Hello, dear readers! Let me introduce you to our latest guest blogger—Fina Tejada. Fina owns Miss Fruitfly, an indie lifestyle company featuring artwork and home accessories. She is also a blogger who loves to cook, is a closeted reality show junkie and supports independent designers. She will be posting periodically on the Indie Fixx Guest Blog featuring international indie crafters & bloggers to find out what motivates them creatively, how they started their businesses and how they approach the U.S. market. Read Fina’s first post below and please join me in welcoming her to Indie Fixx!
I am in complete awe of U.K. crafter, Laura Howard and her top selling Etsy shop called Lupin. Laura creates all kinds of goodies from brooches, pin cushions, wall art, felt disguises, zines and more. When Laura is not working on inventory for her shop, she’s maintaining her blog and a flickr group called Crafting 365 for crafters who make a commitment to create something new everyday. This sounds like something I should try, though the procrastinator in me is giggling. Currently, Laura is obsessed with British wildlife, loves to drink lots of tea and nibble on cake.
I sell an assortment of hand-stitched felt “treats” – colourful brooches, mobiles, textile art, and fun things like moustache disguises. I decided to try out selling my work when I discovered Etsy and realized that I could dip a small toe in the pool of Internet commerce without too much effort. I started working on business much more seriously when I realised just how much satisfaction I was getting out of making stuff.
2. What did you do before you started your business?
I was actually unemployed (after graduating with that most practical of degrees, English Literature) when I started my business – my crafting was born out of the boredom of being stuck home all day with nothing to do! Now I work part-time in a local gift shop and the rest of the time work for myself. It’s very interesting experiencing two different sides of retail simultaneously, and the regular wage is nice too!
My business is pretty much 100% Internet based. I started out selling on Etsy – I love the community there (very supportive and a mine of great information), it was so easy to set up shop and I love how it connects buyers with sellers in such a direct and friendly way. This year I’m setting up on Dawanda, Pink Doodle and ICraft, all of which I’ve heard about through the crafty grapevine. The latter two are very new (as are my shops there!) but Dawanda is a little more established and I am absolutely in love with their shop layouts: so crisp and clean. Eventually I’d love to have my own website, but at the moment I’m trying to take baby steps with confidence instead of running before I can walk.
4. What can you tell us about your international customers?
Very roughly, about 60% of my customers are from the US, 30% from the UK (my home market) and the rest are mostly from Canada and Australia. As most of my items are small and light they are very affordable to ship, so it’s quite easy to market my items internationally. I’m hoping to attract more European customers by adding a middle rate of shipping, in-between my domestic and (currently flat-rate) worldwide shipping. Unfortunately, this is quite a complicated thing to do on Etsy as you have to add each country individually, but I think it will be worth it. People who shop on the Internet frequently are pretty savvy about how much shipping should cost.
Working on my photography has been hugely important – there’s no point working on an awesome design and making it top quality if your photos don’t reflect that. I rely a lot on passing traffic on Etsy, and good photos are vital to standing out amongst all those other items!
6. How do you stay motivated?
I try to keep a balance between the more exciting and creative parts of my business, and the more everyday or repetitive parts. I think it’s really important not to get bored, or to become more like a production line instead of a creative person. I share my work in progress on my blog and my Flickr account, it really helps me think about my working processes and to keep track of what I’m working on. Connecting with the crafty community through blogs and Flickr also helps keep me inspired and itching to try new things.