Monday, February 2, 2015

Elegant EarCuffs by Fiona and Etsy


I was recently interviewed by my packaging supplier, Nashville Wraps.  It was a Q&A on having an Etsy store and highlighted my ear cuffs and packaging.  My previous blog posting back in September 2014 talked about my packaging and the decision process in great detail.

You can read their edited interview in their blog here.  Below I am adding the interview in its entirety.

1. Tell us how you got started in the jewelry business and do you make everything yourself?

Dramatic Drop Ear Cuffs featuring Copper and Crystals
I have always been creative and love working with my hands. I do oil painting as well and hope to one day sell my paintings online.

I design and make all my ear jewelry myself. I started making ear cuffs in particular when I had my hair cut very short and for the first time in many years my ears were totally exposed. I felt they needed to be embellished, but I pierced my ears twice with allergic reactions and found clip-ons very uncomfortable. I knew of ear cuffs, but wanted a more traditional style of ear design, so I incorporated the function of an ear cuff with more traditional looking ear jewelry designs. After successful local events, I decided to create an online presence and built my own website, http://www.ElegantEarCuffs.com and a shop on Etsy (more below).

I continue to take jewelry classes to increase my skills and incorporate into my jewelry designs.

2. What sets your products apart from everyone else?

polished Copper and Silver Ear Cuffs
My designs are an alternative to traditional ear jewelry with no ear piercings necessary, and they are very comfortable to wear. I use a variety of quality beads, including Swarovski, semi-precious stones, Venetian glass, Sterling Silver, Gold-Filled and polished Brass and Copper, providing a range of colors, designs and prices, and I'm proud to say they are made by an Artisan in the USA, (Phoenixville, PA).

3. Do you only market your products through Etsy? Are you strictly online?

Currently I offer my items for sale in my Etsy shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/ElegantEarCuffs. I also have a website, http://www.ElegantEarCuffs.com where you can view a slideshow of some of my designs and connect to my Etsy store. I plan to include a shop later this year in my website.  Locally, in SouthEast Pennsylvania and the Tri-State area, I participate in juried craft fairs.

4. Tell us about hosting a show.  Is it similar to Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tupperware?

An Elegant EarCuffs by Fiona home show is a lot of fun. My presentation is only about 5 minutes long and then the guests try on the ear cuffs for themselves. There's an "aha moment" when they see for themselves how pretty and complimentary the ear jewelry looks on them. The host receives free and discounted jewelry based on her guest sales (see http://www.elegantearcuffs.com/host-benefits.html for details). She can also invite family and friends from anywhere in the USA to participate in her show by shopping in my Etsy store and sending me a note that she's part of the show. An online show is also an option for hosting. Custom designs for the host and guests can be discussed at the show, a great idea for anyone wanting a coordinating necklace and/or bracelet with their ear cuffs.

5. Tell someone new to Etsy who has a handmade product the Ins and Outs of using Etsy along with the pros and cons.

Etsy is an online shopping mall for crafters and suppliers to crafters. The creativity of the artists and the variety of items that are built, painted, sculpted, resold (vintage), knitted, sewn, etc. is so amazing. People from across the world build their own shop inventory and for those who commit time and effort, a full time profession may be possible. The structure of the shop is very easy to use and the listing costs are extremely reasonable @ 20 cents per item for 4 months at a time. You pay 3.5% commission when an item sells. Etsy has a very positive, and for the most part, very responsive staff. The Etsy forums are also very beneficial for support and information.

The key to Etsy success is having good key words that potential customers will search for, posting new items frequently, and my biggest challenge, having great photography, and an appealing and accurate description for each item.

The downside is that it is not your platform. If Etsy chooses to change the way the shop is to operate or the operating policies, you are held hostage to whatever they impose. For instance, Etsy has changed the way you can advertise your items 3 times in 2014. It's now called 'Promoted Listings,' which is a pay-per-click program, and can get very costly if you don't monitor your listings. It's easy to say, "Well, if you don't like it, leave!" But when you've spent years building up your listings which may well be in the hundreds, the effort to move to another platform may be prohibitive. I have read several articles advising not to keep all your eggs in one basket, as they say, and that is why one of my goals for 2015 is to also have a shopping cart on my existing website.

Etsy is so big now that it is becoming more difficult to be found unless you have something truly unique. Good keyword selection and good title definition is key here.

Since Etsy opened up to shops with multiple employees, the line between 'handmade' and mass produced is becoming fuzzy and preventing copycats and items that are not handmade is developing into an ever increasing challenge for Etsy to overcome.

6. How did you hear about Nashville Wraps and how do you use our products? How do you like the custom printed ribbon?

I wanted my packaging to be 'Made in America' and of recycled materials where possible. An online search identified Nashville Wraps as one of the candidates. After making inquiries it was apparent that Nashville Wraps led with excellent product selection, competitive pricing and customer support to help me design my packaging requirements so that the jewelry would arrive anywhere in the world safely and also displayed beautifully.  Susan Wright in the Printing Department very patiently helped me pick out labels, boxes and custom made ribbon.  The Nashville Wraps Graphics Department helped me with my logo design which had to be tweaked.

I love the chocolate brown boxes I selected which are made from 100% recycled card.  The ribbon espcially adds a touch of class to all my shipments and is also made in the USA.

I am a stickler for detail, which is an asset in the jewelry making business, but I could not have achieved the end result without the excellent customer service provided by Nashville Wraps. I am not a huge customer, but through the process I felt like I was their Number One Customer.

7. Do you use social media also to promote your business?

Yes, I am on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. Simply search for 'ElegantEarCuffs.'

8. Any tips for new entrepreneurs like yourself in starting a business.

Be honest with yourself about what you know and what you don't know. I have a sales and marketing www.score.org or www.businessadvicenow.org. They are associated with the Small Business Administration. I have met several times with mentors who have had successful careers and want to give back. Talking over my successes and challenges adds newfound direction and enthusiasm to my business going forward. The service is free. They offer free webinars and local training sessions in such topics as social media, Microsoft, and other relevant topics. SCORE offers great networking opportunities as well.
Ear Cuff Rings
background and this has come in helpful, but I knew that sometimes in a small and particularly a single person business, it's hard to be objective. I have used the services of a group called SCORE,

9. What do you love most about what you do?

I love being creative and giving ladies the opportunity to wear ear jewelry, some for the first time! It's especially heartwarming to make custom pieces for special occasions.

that Nashville Wraps led with excellent product selection, competitive pricing and customer support to help me design my packaging requirements so that the jewelry would arrive anywhere in the world safely and also displayed beautifully. The options were so extensive that after a while I found myself overwhelmed. Susan Wright in the Printing Department very patiently helped me pick out labels, boxes and custom made ribbon. The Nashville Wraps Graphics Department helped me with my logo design which had to be tweaked. I love the chocolate brown boxes which are made from 100% recycled card and the lining in the boxes. The ribbon especially adds a touch of class to all my shipments.

On a personal note, having the flexibility to set my own schedule and able to incorporate family commitments, especially my son's sporting activities, is worth it's weight in gold.

Visit my Etsy store to view my selection of Ear Cuffs for all occasions.

No comments:

Post a Comment