Lulubug’s jewelry shop on Etsy has 3568 sales in under 2 1/2 years. Her median price point is $71. She demonstrates how a true studio artisan succeeds on Etsy, and flies in the face of many of those old long standing myths that success means selling lots of small quickly assembled components. I interviewed Sue to find out how her uniquely forged path has unfolded, with the intention that we can learn from this talented artisan and businesswoman.
With 1,642,653 jewelry listings on Etsy, Sue’s work stands out because she has learned unusual techniques:
I currently work in PMC (precious metal clay) which is a relatively new material composed of silver particles in a clay binder, which you form and then fire in a kiln. The clay burns off, the particles fuse and you end up with a .999 silver object.
I had heard about PMC and always wanted to try it, so when I saw a workshop being offered nearby in 2007 I signed up for it. Much like the first jewelry classes I took, I felt like I had found my medium, and within a couple of months had set up a little studio in my living room.
She concentrates on new designs rather than promotion of her shop, and tracks to see which ideas are marketable:
Q: How do you promote your Etsy shop?
I'm not much of a self promoter. I post most of my new designs on my Facebook fan page, I have a very neglected blog, I read but rarely post in the Etsy forums, and I'm always thinking that I should be making more treasuries than I do. About the only thing I really do consistently is renew items, usually at least 10 a day plus relisting sold items.
What I do focus on is my product development. Selling on Etsy gives you feedback on new ideas much more quickly than traditional brick and mortar sales. Using Craftcult I can see which items get viewed the most and draw people into my shop, as well as which things may not get the most views but sell consistently. I keep an eye on Etsy trends, and when one speaks to me I'll use it as inspiration for new pieces, but I don't follow all of them. Hence some new fox pieces, but no mustaches! The one thing that is certain is you NEVER can predict what will sell well. When I come up with a whole new concept, I will make 4-6 new designs and watch them closely. If they get a lot of views or sell quickly, I'll build on the concept and add more designs. If neither happens, I let the idea go, even if I love it and think it's great. This way I build up a product line of successful sellers, but I keep adding new ideas to the mix. I read the Etsy forums very regularly, and I rarely hear anyone say to work on changing your products if sales are down. For me this is the first thing to do. I've learned not to take it personally when the design I think will sell like hotcakes is a total dud! There really is no telling what is going to sell well, so I just put it out there and watch what happens, and base future designs on that information.
Sue’s response to this question reveals a great deal:
Q: Do you think that artists are born, or made?
Both! I think we all have creativity inside us, it's just a matter of finding the best medium in which to express it. Some artists will be better than others, but I think anyone who has the desire can learn the techniques and create something meaningful.
She respects the value of hard work and education while still following the call of her inner creative beacon.
Bravo, Sue of lulugjewelry! I appreciate your time in sharing this and trust that other creatives will, too.
Wishing you all a successful journey today!