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.


  1. Great interview, it's always fun to learn about the person behind the craft. :0)

  2. I love this interview :) This truly is a 'craftsperson' with lots of talent and skill. Awesome work!

    Emerald City Emporium

  3. Betty, congratulations on being the First Ever Team Member of the Month and for sharing your life with us!

    Dan & Vickie
    ByDan Woodworks

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  5. Thank you all for the votes & the super nice comments. I very much appreciate your kindness!
    May we all live long & prosper! (:

    Bettie (:

  6. whata great interview all around!!!
    when you were talking about dreaming quitting your day job and losing yourself in art...i felt an immediate connection...i LONG to do that...to have a means to be able to do that...
    i hope that one day soon your dream comes true!!!!
    your work is beautiful!!!
    much love and peace...
    em at BanjoBaySoaps