I asked Kasey if she would tell us a bit about how she got started and to my delight she went over and above some of the questions, giving helpful tips for those hoping to start and Etsy shop and explains the process a bit. I hope you enjoy her very interview. It's so worth the read.
1) First just tell us how you got interested and started sewing?
My earliest recollection of sewing is from my grandma. She worked at a shop that sold sheepskin and she always had bags of it on the floor in her laundry/sewing room. She made stuffed animals for us (13 grandkids). I remember the smell of that room and my sheepskin toy sheep vividly and it makes me feel so blessed to have such a loving woman for a grandmother! And then I became really interested in middle school during trips to my aunts house. She had a serger and could make a pair of flannel pants in what seemed like 5 minutes. (And I wouldn't be surprised if really was. Again, she had 13 nieces and nephews.) We intentionally “forgot” pj's just so she would make us a pair! I loved that she was making wearable shapes out of a flat formless object. I asked my parents for my own machine and got one my junior year of high school but didn't take to it quickly. It wasn't until after I graduated college that I really started sewing. It was a fun hobby and with loads of cheap vintage fabric, I had lots of practice with very few expenses.
That's when I decided that I LOVED sewing. If you want to read more about how it became my full time job, read here.
2) When you started your Etsy shop what were some challenges you faced?
Hrm hrm hrm. Now that's it been over 2 years I can tell you that the challenges didn't ever *feel* like challenges until hindsight kicked in.. I had a billion challenges as a new seller, here are the most important ones to understand before starting your own shop:
1. Pricing. Are you pricing with wholesale, shipping disasters, returns, research, emailing customers, time at the fabric store or post office and sick days in mind?? No, let's face it. You're probably not. I wasn't! I used to sell a skirt that would take 1.5 hours just to sew for under $25. I literally was paying myself pennies per hour. Now don't jump the gun and price really high. Etsy stores fail that way too. Sell yourself for what you're worth! Wear and use your things! Your dress is still kicking it after 10 wash AND wears? Pat yourself on the back and pay yourself a good wage! Here's how pricing breaks down for me: (Supplies+ hourly wage x time to make) x 2= price. That gives me a profit when I sell on etsy that goes towards all of those above stressful money sucking things. Price wisely in the beginning and you won't lose customers when you have to jack up your prices to make rent/ health insurance/taxes.
Also, do look at your competition. Do look at lots of them. Do find their price points and make sure you're not too far from them. Do NOT copy their ideas. Not only is it wrong, it's also negatively effects your branding. You want to be different.
2. Brand your store. You have a style; try to stick to it. But be careful not to go so far in one direction that you can't morph as time goes on. I have a love for 50's fashion. But I don't do my hair and pose with a pink vacuum (sorry if any of you have..) This is so if I want to do a 70's mod dress, I don't have to break out of a box that I've put myself in.
3. Be good to your customers. Be friendly and try to never sound short with them. They are so important! And you'll find there are a lot of really fabulous people out there who will come alongside what you do and support you again and again. It's not all easy though. Some customers will say mean AND true things about your work. Take a minute to cry and rant and cry again. Then, when you're composed, and you have a trusted friend to help you, write them a NASTY EMAIL. Joke. Truly, tell them how much you appreciate their feedback because it will help you grow and how sorry you are that they didn't like your item/service. Always offer refunds or coupons. Everyone has an off day. You can't make everything perfect 100% of the time. And if you let them see that, they might even come back for more!3) Right now what are your most popular items?
Hands down this bird heart cut out dress.
And this gingham dress that was one of my very first original patterns.
4) What inspires you to create new items?
I read fashion blogs, look through vintage magazines and stalk my fashion loving facebook friends. Sometimes I take a break from sewing to paint or crochet. And after horrifically viewing a sloppy finished product I RUN back to my studio and fall in love with sewing all over again.