Thursday, July 1, 2010

#153 unofficial etsy featured seller - Jenifersfamilyjewels

#153 unofficial etsy featured seller - Jenifersfamilyjewels
Date joined etsy -7/8/07
Sales to date - 1280-Give us some basic info about you: name, where you live, kids/pets, favorite ice cream flavor, etc.-

Okay, let’s see. My name is Jenifer Smith and I am the full time designer/owner of The Family Jewels (or jenifersfamilyjewels as I’m known on Etsy!). I am 38 years old and the youngest kid in a family of 6 kids. I am also the wife to a wonderfully supportive, funny and fabulous husband, the mother of a 16 year son and an 11 year old daughter, and the “mommy” to the cutest dog in the world!
We live in Guerneville, a pretty fabulous small resort town in Northern California that is smack dab in the middle of some amazing places. Our house is in the middle of the redwoods, next to a river and it is a 15 minute drive to the ocean in one direction and a 10 minute drive to the wine country in the opposite direction!
Hmm, don’t care for ice cream much (I know, how insane is that?), but I do love a yummy milkshake every now and then!!! :0)

-Describe an average day in life of "you".

Well, my days are anything but average!! *Grins* One of the great things about being my own boss is that I can choose my own schedule, which works out really well for me since I am an incurable insomniac and a total night owl. I stay up way late – into the early hours of morning. So after a few hours of sleep (never have been able to do more than that) my day begins in the late morning:
• Upon waking I give myself a small caffeine transfusion *grins*, then it’s straight to my laptop. I check for any new sales (my favorite part!), relist anything that has sold, or renew something if nothing has, check my convos, check my e-mail, peruse the forums, check my favorite blogs, Facebook and Twitter and (hides head) check my crops and animals on Frontierville. Lol! C’mon! You know you do too!! Lol!
• Once I know all is well in my online world and my brain has a chance to wake up, I usually eat and take care of any household duties (i.e. clean up, handle bills or important correspondence, important phone calls, run errands and take the dog for a walk).
• I do all of my pictures in natural light, so in the afternoon, when the light is best, I get any photo sessions out of the way, work on new product development, start orders for the day and check shop again.
• I usually list my new items around early evening, which is when my shop gets the most views.
• Business break to cook and eat dinner with family. 
• Back to work and time to get serious on filling orders. Fortunately, my workspace is right in the dining/family room, so even while working away, I’m still with the family and enjoying our favorite shows right along with them!!
• Creep myself out by taking packages down to the mailbox late in the evening. Our neighborhood is very quiet and often times foggy since we live close to the coast, so it always reminds me of that video game “Silent Hill”. Lol!
• Once the house quiets down and everyone heads to bed, I’m back on the computer again – checking my shop, relisting/renewing, do a bit of promoting via Twitter, blog or forums, do any supply ordering that needs to get done, check in on our team’s weekly thread, play around on Facebook, edit pictures, work on accounting. Then I go to bed and do it all again!!
-Were you creative growing up/what did you enjoy doing?

I think I’ve been creative since the day I was born! My father has always been a painter and photographer, my mother taught me to sew at a very early age and my grandmother taught me knitting when I was in 3rd grade and the 2 of us sat watching Gone With The Wind.
I remember making clothes for my Barbie’s, saddles and halters for my collie dog (I wanted her to be a horse! My friend and I even made a stable for her out of scrap wood!! Lol!), even clothes for myself in high school. I have done a ton of cross stitch and when I was married to my ex, I used to make some beautiful native American pieces (dreamcatchers, etc.) and did alterations, repairs and overall tailoring for people we knew for extra money. Actually, I used to make pretty much everything when I was married to my ex (due to lack of money), like curtains, pillowcases, a big scrap jean tied rag rug, even stuffed animals and a big beanbag for our son!! 

-What made you want to start selling on etsy?

