Monday, March 23, 2015

Captain's Log: Interview with Marlo Miyashiro, Leader of Seattle Handmade

Hello Team!
Here we are, officially Spring and wrapping up Q1 for 2015!

SFEtsy has been super busy this first quarter and one of the really fun things we did was to host a watch party at CreativeLive Studios here in San Francisco.



We gathered together to watch our friend from Seattle, Marlo Miyashiro as she taped two courses (Etsy 101 and Etsy SEO) in CreativeLive's Seattle studio.
If you missed this meet-up, no problem, you can purchase and watch either (or both) of these classes on CreativeLive's Craft Channel.
We will be doing another meet up in April at CreativeLive, so stay tuned for more information about that very soon!







Hi Marlo! Can you share a bit about yourself?
Hello! I'm Marlo Miyashiro :) I live and work in Seattle, WA creating hand-fabricated sterling silver jewelry for my imakecutestuff.etsy.com shop. I've been in the craft retail and wholesale business for a long time (20+ years) and these days I use all of that experience to help emerging artists start and improve their creative businesses with my work at CreativeArtsConsulting.com and smallobjectphotography.com. I'm also one of the organizers of Seattle Handmade (formerly etsyRAIN) - the Seattle area Etsy team (find more about our group at SeattleHandmade.com). 



How did you become part of the maker community?
When Etsy started their teams initiative (originally called "Etsy Street Teams") I noticed a new meetup group online founded by a local craft maker here in Seattle. She had originally intended the group to be an online-only group but with a bit of persistence, I convinced her let us have our first in-person meeting. After a few more insistent emails wanting more events and meetups, she kindly asked me if I wanted to take over the group - and I quickly accepted the offer! That was in 2007 and I've been team leader / captain / organizer - and now co-organizer ever since :)



What do you find most exciting about working with Makers, Entrepreneurs and Artisans?
My favorite part about working with artists and makers has always been that moment when eyes light up and smiles draw across faces making it clear that they truly understand that their dream of creating their own business can transition from idea to reality. It's immensely gratifying to know that the things I help them with can bring them a bit closer to having a business around doing the things that they love. 

What do you find most challenging about working with Makers, Entrepreneurs and Artisans?
I think it is in the nature of creative entrepreneurs to question everything - it's what gives us our ideas and makes us who we are. With that curiosity comes a certain level of hesitation that can sometimes hold us back from finding our way toward our goals. 
There is a fine line between procrastination and patience and an even finer line between researching and learning. There's a tendency to want to have all the "for sure" answers before moving forward, but with creative endeavors that is rarely the case. As a consultant and mentor, my goal is always of provide compassionate and supportive advice rooted in the reality that growth and change can be uncomfortable especially just before the goal is reached.
Tell me about a special maker/artisian you’ve met while working on your business
One maker I truly admire is my team co-organizer, Kayce of WorldofWhimm.etsy.com and NuetoMe.etsy.com - she makes amazing stuff for kids and I'm continually in awe of her creativity! That's the thing that makes creative entrepreneurs and craft artists truly special - their insatiable need to create. Even if they aren't making their actual product, they are busy working on their company brand, updating their websites, improving their online shops, designing new products, researching new trends, keeping up with others in their field - all with one eye toward the future. 
The amount of inspiration and drive it takes to pull together a creative business is incredible. The most successful artists I know are always thinking, planning, and moving forward. It's truly impressive. 

How did you learn about SFEtsy?
I first heard about SFEtsy when etsyRAIN (now Seattle Handmade) was just getting started. There were many regional teams starting all over the place and I kept a keen eye out for the teams on the West coast. I finally met one of your former leaders, Steph Cortes at the 2011 Conference for Creative Entrepreneurs. Ever since then, I've wanted to figure out some way to connect our two teams for some mutual West Coast support :)

What is one of your primary goals for your business in 2015 and for SeattleHandmade? 
For my own business, I have some fairly large projects in the works for 2015 that I have been trying really hard to get off the ground for the past year but unfortunately things are taking much longer than I had originally anticipated. I'm not at liberty to say much more about that at the moment, but if any of my "big secret projects" come through, you can be sure I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops! 
As for Seattle Handmade, we have a website revamp in the works that will give us an updated online forum board and betters ways to connect our members with each other. We are working on plans for some sort of Holiday Show as long as we can find a suitable venue for our show sometime soon. Needless to say, I am starting my year off with pretty much everything in the air so I'm just doing my best to keep my feet on the ground and pointed squarely at the future! 

