Bring your dreams to life

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Stylist Team
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Feel like finally making those dreams a reality? Well, if you’re a maker or a designer you can say thanks to, the online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods. They’re launching Etsy Resolution, an online boot camp which lasts four weeks, but could help set you up for a lifetime.  

Mentored and led by three makers who have succeeded in making their own business dreams come true, Etsy Resolution aims to harness the momentum of the new year and help creatives make the most of 2016 – entirely free of charge. Those who choose to take part will discover tips, tricks and lessons directly from those who have already benefitted, with the eventual goal of starting an Etsy shop and growing it into a thriving online business.

But don’t take our word for it – have a listen to the women who, thanks to Etsy, made their own creative dreams come true…

Etsy Seller 1: Becky Kennedy

I've been making beautifully finished UK size 6-20 frocks since 2009 from my home in Nottingham. Each piece is 100% handmade, unique, and cut to a classic vintage pattern. 

Do you set goals for your business? How do you track your progress towards these goals?

As my shop isn’t my main source of income, and I’m really doing it for the love of dressmaking, I don’t set myself financial goals because I think this would take some of the fun out of it for me. I do, however, have some more conceptual, long-term goals about the direction of my product lines; I’d really like to move away from using pre-designed fabrics, and get my own printed instead. This will allow me to have control over every step of the design process, and using locally-sourced materials will make my shop and processes much more environmentally and socially ethical.

What do you wish you had known when you first started selling on Etsy?

That patience is key - lots of new sellers feel like giving up if they don’t make their first sale after a week, but often it can take a lot longer than this. That doesn’t mean that your products are bad or that you should give up - a quiet shop is an opportunity to use that time to grow and improve as a seller. Take better photos, tweak your tags and titles, and hang in there!

Etsy Seller 2: Alice Tams

I am obsessed by colour, fine detail and natural history. After graduating from university I decided to forge my own career path, namely in drawing animals in human clothing! 

What are your top tips for marketing your Etsy shop?

Get some seriously nice business cards. They don’t need to cost the world, just make them worth keeping. And, if you’re doing an event, it might be worth running a specific discount code on Etsy to see how much follow-up trade the event generates. 

Do you have any customer service tips to share?

Don’t start service you can’t maintain as what people like the most is knowing what to expect. Free stickers, “jazzy” tissue paper, lovely postcards etc. all make the customer feel special, but [giving away] hand-illustrated [thank you] drawings will wow a buyer, but if you’re too busy to include one when they come back they may be disappointed. 

What do you wish you had known when you first started selling on Etsy?

Photos! My first product photos were all over the place. A few evenings browsing free photo blogs or looking at similar products and they could have been finessed a lot more. 

Etsy Seller 3: Katie Kirby

I have always fancied the idea of designing cards, but never quite known how to break into doing it. I started writing my illustrated blog a couple of years ago and a few people suggested some of the drawings would make good cards and it all went from there.

What has been the best thing about it?

I get to be creative every day! Also seeing people's lovely feedback and knowing my designs have made them laugh.

What support do you feel you get from being on a site such as Etsy?

I reach customers who wouldn't have found me otherwise. Etsy made it so easy to start trading, and the backed experience is very user friendly. The forums are also super helpful.

Is managing your Etsy shop your full-time job?

I’ve not quit, but I’ve scaled back the amount of work I take on due to the success of this business. I run my Etsy shop part-time - up to 20 hours a week during seasonal peaks. I was expecting it to be a hobby, but it’s been more popular than I envisaged, which is great!

Etsy Seller 4: Faye Moorhouse

I set up my Etsy shop during university, not thinking I would sell anything and now it pays my bills! It’s amazing! It slowly built up and now I have a good following and lots of lovely repeat customers.

Did anything or anyone prompt you to take the plunge into starting your own business?

I think at the time I saw illustrators like Julia Pott doing really well on Etsy and I thought I’d give it a go. For me it was nice (and amazing) just to have people wanting to buy my work, and that in itself spurred me on to take my shop further.

What support do you feel you get from being on a site such as Etsy?

It has a great community of sellers and the most lovely customers. It also allows me to reach an audience that I would struggle to reach on my own. 

Has your shop led to other work?

I’ve just illustrated a children’s book called ‘The Pomegranate Tree' by Vanessa Altin and created editorial illustrations for the New York Times. 

Etsy Seller 5: Eleanor Young

I started selling on Etsy because it’s an easy platform to use. It has a good aesthetic and there were similar sorts of makers already using it. 

How quickly did your business take off?

Initially sales were slow, but the community started to find my work. I’ve enjoyed selling to customers across the world, which is something I never imagined at first. 

What has been the best thing about Etsy?  

It has its own community of regular users who browse the site, ‘favourite’ shops and find your work through searches. I also enjoy Etsy because it really promotes the makers behind the work. You are encouraged to contact the sellers and even ask for custom-made products. I enjoy having these conversations, it makes shopping more interactive, which should be encouraged.  

What support do you feel you get from being on a site such as Etsy?  

Etsy has a huge team of people working behind the scenes giving help and advice and you regularly receive email updates with hints and tips on how to improve your shop and services. It also lets the makers and sellers open up conversations and create forums where ideas and questions can be shared. You can never get better advice than from other people who are doing the same thing. It’s a fantastic resource!

Etsy Seller 6: Sarah Holtom

I started my Etsy shop in late 2013 and ran it part-time alongside a photography business with my partner. The shop has taken off to the point that I am working on it full-time and have left my partner to run the photography business. 

What inspired you to start an Etsy shop?

I really liked making things and have always been a creative person.  I was a buyer on Etsy initially and I became inspired to start making things myself to sell. I approached my shop as a proper business and not a hobby right from the beginning.

What impact has the shop had on your finances? 

It is a really significant part of my household income and has made a dramatic impact.

How can you see the shop developing and growing? 

I don’t want to limit the business to just what I can achieve on my own and I would consider employing people. However, I still want to have some involvement in the process of hand making the item and I don’t want to lose that.  I can see the business growing but not to the extent that I become removed from the making process. Growth doesn’t mean other people doing the work for me.

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