I never really planned on opening an online store. It just so happened that during the holiday season 2011, I was feeling incredibly broke. I decided to make gifts to give my family and close friends because I knew that way I could give a thoughtful gift for less money. I chose to paint glassware with enamel paint because almost everyone I know either likes interesting wine glasses or likes hand painted pottery. My gifts were a huge hit! That was when I decided to see if I could supplement my income with a little extra cash.
My first item was a glass vase with an Avant-Garde style tree painted on the front. It took a little bit of cash for materials and about 4 hours to paint. With an item to sell, I went to Esty.com because I knew they had a reputation for selling hand-made and vintage items. I had no idea getting everything started was going to be so overwhelming!
Once I was signed up for Etsy, I realized that I needed to find a way to stand out. Etsy is a big venue with a lot of talented people offering a lot of merchandise! Aside from the lovely vase I was selling, I needed an entire image as a company to go with it. In the end, branding is what consumers will identify with. Without consistent branding, merchandise gets lost in the shuffle with the rest of the no-names outs there.
I went to work playing with store names, logo ideas, and figuring out how I wanted my listing photos to look. I had several store names and header images inside of a few days on my Etsy store. If anyone had noticed all this going on, they would have been confused to say the least. My ideas for my store’s image evolved through my understanding of and refining of what products I wanted to offer and who I wanted my target audience to be. I finally settled on Artisan Geekery. Though my image will always be an evolving, I feel that Artisan Geekery’s image reflects what we do and who we are in a polished and interesting way.
With a store front that I was satisfied with, I needed more merchandise. I went to work on that. I researched new techniques, found new lines of items to offer, and started looking for inspiration for my current projects. I was having a ton of fun! My boyfriend, Mikael, got in on it too. We started using most of our free time to work on new projects that were for our new Etsy store.
Once we had a few more items posted, it was time to get started promoting. Promoting is a huge deal. You could have the coolest item ever known to man with the best possible branding but if nobody knows about it, it’s worthless. While Etsy is an excellent place to be found, it’s not enough all by itself. I started promoting through social media. I posted links to our store and our new listing to all sorts of websites. Some sites did better than others. After some experimenting with what sites got the best results, we finally figured out our target audience and how to best reach them. I knew we had finally struck a chord because that was when our first sales came in. Oh what an exciting moment that was!