Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Talented Artisan in Spotsylvania Virginia

Bettie, is our first ever Team Member of the Month! This means she is our favorite "Virginia is for Etsyers" Etsian for the month of April. Congratulations, Bettie!
Check out her 3 Etsy
All Things Wood unique wood crafts
BGS Studio13 affordable fashion jewelry
Golden Egg Crafts art paintings

Based out of Northern Virginia, Bettie lives
in the Spotsylvania area with her very supportive husband and two extremely entertaining dogs. Read on and share her enthusiasm for all things handmade, get to know her inspirations and aspirations, and learn the secrets to owning a successful online business.

Please tell us a little something about yourself...
I was born in Los Angeles, California, and I was raised in the surrounding area. Spent my teen years in Newhall, California: home of Magic Mountain. Married at age 17; and at age 18, I was a military wife and we came here to Virginia for basic training and then off to six tours of duty overseas and stateside. Little did I know, that 24 years later, our last tour of duty would be here in Virginia, where we would hang our hats and our hearts. I am a mother of two great kids, four natural grandchildren, and two step grandchildren. I divorced after a 32 year marriage, where I had lost who I once was for various reasons.

Now, I live with a wonderful man who has allowed me the freedom to be me; and I not only found myself again, I also found my creative soul and a freedom to soar. We live on six acres in a modern log home that we built here in Spotsylvania, Virginia. We have two dogs, Mr. Bo Jangles (BoBo) and Molly. We also have eight hens who provide us with breakfast every morning, and two roosters who crow whenever they want to. I love my life now and I am happy. I have been blessed.

How did you get started on your crafting...
There was a fallen Cedar tree on our property some years ago. I have always loved cedar and so, I had it cut up into workable pieces, cured them, and started carving and sanding until I had beautiful pieces of cedar. I, then, started making usable items from this beautiful wood. Giving my cedar candle holders as gifts and being told that I should start selling my creations, so I did. I started dabbling in jewelry as a past time and for my own personal use; others started buying what I made, and I did quite well at some craft shows; and then I found Etsy! Yey. And here I am: a crafting junkie.

What items do you love the most from your Etsy shop...
Well my passion is woodworking. So, I would have to say that my favorite pieces are the cedar candle holders and hair sticks - because they are never the same, they are pretty, useful, my customers love them, and they are green (environmentally friendly). That's also the joy of woodworking. The wood comes from the earth, and will someday return to the earth. GREEN. (: Gotta love it.

Can you tell us something about you which not a lot of people know about...
I collect frogs. No, not live frogs: “frog stuff.” I have a curio cabinet that is full of frog figurines -a few hundred, I guess. I had to tell people to stop giving me the stuffed ones, because I just didn't have room for them.

Do you have any techniques you would like to share...
Web techniques. I learn as I go along, and I still haven't figured out how to use Flickr :O

How about any advice you could give us about owning an online business...
It takes a lot of dedication, time and work to get all of the items listed and photographed, as we all know. So not only do we have to design and make our wares, but we have to be photographers and writers as well. We also have to be good at packing and wrapping, so that our customers receive a nicely packaged product. I would really like to have someone else do the listing and photos for me, but...
Anything else... Great customer service is the golden key!

Why do you think buying handmade is good for society or your town or Virginia...
Handmade just has more TLC, more personality, and is special because someone has taken the time to design and craft the item with their own hands. Buying handmade from Virginia keeps the small business owner in business and keeps the money flowing in our community, our home state which is very important in today's economy.

Yes, it does help and thank you. So, let’s lighten things up a bit. Do you have any funny personal stories you would like to share...
I obtained a CPR dummy which is of course just the head and torso. I put a top on it, and set it on a table in my jewelry room, so that I could use it to display my jewelry for photographs. One day my dog, BoBo came upstairs and saw it on the table and thought it was an intruder, I guess. The hair on his neck and back stood up and he started growling and barking at it until I finally convinced him that the dummy was okay. That is probably only funny to me...one of those “you had to be there” moments.

