Classy sustainability begins with Kris' story. Her shop, eitherorfinds.etsy.com is fantastic and includes items like this stunning black faux fur beret. (listing link is just below the photo and Kris' interview follows.)
Q: What prompted you to become an Etsy seller?
A: My husband and I were antique collectors for a long time, filling our house with the items we found and bought until now there's no more room for anything else! We also inherited a lot of antique and vintage items from our parents, so finally, in an effort to downsize and have an additional source of income as well, I decided to try and sell some of our "stuff" on Ebay. But my grandson, who'd been selling on Ebay for several years, told me I should sell on Etsy instead. I'd never heard of Etsy, but I trusted his judgment and joined in December 2010 just to see what it was all about.
Q: You've been on Etsy for just over 3 years. How would you describe your success so far?
A: I actually started selling in March of 2011, as it took me months to figure out how to do everything--how to take pictures of my items, how to list them, how to promote, etc. And once I jumped in, it took me a long time to make my first sale. But gradually, with the help of Etsy tutorials and joining teams that could give me good information, I started getting the hang of it. Basically success on Etsy means
- having items people want to buy
- taking the best pictures you can,
- continuing to learn new things, like Search Engine Optimization, and grow as a seller
- exercising patience to see you through slow selling periods where you try not to worry about it (other than reviewing your prices and pictures and tags, etc. to make sure they're as good as they can be)
- keep listing new items on a daily basis.
As of today, Feb 19, eitherorfinds.etsy.com has racked up 512 sales, has over 1500 shop admirers and 225 great reviews. This lap blanket is among over 100 items for sale in the shop. A link to the listing is just below the photo and Kris' interview continues just afterwards
Q: How do you connect selling vintage with sustainability or going green?
A: Antique and vintage items are the original green items and have been long before the term "green" was coined. When you buy something that was made a long time ago, you not only purchase something that was probably better made than similar items today, but at a better price. And you're continuing to use something that someone else used. It's not part of the "throw away" culture so prevalent today, but part of admiring the craftsmanship and ingenuity of the past and bringing it into the present.
Q: You have a great eclectic mix of vintage items in your shop. How do you decide what to sell?
A: When I was just a buyer of antique and vintage items, I simply bought what I liked--mostly an eclectic mix of things that looked good in our house, although I'd gone through an early "purist" phase where everything had to be early nineteenth century. Now, as a seller, I keep my eyes open for buying trends and what seems to sell. I look every day at what other vintage sellers are selling and how they price and photograph their items. It's a never-ending educational activity. The fact that I was an antiques writer once upon a time has certainly been a help for me as well--I spent years studying antiques and writing about them. However, today many of the items I was most familiar with are too expensive to sell on Etsy or else no longer in demand. So I've had to re-educate myself on "mid-century" items, for example, and the whole "industrial decor" phenomenon that's so popular today.
Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to start an Etsy shop?
A: Be prepared for hard work and educating yourself in what it takes to open and sustain a shop. Many people open Etsy shops, but aren't willing to do the necessary research and work to make the sales. It's also crucial to join teams for learning and promotion, and to be active on a team you particularly like. Having the support of a community of other sellers will help sustain your shop and help you grow. I'm a leader on the Etsy Pickers and Sellers Team (known affectionately as "Epsteam"), which of course I think is the best vintage team on Etsy--nearly 3900 members right now and growing. It's a super friendly, supportive team and I can't imagine how I'd sustain my shop without the help and encouragement of the wonderful teammates I've met there.
Kris, thanks for your time and sharing your story and offering advice. Your shop eitherorfinds.etsy.com is something for other sellers to aspire to.