Archive for October, 2008

I’m Back!

Wow! It feels like it’s been A LONG time.
My mom was in town for almost 3 weeks so I have been taking a break.
But I’m back and I will begin updating the blog again as soon as possible.
In the meantime here are a few fun things to check out:

From Japan With Love:

Oh Mandie:

Fidoodle:

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Meet Eloise & Avery

The newest additions to the owls looking for homes on my Etsy Shop.

My mom and gramma are coming into town tonight to visit for three weeks! I am so excited. They haven’t seen Emmett since he was just four months old. What a difference since then! I’m really looking forward to some down time to relax, cook good food together, visit with my sister and my nephews, visit wine country and most of all to just sit and watch Emmett with my mom and gramma.

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Legion Creative

I came across these pretty, shiny, things today while surfing the forums.…I love them!


Legion Creative

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Baby Friendly Beads ~ Etsy Bloggers

In our household breast feeding has often been referred to as an “Extreme Sport”! My strong, healthy one year old boy doesn’t exactly like to sit still while he’s eating and I have the scratches and scars to prove it!
So when I heard about this month’s Featured Blogger for the Etsy Blogger’s Street Team I was curious. Baby Friendly Beads – beautiful, baby friendly necklaces and bracelets designed to keep your little (or not so little) ones occupied while eating. What a great idea!

Baby Friendly Beads

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Five Favorites for Five Bucks

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you feel so good!
Here are five of my favorite things on Etsy for $5 or less.

Shop Red Leaf


Moment in the Sun


Just 2 Say Hi


Kutz

Polka Dot Skies

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Paloma’s Nest

I came across “Paloma’s Nest” doing a pounce of “JUST SOLD” items on Etsy. A quick peek into this shop is all you need to see why! If you’re anything like me you’ll want one of everything! From the hand-stamped, ceramic bowls to the delicate, white ornaments and innovative, simple wood stationary the whole shop is beautifully put together and the photography is equally as pleasing. Go ahead take a look!

What’s your name?
Caroline, or, “Mami” to some. Contrary to popular belief, I am not Paloma.

Where do you call home?
Austin Texas. It is quite lovely here. I migrated here from Mystic Connecticut and earned my degree in Art and Design at the University of Texas. I have been here ever since!

Is Paloma’s Nest a one woman show?
Me, myself, and I!

Do you have a studio or do you work from your home?
My studio is part of my home; a separate building in my back yard, the “shipping” department” in what used to be a spare bedroom, and a lot of overflow on the kitchen table!
I love being close to my family while I work, but on the flip-side, it is difficult to STOP working and take some time off. I struggle to find a balance between work and home life; being self employed often means working twice as much and twice as hard- but it is worth every moment!
{*Excerpt from an email between Caroline & I* she says, “We are lucky enough here in Austin to have the country’s largest Green Energy program- our entire home and studio is wind powered- even the kiln- from turbines located throughout west Texas!” *Pretty cool huh?*}

Can you tell us a bit about your process and your workspace?
My schedule and my process is a bit cyclical- making custom pieces to fill orders, packing them up when they are ready, carrying the bundles (lots of bundles) to the post office and shipping them out, and starting all over again a few days later…pause, and repeat.
In between, I am constantly packing and shipping ready-made orders, and answering customer service inquiries. I believe that is the single most important thing I do for my business- emailing promptly when a customer asks a question. Especially in the world of online retail, customer service must be a priority- connecting with your buyers in a personal way so that they know they are purchasing from a real -life, trustworthy human being on the other end. I have created and kept so many important business contacts just by being open to good communication.

