Saturday, February 27, 2010

Interview with Soapwalla Kitchen

Part of an ongoing interview series profiling EtsyVeg members.
Interview presentation by Kylie of
SilentLotus Creations




Meet Rachel of Etsy's Soapwalla Kitchen




Q. What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I sell vegan organic face and body products that I create in my apartment kitchen.


Q. How did you get started creating?

I started making these products out of sheer necessity. I have lupus, which is an autoimmune illness, and one of the symptoms is extreme skin sensitivity/rashes. One night, after trying virtually everything on the market that was labeled 'organic' or natural', I did a google search on holistic skincare remedies. The products I created (after a lot of trial and error) were the only things that calmed my skin. At that point, I realized if I needed these products this badly, others must, too.


Q. What other artistic tendencies do you have? Do you have other crafty/artsy skills that you already do or would like to try?

I'm an artistic person by nature. I've played violin since I was 4 years old, and perform (mostly original compositions) in NYC regularly. I also have an avid ashtanga yoga practice, and I study circus arts--mainly static trapeze. I try to hang upside down every chance I get!


Q. Do you have any other hobbies/interests/passions?

I mentioned above that I practice ashtanga yoga. I spent several months in India studying both yoga and Ayurvedic medicine, which I incorporate into my skincare line. I feel strongly that my daily yoga practice keeps me healthy, sane, and also helps the creative juices flowing!


Q. How long have you been on Etsy, and are you an Etsy addict? :)

I'm completely an Etsy addict! I've been selling on Etsy since Dec 2009, but I've been a purchaser for much longer. I love seeing what other incredibly talented artists and artisans are creating on a daily basis, and I feel really lucky to be a part of such a beautiful movement.



Q. Is etsy a large part of your business? How else do you market your work?

Etsy is the majority of my business. I also sell at area craft markets (specifically the Makers Market in Brooklyn), and through word of mouth.


Q. What is your favorite vegan/vegetarian store/restaurant/blog/website?

I love the Bittersweet Vegan blog, and every time I'm visiting Seattle I MUST stop by Bamboo Garden in Queen Anne. It's hands down the best vegan chinese food I've ever had. If that place offered national delivery, I'd be in big trouble.

Rachel on the web:
Twitter
Website
Become a fan on Facebook
See more pics







Friday, February 26, 2010

Our First EtsyVeg Monthly Creative Challenge FINALS!

As promised, EtsyVeg is holding it's very first Monthly Creative Challenge Finals!

We launched our new challenge format in August of this past year, and began putting each month's creative challenge entries on the blog for public vote.

Every 6 months, all 6 winners from the last series of challenges are put up for a vote together. The top vote getter will win a 'surprise' prize and be crowned our first "EtsyVeg Top Monthly Creative Challenger"! Woot!


Have a look at these six fabulous entries and vote in the poll below for your very favorite (it won't be easy)! Voting is open through Wednesday, March 3rd. The top voter getter will be announced on Friday, March 5th!


Winner of August's "Dog Days" Challenge:




Winner of September's "Scholastic Fantastic" Challenge:




Winner of October's"Spooky Halloween Bash" Challenge:




Winner of November's"Veggie Harvest" Challenge:




Winner of December's"Winter Daydreams" Challenge:




Winner of January's"Fresh Start" Challenge:







Thursday, February 25, 2010

EtsyVeg's Newest Members!

Five terrific new EtsyVeg teamies to introduce! The latest crew of new members adds more awesomeness to our amazing team of talented vegetarian and vegan crafters! Say hello and give them lots of welcome love!



vegangurl- Vegan dog biscuits, knit items




jewelrybytara & graphicdesignbytara- Graphic design and tutorials and Jewelry



DharmaKarmaArts- India-inspired art, home decor, scarves, and jewelry



Ssheilah- Handcrafted jewelry and knitted/crocheted accessories



SuperLula- Fun and awesome jewelry!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Excluding God's Creatures

This quote came in literature from Animals' Angels

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."    ~St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Not All Views Are Created Equal

from an Etsy forum post by EtsyVeg member Erin of Krugs Eco-Logic, crafter of natural vegan bath & body products!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but for those that are new I thought I might just throw it out there. When I first started [selling my handmade bath & body products online], I was thrilled to get LOADS of views. More views = more sales, right? Not always.

