This week I'm featuring an awesome vintage shop I found on Etsy, called backtothevintage. Shop owner, Kate is a freelance graphic designer by day and she also designs and sells jewelry on Etsy. She worked in her Mom's antique store when she was attending college and ever since she's been hooked on Vintage! Some of them items in her shop were shipped in from Michigan, so there's a nice variety to peruse.
How did the idea for your business come about and how did you decide on the name for your shop?I opened my vintage Etsy shop as a way to make extra money doing something I love. The name is funny, I am really not good at coming up with names so I asked my boyfriend for some help. Back to the Future had been on tv recently and so he said, "what about Back to the Vintage?" And there you have it! [that's what I thought, i LOVE those movies!]
What inspires you and what keeps you motivated? I personally love mixing old with new. Especially jewelry. Wearing something new and modern and pairing it with an old piece of jewelry is my favorite. So when i am out looking, I am always drawn to the jewelry section. My house is the same way, I have new modern furniture and housewares with a lot of vintage thrown in there. I like to mix it up. Keeping things funky like that is inspiring and I have friends who have a similar style. I also find a lot of inspiration on blogs I follow. What keeps my motivated is a big mix of things. Fun is one of them, this is just fun for me. I even enjoy photographing the items I put in my shop. I'm motivated by a drive to make money as well. I also have a twitter account (http://twitter.com/kelderkin) where i follow other vintage etsiers and see how often they are listing things and that is also a big push to keep up the pace! To what do you attribute your success? I started in Feb. of this year. I think I have done pretty well so far. I think vintage is easy to sell on etsy. But I think it's a love for what I am doing that helps. I take time to present myself and my shop well.
Three pieces of advice you can share with fellow Etsians aspiring for success in our marketplace? Research. I am still learning a lot but I just keep looking into things and trying to figure out what works. You may sell things if you just put some product up there, but there is much more that goes into it. Look into the forums on etsy and look at other vintage sites to see what sells. There are collectibles. There are a lot of trends right now that are vintage and/or vintage inspired. Things go in and out of style constantly and it's good to keep up on that. Come up with some sort of consistent look. My look is very simple but I think it helps your shop to have a feel or an aesthetic that is consistent and clean. Also, try to list things as often as you can, that way you are always in the top of the list for searches. I have also heard that if you are selling clothes or jewelry to model it and show your face in the pics because people like to see the face they are buying from. Makes it more personal. I tend to agree as a buyer.
How do you go about marketing your business? I'm still trying to figure that out. So far I have been doing ads on craftcult.com which is pretty inexpensive and gets a lot of traffic to my site. I'm going to have an ad in N.E.E.T. magazine (http://www.neetmagazine.com/) in September. Also very inexpensive and such a cool magazine. The mag is online and the ads link to your site. For my handmade jewelry shop I have been doing the same as above but also did some advertising on this blog: http://keikolynn.blogspot.com/ she has 700+ followers and I have gotten a lot of traffic from that ad as well. I am also doing a giveaway on her site, because that creates more traffic as well. *sidebar: sign up for google analytics so you know where your traffic is coming from* I also tweet every new item I list. This gets traffic in seconds to your shop. I have a blog for my handmade jewelry.
Kate has graciously agreed to a GIVEAWAY!Win this awesome vintage purse!!!
1) Follow this blog AND
2) Leave a comment below, telling me what your favorite item is in Kate's shop, backtothevintage. Please choose something other than the two items displayed in this post for your entry to count.
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.
This week, I'm interviewing Kirsti, owner of the Skinnie and Bernie shop on Etsy. She not only collects and sells awesome vintage items, she's also an artist with a degree in Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design - a fantastic design school. She enjoys creating assemblage box sculptures, block printed and hand sewn cards and collects decorative papers and unusual vintage fabrics for use in her many card designs. She lives in a cabin in Pennsylvania with her husband and two cats; ahh that sounds so relaxing! Read all about Kirsti below...
How did the idea for your business come about? I've always been a collector of old parts and pieces for the assemblage artwork I create. Collecting vintage clothing is another one of my passions. I really enjoy the hunt for unique pieces. I'd been considering my best options for selling these items and my artwork when my sister in Brooklyn sent me a link to Etsy. She gave me the nudge, and I jumped right in! So far I've been quite happy with my vintage shop, and one of these days I'll get my artwork out there too....
What inspires you to keep at it here on Etsy? I have an insatiable appetite for collecting vintage items, which is probably not completely healthy, but I do enjoy it! Etsy provides me with the outlet. The environment at Etsy is so welcoming and supportive that it really makes me happy to be a part of this community. My customers are awesome as well, and I really appreciate their continued support!
To what do you attribute your success? Well I still feel pretty new here at Etsy. My business is just 6 months old, but hopefully I am gaining a following. I think part of my success comes from taking decent pictures (so the items are well represented) and in being as accurate as I can be in describing an item. I think my customers have a right to know everything about the items, flaws and all, since they are vintage and have been previously used and loved. Being honest about an item will gain customer satisfaction and bring people back to potentially buy again. Best advice for fellow Etsians aspiring for success in our marketplace? Be true to yourself. Pick something that you love to do and do it well. Your success will follow. Also doing research is immensely helpful. I spent a lot of time researching different shops, seeing what was working for them, and it made me a much more informed seller once I set up my shop.