How did you get started?
I always planned on making a living from my art -“where,” “when,” and “what” were the questions…I began by selling my work wholesale to small boutiques and did so for several years. At one point I had a sales rep who displayed my work in a showroom. I had some wonderful accounts through out the country, but it was still never enough to make ends meet. I always had to work a “day job” and do my business on the side. Wholesale is so difficult, because you are making such large quantities of work, but are expected to sell them to a shop for usually half of your asking price. I became so frustrated with that and it began chipping away at the happiness in doing what I loved- my art.
So, when my daughter was born, I gave it all up completely- the work and energy just wasn’t worth it.
Then I found Etsy one day, while shopping online for baby clothes.
I was so smitten with the founders’ idea of creating a marketplace where the independent artist could make a living, and the belief that together we could all create a micro-economy based solely on handmade goods. I was hooked, and knew this was the place for me.
I put a few pieces I had in the studio up for sale, and they were gone in the first two days. It was Thanksgiving time, and the shopping season was ripe and ready for the taking! I figured I had better get back into the studio and make some more if I wanted to make this happen; in the meantime, photos of my work started flying through all of the blogs- back then I didn’t even know what a blog was!- and thanks to some fantastic media attention early on, my Etsy shop took off like wildfire. And now here I am not even a full year later, selling on Etsy full time without a free moment to spare!

What inspires you?
Knowing that the work I create will become a cherished heirloom for someone, that I am creating a piece of history with my own two hands.

Do you sell mainly from Etsy or do you also sell from B&M shops?
Etsy is my pride and joy. I am currently so busy with my own retail orders that I have to turn down many requests for wholesale orders- simply because I do not have the production capabilities to fill them at this time.
I do sell to select retailers- I am so lucky to get to “handpick ” those who I feel are the best match for my product line- and I especially love international brick and mortars, as often they are helping me to reach an audience that may not yet be familiar with Etsy.

You have well over 2300 sales! What’s your secret/advice for those Etsy sellers trying to sell and promote their work?
Create a brand for yourself , not just a product. Show a full line of items in your shop that are cohesive, that have a common thread running through them, so that buyers can begin to recognize your work and distinct style. Be sure your photos are top-notch and don’t even put them in your shop if they are not the best you can do. Complete the product with packaging and logos to give your work a professional edge. Be sure your company name is somewhere on every single item that leaves your studio so that people can find you again easily-and even better if they can do a simple Internet search to find you and your shop.
All of these things, combined with EXCELLENT customer service, is what creates word-of-mouth advertising and repeat customers.

How do you handle so many sales? Do you have a process you can share with us?
My husband calls me a “machine”…I love what I do, so that keeps me going. You have to be creating a product that you love and love to make, otherwise you will burn out very quickly.
Organization is key- utilize all of the tools Etsy provides for keeping track of your orders, especially the “check box” for shipped items/ payment received. My basic system is this:
I print out every order and put it in a binder- the printed copy moves through sections of the binder as it moves through the process of making the piece, packing the piece, and shipping (Paypal Multi-order shipping is a MUST for easy labels and tracking info on every single shipment). Once shipped, the printed orders are filed away and new ones fill their place in the binder.
I stock all of my shipping and packaging supplies in bulk; I recommend having on hand at least enough to pack everything you have currently for sale in your shop, so that if needed, you would be able to ship everything at a moments notice- you never know! I also have arranged my supplies in an order that makes sense for how and what I wrap- so that I can reach what I need easily and quickly and move onto the next one.
With the holiday rush coming up, I am busy pre-packing/gift wrapping all of my ready made pieces so that they are ready to ship ASAP. This way (I hope) I can focus most of my energy on custom pieces when things get really hectic around here.

What do you consider your “biggest break” so far?
That is a difficult question- I owe so much gratitude to the little guys- individual bloggers who have shared my work with the world from day one… I would never want to overlook their importance in the growth of my business. Each time someone writes about my work is an honor and a gift.
One major “break” for me came when Brides magazine asked to feature my “To Have & To Hold” ring bowl in their fall/ winter issue this year…that propelled my design into the limelight and I have been able to create a brand new tradition in the world of weddings with this one piece. I love thinking of how many children and grandchildren will someday use their parent’s ring bowl in their own wedding ceremonies many years from now. It gives me goose bumps!

Where do you see Paloma’s Nest in 1 year?
In one year, I will probably be doing much of the same, but in even larger quantities! We are expanding the studio space further to accommodate larger equipment so that there is nothing to slow me or my production down.
In a few more years, I hope to expand the Paloma’s Nest product line to include more home goods; my husband and I share a passion for wood and furniture design, and I have a special love of textiles…Who knows?

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