Today I'm featuring Jenny Ingram of The Weaver's Cottage. Here is how she describes herself:
I have been weaving for over 20 years. I am a musician as well as an anthropologist. I enjoy studying prehistoric weaving implements as well as prehistoric textiles. I am inspired by the work of prehistoric weavers who wove incredibly beautiful textiles. I also sometimes mix science and art in my pieces. I love to create textiles that are ‘one of a kind’. I also get inspiration from nature, and I enjoy dyeing fibers using natural dyes. I really love seeing how different colors and textures come together in a project.
I asked Jenny to tell me about her challenges, successes, and any advice she might give to other Etsy sellers.
As a part of the EtsyFAST team, I've noticed the challenges faced by fiber artists like Jenny. Their hard work is often undervalued in this time of mass produced clothing. How do you get someone to appreciate the time and effort put into a handmade item when factories use machines to crank out many similar items?I think my biggest challenge (and frustration) on Etsy is finding my ‘niche’. I have been weaving for many years and consider myself a ‘traditional’ weaver. Since joining Etsy, I have spent many hours looking around the site, and at first felt like I had been in a time warp. There are so many new, wild, crazy, exciting techniques, and I felt I needed to catch up!I also do art shows and found that due to the economy, people were looking for lower priced items. I have always been a creator of one-of-a-kind (OAK) items and also used top-of-the-line fibers. But it seemed that I needed to lower my prices by using less costly materials and cranking out more than one or two pieces per warp.So I have been really torn about that. At a show right before Christmas, I sold many things, but no single item that was over $25. I guess I have come to terms with having these type items for sale, but I also want and need to create fine OAK pieces.I have a new line of products that will all be in my Etsy shop soon: I call it ‘Colors from Nature’. I am using only natural dyes (many that I grow organically and gather myself) to dye yarn as well as roving. The next step will be to incorporate these into OAK woven pieces.I think one of the best parts of Etsy is belonging to a team. I am a member of EtsyFAST and Weave Team. I have learned so much from my fellow team members, and it is nice to be part of a group.Being among all these creative people has heightened my own creativity. I wake up during the night with new ideas that I want to try. It’s GREAT! Now if only I could make more hours in a day…
Jenny's one-of-a-kind (OOAK or OAK) items are really beautiful and I hope she'll work past her challenges. I can't speak to what might help with her live sales, but I have a few recommendations for her Etsy shop. Keep in mind that these recommendations apply to many of our shops.
- Photograph clothing items on a real person or on a mannequin so buyers will get a better idea of how it would look to wear the item. For other items, use solid colored backgrounds and find ways to prop up the items to make them more interesting. Your goal should be to have the photos look like they came out of a catalog, so look at catalog photos to get some ideas.
- Work on writing descriptions for your items that emphasize the time and talent that went into creating this handmade item. Etsy recently had a great article about rewriting descriptions. The Sundance catalog is one I like to look at for ideas on how to highlight artisan made items for sale.