Suggestions for topics this week

Hello lovelies.

With kindred away at market, what shall we talk about? I never like to get into anything too complex because it makes it difficult for people to catch up once they can catch their respective breaths again.

Ideas? Suggestions? Do tell.

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  1. PamSD says:

    I’m interested in Etsy as well. Maybe a discussion about marketing there.

    It seems to be a very niche market and it comes off as a get to know you before buying from you sort of thing. I could be completely off on that but I started a little store there for the doll clothes I make. They have been listed for over a month without one sale.

    If there is some strategy that would help get sales started, I’m all ears.

  2. Jasonda says:

    Since I just started a new blog featuring my design work, I would be interested in hearing any advice you have for people who are new to blogging for business.

    P.s. Pam there is a ton of helpful info about Etsy, on the Etsy blog and site.. the most helpful (and most often repeated) advice I’ve heard is to take really high quality photographs and relist your items daily.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Pam, I am not an authority on Etsy. I thought about trying it out just so I had something to say about it but I haven’t done anything yet. Even then, I’d wonder which sales were generated genuinely vs my promotion of them via this site.

    Jasonda: you’re assuming I know something about blogging for business! This blog was started at a time when I had time to kill and my then-BF suggested I blog. Blogging for business necessarily entails *goals* -which I didn’t have and mostly still don’t. No surprise then that I don’t get much business from it. F-I has mostly become a connection point and a focal point on the kinds of competencies that should be typical in the trade. Etc.

    I can tell you about things that annoy me. Number one: a blogger that describes their entries as “blogs”. A blog is the whole shooting match. A close second are blogs that limit comments to proprietary logins. Etc.

  4. Jody says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    Building on the Etsy suggestion, you might consider helping people understand the differences in the business models on Etsy versus those you describe in your book. They are very different with a very different set of challenges. You did a great job of explaining this in a series of posts you did some time ago, I just can’t remember what the original subject was. Anyway, a comparison of the two might help folks understand what they can and can’t do to inject more efficient business processes from your book into their Etsy business model. They are different but there are a lot of practices that if applied, would make for a more successful business regardless of the venue through which you market your designs. Just some thoughts….

  5. Claudine says:

    I was hoping to avoid narrowing it down, as narrowing can sometimes have the effect of closing doors that might lead to interesting observations. Even narrowing it to selling vs buying is perilous, as you can’t have one without the other.

    But since you asked, do you think it is possible to make a living selling on Etsy without going insane? As I understand it, you are supposed to not only manage but execute all aspects of your business yourself if you are to sell on Etsy. One person is responsible for design, execution, marketing, sales, and trips to the post office. What do you think of running a business this way?

    I am not expecting you to be an authority on Etsy, but you always seem to bring up points I have not considered and I am interested in your thoughts.

  6. Rebecca Curreen says:

    Hi Kathleen, Am just reading your book, and finished the section on fabrics but was left with one unanswered question – where do you actually find fabrics?

  7. Linda Slater says:

    Why do I constantly see wrinkles along the back shoulder of men in suits? Are they too tight? Are they cut too high? What is the fundamental fitting issue? Is it just when they lift their arms up to the desk . I usually see this on TV , whether they are interviewers or interviewees. I could even hazard a guess that many are made to measure and of a very high quality tailoring – but I still see the back neck trying to creep up. Why?
    I know it’s another “fitting: discussion but it’s so prevalent it drives me crazy!

  8. Quincunx says:

    Jody, that series ran in June 2009. The search engine can’t find it because Etsy only came up in the comments. . .and now that I look back at the post which started it all, Kathleen has also linked some follow-up posts which I didn’t remember were related. Mine the comments for each, they’re gold dust.

    Microbusiness is in (where _did_ all the businesses with their heads above the parapet go? . . .ah right, they were busy getting ready for their markets). If there’s a path to hiring for one-time specific skilled tasks, instead of hiring for a steady flow of work that the microbusiness would need to be larger to guarantee, that info might be welcome, i.e. are there places like UPS stores that will take mundane task X on even if you may only call on them four times a year? Working in fits and starts isn’t the sort of employment you’re trying to promote here but it is better than no employment. . .I think.

