Friday, August 31, 2012

Featured Craft artist of the Week: BlackWillowSoaps

The Featured Artist of the Week is Natalee W. from BlackWillowSoaps.  In her spear time she creates handmade soaps, bath salts, candles, and other items. Let’s learn more about Natalee! For your reader BlackWillowSoaps Shop will be offering a 10% off everything in my etsy shop with a coupon code that fallows. Read on to find out more!!!

1.What would you like us to know about you?
I am a twenty-nine year old married woman with a twelve year old stepdaughter. I was born and raised in Indiana, but have resided in Florida for the past 13 years. I have an Associates and Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology. I am a disabled Army Veteran. I have been involved in the arts since I was a little girl.

2.When did you discover Etsy?
I discovered Etsy in 2007 and attempted to sell some of my artwork. I didn’t devote as much time as I should have to my shop and was not successful. I started Black Willow Soaps last January.

3.What prompted you to open an Etsy Shop?
My mother and her friend, Kurt, had been talking about selling handcrafted items at craft shows in our area. They asked me to join them and bring my soaps and candles. So, I made a bunch of soaps to go to the craft fair. Unfortunately, it never panned out and I was left with all of these soaps. Christmas had just passed, so I couldn’t really gift the items. I had sold on Etsy before with just original artwork and really couldn’t get it to work out. But, I figured why not try it again with my new products. So far, it has been a wonderful journey.

4.What do you sell?
My shop is definitely versatile. I sell a variety of handmade things from handmade, natural soap, to homemade fudge, to original artwork, to handpoured scented candles.

5.How did you come up with your shop name?
My husband and I bought our first house this past May and one of the things that I really, really wanted to plant in my yard was a Black Willow Tree. Unfortunately for me, I don’t live in the Everglades and a willow tree would not survive in my back yard. So, I thought that I would use Black Willow in my shop title so that everyday I could see the Black Willow in my items, even if it wasn’t growing in my backyard.
6.How would you describe your shop?
My shop is warm and inviting. The items are very vibrant and creative. I think that my shop creates a great atmosphere through the photographs of my work in addition to the products that can be found within it. 

7.What inspires / motivates you?
I gain inspiration from everything. Most of the time, you can tell what I have been looking at my new products! The beach themed tealight candle holder came from a trip to the beach with my husband. The rose candle holder came from the memory of the beautiful roses that my mother had in our yard when we lived in Indiana. My friends and family are a big inspiration and usually the last word on whether or not one of my products will be listed. Chances are if they like it, someone else will enjoy it as well.

8.How has Etsy changed your life?
My etsy shop has given me a place to display my creativity. It has given me an escape from mundane tasks and brought delightful things to my life. It has helped my self-esteem and has connected me with a lot of very creative, nice, and interesting people that I would have never met otherwise.

9.Where else can we find you? (Do you have a website or blog outside of Etsy?)
I am all over the place it seems! Here is a list of my social media links:
Etsy Shop:

10.Is there anything else you would like to share? During normal business hours, I am a case manager for senior citizens. I help provide services to senior citizens that allow them to stay in their home instead of going to a nursing home. If I am not at work, I am usually working on my shop. My hobbies kind of surround my shop. I like to paint, create, and grow herbs to put in my soaps. I spend time with my family whenever I can. Most of my family outings even seem to encompass my shop, like the beach, thrift stores, and the flea market. In a sense, I am always working…at least in my mind. My brain never stops thinking about what I could be creating or doing for my shop.

Tips you might give other thinking of opening an online shop:
Dive in! You never know what will happen until you try. I firmly believe that dreams never die, they just change a little over the years. So, I would say to anyone who wants to create their own business or exclusively work in the products that I work in, that they should go for it and see what is waiting at the other end. Life’s journey begins with a single step, right?

(These questions are optional. I included them so that others interested in joining the crafting community of etsy might have some insight into what it takes to be a shop owner)

11.When you get a new idea, how long does it take you to execute and list it?
It really just depends on the idea. Candles take me longer to finish and list because there is usually more time invovled. When it comes to a soap idea, I am right on top of it. I have turned around ideas in just a few hours if I have the time and the items that are needed to make them!

12. How much time do you spend on your shop each week?
I typically work on my shop every week day from 5pm until 9pm and sometimes work from 9am to 10pm on weekends.

13. How do you promote your shop?
Social media sites such as Facebook and twitter. I do card and sample swaps with other Etsy members. I leave samples with my oil supplier at the local flea market and cross promote their shop on my social media sites. I keep a blog for my etsy shop as well.

14. How important is social media for your shop?
Very, very important. I don’t think that you can have a successful online business without utilizing social media sites. I can tell the difference in page views when I have taken a day off from facebook or twitter.

Also please let me know if you have any coupon code, and or sales going on in your shop that you would like to share.

10% off everything in my etsy shop with coupon code FIRST10. My Black Willow Soaps website is always $1 cheaper than my etsy price on all products.

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