From what I've read, for every hundred dollars or so spent on advertisement (on Google) you usually get one sale. [Please forgive me - I'm not a marketing expert, but trying to learn as I go ... so this info is just something I have read]. If your products are highly priced, or if the customer becomes a frequently-purchasing repeat, then that $100 is well spent. Right now I don't have $100 bucks to dump into Google and earn one customer who may or may not order more than three times a month for it to be worth it to me to advertise in this manner. So for me, right now this type of spending is not on the books.

When a listing hits the front page of etsy (which isn't that often .. but it has happened a handful of times), I get roughly around 800-900 views . Once, it resulted in a slew of sales (this was at Christmas time), but generally, it only results in a LOT of views and no sales. Posts in the [Etsy] forums, bring lots of views, but not often sales.

On the contrary ... when I promote (usually my private site), I am targeting those people who are actually interested in my product. I may have a sale, a giveaway, or a contest. Whatever the case may be, I post the information on my Facebook Fan Page, blog, and Twitter page, and update my customers with my newsletter function on my private site.

Though the number of views my shops receive from this sort of activity is FAR less than anything Etsy would bring in from front page exposure, forums, Google ads (yes you can fine-tune your targeted niche/audience), Facebook ads (again you can narrow down your audience here), etc... I receive MANY more sales.

Why? I believe it's because these people have already shown an interest in your business/products. They care to see what's coming and what's next. They follow you on Twitter, and Facebook because they genuinely love you, your product, or whatever information you display.

So - for the effort I put into my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. pages, I receive many, many more sales ... but not near the views as other methods may bring. The moral of this story is... lack of shop views, does not always equate to low sales. Just try different avenues to target the audience that's interested in your product. Views don't always = more sales ... but interest WILL equal more sales.

Friday, February 19, 2010

SweetVConfections Featured!

EtsyVeg's own Sweet V Confections has received rave reviews for her vegan oatmeal pies on the Veg News blog! Woot! :D Congrats, Kristen!

Go try some yourself!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Profession and Passion

Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.
~  Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, February 15, 2010

January's "Fresh Start" Challenge Winner!

January's "Fresh Start" Challenge voting results are in, and your favorite entry is... Roni of DaisyWare's sterling silver "Hope" necklace! HOORAY!




Roni's shop will be advertised on the EtsyVeg blog for the next month (coming soon- see top of sidebar). Yay!

Congrats, Roni! And thanks to everyone who entered!

Next, stay tuned for our big vote to decide on the favorite of the winner's from the challenges held over past six months! Watch the blog over the coming week!





Check out the details on January's monthly challenge here. It's not too late to join in the creative fun and get a chance to show off your talent and win your own blog ad! :)

Make it with love and it will sell!

An awesome article from the Rants and Raves of a New Age Chick, blog of fellow veggie Susmitha of veganosaurus and artbysusmitha!


As an independent artist who's been selling online for a few years now I have learned many selling tips from other online sellers who generously took the time and effort to share their knowledge - from taking top-notch photographs to dealing professionally with customers.

But I've also learned many lessons by personal experiences. Among these, the most important one is to never let a slump in sales bring me down. I understood the hard way that the more I obsessed about not having a sale, the longer it took for one to occur!

It happens to all of us. The problem is, not only do we let the lack of sales bring us down but we also make some really wrong moves which could be avoided if we took a few breaths and looked at the situation for what it really is... a fall which will be followed by a rise. It's always a cycle!