    PamSD, I’m going to float the idea of “impulse purchases on the Internet” around my mostly male circles of friends and see if they’ve done it (YES). . .see if they’ll own up to doing it and maybe tell me why. How to catch the eye of someone who has ‘doll clothes’ on their internal shopping list before they ever got to your point-of-sale, I have no idea. Not to say your idea of relationship first, purchase later is wrong–the only place I don’t ask for a relationship between buyer and seller is the supermarket–but the Internet relationship takes months, not minutes, to establish.

  9. B. says:

    Hi, I’m new here, as Smog said, but i suppose i had two points to post.

    The first was that I stumbled across this site from a link elsewhere (sorry, can’t remember) expecting the usual but found the unusual. This site is incredibly useful, informative and actually inspiring. I’m a fair way into launching my menswear collection (though I tend to tell people I’m just between jobs as doing anyting in ‘fashion’ seems a bit like being in LA and claiming to be an ‘actress’) so tend to be trawling alot of sites in search of information. As far as I’ve found, this site is unique. Most clothing or fashion sites tend to deal in the sort of nebulous topics that may come a lot further down the line but are of limited use to most folks at the start up stage. Nuts and bolts on fashion sites are like rocking horse s*it as far as i can see.

    Nuts and bolts written (well) by someone that also knows retail and trend is rarer. I appreciate your balanced views, not least as I set up a boutique about 6 years ago with my partner and we’re always getting it in the neck about how expensive things are / our mark up from designers / makers. Seriously designer/maker; give it a go. You have no idea of the costs involved in running a retail space in a reasonably good location.

    Sorry, that went a bit off topic… My on topic suggestion would be:
    How to bridge the divide between buying online and being able to try garments on? How does a web based business best convey fit and size in order to increase sales and limit returns?

    I couldn’t find a related item when i searched and i’m sure you would have some good ideas.

    So, in a nutshell i just wanted to say thanks for your efforts – they are appreciated.


  10. Amy says:

    I would like to learn how to become a “meticulous” sewist instead of a messy one. I try to slow down and think I’m doing each step correctly. I rip when necessary, and I’m improving, but I’m still struggling to have my final results come out looking professional and highest quality.

    I desperately want my work to look like a professional lives here instead of an amateur with dreams. Would you be interested in explaining and discussing how a crappy-to-average sewist can train to become a meticulous, perfectionist whose WS work is as beautiful and spare as the RS?
    Thank you.

  11. Penelope Else says:

    I’d like to see more on what tools to use to produce a great finish – best practice in widgets, eg folders, bias-binding applicators, jigs. What members here use successfully.

  12. Quincunx says:

    Early returns on the “impulse purchases on the Internet” straw poll are guys buying to fulfill a need instead of searching for an item. One says “I’m bored” and buys the first game he sees that might relieve boredom at a low price. One says “I’m running out of disk space” and does product comparison until the need becomes acute, then makes an impulse purchase. Now what sort of need do you pitch when you’re selling doll clothes? I want youthful items around to remind me to be young at heart? I want to please my daughter with a gift? I crave fine workmanship and high fashion but can’t afford it in full size? . . .and how will you get that question into the minds of your cultivated Etsy-friend customers?

  13. Lisa Blank says:

    I’m coming up empty on suggestions for the blog, though I could benefit from Amy and Penelope’s suggestions. However, I would like to selfishly suggest it might be a good week to pursue one or more of those members-only tutorials you’ve hinted at.

  14. Austin says:

    My take on Etsy is that there’s a tremendous market for ‘craft’ manufactured items. But if you want to build a business of any significant size, you’ll have to pursue your own vertically integrated sales outlets (catalog, online shopping cart) or sell wholesale. Once you start either of those, Etsy will become more trouble than it’s worth.

    But if you’re pursuing a small niche, or if you have a ‘craft’ manufacturing process, Etsy charges very minimal listing fees and has a certain cache with people who are interested in buying handmade items. Several Project Runway winners have stores on Etsy, and sell their $600 skirts and $2000 dresses regularly enough.

  15. Laura says:

    I wanted to make a comment about Etsy: I’ve been selling there for a few years now. The Etsy community is very interactive and helpful. Etsy as a company does a good job of trying to educate sellers, and they get kudos for that, BUT don’t forget their main priority is to promote themselves (and rack up their own sales). Good photos are a MUST, but that’s a truth anywhere you sell. Yeah, they’ll tell you to relist and relist and relist, but I haven’t found that to be helpful. While it MIGHT produce a sale here and there (because you come up on the relist chart momentarily), I do better to make sure my tags and listing words are good ones (so I can be found in a search) and try to drive business to my Etsy site through outside means; join facebook groups and blogs with like interests and so forth. Buyers on Etsy aren’t so much about relationships- though some people will convo you about your product, and when that happens, being prompt, friendly and interested in them will get you returning customers- as they are about getting a quality product.

