Monday, August 16, 2010

#190 unofficial etsy featured seller - visualingual

#190 unofficial etsy featured seller - visualingual
Date joined etsy- 2/10/07
Sales to date - 739
-Give us some basic info about you: name, where you live, kids/pets, favorite ice cream flavor, etc.

We are Maya and Michael, two designers who currently live in a live/work loft in the historic neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati. We share our home with a snowshoe Siamese cat named Claire Monet, after the Screeching Weasel song. Michael is from Indianapolis, and Maya is from Gdynia, Poland by way of Brooklyn. We've both moved around quite a bit over the years, which probably explains why our work deals so much for the idea of place.

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

We both work, so we typically start our days by answering the latest email queries from potential customers and stores. After work, we answer more email and send our invoices while preparing dinner, and then package orders or do production while we watch TV. We usually spend at least one full weekend day on printing or production.

There's an ebb and flow to our routine. Since summers are slow for Etsy sales, we're spending a lot of time developing new work and also starting to fill our wholesale orders for the holiday season. In a few months, we won't have time for design, because we'll be busy with production and, by December, we expect to focus solely on shipping orders.

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

Of course! We've always been creative in different ways, from painting to photography. We've both also always been interested in the built environment, and our work is really based on that.

-What made you want to start selling on etsy?

When we started creating Cincinnati-centric work, about a year after moving here, we first began selling it in local brick-and-mortar stores. As we built out our product lines and got to know our customer base a little bit better, selling online became the logical next step. It was a way to expand our audience beyond Cincinnati, and also to join a worldwide creative community.

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

We joined Etsy over three years ago and slowly started investigating it as a potential sales avenue for us. We listed our first few products more than a year after joining. Our first sale took about 3-4 weeks, and we're pretty sure that our first few sales were driven by our studio blog, It took us a while to get noticed on Etsy, as we figured out ways to increase our visibility.

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

We love cooking together, and we make anything from risotto on a weeknight to biscuits and gravy on a Sunday morning. We also catch our share of trashy reality TV while we work, from America's Next Top Model to The Bachelorette. In terms of music, we listen to a lot of independent rap, like Ill Bill and Hieroglyphics.

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

This year, we plan to figure out how to screenprint our own decals for ceramics and glass. Next year, we'd love to learn how to create our own soap.

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

Just because you've built it doesn't mean they'll come. Once you've gotten your shop up and running, you need to find avenues to announce and promote your work. There are several on Etsy -- treasuries, forums, and showcases, for instance -- but there are many more avenues elsewhere. For us, it's a combination of studio blog, Facebook page, mailing list, and constant involvement on different blogs, ranging in content from design to gardening to Cincinnati.

We actually meet a lot of future Etsy customers at craft fairs. After each of those events, we see an uptick in Etsy sales, from people who saw the work in person and then purchased it online.

When you're first starting out as an Etsy seller, you may only have one or a few products in your shop. List several of each item, if you create work in multiples. If you offer the same thing in different colors, mention that in the listing but list each color separately. Try to think of your store as a kind of story about you as a maker -- showing several items gives customers a context for what you do. Also, the more work you have listed in your shop, the easier it is to keep the shop fresh by relisting different items.

Another bit of maintenance is the shop itself. Constantly revisit your listings and figure out ways to improve your titles, tags, photography, descriptions, and even prices. Relist on a regular basis so that new customers can quickly find your work in their search results. Imagine that you are your own potential customer and try different searches to find your work. If you can't find it, that's a problem! Look at the search results you do find and try to learn better practices from those listings.

Every sale is important! We really try to bend over backwards to provide good customer service, from answering questions quickly to offering custom listings. We figure that every happy customer may potentially purchase from us again or tell other people about us, so we want everyone to have a positive experience.

Lastly, and less directly, pay it forward! As a business owner, you become a bit of a public entity, so always be polite and helpful. If someone asks a question, answer graciously. If you admire someone else's work, let them know. You never know what sorts of opportunities good karma can bring.

-3 etsy shops you just LOVE?

Cynthia Vardhan Ceramics for porcelain mugs and vases: cynthiavardhan
Three Sheets 2 the Wind for handmade prints and pillows: threesheets2thewind
My House Party for adorable air plant houses: myhouseparty

-One year from now...

One year from now we hope to have a better handle on our process throughout the year. As a small business, we keep our risks small so that we don't lose our shirts on one bad decision. For instance, last December, we completely underestimated the demand for our seed bombs and spent the whole month scrambling to fill our holiday orders. This time around, we're projecting our sales and ramping up production early so that we're ready for the rush of sales -- that's a risk we're taking. We're also focusing our time this summer on developing new items, before we have to switch gears into production and fulfillment mode. We're slowly learning how to best to manage the different aspects of our work so that we don't burn out.

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