Well, this question is kind of two-fold for me.
I have wanted to own my own business for just about as long as I can remember (also thanks to my entrepreneur father!) I even had my own pet sitting, walking, transport business for a while, but had to work way too many weekends and holidays. So when I started making jewelry, I thought, “Perfect! I can make money doing this!” and, just as I do with everything, I immediately went full steam ahead. I did a ton of research, made a bunch of goodies, started a website, started doing every craft fair and art festival I could do and even joined a jewelry forum. I learned so much from the people on the jewelry forum and made some great friends, one of which had an Etsy shop. She was doing quite well and convinced some of us to try it out. I decided it couldn’t hurt, opened an account and then proceeded to let it sit for months.
I spent over a year listing items and selling only a few. I came very close to just giving up and closing up shop. When the second set of holidays lingered around after opening shop, I still had fewer than 30 sales.
And then… the holidays hit for the first time at the mundane office job I was working at the time and an already miserable job turned into hell. I came home every day either in tears or ready to spit nails. So it was at this time I came up with a major 2009 New Years Resolution – I would do whatever it took to make my Etsy business a success…..
This leads me to the second fold of my story – what made me REALLY start wanting to sell on Etsy? As you already read, well, it was the job from hell. It came down to digging into white knuckle determination, a ton of heart and working practically non-stop. And once the sales started coming in, I became even more determined!! Because of this, I went from under 30 sales in the First part of February 2009, to over 1030 sales in February 2010! It can be done!! I promise!

-How long did it take for you to get your first sale on etsy?

I got my first sale about one month after opening up shop. Then my second one about a month after that and my next one about 2 months later. My sales were quite sporadic back then!
-Top 5 favorite foods, tv shows, and bands?

• Scallops
• King Crab Legs
• Filet Mignon
• Chinese Food
• Grilled Bacon Cheeseburgers

TV Shows:
• Survivor
• Amazing Race
• Project Runway
• Top Chef
• Real Housewives (of ALL the cities! lol!)

• The Beatles
• Foo Fighters
• Marilyn Manson
• The Cure
• Sheryl Crow

-Is there anything you'd like to try your hand at doing? Knitting, baking, soap making, wood working, an instrument, etc.

Hubby and I are teaching ourselves screenprinting on fabrics and are in the process of setting up our second crafty business with it. We’re having a ton of fun and will definitely be opening a second Etsy shop!
I’ve always wanted to try making my own soaps, but not sure when I’ll ever have time to do it between 2 full time businesses!

-What would you suggest to new etsy sellers to promote their shops?

• I know you’ve probably all heard it a thousand times before, but first and foremost on the list of importance is great pictures. A lot of my success on Etsy has come from being featured in a few Etsy Finds e-mails, in Storque articles, on the front page and in many treasuries. This has happened because most of my pictures are decent pictures and interesting enough to make people want to click.
Selling on the internet is very different than selling in person. In person, the customer can touch and feel the item. They can turn it in their hands and see all sides of the piece and determine the size. On the internet, we have to do that for them, in both pictures and descriptions. Use all 5 of your photo slots to show all angles of the piece, a size comparison (next to something most people know the size of – I use a pencil), perhaps a shot of the item being worn, or being used in the house, on the wall. Etc.
Make sure that your first photo is bright, clear and interesting enough to make someone say “Hmm, what’s this?” and click to see more. Study the front page, Storque articles and treasuries often to get a good idea of the style of photography that is popular on Etsy. Experiment with different styles of pictures, different angles, different lighting (I use natural lighting), different backdrops. I have lost count of the number of times I have retaken photos of my pieces and will often times take hundreds of pictures, only to end up with 4 or 5 good ones. Also, get comfortable with photo editing software like Photoshop or Picasa to make a good picture even better!
And remember, you don’t have to have an expensive camera to get good pictures. I got really nice pictures for a very long time with a $100 camera from Walmart!
• If you haven’t already done so, set up Google Analytics and learn how to read the results (there are some great articles about this in the Storque blog). Study what keywords people are using when they find your shop. This will help you come up with clear, concise titles and tags that will help you get searched more often by quality viewers. (There are also great articles about this in the blog, or you can search for information in the Etsy forums).
• Try to list something new or renew something once a day, or at the very least, every 2-3 days. This will help bring you back up to the top of searches for a while. Very important when it doesn’t take long to get completely buried! I renew items about 5 times a day and try to list a new item 1-2 times a day.
Just remember not to get carried away! Those $.20 listings can add up quick! I think of it as my advertising budget!
• If you don’t already have them, set up accounts on both Twitter and Facebook. Seek out people with similar interests and others to network with. Get your name out there! Use them to promote, but show that you have a human side too!

-3 etsy shops you just LOVE?

KreatedbyKarina – she has the yummiest soaps and lip balms!
Greenbelts – Where we got our dog’s collar. Really cool items and drool worthy pictures!
Littleputbooks – An amazingly successful seller with a ton of knowledge that she is willing to share!

-One year from now, I hope my number of sold items is ...
3000+ and I’m quite sure I can do it!!

Have an etsy shop with over 300 sales and want to be a featured seller? Contact me at
As always, thanks for reading :)