ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – You may have asked someone where they found that wonderful handmade item and they’ve told you, “Etsy”.
The website has grown to nearly $900 million in sales in less than a decade. But instead of being one massive corporation it’s made up of hundreds of thousands of individual shops.
Today KMOX News continues our features on the virtual “shopkeepers” who live right here in St. Louis.
“It gets us exposure if someone from California buys one so it’s worth the 20-cent listing fee.”
Tori Sacco creates witty and wry greeting cards and other paper goods from her storefront called “Paperkeet” on Morganford.
She built her business by word of mouth. And on Etsy, customer feedback can make or break a business.
“It’s scary. I think I’m lucking that at this point I only sell $3 greeting cards. If somebody’s disappointed with it I am more than happy to give them the $3 back and they can keep the card that I’ve sent them.”
Because all of this represents years of work for this graphic artist.
Sacco says branching out beyond her storefront to Etsy also takes a vision. “Presenting a cohesive brand. What do you want to put out there, what do you want your company’s personality to be.”
And since you don’t have a street address on Etsy, you have to be good at directing traffic to your shop. “Having new stuff out there all the time. Having searchable tags out there so that people are finding the stuff you put there. And having enough items that you even get on Etsy’s radar.”
And frankly, Sacco points out, it’s sometimes just taking a good picture of your work. “It’s kind of flattering when they actually go into your shop. They click on one little tiny thumbnail and go oh there’s more”
It’s obvious, but important — Sacco says the real key is making something people want.
Karen Tabaka was a marketing professional, in between jobs, when a friend found out she was expecting triplets.
“I wanted to get her something but obviously a little low on funds, so I made her a bunch of burp cloths and people really liked them.”
People started asking for them — friends said ‘you should make them and sell them’.
“I quit looking for a job and decided to make a go of Kakabaka.”
On Kakabaka you’ll find hand dyed baby legwarmers, and Tabaka’s own twist on the applique — think peanut butter and jelly bread holding hands, or a bikini onesie, with her signature white stitch.
And she can create from her home workshop. “That is the beauty of being on line is that you really just have the overhead of yourself and your space”
But that also means its all on you.
“I don’t sleep very much.”
Karen Tabaka lists some 450 items on her Etsy shop. Her shop “Kakabaka” has posted hundreds of sales in less than two years and that doesn’t include the stock she keeps in area specialty stores.
“Capacity-wise, me right now, I can barely keep up with my Etsy orders let alone keep stuff in shops.”
Kakabaka has become so successful she’s sometimes had to enlist help.
“My dad I even put him on tags in the beginning, stringing tags. Nothing like free labor (laughs).”
Tabaka is looking at her next step, possibly hiring some help. This year she opened her Etsy shop to international sales. One of the first items to go overseas was a pair of baby leg warmers for St. Patrick’s day shipped to Ireland.
Copyright KMOX Radio