What’s the one online tool you’ve discovered that can help makers propel their business?
The best online tool that I think all creative entrepreneurs should take advantage of is whatever social media community fits best with their business model. Whether that is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any number of others. Blogging fits in this category too, but only if the maker has the time and talent to create great content that fits their market. The more connections we can create for our businesses and the more diversified we can be in the way we present our work to the public, the better chance we have at weathering the storms of uncertainty that hit every small business at one point or another.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help makers in their businesses?

My best advice based on personal experience: It's fine to have big dreams and lofty goals, but nothing will ever get done without some sort of plan. Consider where you want to be in the next year, two years, five years, and maybe even all the way out to ten years. Use that creative imagination of yours to craft a plan that guides you in that direction. Revisit your plan regularly and make changes as your company grows. Get outside help and advice to make sure you are always ready for your next best thing. If making a plan feels like too much work, imagine trying to play catch-up when your business takes off because of some sort of fluke and you're not ready for it. Do yourself a huge favor right now and take some time to think about the future. It's totally worth the effort and will save you tons of stress in the future!
Thanks Marlo for sharing your knowledge and experience with our community!

Follow Marlo online:
Etsy
Instagram
Facebook



If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Creative People To Inspire Your Next Steps: Alana of Etta + Billie

If you had a chance to read over the newest Etsy article about Etta + Billie, you'll know that Alana started her company in 2009 and steadily grew her business until she was able to quit her day job about a year and a half ago. Her story is inspirational, motivating and just down right awesome-sauce. 

I've been watching her business grow for the last 6 years and she's always been such an inspiration for me - like, seriously - she's so ultra-cool. Her passion behind her business is clear, she's super nice, her brand aesthetic is stunning & you'll find that she's got a great business savvy about her. Also, she's a riot! Her warm personality fills a room & I just love her dry sense of humor.

Alana recently moved into her own larger studio space from her home garage - and about 3 weeks ago, we finally met up for some fun. She let me into her studio to make some soap with her and learn more about her technique. You can read about that on my own personal blog... 
Ylang-Ylang, Etta+Billie & other Curiosities

But, she also let me ask some questions just for SF Etsy & our community to help inspire you to follow your passions & expand your business towards the next step. Plus, I got curious and asked some questions about her products that I think are fun to know for future SF Etsy trivia nights. 


FAVORITE SCENTS, PRODUCT INFO & MORE, OH MY!:


Have your favorite scents shifted since you were a teen or do you find yourself still attracted to the same things?

My favorite scents have definitely shifted since I was a teen. I was very drawn to citrus or ginger scents (or a combination of both) when I was younger and now I love richer, earthier scents like patchouli, cedar and geranium.


What's your favorite product that you sell right now?

My current favorite product is my Bath + Body Oil. It's the perfect multi-purpose product. I use it instead of body lotion, I put a few drops in my hair as a leave in conditioner and use it at night on my face as a facial treatment. I ALWAYS travel with a mini bottle.

BERGAMOT GINGER SKIN BALM

I know my favorite product of yours rotates (because they are all awesome!). Right now I'm digging the Bergamot Ginger Lotion. What's the current customer favorite? 

Customers are LOVING the skin balms right now. Because it's cold and dry, our hands, cuticles, elbows etc are getting extra roughed up. The skin balm works wonders to soften and soothe dry skin.

How often do you test out new products? 

Not as often as I'd like!! About 3-5 times a year. I want that to become a monthly experience.

How do you keep yourself inspired to keep making and producing your product?

Recently, I've been working on collaborations with other makers to keep me inspired. I love learning more about others crafts and figuring out how to create something that captures the essence of another brand.

(you can check out a few of her 
collaborations with local companies on her website here: Ritual Coffee - Speakeasy Beer - T-We Tea) Also! Her Pumpkin Beer DRAFT Magazine last summer - how cool is that?!

