Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Artisan: fivelittlegems

Meet this week Saturday Artisan: Holly of fivelittlegems. I applaud her talent and multitasking skills. She makes beautiful jewelries with so many details involved, I may add. She is also one super busy domestic goddess. Being a mom of a 2 years old myself is hard enough already doing all the chores that I need to do, let alone doing those while having 5 kids. Phew! Learn some tricks from Holly on how you can get your kids involved in your chores while they have fun at the same time.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what arts/crafts that you make?
I'm a stay at home mom, married to a wonderful guy, and have 5 kids from 15 years down to 1 year old. I do many other crafts, but my favorites that stay in my "rotation" are jewelry, stained glass, crocheting and scrapbooking. Currently, my scrapbook supplies collection has taken over my entire kitchen and with 5 kids, I'll soon need to add a wing to my house to store all the scrapbooks!

What is your favourite item in your shop?
My favorite item in my shop is my stick pearl double strand necklace. The picture just doesn't do it justice. It looks AMAZING on!

What is your best seller?
My most popular are my twisted wire lucite flower necklaces and bracelets. Like this one:

How does your day go in general?
It's crazy! I wake up at 6am and get 3 of my 5 off to school then feed the 2 little guys and start on the housework. I alternate chores/playtime, and whenever I can I try to make a game out of the chores. The boys get a kick out of tossing the wet laundry into the dryer for me. They also like to splash around in the bubbles when I'm doing dishes. My 1 year old takes a nap at 11:00am, so that's when I let my 3 year old watch a movie and I check my Etsy shop and get any shipments ready to go out. Afternoons are pretty much more of the same, feeding/cleaning/playing until we have to leave to pick up my 6 year old from school. At this point you're wondering when I work on my jewelry, huh? The kids go to bed at 8:00pm and that's when I sit down to work. I usually stay up until 2:00-2:30am making new things and listing them in my shop. Not much sleep in my life right now, but I'm looking forward and preparing for when they're all off to school. I can't wait!

Do you have a favourite Etsy seller?
I have lots and lots of favorite Etsy sellers. There are way too many to mention. There is so much incredible talent to be seen and I am constantly in awe of the creativeness of some of my peers. But one of my favorite shops of all time is TheHouseOfMouse. Her little mice are the most adorable things I've ever come across! I would buy all of her little mice if I could afford them.

What inspires you?
Nature, flowers, color, the feel of the beads in my hand. Sometimes even putting on clothing will make me see in the mirror something that would look really awesome with whatever I'm wearing and I have to run to sketch it out so I won't forget.

What is your goal for 2010?
I hope to increase my local sales by taking some of my pieces to boutiques and signing up for some craft fairs. These are 2 venues with which I don't have much experience.

What is your favourite tool that you cannot live without?
Teeny tiny wire cutters. Making jewelry takes a lot of precision work, and sometimes it's tough to get a regular wire cutter in some of the tight spots.

How do you promote your shop?
Right now I don't have a lot of spare time. I have a facebook fanpage and I've bought a few ad spots off Etsy. I get some exposure because I make many many Etsy treasuries, which in turn causes people to put me in their treasuries. One of these treasuries made it to the front page. I also spend way too much time being silly in the Etsy forums. But I've gotten quite a few sales that way, so it's not a total waste of time.

Any advice for a newbie running his or her on-line shop?
It takes more time than you could ever imagine. It really is hard work. And I always tell people to read read read and read some more before just jumping in and opening up a shop. The storque and the forums have tons of great information that are invaluable. My final piece of advice is to work on your photography skills BEFORE you take pictures of everything you have to list. When you're selling online, your pictures are THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOL YOU HAVE to achieve success. I've taken my pictures over 3 times, and am in the process of doing them once again. This is a lot of work. I wish I had gotten them right in the beginning. It's a learning process for me still, but I think I've gotten much better than when I started. And I always offer personal help with photos when other Etsians ask.

During this recession time, tell us one thing that you do to save money?
One of the things that people do to help with sales is renew listings on a constant basis in order to stay at the top of searches. I was spending about $30-$40/month on renewing last year. As of January 2010, I have vowed never to renew anything in my shop, only list NEW items. And you know what? I haven't renewed or listed a single new item this year and have had more sales this January than any month in 2009! We've also stopped going out to eat as a family, which we used to do once a week. Come summer, we'll be planting a vegetable garden in our backyard, so that will help as well.

Anything else you would like to share?
Having a business of any kind takes a lot of drive and perseverence. It normally doesn't happen overnight, but if you're determined to make it happen, you can! I'm not at the success level I'd like to be yet, but that's largely due to the fact that I don't promote myself like crazy. Most of my buyers just wander in and happen to find me. Which to me means I have something people like, and that's half the battle. If you're thinking of opening a shop, be patient, be persistent, and follow the rules. You may even make some great Etsy friends along the way! This was an unexpected bonus for me, but there are some really wonderful, generous, caring people that hang out on Etsy. My wish is that some day I'll get the chance to meet them in real life.

Any tutorial that you'd like to share?
Most of my craft has been self-taught and perfected by trial and error. I've really never looked into the millions of tutorials that are available. I know that one of the most popular is "how to make a light box" on Etsy's blog, "The Storque", but I already had a professional lightbox so never tried it. But my lightbox is invaluable. If I didn't have one and couldn't purchase one, I'd be making one for myself!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's giveaways sponsored by Holly!

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