Made with Moxie: January 2012

January 20, 2012

Is Etsy dying?

Today a friend posted a blog article titled Is Etsy dying? While I sent my comments to its author, I also wanted to post it publicly here. Often people ask me about opening an Etsy shop and I am more than happy to mentor them through the process. But the important thing to remember is that it is a process. You can't just set up shop, sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Well, you can, but most likely the money won't just roll in. Etsy is an amazing online market place that makes it easy to set up a shop in order to sell your wares, but it is ultimately a business you are going to run. It needs to be run 24/7.

Here is my response to the article Is Etsy dying?**

I have been an Etsy member since 2006 and have run an open shop on Etsy since April of 2010. I think the biggest problem that new sellers at Etsy have is what another commenter called the Field of Dreams syndrome. Etsy makes it so much easier to open a shop than it is to open a brick and mortar shop. You can avoid taxes, the IRS, rent, contracts and a large over head. New sellers that fail to take off on Etsy encounter many misconceptions and mistakes. You are setting up a shop in the world’s largest craft show. Competition is greatly misjudged. Few take the time to ask themselves “What makes my items better than all the others?” Few sellers also think that Etsy is going to drive their sales. Half of my sales from from Etsy searches. And I get those sales because I have done my research about Google search words and how Etsy’s searches work so that my items are labeled and tagged properly. Etsy has also changed their search methods as well. The default search lists items by relevancy instead of recency. The other half of my sales I drive from social media and networking. Namely my Facebook page and blog.

However these shortcomings of new shop owners are not unique to Etsy. They apply to every new small business that opens in America. The largest percent fail because they have not done their research. Just because you are good at making something doesn’t mean you are good at selling it. Or that you are good at graphic design, product description writing, product photography, social media, networking, or have a good business sense. All of these things are necessary to have a truly successful business whether on Etsy or else where.

Also what you call the “Etsy horror story” is not unique to Etsy either. One’s designs are just as easily copied from craft fairs, their own webpages, or in any environment. Knock offs are the nature of any business. But knock offs aren’t what take down a successful business. If that were true, Chanel, Gucci, Coach, etc wouldn’t be in business today. People who claim knock offs ruin their business didn’t have a strong, unique item to sell in the first place. There are items I can make that I don’t sell well on Etsy because the Etsy market it flooded with them and I would have to price them down so much to be competitive that they wouldn’t be worth my time to make. Hair accessories are a great example. Every crafty mom who has a baby girl inevitably can make hair clips and head bands. All you need is a glue gun and some ribbon. So Etsy is FILLED with hair accessories. I don’t bother to post my hair accessories to sell on Etsy. However, in a physical market place where I am most likely the only handmade infant and toddler vendor, I can sell hair accessories like hotcakes. It takes some market know-how to be successful.

There are also flaws in your math and numbers. In business you don’t compare month to month sales numbers to calculate increases. December will always be a much larger sales volume month than January. Just think, how many presents did you buy in December vs January. The retail volume has an ebb and flow all year that is largely holiday driven. So when calculating increases and decreases in sales volume (or any other metric) You want to compare each month’s numbers to those of the year previous. i.e. December 2010 to December 2011. That will give you an accurate picture of business health.

Also because there is no distinction in Etsy accounts between being a seller and a buyer, you are correct in assuming there is no way to determine what the intention of each new account opened is. I am both an Etsy seller and an Etsy buyer and have always been. Also, new accounts could be created in order to favorite items and shops for later purchases, making them neither sellers or buyers. And while you have the number of new accounts opened you do not have the number of accounts closed or left dormant.

Etsy isn’t dying at all. It is making great revenue off of listing fees and sales commissions. People who try to open a shop and fail blame Etsy. When in fact they should look closer at critiquing themselves. Those people would have failed at a brick and mortar shop too. They aren’t putting the dedication and effort it takes into running a business because that is what it is. They say Etsy as the easy way out, when it isn’t at all. It’s a launching platform. It’s a market place. Etsy makes it easier to have a successful shop, but they do not make it easy. Running a business is not easy. In the end the shop owner still has to do most all of the work. And those who don’t will ultimately fail.

If you read all this and still would like help to launch your Etsy shop please do not hesitate to email me at

I will also be doing a give away soon to followers of this blog. Please take the time to click "follow" at the top left hand corner of the screen to enter.

Thank you and have a great weekend!

January 19, 2012

What I'm working on

This year I joined an online quilting bee. Each month I am sent fabric and instructions of which block the person wants made from the book Modern 99: Quilt Blocks from your Favorite Designers. This month is happyvanillabean's month. Here is the block I made for her.
I also made my test block since my month is March and I figure it is safer to be ahead of schedule instead of rushing especially when dealing with the unpredictability of 2 kiddos. I chose the block called Pinball Machine and plan on using fabrics from my stash of favorites. It was so hard to cut them up, but if I don't I'll just have to get buried with them. Each square will be 2 different fabrics. Here is my test block.

I also made three zippy bags with the awesome hand printed fabric that I won from Amy at During Quiet Time during the Sew,Mama, Sew give away. You can buy some of her printed fabric from her Etsy shop. I love the prints so much and tried to use every square inch! Her husband also makes the most amazing stitch rippers. I don't have a picture of mine, but I love it. It has a great weight and feel to it. Even if I'm pissed off to be ripping out a seam, at least I feel like a professional doing so. I plan on giving one bag away as part of the Gen Q Stitchy Valentine Swap The fate of the others haven't been decided.