RITUAL ROASTERS COFFEE SOAP


EXPANDING YOUR BUSINESS:

So many of the makers we know struggle to take that first step into wholesale & consignment opportunities. You're a true inspiration to those who are looking to expand their business into that direction... Knowing that you sell all over the US, can you tell us how you found most of these spaces?
That's correct, I do sell all over the US. A large percentage of stores have found me through craft shows such as Renegade. Others have seen my items on Instagram, SF Made and the San Francisco Green Business website. I've also participated in the SF Gift Show.


Display of Alana's products within Egg & Dart

For those looking to move into their own studio like you did to expand their business beyond their garage or home office - what is the most valuable lesson you learned that you wish you had known before you started the search for your current space?


The most valuable lesson I learned is that you have to be very proactive about finding space and have a clear list of must haves. It will make the process a bit smoother and make it a lot easier to say no to certain spaces. At a certain point in my search, I started to feel really desperate which caused me to consider spaces that truly weren't the right fit.

COMMUNITY & FAMILY:


Since the name of your business was named after your two grandmothers - how does your family play a part in your business today? 

My family is incredibly supportive of my business. Whenever they are in town, they are always happy to wrap product, help me make soap or do whatever is necessary around the studio. My dad also is my un-official Southern California coastal sales rep.


Do you have soap boxing parties during the high-volume seasons? 

Every holiday season for the past 3 years has had a weekly soap/product boxing party. It's a lot of fun. We wrap soap, eat a great meal and drink some wine. I'm always looking for people interested in wrapping a few 100 bars of soap in an evening. ;-) (hint hint)

Community is a huge part of the marker scene here in San Francisco - how do you participate? 


I love that my craft has created such an amazing opportunity to connect with other makers throughout the city. I keep connected to other makers through my membership in SF Etsy, participation in events and through a mastermind group of makers called the Creative Business League.



WHAT'S NEXT?!:

What shows are you going to be part of coming up so that the team can meet you in person?!?

I'll be a vendor at the first ever Summer West Coast Craft in June and hopefully get to vend again at Renegade's summer show in SF.

Are your teaching any classes soon so that people can learn some of your awesome tricks?

I have a natural cleaning products class at the
Handcrafted Studio School in early May and will likely teach a lip balm or bath product class at Workshop SF in the coming months. Check both sites for dates and details!


WHERE TO FIND ETTA + BILLIE

Her Official Website
Her Etsy Shop

Search for a Retailer Near You
Facebook!
Read about my fun day with Alana here

Her blog features interviews with shops her products are sold in plus totally yummy recipes!

Side note that I'm just SO grateful that our community here at SF Etsy has people like Alana to inspire us to keep going after our passions. Thank you to Alana for taking so much time with me over the last few weeks - I am forever grateful!

Alana in what I like to call her Mad Scientist Attire! 





If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Creative Places to Inspire Your Next Steps: Foggy Notion





Living in the Inner Richmond, I love being able to purchase gifts just steps away from my apartment. Alissa, a long time SFEtsy team member, has owned Foggy Notion since 2011 and is a supporter of anything hand-crafted. It's a great "off the beaten path" stop for any visitor of San Francisco. You're sure to find something unique and beautiful.

What I find inspiring about Alissa and her shop is the importance that she puts on getting involved with her local community. Alissa is extremely involved in her local merchant association & you can often find her walking Clement as she hops from one shop to another. Her dedication to the health of her neighborhood, combined with her love for local arts & her life as a maker creates a beautifully rich story with loads of great advice for anyone looking to inspire themselves in the next step of their business.




First, I just wanted to say that I completely adore your shop. You're amazing at keeping a clear brand aesthetic while showcasing several makers in your shop. When you are you looking for a new maker to add to your selection, what is your process?

At first I sold my own goods, friends' work (like Shelter bags), and a few small local companies like Juniper Ridge that I knew about and admired. Relationships with vendors are super important to me.  The shop is really small so I carefully curate it with I only things I truly love and want to look at every day made by people I enjoy corresponding with.



