O Customer, Where art thou…

March 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

A couple weeks ago, I was selected as Shop of the Day in one of the handmade groups I belong to, Handmade Louisiana.  I was really surprised to be selected as I really haven’t had time to participate…plus I was a little unsure about having hundreds of artisans perusing my items.  Everyone seemed really fixated on these little felt applique flower pins I make and my patterns.  One member even told me to go read the comments she got when she posted this very item on her Facebook page.  There were two.  The first questioning how could this be handmade and only cost $5 (I presume she’s asking if I do indeed make these?) and the very next comment from another person stating that she would make the same thing herself.  I kind of think that answers itself…how cheap do I have to sell something that you won’t make yourself?  I do make this and they take a very long time.  I didn’t mind because I was using my stash, working on my embroidery skills, and do you ever make something that you just want people to have SO badly?

Last week I returned to the Farmer’s Market in town after almost a year hiatus from being ill.  I was so excited about this show!  I just expected to be in my element with other crafty souls like myself and hopefully customers that get “it”.  It certainly didn’t play out that way; after the organizer lost our application, we were able to set up an hour late.  The small crowd did not really engaged in much of my work and in some cases were just down right rude.  I split my booth with a lady that does some machine embroidery and sews the cutest baby items…several people told her they could make it and walked off.  The best tho was when a lady picked up this engraved pencil set of mine:

and remarked to her friend “I don’t know who this is”  I’m not certain if she thought “J’adore Paris” was someone’s name or a brand name…but either way it was completely lost on her.  I was so discouraged that I don’t think I made anything for days and I make something EVERY day whether it’s for myself or the shop.  My partner pointed out the big seller at the market was a lady that sold these tacky blingy t-shirts for next to nothing; she said she designed the image but someone else produced them for her…I’m not sure if that should have qualified in a handmade market?  Anyway, C told me to start planning for more simple, quick sellers like those.  For me that’s just selling out; four years ago when I opened my business I could have gone that route.  Believe me it’s a lot cheaper to buy from China but for some crazy reason I get this high when I make something and someone actually likes it enough they buy it.  So I’ll keep my integrity, thank you very much.

–Lisa LeBlanc

connect with me: website | twitter | facebook | pinterest | ravelry

Why Heartsy is Bad For Handmade

May 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

If you have not heard of Heartsy, prepare yourself…it is the newest trend/marketing ploy to hit the handmade market.  Being touted as the “Groupon” of Etsy, Heartsy offers at least 50% off Handmade goods by featured shops within in its site.  A boon for buyers everywhere, as you can imagine, but for sellers, some just break even for the exposure.

Brigitte Herrod Vintage Button Badge Heart Canvas

So how does it work?  As a seller, you request to be featured and Heartsy contacts you to negotiate a “deal”.  Typically, they ask you to offer a certain amount of a gift certificate for 50% of its value…sometimes it can be even more:

“A bit disappointed. I was contacted about being featured but they wanted me to do $59 GC’s for $19.00. With silver prices through the roof I’d be losing money right off the bat. I had offered $40 for $20 but it was a no go”  –Kristen writes via a comment on Handmadeology

For those that become featured sellers these gift certificates are used as vouchers that buyers pick up and use at your Etsy shop.  Many sellers are pleased at the uptick in traffic to their sites but admit to breaking even or low profit margins on their handmade wares.   In all fairness, a few users do suggest they have had repeat customers that have paid full price after their Heartsy deal has passed.

In the grand scheme of things, I am bothered by the fact that Heartsy makes Handmade goods a commodity to be bartered; removing the artist from the work.  For me, I enjoy supporting another artist for what their work and time is worth; the Heartsy trend just devalues this process.   Plus, are these the customers we really want?  An interesting thread running thru Etsy about Heartsy brought up this comment:

Selling your [lovely] work for less than half price to people who habitually never pay full price for anything would be a very costly error…that’s some damned expensive advertising aimed at the kind of audience you don’t want anyway. –SurrenderDorothy

Consider these two points made by Lisa Peter of Etsy Selling Success when trying to decide if Heartsy is right for your Etsy shop:

·  You can’t repeat this marketing scheme over and over or you’ll be out of business quickly. Good marketing is ongoing. It can’t stop with one or two efforts.

·  Building a brand based on product quality and outstanding customer service becomes difficult. The buyers of these coupons are generally looking for a deal. Your product quality and customer service doesn’t really play into their decision to buy. They most likely will be out there looking for the next great deal and end up forgetting about your product quality and outstanding service.

Rumor has it Heartsy will begin adding transaction fees soon (as they are not reaping enough from sellers).  Hopefully, this will be a deciding factor for more handmade artisans to agree that this marketplace is just not supportive to the Handmade Movement.

Have your own Heartsy experience?  Let’s discuss!

–Lisa LeBlanc

connect with me: website | twitter | facebook

Welcome to Cottage Nest

May 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hello!  My name is Lisa and I am building a community that embraces what it truly means to craft a handmade life; I welcome you to join me and my friends on this path.

Life is messy, far from perfect, but those that carve out and create meaning in what they make and how they live, know the value of each day.  For some of us, a handmade life is about crafting, gardening, cooking and even music; some may find that businesses may even blossom out of our everyday wanderings.   Here is where we share those stories, advice and connect with each other.

An interior designer, by trade, I have always been fascinated by creativity and design; however, it wasn’t until I opened my own independent boutique, Nest Interiors, in 2008 that I really embraced the handmade community.  Disappointed by my first trips to market and seeing an over-saturation of cheaply produced mass marketed junk, I began creating my own items out of necessity and began making connections locally and nationally to support handmade artists.  Beyond my business, the friendships and mentors I have gained within the handmade community have flourished and really given my life purpose (sounds awfully corny…but SO true).

If you would like to contribute to our community, be it as a writer, sharing a tutorial or requesting handmade product reviews, please contact me: nestinteriorsllc [at] yahoo.com

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