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Local Artists Find Success on Etsy – Part One

Megan Lynch @MLynchOnAir
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — It’s a marketplace that has more than 850,000 shops.

Chances are you’re one of 60 million people who visit each month.

It’s the website called Etsy (pronounced et-see) and as KMOX News discovered, many of the shopkeepers make their handcrafted goods right here in the St. Louis area. (PHOTO GALLERY)

This week, we highlight just a few.

Souvenirs from Wonderland

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Carrie Hawkins sits in her home studio.

“I was a muralist and faux finisher,” but a shaky economy led Carrie Hawkins to apply her talents in a different way.

“I sand and I paint layers of paint and then I start doing glazes. I do stencils. I collage things over the doors…”  Hawkins sits at her paint splotched workbench next to a jewelry cabinet adorned with many of those techniques.  She rescues them from thrift stores and flea markets and crafts them into one of a kind works of art.  While the bulk of her sales still come from indie art shows, she’s gaining traction with her Etsy shop, Souvenirs from Wonderland. “I can take the skills I developed but apply them on a smaller can and make them available to a wider audience”

Bigger audience means big competition.

“I saw their list of favorites and there were all these jewelry boxes in it and I went whoa, who’s that, and now I see tons of people are doing what I do.”

So Hawkins has to do it better.

She points out it’s different trying to appeal to customers who can’t see your work in person.

“How you represent the piece, really showing different angles. I try to answer all those questions with my five pictures.”

Hawkins says it is a leap of faith for buyers, but once they see good feedback from others, new customers seem more willing to try.

Pink Seven Designs/I Am What I Am

Debbie Reed's handpainted glasses

Debbie Reed’s hand-painted glasses

“Let me know if I can help you with anything…” Debbie Reed greets customers walking in the door of her shop I Am What I Am in historic St. Charles.  It’s filled from floor to ceiling with handcrafted goods.

Not long ago, Debbie Reed started as an artist here.

It all began with something she did for fun.  “I was always making stuff for all my friends.  Little girls.  I started off with hair bows and it spiraled into something bigger”

She opened her Etsy page – Pink Seven Designs – three years ago.  “I got a sale the first night I put it on and I was completely shocked and excited.”

She still makes bows, but now they adorn her whimsically painted glassware and ornaments.

Reed’s lesson for new sellers on Etsy?  It does take some business savvy.  Many of these local Etsy sellers started as shoppers and that’s made them keenly aware of what customers expect.

“I’ve ordered stuff before on Etsy and it’s come with no tags on it.  Nothing representing who that person was.  I would rather see something that has their name on it, maybe a little branding.”

So when Reed opened her Etsy shop Pink Seven Designs, she had her logo, tagline, and marketing materials in place.

And she strives to keep customers satisfied with good communication, so they’ll post good feedback…

“When I purchase something on Etsy that’s the first thing I go and read so it’s very important.”

Now that she owns her own St. Charles storefront – I Am What I Am – Reed says she may be ready to grow beyond Etsy to her own online presence.

Check back Tuesday morning to read more local Etsy success stories.

Links to featured shops:

Pink Seven Designs on Etsy

I Am What I Am – St. Charles

Souvenirs from Wonderland

Copyright KMOX Radio

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