Products come to me in so many different ways! I get lots of email every day from makers that want to be in Foggy Notion. For apothecary companies I request samples and try out everything myself. I decide based on quality, aesthetic, scent, packaging, price, maker's location...it all has to be perfect for the shop! Social media can be helpful - I check out who's following Foggy Notion on Instagram and sometimes it's a maker that fits. I've discovered some makers (like Odsy Workshop) through local events like West Coast Craft, Renegade Craft Fair, and SFMade. I've also found a couple of vendors through Etsy Wholesale, including a greeting card line made in San Francisco. Sometimes I just meet people socially - I met ceramicist Caitlin Deane and raw chocolatier Wild Omen at a women's gathering we all attended. Sometimes I just search online for specific items I want to carry. And although I haven't had much luck at trade shows and gift fairs, I did find one of my favorite small apothecary companies that way (Molly Muriel).


-If a maker felt like they are a good fit for your shop, what process would they take to approach a shop like yours?

Emailing me directly with good product photos and a short bio works great, with links to website and social media. If you're interested in wholesaling send terms and prices. Make sure your product is retail-ready - cute hang tags and good packaging can make a big difference.

-You're very involved in your local neighborhood community. Tell me about about your current work with the Inner Richmond Business Association.
Although the Clement Street Merchants Association is actually the oldest merchants group in the city, when I opened Foggy Notion I had vaguely heard of it but no one reached out to me and there weren't really any pubic events happening. It clearly needed some new energy and fortunately it was welcome. Cynthia Huie of Seedstore and I decided to reinvigorate it, so we reached out to other businesses like Park Life and Green Apple and set up regular meetings to discuss bringing community-building projects to Clement Street. So far we've helped to create the parklet on 3rd & Clement, established the Farmers Market, and organized events like the Holiday Stroll and Sidewalk Sale.


Even though I've lived here since 2004, opening a business in the Inner Richmond has made me love it more than ever. I feel so much more connected to the community, the neighborhood, and the city. I love meeting neighbors that come into the shop and enjoy working with other business owners and our district supervisor's office to make our neighborhood an even better place to live. New projects on the agenda for 2015 are a mural and Inner Richmond Movie Nights.

a pic of Alissa with other Clement Merchants,
members of the Argonne Community Garden, and Supervisor Eric Mar 

-For local makers looking to open up their own shop/studio business...How did you find your current storefront? What attracted you to the Inner Richmond?

My house is directly across from Richmond Plaza, this weird mini-mall type building that sat mostly empty for years. I was staring at it out my window every day and thinking about how I wanted to move my sewing studio closer to my house (it was in the Outer Sunset) and finally I just thought, I should open a studio RIGHT THERE and have it be a retail shop, too. The space was so plain and institutional-looking but I thought it had great potential, so I got some help making it more cozy and inviting. A lot of times I wish it was a little bigger but I love the high ceilings and lots of windows. We get great natural light.

My advice to potential business owners would be to just look around on foot, be inquisitive about empty spaces, and be open to a weird or non-traditional but potentially awesome location. Walk around a neighborhood, take note of which storefronts are empty or closing, and try to get in touch with the owner or talk to nearby businesses. Don't be afraid of a space that's a little different - it's probably a lot more affordable than one that is more obvious! We're not right on Clement but we have great foot traffic. Now that we've been here a while we have lots of regulars and more people find out about us every day through word of mouth and travel guides like Lonely Planet.

Proximity to other successful businesses is huge for us. The Inner Richmond has no shortage of awesome shops, restaurants, and bars. I love being on the same corner as Green Apple, which is a legendary and amazing literary destination which attracts people from all over Northern California. If people don't know the Inner Richmond and ask where we're located, "the same corner as Green Apple" or "2 blocks from Burma Superstar" work pretty well! 

Foggy Notion is pretty unique to the neighborhood - when we opened, the Inner Richmond didn't have anywhere to buy the kind of products I was interested in carrying: organic skin care, high quality bath & body items, soy candles, wildcrafted teas & chocolates, home wares and accessories, and local honey.  Our customers really appreciate that they don't have to leave the neighborhood to get these kind of things. Our location also allows us to carry specific brands we might not be able to in a different neighborhood. Honestly our location is perfect in so many ways it's hard to imagine Foggy Notion being anywhere else! I feel really grateful to be part of such an awesome neighborhood.
If a shop or maker would like to get involved in their own local community, are there resources that you would recommend?

