Etsy Insider: A Seller’s perspective — Tepper Wear
For today’s Etsy featurette we caught up with Eileen Tepper – An Etsy seller who contacted Bizelo after noticing our forum post calling out for beta-testers willing to give feedback on our Inventory management system. (We’re in the process of improving and making our app more Etsy-friendly… yes, we’re still looking for testers! We’ll give you 3 months free for all your help and feedback.)
Eileen hand knits all kinds of wearable goodies, and has been selling her items through Etsy for over 5 years. Visit her Etsy shop at TepperWear, follow her on Twitter, or Facebook!
A: What is the inspiration behind your products, and what motivated you to sell them online?
E: I opened my Etsy shop at the tail end of 2005, shortly after Etsy began. I don’t remember how I first heard of it, but someone must have told me about it. I don’t think I thought much of it at the time. But since I’m the kind of person who doesn’t tend to do things half fast opening my shop became a business and while I consider it a hobby (unlike a lot of Etsians who do this full time and to make their living) I take it very seriously and put a lot of time into it. When I first started I think I just wanted to be able to keep crocheting and not worry about what I was going to do with all the stuff I was making or all the yarn I had. It seemed like a good outlet.
A: Handmade knit/crocheted items must require so many hours and lots of patience… How do you balance your “Etsy time” and your “personal time”?
E: The hardest part for me is balancing the time between Etsy and my acting career. Truth is, I’d much rather be reading the Etsy Forums than Playbill.com or my union’s website to find out what shows are currently auditioning. AND I have an almost full-time job on top of it. I wish Etsy could be my “survival job” but it just doesn’t seem possible. I spend most of my 45 minute express bus commute into Manhattan crocheting and watching The Rachel Maddow show on my iPad. It’s my favorite part of my day.
As for the patience part of your question, I love to crochet. I just do. And for the most part I only make things I like to make. And the thing I love about the hats is that I can finish one in about an hour and a half. Especially the newsboy hats, because I’ve made so many. I find that if I’m ever waiting anywhere, crocheting keeps me calm and from getting aggravated. I’m never wasting my time because I’m always crocheting and that makes me feel productive. A lot of other crafters can’t create on the go like I can.
A: Are there any items that buyers seem to request again and again?
E: My very first newsboy hat still sells like crazy, the pattern as well as the finished product. People frequently have come back and bought it in several colors. It’s a great feeling when you get feedback from someone saying that it’s their most favorite hat ever. I think it might just be one of those hats that genuinely looks good on a lot of people. When you sell online you usually don’t get a chance to see how your items look on people, but I’ve done a few crafts fairs and I get such a kick out of seeing how cute people looking wearing something I made. I have also made a few “kitty hats” that people frequently find in my sold items and have requested several times. I don’t really like making them though so I don’t currently have them for sale, even though I know they would sell.
A: What is it that you enjoy most about the Etsy community?
E: If you’re active enough in the forums, it really does feel like a community. And I’m in the forums a lot. Too much actually. We’ve had some of our favorite sellers in desperate circumstances and it’s been amazing to see the community rally to do whatever they can for their “friends.” But aside from that, it’s a pretty amazing place because everyone has this incredibly common goal, yet we’re all so different, from all around the world, different ages, political ideologies, male, female. And we’re all in this one virtual place. Thousands of us. It’s really sort of amazing. I’ve bought things from Singapore, Israel, sold things to folks in Australia, people on military bases, to gay couples having babies, etc. My little business. It’s so cool.
A: Is there anything you would like to improve about your Etsy selling experience?
E: Well, my biggest “gripe” is that I’ve never been on the front page or in the Etsy Finds daily email. It really bothers me sometimes because I think sellers really benefit from it. But for the most part I love Etsy and I’m very happy to be a part of it.
A: Lately a big topic of discussion in the Etsy forums has been the way in which sellers’ items are now listed on the site – Some users are happy, and some have seen a dramatic decrease in views and sales… How has this switch from “recency” to “relevancy” affected your business?
E: It’s hard for me to know really because August is a very slow time of year for me. And I’ve also recently gotten a new camera and have much better photos so I don’t know if the improvement in my views is because of the better pictures or the switch to relevancy. That being said I think relevancy is fantastic. I’m getting more views and have worked pretty hard to make sure my items come up early in searches for my items and I’ve been very successful at that. I just don’t think I’ll really know how much it affects me until winter rolls around and people are searching for hats and scarves. But without a doubt, relevancy was a very good change.
A: As an Etsy seller, what do you spend most of your time doing that you’d like to eliminate or reduce?
E: I can’t really think of anything. I just need to not spend so much time in the forums.
A: What are some tools that you use?
E: I use iPhoto to crop all my pictures. I use Gimp which is a free photo editing software like Photoshop (not as good of course) to make montages for items that need more than 5 photos. I have a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page, but I’m not really sure that does much. I think that’s pretty much it.
A: Have any ideas for a tool or application that would help you run your business more smoothly and efficiently, but haven’t found or seen yet?
E: I do have an idea for an app for selling at crafts fairs and people keep telling me other apps that do what I’m thinking of but they don’t, at least not the way I’m seeing it. As for running my Etsy business, I’m just not big enough, yet, to feel like things need to run smoother or more efficiently.
A: Do you have any other online stores? If so, how do they relate to your Etsy shop?
E: I have a shop on Artfire. I got in on the pro deal for $5.95 a month, no additional fees. This sounded so great and people really liked the atmosphere there better than Etsy. But I can’t sell there to save my life. I joined late last winter so I’m going to give it another winter. If I don’t do well I’m closing it up. Right now I’m throwing away $5.95/month.
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Posted By: Anna Song, Community Manager
Big thanks to Eileen Tepper!