What's the name of your business/shop?
I sell fiber arts-produced goods in JN Originals ,
and paper arts-produced items in Mister PenQuin , although there is sometimes some crossover.
I also have a destash shop called 2nd Chance Treasures .
Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
Although I don’t have a registered domain, I do have a couple of blogs. Word Walks, my personal writing space (http://wordwalks.blogspot.com), is where I reflect, dream and talk about inspiration. Word Walks meanders in much the same way that a “walkabout” in Australia does, except that the journey takes place in words, not on foot. Spark Lines (http://sparklines.blogspot.com) features Etsy artists whose work I admire, as well as discussions related to creative expression.
What type of handmade products do you sell?
When I first opened my first shop, JN Originals, I wasn’t sure what it would grow up to be. I only knew that I like to play with color, texture and pattern, and that this was likely to be reflected in the shop. Over time, I learned that I also like to produce items that are functional. One day I looked at JN Originals and realized that nearly everything in the shop consisted of crocheted or felted wool items: Java Jackets (coffee cup sleeves), needle books, Treasure Books (felted wool multi-purpose books with pages for photos or ACEOs, business, Moo or credit cards, and a pocket page for a special treasure), spa cloths, flower brooches, scarves and scarflettes, and felted wool bags and pouches.
But I am also passionate about working with paper (and fabric), so I needed a home for those items; that’s how Mister PenQuin was born. If you visit the shop, you’ll see that the items there connect words, images and self-expression: bookmarks, sewing notebooks, note card sets, brag books, and altered clipboards. Eventually the shop will also include journals and padfolios. Mister PenQuin is still a work-in-progress, as it was just opened this past September. My husband’s doodling was the inspiration for the shop name. When we were first married, he was stationed on the West coast as a Naval Weapons Officer, and was often away in the Pacific while I stayed home. His letters to me were always signed with a penguin wearing a top hat whom he called “Mister PenQuin.” Just as the shop has a connection between words and images, so does this character.
Show us a piece you recently finished.
What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
I’m not one of those people who works on one project at a time. If you visit my sewing room or paper studio, and look about, you’ll see all kinds of UFOs (UnFinished Objects). Dolly, my dress form, is wearing a half-finished apron. On top of the sewing machine cabinet is a journal cover, waiting to be satin-stitched. The drawer in the paper studio contains date books waiting to be assembled with my Bind-It-All. I never run out of ideas, just time, so I keep a notebook where I jot these down. That notebook contains ideas for a fourth shop, likely for fabric products.
If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
Marketing is always a challenge, mainly because of the time it takes. But without it, there’s not much point in selling. I use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to announce new items, as well as Stylehive and Kaboodle. Because you can feed photos from Flickr into your Facebook account, that provides a way for potential buyers to see what will appear in your shop soon. Blogging, of course, is a way for your readers to get to know you and trust you, and may lead (indirectly) to sales, so I keep two personal blogs, and write for the BBEST (Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team) team blog as well. High-quality photos are critical in all of these areas, so I am always happy to learn about a better way to take good ones. The avatars in my shops are related to the shop banners. JN Originals products nearly always include a flower somewhere, so the avatar is a flower. And the avatar for Mister PenQuin is predictable: a penguin wearing a top hat! When you purchase an item from me, I include a couple of handmade magnets with these avatars.
If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
Since I love to surf the Web, the widget I enjoy the most is LinkWithin , which lists three clickable blog links (with photos) beneath each post in a particular blog. This is a wonderful way to explore related content.
Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
I only sell handmade goods on Etsy, since it is gaining visibility as one of the biggest (if not the biggest) handmade goods marketplaces. I appreciate the street team support that has helped me get my feet off the ground. In addition, when you have three shops and are thinking about a fourth, it makes it easier to manage them when they are consolidated in one online location. When I buy my packaging supplies, I keep all three shops in mind and purchase what I can online; this saves costs because you can buy in bulk. I purchase bubble mailers from PaperMart.com, and resealable cellophane bags from CreativeGiftPackaging.com. Both offer reasonable prices and quantities, and ship quickly.
Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
While my time to chat is limited, I do visit with others in Etsy’s forums, particularly with team members. And I enjoy doing the same on Facebook and Twitter. It is always a challenge, however, to balance social networking with marketing and creative time.
All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Don’t let your love of the creative process overrun your pocket book. Shop creatively for quality materials at a reasonable price, and then price your items in relationship to that very real cost. At the same time, don’t be afraid to charge for quality craftsmanship. Do what you do best, and do it well, then charge for it. Don’t compare your work to others’ work.
Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
I compute the actual cost of products, packaging and fees, and double that for my price.
We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
I use my son’s bedroom as my paper studio, since he vacated it after graduating from college this past June, and relocating to Chicago. His desk is my paper crafting space, and his bookcase and dresser holds my supplies and tools. See this blog for photos of my paper studio:
My sewing room, which is the size of a child’s small nursery, is where I do machine and hand sewing, as well as most of my writing. I have a wonderful old Parsons cabinet for my sewing machine, and my computer lives on top of a Mission-style writing desk. See this blog post for photos of my sewing room:
Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
I’m satisfied with the sections I have developed in JN Originals, but would like to expand my felted bag line. Currently I am adding detachable handles to my Rebecca Bags to satisfy users who want handles, and users who want clutches. This way they can have both! I would also like to add Margarete Bags to the shop, which essentially are felted wool bags with handles that are big enough to carry a magazine. At this time next year, I hope that Mister PenQuin will be filled with brag books, notebooks, journals, padfolios, and box books or albums. The ideas just keep coming.
OK, the storybeader's turn. My favorite?
I just love Judy's sewing books. Yes, you all know I love anything "book" but these are great for the seamstress, who are involved in multiple projects. The perfect gift - I wish I saw these before December. This is my favorite one:
Posted for the EtsyBloggers team by: storybeader
See EtsyBloggers team membership requirements here: etsybloggers.com
Got a blog? Love Etsy? Check us out!