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. 


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.


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?!



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.


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 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!


Her Official Website
Her Etsy Shop

Search for a Retailer Near You
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! 

UPDATE: April 30,2015 
SFetsy is Proud to Announce that Alana Rivera from Etta + Billie is our 1st endorsement as Kiva Zip Trustees. Share or Contribute to her Campaign Here

For More Information about SF Etsy and Kiva's partnership:

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


ettaandbillie said...

Thanks for including me Katy!! I am so grateful for my supportive SF Etsy community.

Katy said...

Alana - you rule all things awesome. Thanks for being an endless supply of inspiration!

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