Sunday, May 24, 2009

Etsy goodness

Have I mentioned that I'm slo-o-w-w-w-ly putting together an Etsy shop? Well, easing back on the throttle with my print making and giving my head time to settle about what to do next with my art practice has sort of given me permission to veer off in the direction of Etsy and try and get things underway. Now that I've aroused your interest (hopefully!) I'm going to disappoint you by saying that my shop is a long way from being open yet, but goodness me I'm having fun getting it together.

Those of you who've known me for a while will be aware that I've had my own business several times before, and my Etsy adventures remind me a lot of the fun I had when I started my first business, fresh out of university. Under the imaginative banner Sara Bowen Designs I started trading from a rented studio in Arno's Vale, Bristol, UK, as part of a community of start-up businesses operating from what had been the old Cameron Balloons factory. My workshop was tiny, but it was mine, and I loved it. I had a borrowed plan chest, an Ikea table which I used for cutting, and a ramshackle collection of boxes and cuboards which I used for storage. And I hand-painted metres and metres of silk, designed lingerie patterns, graded them, cut them out, stitched them up, packed them in some very funky boxes I designed myself and had made up for me, and then I used to go out on the road knocking on boutique doors in London and the West country. I'm romanticizing it, of course. It was bloody hard work and I had two other 'day' jobs that helped me pay the rent, which meant I was a very fit girl cycling dozens of kilometres every day in all weather as I did the circuit from home to job to other job to studio and back home again. And when I went on my sales trips I'd work hard to get appointments with buyers and then I'd roll up and inevitably nine out of ten of them would have forgotten I was coming and be otherwise engaged (or absent) and the one person I'd get to see would either hate what I had to show them or would only take it on consignment, which is the worst way in the world to do business... [sigh]

But you know what? I loved it. And I still love it. I love making things, and I love selling them, and I love developing the whole 'look' of a thing and tying up things like business cards and packaging together to make a brand (which sounds very pretentious and why would you call it a brand when you're a tiny one-woman start-up business, but that's really what it is, so there!).

For the last few days I've been thinking about things like the design for my storefront, the colours I want to use, how I want to label and wrap things, what my USP will be, how I want to present myself... all those delicious things that come with starting an Etsy store.

Naturally I have had to do extensive market research in order to see if there's anyone else out there selling the sort of things I want to make and sell, and how they price them and what their 'shop policies' are, etc. In the middle of all of this very necessary research I also managed to find some delightful presents for my friend's new baby and, because everyone I've spoken to on Etsy has been so generous with their time and expertise and information, I'd love to share with you the things I've bought with you and tell you where I've bought them...

Cecelia from RockabillyBabyDesign has been really helpful and I just love the amazing fabrics she uses. I bought

This fabric is called
'Sailor Jerry's Tattoos'

This is Day of the Dead fabric

and this blanket material is called Asian Bloom

From KonstantKaos I bought some gorgeous baby shoes made from fabric covered in winged skulls, and a skull-print baby T shirt. Sadly I can't show you images as I bought the stock up and so the items have disappeared from the shop front, but do go and look at all the lovely things...

From PunkyMonkeyKids I bought three onesies, two of which are shown here:

You're probably thinking I've gone bananas, but I just love the imagery on these baby things! This is no ordinary baby, and isn't part of an ordinary family, and probably isn't going to have an ordinary life for all sorts of reasons so I thought I'd start him off right, with strong images and a belly laugh, and why not?


  1. Babies and skulls, now why didn't I think of that for my little girls? I love it! I know of a baby who won't drink ANYTHING without going cheers *klink* with someone and if there's no one there she *klinks* herself! I wonder what kind of incredible adults these children will make?

    I'm excited about your Etsy store!

  2. An Etsy shop. How fun!!! Can't wait to see what you'll put out there.


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