Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#157 unofficial etsy featured seller - chocolateandsteel

#157 unofficial etsy featured seller - chocolateandsteel
Date joined etsy -12/19/06
Sales to date - 957-Give us some basic info about you: name, where you live, kids/pets, favorite ice cream flavor, etc.

Hi! I’m Christine Street of Chocolate and Steel. I'm 33 and live in Los Angeles with my husband, 4 year old son, a little girl on the way (to greet us sometime in October), and our 2 rascally chow chows. I love being outdoors. A day sitting in the sun in my tiny backyard reading a book might be one of my favorite activities although I don’t get to do that too often. My son would prefer that I play Star Wars with him instead.

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

I don’t really have an average day but I do have an average week. I get to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday while my son is in school. Tuesday and Thursday is spent with him. Typically on my workdays I throw new jewelry in the tumbler and then get James off to school, sometimes hit the gym, and then come home and get to work. Return emails, update any payments received (wholesale), enter new orders into Quickbooks and print off the day’s orders. Once a week I have an assistant that comes over and packages my orders and gets them to the mailbox. Since I have started doing a lot of wholesale having her help is invaluable. The packaging of many items can be overwhelming while trying to do everything else that needs to be done. I relist items sold on Etsy and get to work filling orders. Twice a year I take 2 weeks to get inspired, draw, and come up with new ideas. I REALLY wish I could do it more than that but so far that hasn’t happened. I design for Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Currently I’m posting new pieces in my Etsy shop for Spring/Summer.

-Were you creative growing up/what did you enjoy doing?

I was creative but never really “artistic”. I couldn’t draw a stick figure to save my life but I could decorate a room and make the most beautiful Barbie dresses out of toilet paper and paper towels. I’ve always been crafty and loved to create things from raw materials. I went to college for Fashion Design but after seeing my portfolio of drawings they strongly suggested I pursue Fashion Merchandising (buyer). Did I mention I was not “artistic”? I was adamant that I did not want to be a buyer I wanted to be a designer. Funny how when you really love what you do you can become good at it. I was an Assistant Designer for a great clothing company for several years. Even showed at Bryant Park:) Unfortunately that company went under. From there I became a merchandiser for Anthropologie and then a Store Manager. I learned so much from both of these jobs that have helped me with my own business. (whoa, I guess I really expanded on that question, didn’t I?)

-What made you want to start selling on etsy?

After my son was born I was working 30 hours a week and mostly at night. During the day (while he was napping) I started building a website to sell my jewelry on. I was making a lot of beaded jewelry at the time and customers at Anthropologie would buy my necklaces off my neck. They asked how they could order from me… good question. So, I tried to build a website with merchant capabilities. It functioned but it looked like crap. I heard about Etsy through a friend and decided to add Etsy as my shopping interface. I printed business cards for Chocolate and Steel website and did all of my own promoting. I never expected a single random sale from Etsy. I really thought of it as a great interface for sending my existing customers to.

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

I signed up for Etsy in December of 2006 but didn’t start listing until February 07. I just looked and my first sales were to my mom, my aunt, my sister and my friend. 2 days later a stranger! I was SOOOOO excited☺

-Top 5 favorite foods, tv shows, and bands?

I love to cook. Since I’m pregnant my favorite foods now are pickles, pepperonicinis, green olives, tomatoes, and carrots.

Bands? I really like the lady singer/songwriters. Imogen Heap, Colbie Calliat, Adele, Kate Nash, Lily Allen

Tv Shows? Martha Stewart (watch online while I’m working), Almost anything on HGTV, Chelsea Lately and my guilty pleasures when I get to see them: American Idol and Glee☺

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

I’d love to learn to screen print and also do some ceramics. I have an idea for a pendant that I need little yellow ceramics pieces for. What I see in my head is so specific that I want to just make it. I may just use yellow cement instead because that might give me the same effect.

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

I can give many suggestions although if you research me you will find that I don’t do a lot of these things now. I used to, I promise! Once your business gets moving it really promotes itself.

My suggestions are: blog (3 x a week),
-visit other blogs and get involved in a online community (Etsy Team, Blog Mime, Craftster….),
-Give yourself an advertising budget and spend it every month. I used to dedicate $100 a month on taking out blog ads. Sometimes that meant I could advertise on 2-3 medium traffic blogs, or 1 high traffic blog for 1 week. Just having a presence is important.
-Do craft shows and bring a lot of business cards. I buy my business cards from vista print @ 5,000 cards at a time. They are so inexpensive that I hand them out left and right. I write notes on them for people. I include them in every order, every craft show purchase, and give extras to friends that wear my jewelry.
-Read the Etsy Storque and comment.
-Get involved in local Craft Mafias or whatever you have in your town.
-Go to any Etsy meeting that is within 50 miles of you. Occasionally Etsy admin will come to larger cities for a meet and great. Do not miss this. This is a great way to get your name in front of the people that write articles for the storque.
-Do something crazy like make a commercial. I did and it was written about in the Etsy Storque.
I could go on but I’m feeling a little pushy now. Oh and Facebook. Great place to update your customers on new pieces, press, sales, promotions….. Customers love a connection with you.

-3 etsy shops you just LOVE?

Oh gosh, just 3? I love mudpuppy, cartbeforethehorse, doubleparlour, joepapendick, yikes. I went over. Seriously I have so much love for Etsy☺

-One year from now, I hope my number of sold items is....

I really can’t answer that. I hope in one year from now I am still working full time as a jewelry artist. I don’t have a business plan or a goal. I make all of my business decisions intuitively… in the moment. I really think that goals and planning are a little overrated and ultimately underestimate what you are really capable of. Had you asked me 5 years ago where I saw myself in the future I would never have even dreamt this to be possible. My reality now is so much more wonderful than my dreams were at the time. I wish the same for all of you!

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