by guest contributor Fina Tejada
Kate Lightfoot is a Australian illustrator who designs under the name Scarlett Cat. She also has an Etsy shop full of pins, buttons, pocket mirrors, cards and prints all with her signature playfully flirty big-eyed girls. I love that her artwork reflects the Big-Eyed movement of the 60’s and has hints of Igor’s naughty nudes. If you’re thinking, as I did, that Scarlett’s images would make a great tattoo, email her for permission, she’d love to hear from you.1. Can you give me a brief description of your business? What are the products that you sell?
1. How did you come up with the idea to start your business?
I’m a self-taught Melbourne artist and I create and sell art featuring quirky, flirty big-eyed girls. In my shop you can buy the originals, prints, cards and other items made from my artwork. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember and I started selling my art on Etsy after being a customer for a while and thinking ‘I could do that!’
2. What did you do before you started your business or did you keep you day job?
I work in advertising during the day – I’m a copywriter. I still do this full time and work on my art at night and on weekends (and occasionally during lunch breaks!) I don’t plan on giving up my day job as I suspect art wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if I had to depend on it as my only source of income. And unfortunately it shows in my work when I’ve been painting under ‘duress’!
3. Are most of your customers international? Does it make it more difficult? Such as the packaging and paperwork.
Most of my customers are from the United States, but I’ve been getting quite a few Aussies buying lately. The vast majority of my artworks are lightweight and paper based, so I can send them without having to go to the post office. So, it’s just as easy to look after international customers as it is to send parcels within Australia. And I just looooove sending pieces to places I’d like to visit – I do a happy dance every time I send my art to Hawaii or Paris!
4. How have you attracted so many customers to your Etsy page?
I’ve purposely plastered my flirty girls and links to my store all over the internet! Every time I find a folio style site I join up, I have a flickr account, myspace, facebook, my own blog and I’m active on the Etsy forums. I’m also open to people using my images on their sites (as long as I get credit somewhere), as I figure it all helps to get my work known. I’ve had a couple of people ask if they could pay for one of my girls to be used in their banner – instead of charging them, I ask them to add a link to my Etsy store. Every little bit helps.
5. What are your plans for your business?
At this stage, I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing. My broad goals are simply to make money from my art and to create a good reputation in the art world. I have no plans to leave my day job – so I can afford to be a bit cavalier with my art business at the moment and I’m really happy just drifting and seeing what crops up. To be perfectly honest I like the surprise of not knowing what’s going to happen next! It’s exciting!<
My father was building our garage when I was about 6 and I made two fabulous concrete men out of the leftover concrete. My mother still has them! They’re truly hideous, but a lot of love went into those guys!
7. What motivates you?
The buzz I get when someone says my work makes them happy! I still find it amazing that something I’ve created can have a positive affect on someone. Sure, I’m not fixing the hole in the ozone layer or bringing about world peace, but it feels as though I’ve made some small difference to someone’s life for a few minutes.
8. Do you have any tips for crafters who want to start their own business?
Starting out online is a great low-risk way of seeing how your product will do in the market, and it lets you take baby steps! You don’t have to give up your day job or take out a bank loan to get started. Also, make sure your customer service and communication skills are top notch – getting repeat business is really important to success (About 5% of my customers make up 50% of my sales). Oh, and make sure it’s fun! There’s nothing worse than hating your hobby because it’s become ‘work’.
About the contributor: Fina Tejada 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 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. Fina will be posting periodically on Thursdays.