Thanks Bettie, that is indeed funny and something I could see my own dog doing.

Okay, let’s do some Etsy speak for a bit.

Do you have a “real day job”... what is it ... do you love it OR do you dream of quitting your day job and crafting full time and selling on Etsy or off Etsy...
I do have a day job. I am an Administrative Paralegal and a Patent Application Technician. I also work as an EEO Counselor and I am a notary public. I work in Northern Virginia in Ft. Belvoir which is about an hour plus drive every day and have been doing this for 21 years. So yes, I DREAM of quitting my day job and losing myself in my arts and crafts. Oh, and not getting up at 0330 everyday, just to get to work before all of the other gazillion Northern Virginia commuters.

Do you consider yourself owning a successful Etsy store or otherwise...
I believe that my Etsy shops could do better if I could put more time into them. But, there are only so many hours in a day, and it seems I run out of hours before I know it. But I feel that I am successful in that my customers leave such great feedback which tells me that I'm doing something right.

Wanna give us some hints as to what contributes to your successes...
I communicate with my customers from the moment I see that I have made a sale. And, keep them updated as to the mailing date and tracking information. And, if it is an item that is a special order, I will send them a photo for their approval or so that they can see it before I send it. I give the best customer service possible, making their buying experience a pleasant one.

I always enclose a thank you note, a discount coupon, and a thank you gift of some kind so that they get an extra little unexpected treat. I also encourage them to check out the other Etsy shops, and brag on our handmade community especially our great Virginia artisans.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recently Listed Items from Virginia Etsy Shops

So, here are a few cool items recently listed on Etsy from our fellow Virginia Etsyer Shops. Click on the PICTURE to see the Etsy Shop!
1. Chaulk Board
2. Cross Body Messenger Bag
3. You Can Have What You Want Earrings
4. Sweet Pink Owl Party Package
5. Vintage Button Ring
6. Hint of Flowers Watercolor

Chaulk BoardCross Body Messenger Bag

You Can Have What EarringsSweet Pink Owl Party Package

Vintage Button RingHint of Flowers Watercolor

Monday, April 5, 2010

Flux Imagery: Illustration, Photography & More

Our featured guest Etsy artist for this week is Erika from Flux Imagery which is based in Denver. We asked her a few questions to get to know her better. Erika shares her experience as a new Etsy shop owner. Welcome Erika!

Please tell us a little something about yourself...
Hi there! I am Erika Barriga. I’m originally from California but moved to Colorado almost 20 years ago, so I call Denver home now. I illustrate and print my illustrations part-time at the moment. A simple clean design with pleasing shapes is usually what comes out of my digital art.

Photography, fashion, and interior design are a few of my other interests. My favorite things: going somewhere far away with my husband, enjoying the sunshine with my family, and new music discoveries.

Please tell us about your art and business...
It’s hard for me to describe my art. I have had friends call it whimsical, funny, simple and graphic. I’ll stick with those descriptions too! I sketch all the time and carry my moleskine everywhere. I’m blessed to have a husband that lets me take over the office we share. I can zone out in my own little world for hours.

Right now my business is small and inventory is low in my shop but I am going to update it to the brim bit by bit. I have had great customers and wonderful feedback so far. I’m so excited for the future.

Please tell us what items you love the most from your Etsy shop...
I love all of my prints for different reasons. If I had to choose a print that I love the most right now, I would choose “The Caterpillar” because of the storytelling. I wonder what they are talking about and would love to be there too. If that makes sense.

Tell us something interesting about you which not a lot of people know about...
I am a scared-dy cat. I do not like scary movies; I had never seen Dracula until last week. I really don’t like them. Oh and roller coasters too, can’t stand them.

Do you have a real “day job”, what is it, do you love it OR do you dream of quitting your day job and doing art full time on Etsy? Yes, I have a full-time left-brain telecommunications job. Completely opposite of my creative side which can be a positive at times. My dream is to create full time on Etsy and work out of my home.