Today we feature the one of a kind, Anna from Unexpeceted Treasure. I have really enjoyed getting to know her while chatting in the Etsy BNR treasuries. She brings joy into so many lives. I know she has many challenges in her persoanal life but she is a great support to many of us newcomers on Etsy. She has a very diverse shop. I have purchased her exquisite photographs, but what I look forward to most is seeing what kind of new design she will come up with for her cute notebooks. She is a genius in knowing just what the customer wants.
One of the reasons I run this feature is to learn more about the wonderful ladies(and men) selling their crafts and art on Etsy. Anna has a great avatar of her smiling face but once you read all about her you will learn how her strength, fortitude and faith effect all those around her.
Where is your hometown?
I’m a native Rhode Islander and currently live in East Providence.
What do you like about where you live now?
I love living so close to all the beautiful beaches and waterways this state has to offer. Rhode Island is the Ocean State, after all.
Tell us a little about your daily life. Do you work outside of the home?
As for my daily life, I thank God each morning for allowing me to see another day. Then I pray that God blesses everything I do that day. I’m not one of those Holy-roller, pew-jumping, dancing in the aisle sort of Christians, but my walk with God is very important to me.
I don’t have a 9 to 5 job outside of the home and at this point in my life, I’m thankful that I don’t. My husband is on dialysis and my days are very busy taking care of him. My dad was released from a nursing home a few months ago and I also take care of all his health care needs.
Now, I don’t want it to sound like every moment of my time is about taking care of someone else. LOL I find plenty of time to create for my Etsy store. I’m most creative at night and find myself up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. crocheting or jotting down ideas for a new notebook or a jewelry design.
Honestly though, there’s no such thing as a “typical” day for me. It changes every single day depending on what else is going on in my life. However, because I spend so much time taking care of others, I find time in every day – even if it’s just 20 or 30 minutes – to do something solely for myself. Sometimes that’s reading the Bible, a book or magazine, or listening to music or browsing through craft books to get inspiration for my next great idea. This time alone is imperative for me to keep it all together.
How did you get started with Etsy? What inspires you?
I got started with Etsy, in part, because I happened to catch a Martha Stewart segment about someone who was an Etsy seller. Martha was featuring this woman on her show and showing us how to create the cutest little onesies. So I Googled Etsy and was intrigued by what I read and saw.
The other part is that I’d always wanted to have my own store but the thought of the overhead on running a brick and mortar business was daunting to say the least. Etsy seemed to combine the best of both worlds for me.
My husband was my inspiration to “just go for it.” He’s been so supportive of everything I do and believed I could be a success when I really didn’t believe it myself. I thank God for placing such a wonderful man in my life.
How did you begin with your art?
Which one? LOL But to answer this question seriously, I’d have to say that vanity inspired me. Let me explain that statement a little bit.
I began sewing in middle school because it was required as part of Home Economics class. But I wasn’t exactly bitten by the sewing bug at that time. Fast forward to Jr. Prom time. We lived in a very small town and everyone shopped at the same place which required a short drive to Warwick where our two shopping malls were (and still are) located. I just didn’t want to walk into the prom and find someone wearing the same dress as me, so I decided to make my own. That’s when I was bitten by the sewing bug and never looked back.
I sewed all sorts of dresses and skirts for my daughter while she was growing up. But of course this changed as she got older and was bitten by the shopping bug! LOL But they say history repeats itself and when it was time for her to go to the prom I found myself once again breaking out the sewing machine to create a beautiful sparkly silver gown with a matching organza wrap.
As for the jewelry making, I’ve always loved jewelry (what women doesn’t) but was never a gold or silver or diamonds type of girl. I liked to wear stuff that was different and make people ask me where I got it. So, I started making my own jewelry.
Now, for the paper goods and greeting cards. I’ve always written poetry and thought one day I’d write for Hallmark. It never happened so I turned to designing my own greeting cards with my original verse and use them instead of commercial greeting cards. My family and friends love them.
What do you do for fun?
For fun I like to play a little, non-competitive game of backgammon with my husband. And if I happen to whip his butt four or five games in a row, oh well! Er, I did mention that it was non-competitive didn’t I? Hehe. I ’m also an avid reader and read 55 books last year!
And this probably sounds like it’s work related but I really do love getting lost in a craft store, whether it’s a physical store or an online store! It’s FUN for me to browse endlessly. I love it! I can leave the house at noontime to “pick up a couple of things” at Michaels and my husband will call me several hours later and can’t believe I’m still in the same store. LOL
How would you describe your experience with Etsy?
My experience with Etsy has been mostly positive. There was a lot to learn. And while I’m usually a person who does tons of research before starting a project, I jumped right into Etsy with both feet and figured I’d learn on the job. And boy have I learned a lot. Which segues nicely into the next question.