    Be patient. The first sale is the hardest to get, but eventually it will come. I think it took several months to get my first sale there. There is a direct relationship between my personal marketing efforts and sales. When I hibernate, so do the sales. I appreciate the breaks, cause I can’t be everywhere at once, so I don’t mind that so much. Once you get noticed, people will stay with you if they like your product. Then give them a way to stay in touch. Hope this helps!

  16. I am an Etsy seller. I have had 2 shops. I started one and learned about Etsy, than I started I find that the shop gets me a lot of made to order work. My actual posted sales is something is 18, but this shop has sold 43 dresses since July 2010. That is quite good for Etsy.

    I have been using Etsy to research designs, gather stats, and see what will sell. It is how I have been earning the money for what I hope will someday be a manufactured line. Etsy and what Kathleen are talking about are two very different worlds all together. Check out Handmadeology, and Etsy blogs they are full of good info.

    A few tips:
    Great photography: Clearly great color and sharp images but what they don’t tell you is that interesting shots get clicked on. So take a strange angle, or make it high contrast. Whatever works for your products. It is a fine line not everyone can walk. It has to be unique and interesting but it also has to make your products look amazing. I will admit to not being able to do this myself. I will be hiring a professional photographer to take my shop to the next level.

    People shop Etsy to find exactly what they are looking for. Not to buy cheep. So designs are usualy more detailed and expensive. The more expensive my dresses are the more I sell of them. Etsy buyers look for quality of workmanship first and fabric quality second.

    Yes relisting gets you on the top of the search but I don’t do it. My stuff sells in the first week after posting or it isn’t a good design. Now I have my shop to test designs, so that that for what it is. I try to post a new design once a week. That keeps me around the top of the list and my amazing unique items helps me to stand out.

    I am not sure about the earning potential of Etsy. I know it is possible to make a living at this but anyone with the kind of ambition and drive I have will not find this sufficient. There are sellers who support them selves on Etsy. I don’t know in what way, they may just get buy. It is like people who do craft shows, they will tell you they are making money. They just don’t know how to properly do there books. Etsy will make you money if you think business as you do it, but not enough. Not in my opinion.

    In order to get people to your page you will need to be part of the community. Join teams, chat on line, start a blog, e-mail other sellers. I think most of the Etsy buyers are also sellers. Have you done a craft show, because it is truly like one big craft show. They have teams(or social groups) for everything, do a search. The best way to sell your stuff on Etsy is to talk about it. Get off your butt and sell. Still need a book, and you still need to pound the pavement.

    Good Luck.

  17. Noah L. says:

    Having opened an online store for my denim collection, I find the most difficult thing is conveying fit and size. Especially in denim all brands have different size guides and fits in terms of waist. Diesel can be a size 30 and levis can be a 32 for the same waist size. How does one as a new brand, make it easy for a consumer to realize their size?



  18. dosfashionistas says:

    I think an overview of etailing would be very interesting. Where can one find statistics on volume of sales for Amazon, Yahoo stores, eBay, Etsy, and so forth. What are the special tricks for selling on each? How does one run an on-line store? Find the right words to show up on search engines?

    I think selling online can be a big boost for the starting designer. It gives you direct feedback as to what sells like nothing else can. But Etsy is not the only way to do it.

  19. Liz says:

    I’m always up for a tutorial!

    And I’d love it if you would continue the old series on working with leather … I would love to design/sew a leather waistcoat style vest for myself, and would be grateful for any tutorials you would write.

  20. Penny says:


    I think the wrinkle you are talking about, (I call it a bubble), just below the back neck on lots of men’s suits is because the shoulder slope is too extreme for men who have square shoulders causing the fabric to creep up. I agree it is very unsightly and the way to correct this is to detach the back collar from the neckline and recut the back neck lower, just enough to take up the excess. If it is extreme, then sometimes you have to detach the back shoulder seam from the front and reangle that slightly ,(at the neck), as well in order to properly adjust the angle of the back shoulder seam.
    Hope this helps!

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