Jewelry. I like having the two things split. It feels like it gives them each more room to grow.

Well that is it for this installment! Part 3 will be, things I might have done differently.


crimsoncat05 said...

thanks for the in-depth explanation of your thought processes... very inspiring and motivating!

Beth Cyr said...

Thanks for reading! I'm still pretty new at doing a blog and it makes me feel like I'm talking to myself!!

Melissa said...

Hi there! I followed you here from the Etsy forum (Taking it from a hobby to a business) and have enjoyed reading your story. I also love your metal work. What a fantastic idea to use constellations in your work. I love the sky and need to look at these closer as well as keep an eye on your new stuff. :) I hope you don't mind if I keep up with your blog.

Beth Cyr said...

I'd love for you to keep up w/ my blog - i'm trying to get more in to it and I love helping to inspire other people. I think its one of my callings in life!

Molly said...

hello~ found this blog on etsy forum thread!

this is so encouraging :)
i've been doing art for all my life but just never knew if i would have the courage to be a "starting artist" either!
My first month on etsy has been great and i hope it'll get even better!