What advice would you give to an Etsy beginner?
The first thing I’d tell a newbie is that customer service should be their #1 priority. Without satisfied customers, they will not have a business. Plain and simple. To give you an example of how I recently provided good customer service let me share this. I had a customer who purchased an order of mini cards but she was unaware that they were branded with my shop name on the back. I contacted the customer and offered to send her a replacement set of cards that were blank on the back. She happily accepted my offer. I did this free of charge. It was a win-win situation. I have a happy customer who may possibly buy again from me and she’ll tell others about her experience shopping with Unexpected Treasure.
Also, do your research and find a niche BEFORE you join. Write a business plan so you’re prepared for all the what-ifs. Don’t just list items and think the sales will start flowing. People underestimate the amount of work required to run your own business so be prepared to work your butt off.
Lastly, I’d tell them to join a team and be active in the chats and forums. There are tons of wonderful veteran sellers on Etsy whose advice a newbie can benefit from. Also, don’t be afraid of the Critique forums. I avoided them like the plague for a few months but finally mustered up the courage to join in and the information imparted from them has improved my shop for the better.
As a buyer and seller what excites you the most about either?
As a buyer on Etsy what excites me the most is the gazillion choices I have to purchase truly unique and one-of-a-kind products for myself, family and friends.
As a seller on Etsy what excites me the most is that people from all over the world like my items enough to pay for them. That puts a smile on my face.
How do you deal with orders, do you have a system?
I do have a system that works for me. I’ve created an Order Pull Form which includes the buyer’s name, item they purchased, date purchased and ship date. I then “pull” each item and place a check mark next to it before I place it in the basket. I then give all this information and the items to my husband who finishes the shipping process. I have to say here that while it was difficult for me to “let go” of the control of this process, it’s finally beginning to pay off. I have more time now to design and create new items, maintain the online shop and the keep up with all the paperwork running a business entails. My husband has been so supportive and helpful regarding every single aspect of what I’m trying to do with my business. And I appreciate this more than he could ever know.
What type of packaging do you use or found that works the best.
I keep it simple and use very basic packaging: acid-free cellophane bags, kraft mailers or bubble mailers depending on what I’m shipping. How the product is presented is more important to me. I take care to make everything look like something I’d want to buy for myself! I also like to include freebies like candy during the holidays! Buyers have left feedback indicating they very much like this practice.
What type of shipping service do you use?
I do all of my domestic shipping online using Paypal. It’s so easy and time-saving. I love it. Of course, I still have to take the international orders to the post office but that’s ok because I love my international buyers!
What type of payment processing do you use? Have you tried Amazon?
Paypal is my preferred method of payment. But I’m now accepting Amazon payments as well. My goal is to make the payment process as easy as possible for the buyer.
Are you on any Etsy teams? If so what do you like about Etsy teams?
I’m on several Etsy teams, although I have to confess here and now that my participation in them has been scanty. These are the teams I’m on: Christian Artists Street Team (CAST), Trade-a-Holics, BNR Addicts and Late Night BNR Team. The Late Night Queens of BNR
Night Owls of Etsy
Christian Artists Street Team (CAST)
BNRAddicts BNR Team
What do you think about the BNR Experience?
At first I was leery of the whole BNR thing because I didn’t understand how it could help my shop. Well, three months later and I’m a confirmed believer in BNRs. My sales, which were slowly on the upswing, have really taken off. BNR sales now account for about 30% of my business. That’s a huge amount.
But it’s the exposure that’s equally important. I’ve had buyers come to my shop who’ve seen my items in BNRs that have been closed but they clicked on them anyway and found me! I’ve seen an increase in sales from buyers who’ve found me this way. I’ve also had buyers who couldn’t purchase for one reason or another while the BNR was active, come to my shop later to purchase an item they’ve favorited.
Do you curate BNR’s? If so tell us a bit about how you decided to run BNR’s. Is there someone that you would recommend to mentor a newbie to the BNR?
In December I curated a few BNRs but then found myself without enough time to devote to that duty due to family obligations. But I’m planning to begin curating again next month. Unicorn/Rhonda or Lucymoonglow would be the two ladies I’d recommend mentoring a newbie. Lucy is a long-time successful curator.
Do you sell your products on other sites, or have blogs if so list the link.
I stick mostly to Etsy but opened a shop on Artfire, too. I’ve only had one sale there. That address is www.artfire.com/users/unexpectedtreasure
Please recommend someone you would like to see featured on our blog. It does not have to be an Etsy shop.
I’d love to see my sister, Antoinette, featured on your blog. She’s a talented singer, songwriter, artist, author and business owner of Chenaniah Publishing, Inc.
Thanks to Anna for her in depth answers, I am sure will be a great source of information and support to many Etsy newcomers. Hugs to Anna