If you have a shop, definitely reach out to the local merchants association and see if it's something you might be interested in being a part of. It's much easier to make things happen with the help of other businesses and the support of the city. Even if you don't have a brick-and-mortar shop some of them welcome small business owners. Groups like SFEtsy or SFMade are also helpful for meeting other makers.


I love that part of your shop is dedicated to your own sewing studio. Can you tell the readers a little bit about what you make? 

At first my studio was inside Foggy Notion but I moved everything down the hallway to a separate space we share with Save My Seat upholstery. My personal output has never strayed from recycled materials but I'm reaching out to other options. In the past I've made recycled t-shirts and vinyl wallets, but since I opened Foggy Notion I've been primarily making tote bags from my collection of antique Army duffel bags. I love how durable the material is and how much history and character has. 

How do you balance both time for making & running a business? What advice would you give someone who feels like they don't have the time to do both?

Honestly time management is challenging for me and something I'm constantly working on. Nothing gets done unless I do it myself. Having a background in DIY and punk rock has been very valuable! Accepting that not everything will get done and not being too hard on myself about it is really important to my state of mind.  Also I go through phases with creative involvement that usually coincide with my focus on other things. Taking time off from making to focus on running the business side of things (especially during busier times like the holiday season) has allowed me space to think about design, materials, and efficiency for when I dive back into making.

How did you find SFEtsy? What part of SFEtsy has helped you within your own business?

I found SFEtsy through Etsy's website many years ago. Although I don't always post to the email group I read all the member's posts and frequently learn about events I'm interested in or supplies people are selling. It's comforting to know that in a big city like San Francisco there's a community of creative folks who want to help each other out.


Foggy Notion isn't too hard to find if you're looking for her amazing collection of items. You can find them on Facebook, Her website & at 275 6th Ave.



If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Feature ~ Brown Fox Calligraphy

Its Friday Feature time again and this week we are featuring Brown Fox Calligraphy. Owner Brianne Connolly is a civil engineer with a love for writing and typography.


1. What is your shop name and URL?
Brown Fox Calligraphy
https://www.etsy.com/shop/brownfoxcalligraphy

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?
SFEtsy
Etsians of Facebook



3. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?
My shop contains calligraphy items that are ready to be customized! I include stamps, prints, calendars, and pre-designed wedding invitation suites in my Etsy shop. I picked up calligraphy 3 years ago after being asked to do the paper products for my good friend's wedding. I have been learning ever since! My creative process involves getting to know my client and what their vision is, and providing unlimited proofs to ensure that we come to a place where are both excited with the end product.



4. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.
My full time job is as a civil engineer. I design roads and highways in Northern California. The name of my calligraphy business is based on my initials (BFC) and the phrase that contains all the letters of the alphabet, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."



5. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
My official website: http://www.brownfoxcalligraphy.com

6. What does buying and selling local handmade mean to you, and how has it affected your life?
Buying local handmade means a great deal to me because I eventually want to pursue my calligraphy full time, and I know that means I will need the support of people who buy local handmade! The first place I always go when buying gifts is Etsy because I find such amazingly unique products that you know someone has put their heart into. Selling my small business work has been a significant influence on my life, especially for the past year. I have invested more time in order to work towards being able to work on this all day every day, and Etsy helps me one sale at a time!



7. What is your favorite item in your shop (currently for sale or previously sold)? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite item in my shop currently are my 2015 calligraphy calendars. I have never done a calendar before and I had such a blast figuring out what the design was going to look like. I got to use my adorable nieces and some great friends as samples, and I just think it's such a beautiful and functional piece to display in your home.




If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Creative Places to Inspire Your Next Steps: Local Take



Over the next few months we will be highlighting creative places, spaces and people in an effort to take your business to the next level. I'm so honored to have been able to interview our very own Jenn of Local Take about her adorable shop in The Castro. Local Take has been a huge HUGE advocate for everything SFEtsy and it seemed fitting to make this shop our first stop in this series: Creative Places to Inspire Your Next Steps.

