This week's Etsy shop of the week is Callooh Callay, where you can find great Vintage Button Jewelry, Antiques, Hats and Postcards. I fell in love with this shop and asked the owner, Susan to do this interview. The items available are fantastic and she's had over 600 sales in about a year and a half on Etsy--which is quite inspiring, to me. She lives in Missouri and works as a writer and editor as her main gig. Check out the interview below and visit her shop today!
How did the idea for your business come about?
I just happened upon Etsy, thought about it and started planning, and started my business a few months later selling jewelry made from vintage buttons. I’d been making a few brooches for friends but never tried to sell any before, so I jumped in blind. Then within the first month I realized how much great vintage Etsy has to offer. I started selling a few things I had around the house, but then got really hooked and went in whole hog. My shop now is about 40% handmade jewelry and 60% vintage or vintage supplies.
What inspires you to keep chugging along here on Etsy?
Money! Naw, seriously, it’s hard to make a living on Etsy—I sure haven’t reached that level of sales yet—but it’s lots of fun. I enjoy the creative aspect of making the jewelry, the thrill of searching for vintage, the fun of networking with other vintage and handmade sellers, and the challenge of doing the photography and writing and promoting and everything it takes to make the business work. I’m also constantly awed by the level of creativity and business acumen in other vintage and handmade sellers.
To what do you attribute your success?
My success, such as it is, has come from constantly working to improve what I’m doing, including photos, the types of things I sell, customer service, marketing, search engine optimization, and all that jazz. It took a lot of self-education to get the shop up and running, and it really never stops. This is particularly true in selling vintage, which I’ve been collecting my whole life but (aside from a few Barbies on e-bay) have never sold before. The vintage community on Etsy is just wonderfully knowledgeable and generous; I probably would not have gotten into it as much as I have without their support.
Best advice for fellow Etsians aspiring for success in our marketplace?
Never underestimate the value of good photos. Buy the best camera you can and work it! If you’re not sure what you’re doing, there are many places to get advice, from the Etsy forums to photo workshops. Like with everything else, you can start out working on a few things—say lighting, or backgrounds—and once you have that figured out, then try other improvements, such as varying the angles, or staging the photo, or using a model. Look around at the marvelous photos others are taking, and you’ll always find something you can do to improve your work.
How do you go about marketing your business?
It’s a little hit and miss. I started out with a blog, which I ran out of time for but dream of reviving some day. I dabble in a number of other things, including Flickr and Twitter; a few social networking sites (Vintage Pulse and Vintage Village); and a couple of street teams (Etsy Vintage Team and Steam Team, for steampunk items), though I’ve been too busy to do much with either of them lately. One thing I’ve been hooked on is making treasuries on Etsy (almost always featuring handmade and vintage together), and it’s helped me get featured and get on the front page more often.