Front of bags
Backs of bags
I am still working on my crocheted rainbow afghan (aka Wedding Kiki**) using the design Lucy shared at Attic 24 And yes, I started it in 2010. I am making it king size so when my husband steals the covers I can still have some. So far, I have a king sized scarf. This may very well end up being a Tenth Anniversary Kiki.

Also on my hook is a pink and black hat for my MIL. She saw one I made earlier this year and said she'd look so cute rocking it around Disneyland this winter. I am also slowly painting the old Ikea Billy book cases white in the basement. In the garage and sunroom are the pieces of Jane's big girl bed. And let's not even get started on the sewing projects and Etsy orders. And no I'm not super woman. I have a dirty house, easy dinners and am sleep deprived. I don't think I could stop if I wanted to.

**When I was a child I called the afghan my grandmother made for me my kiki. It is now just common terminology around our house for all crocheted blankets.

January 10, 2012

Coco Poo

I have always been curious about dry shampoo. I'm a natural at procrastination and laziness, so sleeping in and skipping showers is appealing. Expect for my hair. It has always been on the oily side and to make matters worse, it is straight so when compounded with oil makes for a very greasy looking Jill. In high school I read that you can put baby powder in your hair to absorb oils if you're running late and don't have time to shower. That was an atrocious mess. The baby powder went everywhere; all over my clothes and bedroom floor. (Clearly I wasn't thinking there, but is any teenager thinking?) The real problem was that despite all the combing and brushing you could still see white powderyness in my brown hair. It was a huge fail and resulted in my having to take a shower anyways and a fast one at that since I had already slept in and messed around.

My scalp is very dry during the colder months. I switch back and forth between a regular and dandruff shampoo as well as a conditioner. At best I think it helps a little, but honestly each year I just chalk it up to genetics and wear less black. A few weeks ago my husband mentioned that he had not been using shampoo anymore and only using water on his hair during daily showers. He was wondering if I could tell any difference and honestly I could not. Though to be fair, his hair is short and I think men's hair is easier to hide a lack of shampooing. I decided to renew my quest for dry shampoo in the hopes that lessening the times I wet shampoo my hair will help my scalp out.

I searched online for some dry shampoos to try. Ha! Have you ever done that? They are quite expensive and I am not the kind of girl to pay $20 for a bottle of shampoo. So I did some research online to make my own dry shampoo, which as luck would have it is very easy. I also determined a way to make the dry shampoo brown so it wouldn't look as crazy on my brunette head; cocoa powder. I have jokingly named my dry shampoo mixture Coco Poo. Now I don't look like I'm wearing a George Washington's wig and, as my husband says, I smell like chocolate pudding while I wash my hair.

From what I have gathered, the traditional method of dry shampooing is to shake the mixture on to your scalp and massage it in all over your roots then brush/comb the powder out and go on your merry way. That sounds fine and dandy except the part where you have to clean up the bathroom floor every time. And despite all my brushing and/or combing, it still feels like I never get all the Coco Poo out. Combined with my hair falling out in massive bits because I am no longer pregnant and that is too big of a mess. So what I do is put the Coco Poo in my dry hair as soon as I get in the shower. I massage it into my scalp like I would regular shampoo. Then I let it sit for a few minutes so let the starches and powders absorb the oils from my hair. (Note: I don't know if giving it time is scientifically necessary or not. It is just what I do.) Next I use a fine tooth comb to comb most of the Coco Poo out of my hair and rinse my hair completely with water. I do not use a conditioner after that either. Just dry my hair (or let dry) and go.

Here is my recipe for Coco Poo:
3 Tbs oatmeal
1 Tbs cocoa powder
2 Tbs arrow root
2 Tbs potato starch
2 Tbs baking powder
First, grind up your oatmeal. I have found that a coffee grinder works best.
Using a funnel (yes, I used a breast pump shield), add the oatmeal and all the other ingredients into your container. You want something that you can shake the powder out of. I used emptied spice jars. You can also use Parmesan cheese containers or even large holed salt shakers. It would also be wise to stick with plastic if you're going to use it in the shower.
Once your container(s) are full put the lids on and shake them well to blend everything together well. The ingredient amounts in this recipe should fill an average sized plastic spice container. This recipe is also, like all recipes I use, not set in stone. The idea is to use starches that absorb the oils your scalp produces. You can also use corn starch. I just happened to have arrow root and potato starch in my house left over from the days when my daughter was allergic to just about everything.
Right now, I use Coco Poo every other day. I use regular shampoo on mornings after I work out because I don't know if Coco Poo works on sweaty hair. My hair looks the same when I use Coco Poo. My scalp is much less dry and I haven't had any major dandruff out breaks either which is nice. Plus, I'm hoping with time using shampoo less will make my scalp make less oils and also make my hair softer since I won't be drying it out as much.If you make some Coco Poo I'd love to hear how it went. If you are not a brunette or red head, just skip the cocoa powder. Though you won't get to smell like pudding. Sorry, blonds, you can't have all the fun!