Have you been thinking of doing consignment of your items in a local shop? The focus of this interview was about how Jenn and her business partner, Kyra, find local items for their shop & how one might submit their work for consideration. 


I LOVE LOVE LOVE your love for San Francisco inspired pieces. What are three of your favorite pieces that you sell in your store right now?
-Water/ jet cut aluminum Sutro Tower from Studio For Metropolitan Craft
-Deconstructed jackets by Ghetto Goldilocks
-Seatbelt wallets by .retool.



I love that you support so many small companies like Todos Organics of Berkley. Tell me how you discover these small companies!
However and where ever we can!  Originally, Etsy, Open Studios and street fairs were our most successful ways to find new local designers.  These days we keep quite busy with designers finding us and reaching out. We still try to go to all the  street fairs and Open Studios to support our current designers!

If a small business wanted to be considered to sell in your shop, what's the process and what steps would they take?

We take all product submissions via email.  Send us an email, introduce yourself, explain what you do, include retail price points and pictures.  If we think its a good fit, we'll invite you in to meet us and take a look at your product. Please, please, please do not bring unsolicited product into the store for us to look at or try to show us pictures on your phone. We want to set aside time specifically for you so we can focus on what you do.  We always recommend that designers stop by the store to make sure its a good fit for them before submitting work. And when you do, by all means say hello!



You have a keen eye for great finds, but you also have a great business mind. If you could give a small business some sound advice, what is the most important lesson you learned when you shifted from a maker to a shop owner?
Nothing will ever be 'perfect'.  You just gotta go for it!  The best way to learn is from your mistakes. Things change, and so does your perspective.  You can only get to the final draft after you've completed the first draft.

When doing research on a small company for your space, how important is an online presence to you? How important is an Etsy shop, Facebook or website?

It's important for us to see examples of the product before we invite a designer for a face to face.  There are lots of products that aren't quite right for our space in our neighborhood, so we don't want to waste anyone's time.  However, having an online presence isn't as important as being able to show us pictures via email.



You are also a maker - how do you best balance your creative soul with your business?
Balance? Ha! Seriously though, every day we have to make the decision to feed our creative souls or crunch numbers.  Luckily for us, we try to bring creativity into every part of our business so everyday is a good balance of both.

SFEtsy, as you know, is centered around the importance of community. How do you participate in your local community & how has that positively influenced your own small business and/or your work as a maker?
In addition to running a business in the Castro, we also try to keep our personal lives as much in the 'hood as possible. We regularly visit other stores just to say hi, we introduce ourselves to new businesses, we get lunch almost every day, we meet friends for dinner/drinks after hours, etc.  We also participate in the many different Castro events and fundraisers, and are members of the local merchant's group.  Meeting new people in the neighborhood and reaching out to other businesses reminds them that we exist in the neighborhood. Then they come shop with us and recommend us to their other customers.



 
Thanks again to Jenn and Kyra for hanging out with me for an afternoon 
and answering so many questions! 

Local Take is located in The Castro at 3979B 17th st, SF 94114
for up to date events and hours, visit their Facebook Page





If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Captain's Log: Interview with Christina Loff from CreativeLive

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

We are continuing our interview series about local people and companies that are helping the maker and handmade communities. This week I had the honor and pleasure of meeting up with former Jersey Girl, Christina Loff - marketing guru and current awesome employee of SF Based CreativeLive (We met on this rooftop!) Christina and SFEtsy have an exciting meet-up planned for next week (read about that at the end of the interview). 

We are so very lucky to have several local amazing and supportive small businesses here in the Bay Area and I continue to be impressed with how open and welcoming these companies are to our team.

Enjoy this interview and if you want to come to CreativeLive on Thursday - sign up here!

Photo credit: DearHandmadeLife 

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Christina Loff. I have an Etsy shop called Tweet Sweet that I opened in 2007 but I haven't sold on Etsy for at least 5 years. I'm more of an Etsy shopper than seller these days!

I've been doing marketing for creative companies since 2005 and quickly realized that I liked marketing makers and creative companies more than I liked having my own craft business. I currently work in the marketing department at CreativeLive which means I get to do fun things like invite SFEtsy to come hang out with us and watch our craft classes.

