Claire was kind enough to share her story, experience and hints.
What inspired you to start an Etsy shop and where do you get your inspiration/ideas for your products?
I've always loved handmade and own jewellery and accessory boxes crammed full of bits and bobs. I have a slight obsession for fabric and buttons and it suddenly occurred to me that I could merge the two and make something for myself!
I had so many compliments on a fabric button ring I'd made ages ago and a friend asked me to make some for a birthday gift. I'm the sort of person who always needs a project and I've always admired handmade sellers, so it felt like the right (and most exciting) thing to do to share my creativity. For me it's not a money making venture.
So far what are the best things about owning an Etsy shop?
I think we are all really interested to know whether you have plans to add to your Etsy range?
I'm going to work on a range of coin purses and then explore accessories with buttons and bows. Perhaps in the winter I'll experiment with some knitted accessories. I'd love to explore embroidered fabric rings too, but I need to practise! The scrabble rings have been really popular, so I want to find a way to develop that range too.
The friendship bracelet looks perfect! Do you have plans beyond your Etsy shop?
What advice would you give to other people thinking of launching an Etsy shop?
Plan, plan, plan. I spent a good 6 months networking on twitter, exploring social media strategies and reading business planning books. Setting up my blog was always a way to connect with like minded people, but having my followers translate into Etsy sales has been a great bonus. Initial investment will always be more than you expect, so plan and budget carefully and shop around for supplies and packaging.
Although the handmade craft market is oversaturated, do your research and find a niche. I'm still working my way through this, but I want it to evolve naturally. I also want to listen to my customers. If a product line is a hit, I'll explore variations. Likewise with slower selling items; I'll find a way to market them differently or try to develop or change them
You get involved in a lot of craft projects outside of creating your own products, where do you find the time?
I have little social life! In the last year or so my life has shifted to spend more time at home and I'm perfectly happy with this. My friends and I recently set up a craft evening which takes place at someone's house once a fortnight - this for me is perfect as it combines my love of staying in with my love of crafting. Our recent one involved a friend teaching us how to pipe perfect icing on cupcakes, which was great fun. I always make time for cake :-)
I like to think I'm quite organised too. I'm forever writing to do lists in my many notebooks and I use the Evernote app to keep track of lists and notes. I use my lunch break from work to plan projects and I'm keen on using social media tools to manage my activity online. Being able to schedule tweets and blog posts means I can plan ahead and have more time for additional projects. Saying that, I have reduced the amount of craft swaps I'm participating lately, so I could really focus on the shop launch.
Doing something you enjoy is a great way to spend your time!
What has been your favourite craft project/group that you have been involved in?
This is tough. I love the Cath Kidston craft nights I attend as the projects are always a surprise until the night and the suspense is good fun. However, I've recently been involved in initiating a new Women's Institute group in my home city and the response has been amazing. On the first night we met, I couldn't believe there were all these vibrant, like minded people in my city, that I had never connected with before. We have some great plans for the group, which will involve craft, but also many other topics and activities. I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes my creativity and learning.
It's been lovely hearing about your success so far and your future plans!
Do pop over to Claire's Etsy shop and have a look at her lovely items. As you can tell my favourite piece is the scrabble ring too and I can't wait to get my hands on one of those pastel friendship bracelets! If you have any questions for Claire drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org