Sunday, September 2, 2012

Featured Craft artist of the Week: SaraiDesigns

Today I would like to welcome Sarah K. from SaraiDesigns. She love creating wearable art, each one of her  pieces is one of a kind!

1. I am passionate about crochet. It is such a beautiful art, and has gotten a bit of a bad rap, especially when compared to knitting which has always been the trendy child of the two. My goal is to present the world with crocheted clothing that fits and is aesthetically pleasing. I also delight in clothing that nods to both vintage, old fashioned themes combined with modern sensibilities, so most of my clothes are what I would consider wearable art pieces that are looking for a home with someone who will know right away that that piece belongs with her.

2&3. I heard about Etsy several years ago, and was vaguely interested, but didn't have time to pursue it. I finally actually checked out the website last fall, and was immediately enthralled. Through word of mouth, I knew I could set up an Etsy store, but courtesy of the word of mouth method of gathering information, I also thought that it was probably an arduous task best left for some never to happen day when I had nothing better to do. I quit my normal job last fall, and since I did end up with some extra time on my hands, I decided to check it out, and was superbly pleased to find that setting up a store was a ridiculously easy thing to do. In fact, not only was it easy but I really enjoyed it, and I was also very impressed with all the wonderful information that Etsy makes available to people trying to learn the ropes of selling. The infrastructure is really great, and makes the whole thing so much more user friendly than some other websites I've looked at.

4. I sell crocheted clothing and crochet patterns that I have designed and made. I try to recycle materials when I can, and one of my favorite items that I will be making more of are dresses/tops that have a crocheted bodice sewn onto a recycled dress/skirt. These are so cute, and there is no limit to the styles that I can create. I'm really looking forward to expanding this part of my shop.
I also sell prints of photos I have taken, most of which are of things in the natural world but could include anything that really strikes me.
Vintage Lovelies is a small part of my shop where I can pass on antique or vintage treasures that I come across in my constant haunting of thrift stores, yard sales, antique stores, and flea markets. You never know what you'll come across! 

5. SaraiDesigns is based on my name. Sarai is the Hebrew version of my name, Sarah, and although I'm not Hebrew or particularly religious, I wanted to use something unusual but liked the idea of keeping it simple by using my name. I wanted the name to be a little elegant, slightly sophisticated, but not too pigeon holed, so that I could use it for a lot of different types of things.

6. My shop is vibrant and colorful, earthy and yet delicate. I certainly appreciate the neutral color pallette that has become so prevalent on Etsy, and its very attractive, but I have to admit that color always draws my attention. I don't know yet whether I can claim any kind of success using vibrant colors as opposed to the more soothing tones I see in a lot of shops, because I haven't had my shop long and I haven't had many sales yet. But I will keep using this type of look until it becomes evident that it wont work, which I hope won't be the case. But we shall see.

7. My inspiration comes from several places. I love the look of the roaring twenties, flapper style hair, clothing, jewelry, art, decor, all of it. I wouldn't say that my pieces are direct reflections necessarily of that time, but there is that hint I think in a lot of what I do. I also look at what is popular right now, and try to mesh the two things in an attractive way. Perusing fashion magazines or websites is always interesting and I usually come away with my brain agog with ideas. It can be a little overwhelming, but there are always some winners stewing in there!
The great outdoors inspires me greatly as well. The texture and color in flowers and plants, trees, the sky, even the ground, catch my attention constantly. I am outside in the woods a lot, as we live up in Northern Idaho and only recently got electricity, so I feel that I've lived the last six years or so in much closer touch with the things outside than the things inside, in some ways.

8. Opening a store on Etsy did more than just give me a place to market my creations. I discovered an entire world of other talented, fabulous people who seem to want to put some old fashioned honesty and good will out into a world that has become so obsessed with the bottom line. I would say that has been a really pleasant surprise, and it inspires me to continue in faith that all good things will come around in time, especially on those really dead days when I think this will never work. 

9. I actually don't have a website or blog. I try to limit my time on the computer so Etsy is my main focus. I do have my crochet patterns for sale on another site called Ravelry. Its a wonderful place to get lost in luscious knitting and crochet, but beware, its like Etsy for knitting and crochet patterns - you can spend hours looking at all the beautiful work on there.

Tips I would pass on to someone looking at opening an Etsy store:
-be prepared to spend some time on the website looking around at their resources
-don't be afraid to ask questions; the forums and teams are great and so far I haven't had a single person respond negatively to what I felt might be a stupid question
-take time to get great photos; its worth it in the end to display your items in the best way possible, and remember, the people shopping only have one picture of your item to draw them in. They can't see all the things you see, they can only see what you show them and how you show it to them, so make it count.

I spend time on my store almost every day. I am still in the learning phase of this venture, and feel that it is helpful to check on trends, and my shop stats at least once a day so that I can learn what is working and what isn't. I also want to make sure that if someone asks a question, or wants to buy something, that I respond promptly and don't make them wait.

My turnaround time on a new idea depends entirely on the idea. Some of my items may take me 20-30 hours to complete, and some might only take 5 hours, so it really varies. Once something is complete, taking a good picture also take time and I may or may not be able to get a good shot quickly. Sometimes I have to just wait until inspiration strikes and I think of a good way to present something, and I am still learning that as well.

Promotions are another area I'm still bolstering. I promote through Facebook by posting links from listing pages. I'm not sure whether that is effective or not. Hopefully it will help. I also have been doing Etsy search ads, which seem to be well designed. I like that I can set a budget and not go over that amount, and that there are options for how to pick what you focus the search ads on.

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