I have lived in SF for 17 years but grew up in Jersey. You can find me everywhere as @tweetsweet (instagramPinterestTwitter).

2. How did you first get involved with makers and the handmade community?

I first got involved in this awesome community by making and selling jewelry and anything you could imagine made out of duct tape. There was no shortage of craft fairs and stores to sell handmade goods to when I started my business in SF in 2003. And I was lucky enough to have a lot of friends who showed me the ropes and introduced me to store owners.  




3. What do you find most exciting about working with makers, entrepreneurs, and artisans?

I'm endlessly inspired by the makers I get to meet. One of my favorite jobs was working on craft books when I was at Chronicle Books. I was so lucky to meet so many amazing and talented artists who I still call friends today. And it was so much fun to help get there work out into the world. 



4. What do you find most challenging about working with makers, entrepreneurs, and artisans?

The thing that has always surprised me about working with creative people is how hard it is for them to promote themselves. I also do freelance pr for makers and artists and even the most talented people I work with don't always feel confident talking about their work. The best advice I can give is to always be putting your work and yourself out there, you never know who you might meet when you're talking about what you do.

5. Tell me about a special maker/artisian you’ve met in your travels?

There are too many to pick just one! I made a lot of great friends selling at craft fairs but I was also lucky enough to work with some amazing makers while I was at Chronicle. One of my all time favorite people from that time was Julie Jackson of Subversive Cross Stitch, she had some wacky and wonderful ideas and it was great fun working with her to promote her books. Working with Lotta Jansdotter was also pretty special and getting to throw events with her in her beautiful space in Brooklyn was really fun. 



6.  How did you learn about SFEtsy?

Pretty sure the first time I found out about SFEtsy was at a craft fair where you were all selling together! 


7. What is one of your primary goals for 2015?

I do some work with SF Bazaar and we've got some fun things brewing for 2015.  



8. What’s the one online tool you’ve discovered that can help makers propel their business?

I'm still in awe at the power of Pinterest for sellers. When I worked at Hello!Lucky Pinterest was one of our biggest traffic drivers. It's all about having a pinnable site and taking beautiful photos of your products that people will want to pin. But make sure to title your photos so when they're pinned your name shows up! 



9. Do you have any words of wisdom to help makers in their businesses?

Talk about your work! Carry cards, and always have samples or photos of your work on you. Do not be afraid to tell the world what you do, even if it feels boastful. You will always be your own best publicist so be proud of what you create and don't be shy!

Photo credit: DearHandmadeLife 


Thanks again Christina for your time and showing off CreativeLive's amazing space! As promised, we are excited to announce that CreativeLive has invited SFEtsy members, friends and family to come out and enjoy a very special meet-up.  Next Thursday, March 5th, CreativeLive will be taping two Etsy classes and YOU are invited to attend either or BOTH!


Longtime Etsy team captain and organizer of Seattle Handmade, Marlo Miyashiro will be teaching from the CreativeLive Seattle studios and they will do a special live broadcast just for us! 

The first class of the day will be Marlo's Etsy 101 class that will be from 9am - 12pm. Breakfast will be served starting at 8am. We will be mingling and socializing before the class begins. Maybe you feel you are past Etsy 101, but Marlo is super smart and is a wealth of knowledge and it will be fun :) Sign up here.

The second class will begin at 12:45 - 4pm with breaks and Marlo will be teaching SEO for Etsy. You can arrive for this class at 12pm and we will have lunch and snacks (and socializing of course!). 

BONUS: If you come and attend the meet-up (either class or both) you will receive both of these classes (and all the materials) for free ($58 value) 

We have room for up to 50 people at this meet-up so I hope to see you there! RSVP here

If you made it to the end of this post, you are now rewarded with a cute kitten photo:



If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Feature ~ Salamander Feltworks

This week we are featuring the store Salamander Feltworks. Owner Hilary Powers creates some amazing creatures out of felt with wool and steel. Join us to learn more about her and her work.



