Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Journey to Etsy (Or How Dad's Advice Finally Sunk In)

I have to be honest here, I didn't always want to make things and sell them. That was my dad's dream for me based upon his aunts, Mary and Pearl, who made things, sold them door-to-door or from street corners and raised their families on their earnings.

These two women were extremely talented, skilled and they had "chutzpah" in the form of big, brass shiny ones!

I could not see myself in these two women at all. I am timid by nature, a real recluse at times. Approaching people and trying to get them to purchase something that I've made has always been just this side of terrifying to me.

However, I have always been a maker, a creator, an artist. I have been drawing, painting, carving, sculpting, sewing, tinkering, hammering and nailing, upcycling, singing, writing and playing since my first can of play-dough, first set of crayons and my first harmonica and first plastic recorder (it was purple and white, by the way). I also had an electric organ that I wrote my first song on at the age of 8. It is called Isn't It Lovely.

When I made my own dolls (they were mermaids called Loreleis, because there weren't dolls like that in my day) for my own pleasure, I heard my dad say, "You should make those and sell them, like your aunts".

When I sculpted my first sculpture and it was purchased by a local reporter, I heard my dad say, "You should make those and sell them, like your aunts."

Every time and any time I ever made anything or did anything creative when my dad got wind of it-- he was always there to say, "You should make those and sell them, like your aunts."

But I was young and I had other ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I wanted to be a rock star.

Okay. You can stop laughing now. Seriously. Stop laughing.

This was the one thing that my dad didn't want me to try to sell, like my aunts. He felt the music industry wasn't going to be lucrative and certainly not enduring, like being like my aunts would obviously be?

So what did I do to get by? I got married and tended to family matters. Yep. Fortunately for me, I was not like my aunts who lost their husbands fairly early on into their marriages. So I was there for my family in other ways, mostly as a caretaker, because I was the youngest child in our family and that sort of thing often falls to the youngest. When my husband's mother had her first major stroke, I helped take care of her. When my dad got in his accident, I helped out with his care, and so on. All the while I wrote and made stuff. But for some reason it never occurred to me that I could actually-- sell the stuff I made, like my aunts.

Until one day while working as an Appointment Setter it hit me-- Why don't I make stuff and sell it, like my aunts!


My father's advice had finally, finally sunk in.

And while I do not go door-to-door or hawk my items on street corners, like my aunts, I have discovered places like Etsy exist. I'm very fond of Etsy, because I feel they give you loads of great advice and tips to help you get about the business of selling stuff, like my aunts or your aunts or somebody else's aunts might have done in days gone by. However, you have to keep in mind that Etsy is like that street corner or that door-to-door experience, only in this case it's the customer who comes to you and you have a zillion other people standing on the same street corner or going to the same door with you selling stuff that they made, too. And, from what I've seen so far-- it's all pretty dang good!

So, now I'm in the business of trying to find my niche, my own little spot on that street corner where I'll really stand out and be noticed. I've gotten some notice through being included in a Treasury at Etsy and through others who have "passed by" and placed some of my items in their favorites. That's good. That's a start, and I appreciate every "favorite" I get. I just need to find what I can do that is going to inspire buying.

It'll come. It'll happen. This I do believe, because, like my aunts, I think I've finally grown a pair of big, brass shiny ones.

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