by guest contributor Fina Tejada
Spanish artist, Loli Gil Bea has a beautiful Etsy shop filled with hand painted silk scarves, hand fans, clothing, and art work. Her lovely designs have a modern Spanish vibe to them with just a little bit of Picasso thrown in. Her item descriptions also have instruction on how to wear her scarves or send secret messages with a hand fan. Hand fans are an eco way of staying cool during during the hottest months. Plus, you can use them to flirt or even to gossip in a more ladylike way. To see more of Loli’s work, visit her website and her flickr photostream.
1. Can you give us a brief description of your business?
I have always loved to paint and draw, although I’m much better at painting ;), and when I was young I started painting watercolors. My work was in some local galleries and all that, but it wasn’t really a “business”.
Then one year I got a book about Silk Painting for Christmas. I loved it! The bright colors, the textures, the many many uses it could have. So I had to try it, and here I am! Basically I paint silk scarves (shawls, skinny scarves, etc) and also make different things with them: brooches, T-shirts, bags, hand fans, …
I started giving them as gifts to relatives, then friends came requesting scarves as presents for other people and I started to make money by selling them to some shops! =) That was 10 years ago. Last year I discovered Etsy and now my scarves are everywhere in the world.
2. What did you do before you started your business or did you keep you day job?
I am still a high school teacher. I teach chemistry, physics and math to the junior and senior students, I love it. Of course living off silk painting would be great, but I am nowhere near that.
3. Where do you sell your products?
I sell my silks at some local shops, and now I am starting to go to craft fairs. Online, I chose to sell them in Etsy. When I discovered it, I was totally amazed by the fabulous artists there, and saw that it was a nice community. I realized that people that buy in Etsy love art and handmade items and that was the perfect place for me.
4. What can you tell us about your international customers?
Most of my customers are international because a majority of Etsy users are from the US. They have all been great by supporting my shop and so great with communication, feedback, everything! They have totally understood that shipping to them takes more time, which is great. Customers at Etsy are so nice, I have received really lovely messages from them telling me how much they liked the item, packaging, etc.
5. What do you consider is the best way you’ve attracted customers?
I know I got a couple customers from Etsy forums, but I think they key is to have great photographs of your items. Good photography attracts more people and hopefully someone buys it. But I still have a lot to improve in photographing!
6. Where do you see your business in the next few years?
I hope to keep selling in Etsy, to have a lot of lovely customers from all around the world. That’s my goal. I don’t see myself quitting my day job for my craft, although I wouldn’t mind =)
7. How do you stay motivated?
Sometimes it is hard to paint when I am really busy, but this is really what I like to do, it’s my hobby. I love painting, it is relaxing. I love making different color combinations, or going to a museum and come up with a total new design inspired by what I saw.
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.