Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why I Switched to The Craft Star, and Why You Should Too

When I started out selling my jewelry online, I built my own website. But pretty soon I found Etsy, and I eventually let my site go in favor of selling on Etsy. It's a venue with 850,000 other crafters, and I thought there would be power in numbers. Apparently a lot of other sellers felt that way too.

I tried a couple of other sites: Ruby Lane had a creative branch, but I never had sales there. Same thing with Artfire. So it dwindled down to my Facebook page and Etsy.

Etsy has some rather serious pervasive problems. The company, for whatever reason doesn't seem to like sellers communicating too much with each other. They shut down the chat feature in 2011. They allow users to post on a public board, but randomly shut down the conversations. They don't allow disparaging remarks, which is apparently any question about the business or its practices.

Since shutting down chat, Etsy allows sellers to communicate, in a fashion through their BNS and BNRs. Those are not for explaining in detail in this article, but basically they’re about sellers selling products to each other and giving each other feedback. So it looks like you have sales. I did some number crunching and testing by going in them daily for a few months, then off for some months. I found no change in my sales or rank, except for one new team that asked members to ‘favorite’ each other’s items and the members, for whatever reason, actually did it. Like crazy. During that short (2 or 3 week) run I managed two random sales to buyers who found me without knowing me or being members of my TPJ Facebook page.

From the beginning, Etsy has touted itself, and become popular as a handcrafter’s venue. This page on Etsy explains the requirement for a seller: you must present supplies, vintage, or handmade items for sale. Yet the problem of finding resellers rather than handcrafters on Etsy continues to this day; they are often pointed out (by other sellers) and documented (because you can find their items on huge catalog sites at wholesale pricing). The company's sheer resistance to removing the resellers leave true crafters with a bad taste in their collective mouths, believing that for Etsy it's all about the money, not the rules. Not to mention that we can't compete. Why would you purchase my $35 hand beaded necklace when you can buy one from China for $9? 

In fact Etsy recently added a partnership level where the seller can outsource at least part of their work to a factory. As an aside, I found it quite humorous when I applied to do this with my t-shirt designs, and I was one of the ones flagged for 'proof' that I handmade the designs. My shirts are most clearly handiwork, probably not even saleable.(see them in this post) Yet perform nearly any search on Etsy and you will find hundreds of factory creations.

In 2013 I discovered The Craft Star (http://www.thecraftstar.com/). I felt like I had come home. At The Craft Star there are a few hundred sellers, but somehow the staff makes me feel like I am the chosen favorite. The owner, Bethan Davies, spends hours and hours every week finding new ways to promote us. She’s very transparent with her efforts, which not only informs but causes sellers to be extremely supportive.

"Buying from small businesses helps families directly." ----Bethan Davies, The Craft Star

The Craft Star features live shows on Monday and Thursday. They may be informational, educational, live sales or just fun. Sellers are mainly the attendees, and through our participation in the live shows we get to know one another.

There are Click to Buy videos, and videos that market products for the sellers right on the site. Here's an example:

All this works together to promote SMALL businesses --there are NO resellers at The Craft Star. We as sellers feel--and appreciate-- their 100% backing. And I love their last line:
"Please keep in mind, buying from small businesses helps families directly."

If you are a buyer and not a seller, all this may seem trite to you. But it's the difference between supporting small business and not. Etsy is a huge, multi-million dollar business. When you purchase (unknowingly, I realize) from their resellers you are perpetuating the lie. When you take your business to The Craft Star you know that you are buying from a small business.

I know this post sounds fairly salesy but I assure you it's not intentional. I simply love 'living' at The Craft Star. Find out for yourself. Become a member(it's free) and try out the forum and chat tools. You will find a helpful community -- no attitude; no bad vibes. When you're done, don’t forget to join us as a seller!

My Jewelry Shop at The Craft Star ThePerfectJewel4U

My Digital Design Shop at The Craft Star Digi Doodads

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Bird Parrot T Shirt Designs

I've gotten crazy about birds since I moved to Florida, so I've designed a few bird T shirts. I drew and painted the designs and uploaded them to the company for printing. Click the shirt to visit the store. I have designed them through Skreened, so that people can select their own shirt style/size. Do you have a preferred place to purchase hand-designed T shirts? If so please make a suggestion. I'm very new at this.
Best Pet Birds T shirt design
You can see some of my birds at http://gouldiangardens.com/our-birds.html
And this is our parrot, Ernie:
Thanks for looking!