How do you go about marketing your business? I rely solely on listing new items as much as possible. I think keeping your shop visible by always listing new items (or renewing old ones) keeps you viable in the marketplace.
I've fallen in love with Kirsti's shop, and I know you will too. I can't wait to see her artwork!
These beaded and sequined earrings were part of an estate lot of jewelry that I purchased. Possibly 80's vintage...I'm not sure. But they are definitely handmade. They are earrings, but they'd also look great clipped onto a shoe, blouse, or even onto a Christmas gift.
This is how to enter: 1) Follow this blog and leave a comment 2) For an additional entry, visit my Etsy boutique and tell me what your favorite item is. Post the link in an additional comment.
Be sure to give me some way to contact you, either through your etsy shop, email, etc.
That's it! The winner will be chosen at random on Friday, August 14th.
I "met" this week's shop owner, Pam after winning her latest blog giveaway, a wonderful rose-colored vintage necklace. (I'm still dumbfounded - I never win anything!). Pam actually runs three shops on Etsy. There is WhimsicalVintage - a vintage jewelry and accessory shop, WhimsicalRetroStyle - a vintage clothing shop and WhimsicalPam, a handmade jewelry shop. She's enjoyed great success on Etsy, but not without a keen eye and a lot of hard work. She shares some wonderful advice below, read on to learn more!
How did the idea for your business come about? I've always loved antiques. Growing up in CT, little antique stores were everywhere. My mother had a passion for antiques as well and her good friend owned a shop in Greenwich Village. From the time I was a little kid, she would drag me down there (during the 60's and 70's). I just loved her friend David and remember thinking how "cool" everything was. After I started my jewelry business on Etsy, I saw vintage becoming popular and thought "What am I doing? I know this stuff, I love this stuff and I live in one of the greatest vintage hunting grounds in the country."...and so began whimsicalvintage.
What inspires you to keep at it here on Etsy? I've been with Etsy for almost 3 years now. I'm a creature of habit and loyal to the core. I loved the community sense that I got from Etsy and decided to roll with the inevitable growth changes. I'm happy with my shops...I've met wonderful people, some are my customers and others are Etsy sellers. We'll see what the future holds, I'm not opposed to change but I am cautious.
To what do you attribute your success? Customer service, first and foremost. I managed restaurants for most of my working life and have dealt with people on many different levels. The key is to make people feel comfortable. Let's face it, they're paying in advance to a person that they don't know and a product that they haven't tangibly seen. I think that deserves the best attention possible. I convo and email all of my customers, immediately after purchase with a thank you and a shipping date. I ask that they let me know when they receive their item, as I do offer a complete guarantee. If I have not heard from someone, I check in with them after a few weeks (or a little more for international orders).
I also try find items that are a little out of the ordinary and in excellent condition - I love each item that I sell...and am constantly tempted to keep most of them for myself. Thankfully, I don't have the room :)
I try to keep my prices reasonable and within the market price, so as not to undercut my fellow sellers...however, when I get a great deal...I usually try to pass it on. So to sum up...customer service, communication, quality, whimsy and pricing.
Best advice for fellow Etsians aspiring for success in our marketplace? Set up your profiles and policies, they are very important. Be specific on location. Not only does this help your sales with the shop local tool but it also makes you more professional. People in Australia do not know where "Home of the Giant Lumberjack" is...I don't know where the home of the Giant Lumberjack is! I made that up but you get the point:) Get to know your Internet marketing sources...I can't believe sometimes the amount that I've learned about this and as fast as you learn one thing, another crops up. Know what is good and what isn't...trying to follow all of them will drive you nuts:) Remember that there is a whole world outside of Etsy and market to them.
How do you go about marketing your business? A lot of my business now is referrals and returning customers but I do a lot of blog reading and commenting (off Etsy blogs). I try to keep my own blog relatively fresh with a variety of topics and I do a monthly giveaway. I submit my blog and my sites to all of the search engines monthly. http://submitexpress.com is great for your blog but you need to add their button, so it doesn't work for Etsy...which is why I submit individually. Keeping blog mini's up that really show off your shop and rotating them is very important. I belong to http://vintagevillage.ning.com and that has been a wonderful resource. Lora from http://ElsiesAttic.etsy.com and Jane from http://YesterdaysPleasures.etsy.com have done a tremendous job with that site.
Anything else you’d like to share? Any business takes time and dedication. Vintage selling can be very time consuming between the actual buying, photography, research...and more research. But I have given this my all...I have days that I put in 14 hours, the average day for me to spend on my shops is probably close to 10 hours. You really have to love what you do, take pride in it and plan on being in it for the long haul.
And love your customers, without them you have nothing. Know how to handle problems when they do arise...always keeping the customer happy. Sometimes the problem sale can turn into your best returning and referral business.
Thank you Heather for the wonderful questions and opportunity!