What I Would Do Different if I Started Selling on Etsy Today

Woodwards_building_Vancouver_demolition_2Have you ever wondered why the most creative ideas come while you dozing off to sleep, or when you’re taking a shower? Someone once told me to keep a notebook by my bed so I could write these ideas down, but I’m usually so far gone at that point, I’m too tired to grab it and write. The shower is a problem too, because water and paper don’t mix. It’s a conundrum.

I found out the reason these good ideas come in those moments is because our brain is in autopilot mode. We’re working on muscle memory in the shower, doing things without thinking, and so the conscious mind says, “Hey subconscious. Come up here and man the helm for a bit. I’m gonna take a break.”

In those moments, the crazy and wildly creative subconscious kicks in, spitting out idea after idea, and if you’re lucky, the conscious mind is back there paying attention. It holds onto that idea until you get out of the shower (sometimes), or wake up in the morning (rarely), but I digress…

Recently, in one of my shower moments, I was thinking of an Etsy seller that I knew, someone I had given lots of advice to, but she rarely pursued my advice to the fullest. Her sales on Etsy are infrequent, but picking up a little bit now that she has more items in her shop. Still, she is a long way from being self-sufficient. She wants the shop to be a full time employment for her, but at best, she is a hobbyist, and pains me to think she might not make the jump to the next level of handmade entrepreneurship.

Like a brick through a window, one of these ideas hit me, and I knew right away I needed to pursue it. If she was willing to hand over control of the business and marketing of her business, and concentrate on her art, I would revamp the business from the bottom up based on all the lessons I had learned about selling, marketing, branding and service.

Full disclosure, the shop owner is my mother, a talented artist and designer that made me the creative individual I am today. I am, of course, emotionally tied to her success. I want only the best from her, and I believe by taking over these aspects of the business, temporarily, I can show her the path to a point where she can then walk it herself.

Knocking it Down to Build it Back Up

Silk-Escape-Before-LogoI brought the idea to her and she agreed. We are still working through the details about what will change and what will stay, leaving the bones and some of the meat, but stripping all the fat away.

If you visit her shop, Silk Escape, you will see where we started, but the transitions will start happening quick, and what you see might already reflect some of the change. Here’s a screenshot of her shop as it is right now.

Silk-Escape-Before-MainChanging up the aesthetics of the shop is only the beginning. Not only will we change the look of how the work is presented on Etsy, but we are changing the product offering completely. Instead of selling several types of products, we are limiting what we sell in order to build up a name and brand toward one specific product — hand painted scarves.

We’re changing the brand to be more elegant overall, and showcasing the work as hand painted wearable art, going for a more high end clientele. Instead of being Target, we’ll be Bloomingdales. Instead of Zales, we’ll be Tiffany. I’ll go into why we made this decision more in a future post, but I believe this is the correct positioning for her product.

Everything we do gets an upgrade. The time spent on a piece is greater, as is the energy to make it awesome. Branding collateral goes up in quality, as does packaging. Is a box from Tiffany actually more valuable than a box from Zales? No, but in our minds that blue box means something.

The most difficult part about this transition is the stigma that many people feel Etsy brings to handmade goods; things sold on Etsy cannot be high end, because they were made in someone’s garage. It won’t be easy, and we may end up taking the business to another environment, but we start with Etsy because that is where Silk Escape exists right now.

Watch the Action Live

Over the next several months (or longer), I will report about all the changes we have in mind. I will break it down in extreme detail to what plans we plan to implement, what works and what didn’t, and how we plan to grow beyond the walls of Etsy.

All the updates will be posted here for everyone to check out, but I may go deeper on the details in the newsletter. It’s ironic, just when I got done saying I would be blogging less often, this massive idea hits me. Perhaps that is the whack I needed to get the motor turning again. Regardless, you get to bear witness to the results.

Stay tuned, Campers!

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