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Do any of you wonderful people sell your wears on Etsy? I have recently opened my first Etsy shop as an outlet to sell some of my favorite pieces from past collections and to promote my line, Dahl, to a new type of audience. I have noticed that many folks are doing very well selling on Etsy, especially in the 1-offs or hand-made categories, including Layla, of Ledthread, who used to make beautiful things for you here at BurdaStyle.



It used to be a dream of mine to stay home all day and just sew for hours on end… Today I see that dream as something entirely reasonable and proven to be quite fruitful- people I know have quit their day jobs because of online sales. You can list your items for “pocket change” on some of these sites while creating an outlet where the entire globe can browse your work. Pretty unbeatable I think.



Now I have a question for you: What sort of questions do any of you have about getting things off the ground as a young or independent designer? What sort of tips or advice are you looking for? I am working on a posting which will cover some of these issues & I want to answer your questions, as you are the future of the sewing world. Thank you!

22 Comments

  • 2800637376_9bb5647e79_b_large

    Sep 20, 2009, 01.33 AMby theappletree

    all of these questions are very relevant to me— I’m starting up my own etsy shop but don’t have a lot of capital to build up an initial stock. How do I market so that I sell items very quickly to allow me to buy supplies to create more?

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    Sep 13, 2009, 09.23 PMby sandrasews

    I’m watching this post with interest as it seems it was written for me! I have just started my etsy shop and lucky me have made a few sales in just a couple of weeks which has given me the encouragement to put more effort into it. I’ve always wanted to start up a little market stall to sell things and it seems just so easy and low pressure to do it online. I did need the encouragement of an artist friend of mine who has her own shop. I have the same questions as the others here about what are the best tips for deciding on your range (as I’d like to include other things at this stage but don’t want to make the store “messy”), made-to-order or ready-to-ship (I do a combination at the moment), most effective ways to promote (do I really need to start a blog?), what do people find is the best way to convert traffic and “hearts” to actual sales?

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    Sep 11, 2009, 02.11 AMby cat

    I’d like to set an online store too. I’m looking for something easy to use & update. It seams everyone is on Etsy…how do you distinguish yourself & how do you get people to go on your profile? It seams a waste to have monthly fees & no one sees your stuff!

    I noticed facebook & myspace attracted a bit of people, but it stops after a while. I mostly get spamed!

    I’ve been selling + consigning to boutiques for 2 years now & I’m kind of stuck in between being too small, but not big enough to hire some one. Where does a designer go from here???

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    Sep 10, 2009, 02.29 PMby maria-gehrke

    I really love Etsy, and browse it almost daily. I do not have a shop there, but have ordered some things. The concept of selling selfmade items is great. I like the feel of that website and comunity. Very inspiring!

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    Sep 10, 2009, 01.31 PMby mirela

    This might sound silly, but I’m more interested in is: after you decide on a line (collection) and produce a garment for each pattern in the collection, how do you deal with the supplies for more? Do you buy larger quantities of fabric to have and sew on demand, do you sew everything in more sizes to begin with? (same questions as Bola). What kind of labels do you have to use, sizing, care instruction, contents, is it mandatory to have the labels?

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    Sep 9, 2009, 11.25 PMby emily greensmith

    Thank you LovePink09, and Alison, amongst the way too big a rant that was some of what I was trying to drive at :) Really should go back and edit before I post, or just not post about something I feel as passionately about as sewing. :)

  • Missing

    Sep 9, 2009, 06.54 PMby tiarasandturtles

    What timing – I have also opened a shop on Etsy. Opened 7/19/09 and no sales yet. I would love any suggestions, ideas, etc. Excited but puzzled at the same time. Have the blog, facebook, twitter, etc but feel there must be more I haven’t thought of. Making children’s clothing and lounging wear (ie don’t use for pjs). Looking forward to learning as the rest of you do also!

    To B – lots of people appear to be doing well on etsy selling clothing. If you love it you should do it! Life is way to short to not love what you do.

    Would love to leave my “day” job and make the childrens clothing full time!

    1 Reply
    • D02f8bae696102a266640aa28780dfce4fe1ab84_large

      Sep 12, 2009, 09.41 PMby bola

      Cool thanks for the help! it’s been useful reading what everyone else has said about the matter. I would really love to make and sell my own collections in the future, I guess the only thing that can hinder people from trying is fear of failure… it would be good experience to work alongside someone who has done it so you can learn from them but this is not always possible. Well I will have a good try at it! bx

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    Sep 9, 2009, 06.35 PMby peacenluv78

    great idea!

    i think the greatest challenge for all is advertising / marketing! i think the key to a successful shop is doing these 2 things well. i’m interested in learning from others their techniques to marketing and advertising. especially online advertising and marketing. i’m on a number of sites: twitter, facebook, xanga (blog), burdastyle…which i all use to promote my shop. i’m interested in learning about other ways to market on the internet and find out what has been most successful for others. rather than mention…oh, i’m on facebook…i would like to know specific tricks that people have discovered.

    for example, blogging is essential in marketing one’s products. i’ve found that contacting bloggers, specifically people who blog about etsy, handmade finds, crafting in general has helped me tremendously. its a win win situation since bloggers are looking for interesting products to blog about and i need my products featured on their site.

  • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

    Sep 9, 2009, 02.39 PMby alisondahl

    Thank you all so much for replying to my questions. I am working on a post and will combine all of my answers to these questions and let you know when they are posted. Quickly though, off the top of my head, I wanted to answer LovePink09 by saying that I feel strongly that one should find their “niche”, or specialty, and focus on that, applying different methods or techniques to this one thing that you have become quite good at. The more you practice, the better you will be. This has been my mantra since I began sewing:)

    1 Reply
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      Sep 16, 2009, 01.38 AMby lovepink09

      Thanks Alison!! The hard part is deciding what to focus on when there are so many things I love to make!! So looking forward to your next post :)

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    Sep 9, 2009, 01.56 PMby pantora

    There areso many people who arent neccessariy trained in sewing ect its just a natural gift. If your product can withstand its purpose its probably pood enough to sell. You can buy fabrics any where Im based in nyc so thats where i get mine but fabric websites are good tooont need to buy wholesale either

  • Pich_large

    Sep 9, 2009, 01.37 PMby lovepink09

    Oh how I would love to be able to sell on Etsy full-time, but it’s so hard to get regular sales!!

    I have a couple of questions…

    What is the best marketing tool to use… I have tried joining social networking sites like facebook, I have used the forums (which led to my very first sale!). I don’t have my own blog, but I have been featured in a number of blogs previously. What else has been proven to work?

    Also, is it better to work within a niche market and focus on a particular item or style, or would it be more successful to offer a variety of items in your store? I make jewellery and I sew, and I’m trying to list different things as a starting point to see what might be more popular.

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    Sep 9, 2009, 12.27 PMby holidaypepper

    I have the same question as Bola. How do you know when you’re creations are “good enough” to sell. Also, from an income-standpoint, when you make money off your Etsy shop, how do you claim it for taxes? Do you even have to claim it?

  • Burda_ava_large

    Sep 9, 2009, 09.19 AMby riala

    I added my bags to Etsy, and I have not sold one bag. Mine are cheaper than all others on there, and my P&P is cheaper too… been on there for over a month.

    1 Reply
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      Sep 10, 2009, 10.08 PMby countrygurltracy

      I have owned my own shop and done the craft fairs and shows and have found that if you sell to cheep they will not buy either. There is a mind set that if it is that cheep it will never hold up try raising your price another good trick is take you cost times it by three and that is a fair price. Hope this will help you:)

  • Missing

    Sep 9, 2009, 03.42 AMby pantora

    If you love what you do and your ga3rment can with stand its purpose i think its good enough to sell. Fabrics dont need to be purchased from a wholesaler, Im based in NYC so thats where i get my materials. But websites like fabric.com ect are just fine as well

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    Sep 9, 2009, 03.35 AMby schickchick

    i sell my stuff on etsy…and have been since 2007, but its just taking off this year. i don’t really ever want to be the “next big thing”…but would like to make a living from doing it (’cause i LOVE IT!)

    Whats a good promotional tool that doesn’t cost much? What do you find inspiration from?

  • F66000795a715351f3be0afc6a95654543297db9_large

    Sep 9, 2009, 12.14 AMby emily greensmith

    What a great idea. I have about 10,000 questions but here are one or two that have been on my mind for a while. I have an etsy shop which has been pretty much a failure so far. I have been advised by some very helpful people that this is more to do with the quality of the photos and general presenation rather than the product itself. I get this, but I’m just not really sure what to do about it. If I’m making one off pieces then surely customers don’t want to buy them if they’ve been worn, but then how do I make them look appealing without a model?

    So the shop is at www.frolics.etsy.com (feel free to delete this – not trying to plug it, just so you can see what I am talking about.)

    Also, how do you personally choose what direction to move in? How do you choose your theme for a collection? I love to make both lingerie, handbags and travelbags, clothes…. etc. I have no idea how to make this a coherent collection. As a result I’ve done bugger all to my shop for ages, and have just been making gifts for friends and mucking around, whilst having a growing collection of stuff sitting unphotographed, unlisted and generally gathering dust.

    Do you work towards what you believe will work for a particular market, or do you just happen to enjoy making a particular thing (ie apparel) with a particular aesthetic?

    Okay I should leave it there, but I guess my main question here is – most of the online shops I would buy from, on etsy or elsewhere look pretty slick. With no real resources for models and photographers, and one of a kind items that mostly shouldn’t be worn before purchase, have you got any ideas on how to make a storelook professional?

    Thanks heaps, and i hope your store is successful, your work is truly beautiful.

    Emily aka frolics

    1 Reply
    • Missing

      Sep 9, 2009, 03.39 AMby pantora

      I say feel free to put your garments on a model, etsy-ers dont mind and would actually like to get a better idea of what it looks like, except for the lingerie, maybe you can invest in a mannequin for that, use good lighting for pics and promote ridiculously

  • D02f8bae696102a266640aa28780dfce4fe1ab84_large

    Sep 8, 2009, 11.14 PMby bola

    Cool that would be a great help!

    Actually i’ve always wanted to know how you know the stuff you make by hand is good enough to sell? I would love to make things to sell but I haven’t been formally trainned in fashion/pattern cutting etc so I feel like it would be years/ages before I thought I could make a garment that was perfectly finished – like shop bought. Also where do you source the best fabrics from? and don’t fashion fabrics just sell at whoelsale? so you have to buy loads even though you’re just making a few items? how does it work!?

    Did you first sell handmade clothes then go on to get a few of each produced somewhere else? it would be helpful to know whether I would be able to hand make and sell clothes!

    Thanks B

    • This is a question
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