Tuesday, 25 January 2011

BESTeam weekly feature: AllAboutCats

Now, gentle reader, can you guess what this shop sells from its name?! Indeed, from AllAboutCats you can pick up anything you need to entertain your feline friends, as well as lots of lovely cat-themed human stuff as well.  So, if you're a servant to one or more cats yourself, this is the shop for you! 

AllAboutCats is run by Linda from South Burlington, Vermont, who is a proud mum to three rescue cats herself.  It's refreshing to see that the felines help in the production of lots of these items, and I'm sure they've had a lot of fun testing out some of the prototypes!  Linda likes to do other crafts too, and on her blog you can read about her other makes too, find out how to make cat accessories and toys yourself, see some great treasuries of cat items from other sellers on Etsy, as well as fantastic photos of Maggie, Jerry and Brady themselves.

Having not had cats for a while now, I remember the days when a beige catnip mouse was the extent of the stock under the 'cat toys' heading at the supermarket. Thankfully, for today's discerning and sophisticated moggies, there is a much better range, so why not pick up something from this shop where each item has been lovingly handmade?  Here's a selection of my favourite cat and human items.  Click on any of the pictures to go directly to the shop.

cat coasters spider cat nip toy
valentine cat nip toy cat wallet
pig cat nip toy cat magnets

1. Funky cat coasters - love the colors!
2. Save the lives of the real spiders by giving this toy spider to play with instead
3. Cats need to celebrate Valentines day too
4. Mini wallet or business card holder so you can be reminded of your friends at home when shopping...
5. What a cute pig!
6. More funky cats - this time for the fridge.

You can find out more about Linda and her feline friends at these links:

Email: AllAboutCats@TheLastByte.com

Blog: http://allaboutcatsetsy.blogspot.com
Check out the customer appreciation photos - so cute!

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/All-About-Cats/178751288826475?v=wall

Linda's other Etsy Shop is This And That In Vermont
for handmade items, supplies and vintage.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Unconventional tips for selling online

My shops have been open for just over a year and a half now, so I got to thinking about the great advice which I've got from forums, blogs, and other lovely sellers. This advice has been invaluable in developing the style and content of my shops. For anyone starting out, hanging around the forums of the major handmade sites is time well spent. But here are a couple of tips which you don't see so often in the forums, and perhaps that's because they are just a little bit controversial...

They are just my humble opinion, of course, and I'd love to hear what you think of them.

One. If you're just starting out, don't start to promote your shop until you're absolutely happy with how it looks. Everyone will tell you to start promoting straight away, but you might find later that you wish you had waited until you've improved your photos, written better commentaries on your items, and got some feedback on where might be the best places to spend your time promoting. So my advice would be to take a little time to ponder and to tweak your shop, especially when you're starting out.  Selling online is a long game, you probably won't miss thousands and thousands of sales, but you will be laying down a good foundation for later!

Some recent sold items.  Can you spot a target audience?
Two. Don't worry about your target market. You'll probably find lots of different sorts of people will buy what you make, and they won't obligingly fit into any different categories. Of course, if you make a particular project niche product, this won't apply to you.  But even if you make for a particular market, for instance, clothing for babies, you may also find your items are bought as gifts by folk who are not parents or close relatives of babies. I've found many different types of people purchasing my jewellery. They don't seem to fit into a particular age bracket. Are they rich or poor? I have no idea. Does that matter? Probably not. Are all my customers women? No, a fair few are men buying gifts for friends and family. A quick look around the bus or Tube reveals that is very hard to categorise which women buy which sorts of jewellery. And those who are magpies, like me, will probably have loads of different styles in their collections. People just refuse to sit in the neat categories the marketing folks would like them to! And what a good thing it is that people don't - the world is a much place for us all being different, IMHO.
More sold items - my customers have eclectic taste!

Three. Have excellent customer service.  Communicate with your customers as much as possible so they know you've acknowledged their order, have put it quickly in the post, and want to hear back from them that they love the item, or even if there's a problem with it. This is where the handmade movement can really outshine the big online retailers. Don't worry about bothering people too much - if someone doesn't like getting an additional email from you, they can always leave it unopened in their inbox.  But most customers I think, appreciate getting a note to say when their item will be posted, I know I do.  So make first class service your aim.

Lastly, be very patient. Neither Rome nor Marks and Spencers were built in a day!  However much you promote (and you could find yourself needing 36 hours in a day very quickly) it will take people time to find your shop. It's a online jungle out there and you need to prioritise taking care of yourself and your time.

What would your unconventional tips for other sellers be?

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Bronze Age cometh!

So, today I sold these earrings on Folksy, but at the request of the lovely customer involved, I revamped them so that instead of silver there are in an 'antique bronze' finish.  I've never worked with anything but silver before, and I can only wear sterling silver in my ears now (punishment for years of abuse wearing trash-y earrings in my teens!), but now .... I really liked how these little lovelies looked, and I'd had to buy more than I needed of antique bronze findings, so I'm thinking I'll do some more.  What do you think?

They bronze version look very baroque to me and remind me a bit of Venice somehow.  I'm thinking of a little bracelet now, with the same combination of brown glass hearts as charms, carnelian beads and watermelon antique bronze spacers.

And thanks again to Jackie, for commissioning these, for sparking the creative idea and for buying! What a great customer :-)

Monday, 17 January 2011

BESTeam feature: Chasing the Nuns on Etsy

Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Sarah from Chasing the Nuns on Etsy. Sarah from McHenry, IL, is a stay at home mom who's into crafts.  Her shop is full of beautiful knitted and crocheted items and she's happy to make any of these up in different yarns for you if you see something you want customised, or if you want something like a bag made out of a T shirt. How cool!

I've chosen some dishcloths, hats, a cuff, bags and booties from her colorful selection.  That turkey hat is perfect for Thanksgiving, I think! And that red lotus cuff would look really striking with jeans.  Click on any of the pictures to go directly to the shop.

homeware dish cloths hip bag
hat booties
cuff hat

You can catch up with Sarah at the following links:




and be sure to visit her other Etsy shop for screenprints:

Monday, 10 January 2011

BESTeam feature: iknitandbead on Etsy

It's a pleasure to feature Elizabeth from Cary, NC, this week and her shop, iknitandbead.  Elizabeth is passionate about knitting and yarn, having taught herself to knit from a book, and loves to spend time in yarn shops just touching and selecting the wool for her creations.  Inspired by colour and the natural world, this is a really cheerful shop and perfect for browsing on a cold winter's day when just looking at the scarfs, hats, cowls and gloves will make you feel warmer!

Elizabeth's talents don't stop there, as she also loves to create jewellery.  One of my picks below combines both knitting and jewellery making, and I'm looking forward to seeing more creations like this in the shop because it's such a new and funky idea.

 This multi coloured chenille scarf will keep you warm and cosy and coordinate with almost any colours you were wearing.

I love the unusual colour and texture combinations in this knitted necklace wth a flower pendant.  What a great idea to combine those two skills!

There's a matching bracelet in this gold, brown and pink yarn too.

Elizabeth describes these lime green circle earrings as 'simple but beautiful' and I couldn't agree more. They could take you to a really dressed up function, or look stunning with jeans and a T shirt.

You can catch up with Elizabeth through the following links:

Etsy: http://www.iknitandbead.etsy.com
Blog: http://www.iknitandbead.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/knitsandbeadsbyebeth
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/knitsnbeads

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