1. What is your shop name and URL? 
Salamander Feltworks - SalamanderFeltworks.etsy.com

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?
Etsy Success
SFEtsy
East Bay Arts Collective





3. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?
I make needle-felted creatures  - animals, birds, and fantasy beings - as true to life as possible for me, and mostly wearable as brooches or necklaces. When I walk into a restaurant wearing someone and the maitre’d starts to throw me out, I know I’ve got it right! The realism depends on a strong sense of comparative anatomy backed up by a whole lot of Internet clip art, plus individual photos for portrait pieces.

Although needle felting is a relatively new technique for me (I first heard of it on Thanksgiving Day, 2009), I’ve been a sculptor all my life, working in wire, wax, terra cotta, tinfoil, candy wrappers... anything that would stay put when molded. Felted wool is the best medium yet; it holds its shape while you’re working, you can tell what color it is without firing it, and it doesn’t break or ruin anything else in the process. And skills in other media still apply, as there’s a wire sculpture inside almost every figure, and most of them involve some wax work and finger modeling as well.

When I was first starting out in felting, I’d alternate playing with the wool (trying to figure it out from first principles) and looking at online videos. I also subscribed to some e-mail lists where people share tips on the medium. Much of what I do now I invented for myself, or modified heavily from the original ideas.



4. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you. 
In the thirty years between abandoning my ceramic kiln and discovering needle felting, I spent most of my crafting time in the Society for Creative Anachronism, doing sewing, embroidery, a little calligraphy and cookery, and a whole lot of armoring. (My member page at the Bay Area Editors’ Forum, <www.editorsforum.org/display_info.php?mid=104>, features me in body armor that I made - and a helmet I purchased, not wanting to trust my skull to my own metal work.)

I haven’t had a day job since 1984, and currently work as a freelance copyeditor and developmental editor. I also help run a series of formal dances and an annual role-playing and board gaming convention, and lead a monthly bird walk at Lake Merritt in Oakland.




5. What is your favorite item in your shop? Why is it your favorite?
The tiger dragon is my current favorite - one reason the price is so high; I’d be just as happy not to part with him as he’s just plain fun to wear. I love his personality, and I’m not alone - people want to pet him on the street!

6. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?
Feathers! I’ve tried a whole bunch of ways of felting wool so it looks like feathers, especially the big wing and tail feathers, and none of them are really satisfactory. Real feathers are so thin they’re like magic, and I still haven’t figured out how to make wool do that.



7. If you had to be an animal for one week, which animal would you choose to be? And what would you do?
Oh, a crow - or maybe a raven. Corvids have more fun than anybody. I’d fly and fly and eat whatever I pleased and generally get into mischief....

8. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
The best place to see what I do - including some photo essays of work in progress - is the Salamander Feltworks website, www.salamanderfeltworks.com. However, after signing up for the Indie Holiday Emporium, I woke up my Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/SalFelt - untouched since 2012 - and turned it into something worth looking at, with an album for each year's work.

9. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your shop or your work?
The creatures go everywhere with me - I never leave the house without at least one (and more likely two or three) of them perching on my hat and my shoulders. It's almost as good as walking a dog for starting conversations with strangers, and some of them find homes that way. One mouse left my hat and went home with a new person at the Berkeley Bowl fish counter!


If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuestorial: Fake Diamond Ring

Love is in the air…engagements are being made...weddings are being planned. If you feel left out on the bling, now you can make your own! 

I made these fun "diamond" rings as a party favor for a friend's bachelorette party. They were a hit!

I have lots of sparkle vinyl laying around, but you can use what you have. A great resource for sparkle vinyl is Mendels, Fabric Outlet, and Amazon. 


Materials Needed:


  • Sparkle vinyl or felt
  • Scissors
  • Vinyl glue 
  • Adjustable ring 
  • Ruler 


Step 1:

On the back of your material, use the ruler to create your diamond shape. Make it any size you want! Bigger is better.



Step 2:

Cut the diamond shape and place it face up. For the facet details, I used the corners of the material I cut. 


Step 3:

Glue the details on the diamond. Place a book or something heavy on top while it dries.


Step 4:

Once it is dry, glue the ring on the bottom. Place on your finger before glueing so you get the right placement. Then you are ready to wear it and rock it!




If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!
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