A couple of things to keep in mind always:

VALUE YOUR ART AT WHAT IT'S WORTH

During one of my slumps, I was approached by a store to sell them my miniature animal sculptures for less than half their value just so they could mark up their selling price at a 100% and make huge profits. They said that the discount I was offering them wasn't enough. I had a hard time making a decision. By grossly underpricing my work I could make a small chunk of money right then. I had no guarantee that my stuff would sell in the future at what I was asking for anyways. But just the thought that I would be selling off my 'babies' to these greedy people who didn't even appreciate the time and love I put into them (no matter how much they oohed and aahed over the animals) really bugged me. So I didn't go through with the deal. Today I'm selling the same little critters for what they're truly worth and I feel happy knowing that only someone who completely appreciates the value of my art will pay the price for it and therefore my 'babies' will have a loving home :)

A small discount to promote sales could be useful on occasion but freaking out and marking down your prices way below what you deserve is really not the best way to go. Waiting a few weeks or even months and earning 60 dollars for that beautiful painting you put hours of work into is far better than getting 25 dollars for it right now! (Unless you're in dire need of cash which is another issue altogether). By selling yourself short you not only disrespect the art but also reduce the value of your creations in the eyes of any future buyers.

CREATE ONLY WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

I create when I feel the need to create. When I'm overcome by the urge to sculpt and mold and twist and hammer. And then, I make whatever floats into my mind and flows out of my fingers. My designs are rarely pre-planned. A large part of why I don't, nor can I, make two things which are exactly the same. It is extremely difficult for me to create something on order. And on the rare occasion that I do take on custom pieces, I always make it clear that if the creation has to be of my usual top-notch quality, it might take me a lot of time to make it and it might not be exactly what is being asked for because I neither force myself to make something I'm not comfortable with, nor make myself create when I don't feel like it. It is very very important to me to pour my heart and soul into what I'm making so the final creation vibrates with the love.

It's good to keep an eye on the market trends and know what styles are popular and maybe even incorporate that into your designs. But changing your style entirely just to get out of the slump would really hurt you in the long run. Particularly if it's something you don't even enjoy making. Heck, if you have to earn a living doing what you were not happy doing then you might as well take on any regular job instead of creating art. It is very important to remember that just because the jewelry you're making is not in a popular style right now, doesn't mean no one likes it. When you make that necklace with a smile on your face that smile seeps right into your creation and well, it's hard to resist buying a necklace that's smiling at you and making you smile :)

MAKE EACH PIECE AS IF YOU'RE CREATING FOR YOURSELF OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE

My most popular pieces have been the hardest to let go of simply because I wanted to either keep them for myself or gift them to my mom, my sis or a really really close friend! :) When I make something with myself (or the people I love) in mind then I automatically pour even more love into it than I normally do. I pay extra keen attention to every little detail and I completely enjoy the creating process because of the anticipation and excitement of the reward.

Remember why you started to create in the first place? If you're anything like me then your art never started with an intention to sell. You created because it made you feel good. And you made things for yourself or as gifts for friends and family. You didn't treat your creation as just another product that was fun to make. When it's for you, or someone you love, it's more precious than that! So the next time you work on that lovely art doll, constantly picture her sitting on your coffee table. Visualize the glow on your friends face as she writes in that handmade paper book you're making.

When you create this way you have nothing to lose. Even if by a rare chance what you've created doesn't sell for a while then you are still happy because you get to keep it or gift it to someone you love.

And finally...

LEARN TO LET GO

I've seen this time and time again! When I obsess about the slumps for days together it's as if I'm creating a block for any sales to happen. I'm just focusing on what's not happening and getting frustrated. The day my mind is preoccupied with something else and I haven't even thought of my shop all day long... WHAM! That's the day I get the sale(s)!!

Trust in yourself and in your art. Make something, list it and forget about it. The less you're thinking about sales, the more sales you get. And as you keep practicing this letting go, you'll ultimately reach a point where the slumps become rare and are gone before you even notice. Nirvana! :oP

Know this...

When you make something with love it will sell! It might happen today or next week or two years down the line. No matter when, a sale is certain. No two ways about it!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fall in Love... With Handmade!

It's Valentine's Day! Celebrate love the handmade way, and feed your passion for shopping as we celebrate Heart's Day!! Handmade love is about lots more than general and unabashed love of fabulous handcrafted and vintage goodies, though. It's about the love that each indie-artisan puts into their craft makes every piece special. And with EtsyVeg vegan and vegetarian crafters, that love extends to a deep love for animals and the planet! Handmade is also about showing indie small business owners the love by choosing to buy handmade over mass-produced items and by supporting local businesses. So indulge in your desires and spread the love- shop your heart out! :D You can start right here!