Friday, July 16, 2010

#166 unofficial etsy featured seller - shizendesigns

#166 unofficial etsy featured seller - shizendesigns
Date joined etsy- 5/16/08
Sales to date - 489-Give us some basic info about you: name, where you live, kids/pets, favorite ice cream flavor, etc.
My name is Mieko Takahashi. I grew up in Tokyo. I moved to the US for college in 1992. After graduation, I worked as a CPA for 10 years until I realized there is much more to life than working like a mad woman trying to occupy the corner office someday. Now I run a small business consulting practice from my corner office at home. I am also studying to become a registered dietitian. I juggle being a jewelry designer, a CPA and a nutrition student daily. My
life can get a bit complicated and confusing at times. I live in Bellingham, Washington with my husband Dave, two cats and a dog. For fun, I love reading a spy novel, watching a spy movie, gardening, kayaking, and taking a long walk with my 4-year-old Bichon Frise Kumo. As for my Etsy shop, I sell handcrafted silver jewelry under the name of “shizendesigns” ( Shizen is a Japanese word for nature. I love making flowers and
other natural objects into jewelry.

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

1. I get up around 7AM. First thing I do is to take Kumo out for a walk.
2. Since last summer when I became a student, I usually have classes in the morning. Before and/or after class, I run errands.
3. I spend the afternoon doing bookkeeping for my clients or making jewelry to fill orders.
4. After dinner, I make jewelry or do some marketing activities, like tweeting, posting new items on Facebook, and writing a blog post. Or just hang out with my husband and watch a movie on Netflix.
5. I try to squeeze in studying in between the other activities. That is why I am in a complete panic mode the night before exams to catch up on studying which I often fall behind.
6. I’d like to be in bed by 10PM to read a little bit before I fall asleep around 11PM, but I often stay up much later. Ever since I’ve started school last summer, I have become a night owl.
Wow, when I list my usual activities like this, it doesn’t look as chaotic as it feels when I am actually doing these things!

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

Yes, I always enjoyed making things as long as I can remember. Throughout all of my school years in Japan, I did many forms of art. You name it. Drawing, painting (oil, water), metal etching, woodblock print making, woodworking, enameling, sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving, and pottery making. I enjoyed all of them, but in particular, I enjoyed print making in both etched metal and woodblock.

-What made you want to start selling on etsy?

I started beading in 2003 using Swarovski crystals, semi-precious stone and metal beads. It was just for fun at the beginning. I wore what I made but also gave them away to my friends and family. Around the time I left my last job as a CPA in 2005, I started a bridal jewelry line and started getting wholesale accounts. But soon I started to feel like I was working in my own little “sweat shop”. I think it was too much volume at one point. In the fall of 2006, I found a
metal jewelry working center in town called Pouncing Rain ( and I took a beginner’s jewelry course there. That’s how I got into making silver jewelry. Since then I have taken a few more classes at Pouncing Rain and also at other metal jewelry schools. I opened a seller’s account on Etsy in May of 2008, thinking that there have to be other folks who like simple, delicate and whimsical jewelry. I am a maker of things that are tiny and shiny.

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

I listed my first item on Etsy in the end of July, although I opened my account on May 16, 2008. My friends purchased the first two items I sold on Etsy. So, the first real sale came in on August 8, 2008. I still remember how excited I was when I received first order notification email from Etsy.
-Top 5 favorite foods, tv shows, and bands?

Foods I can’t live without:
Miso soup, rice, French fries, baked custard, Edamame

TV that I watch on a regular basis:
Modern Family, The Office, 24, Glee, Sex and the city

Bands that, I think, are totally groovy:
U2, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fleetwood Mac

-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 how to make felted beads. Also, I’d like to start up making soap again, which I haven’t done since 2003.

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

I didn’t know what it meant to “re-list” until about one and half years after opening my Etsy shop. I used to wonder what those featured sellers were talking about when they said they re-list items everyday to promote their shop.
So, consequently, I only used to re-list items that expired. Haha, I’ve come a long way! Now, on average, I re-list five items a day. I highly recommend relisting at least one item a day. Also, good photography of your products is non-negotiable. I’ve come a long way on photography too. I used to take photos of my jewelry on the carpet! I am constantly working to improve my photographing skills. Without good photography, your products will not be able to catch customers’ (and very importantly Etsy Admins’) eyes.

-3 etsy shops you just LOVE?

This is a really hard question… but if I *have to* choose 3 shops:
Pearl Everlasting - Gorgeous gem stone jewelry with recycled metal. Absolutely beautiful.

Golly Bard – I just luuuuv her painting. So gentle, serene and delicate.

Bunny with a toolbelt – Her creations make me smile.

-One year from now, I hope....

I was very ill from the fall of 2008 from the spring of 2009. Thankfully, now I am healthy. So, I’d like to be healthy one year from now. Everything else is icing on the cake!

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