Monday, June 14, 2010

A New Virginian Shares Her Etsy Story

Our featured artist for this week is Kathryn from Dyche Designs based in Northern Virginia. A new “Virginian,” Kathryn talks about how a major life change brought about a new creative adventure for her. She shares not only her love for her craft, but how to have a great online store.

So, please tell us something about yourself...
I was born in Wales, grew up in Oxfordshire (United Kingdom) and moved to Connecticut with my husband in 2004. We relocated to Northern Virginia about a year ago and feel like we're just settling in. Surprisingly, Virginia reminds me a lot of the UK.

Do you have a real “day job”? What was your background before owning an Etsy shop ? When I lived in the UK I worked as a Human Resources Officer for a small biotech company. After moving to the US in 2004, I decided to take a break. It wasn’t long before my husband and I realized that I was so much happier as a result, and I opted to make the break permanent. I feel extremely fortunate to have had that opportunity and haven’t looked back since.

What got you started on your craft and how did you get started on Etsy ?
After moving to the U.S. in 2004, I found myself with access to so many more crafting materials and I was like a kid in a candy store. As the house filled up with my creations, I looked into ways of having an online presence which is when a friend of mine suggested Etsy. I opened up my shop ‘Dyche Designs’ in April 2008 and haven’t looked back since.

Tell us about your Etsy shop... I always love walking into a physical store that has a wide variety of items so that’s what I try to create in my online shop. I like having choices so it was important for me to be able to offer my customers a wide range of products.

I am not an organized person so the creative process for me is kind of chaotic and random event. I have a real aversion to following instructions and have a hard time planning or designing anything in advance. I typically sit at my work area and through experimenting with different colors, textures and materials I create a piece that I feel happy with.

Pick one item you absolutely love from your Etsy shop...
I honestly love everything that I create, so it's hard for me to narrow it down to a specific item. As you’ll see from my shop, I love variety and trying new things so it really depends on what I’m feeling at a given time. Recently I was bitten by the sewing bug and have been having great fun making cushion covers. I also love soaps and candles and the smells that emanate throughout the house when I pour them.

Can you tell us something interesting about you which
not a lot of
ople know about... Ever since I can remember, I've had a love for chimpanzees and gorillas. I can clearly remember my mother bribing me to go to swimming lessons when I was just 4 years old with the promise of a monkey soft toy (and yes I still have it).

Any advice you would like to give about owning an online shop...
You will experience highs and lows through the course of setting up an online shop and trying to sell and promote your items. This is all part of the experience of running a business, give yourself time to learn and grow and try not to get discouraged.
Put your best foot forward - make your shop look more professional by having a banner and avatar. Fill in your profile and policies sections and don’t forget to tell people where you’re located.

Having good photos is also key. I cringe when I think how bad my photos were to begin with but I’ve come a long way since then and I’m still learning. Work at getting clear close up shots of your items, natural daylight is your friend.

I’d also suggest spending time in the forums observing and learning. It took me a month after I joined Etsy to realize they were there. You’ll find a huge amount of knowledge and advice offered by other artists.

Often great ideas are born from mistakes so don’t be afraid to experiment. The main thing is to have fun, read lots and love what you do . . . and remember inspiration can be found in the strangest of places.

Thanks for all your tips and advice. I find them to be quite true and helpful.

So, last question, do you have any funny stories you would like to share?
I think anyone who crafts can recall some stories that may not have seemed funny at the time but that they were able to laugh at later . . . . like the time I tried quilting for the very first time and sewed what I was working on to the carpet, or the time that I realized it would have been smart to tie my hair back while wood burning (took me a while to realize the burning smell was from my singed hair). Just the other day I had been working on a canvas and left some silver acrylic paint out. My cat got spooked by something, stepped into the paint and then proceeded to run across our cream carpet, leaving silver footprints in his wake - oh the joys of crafting!

Follow Kathryn on her Blog A Creative Journey