Friday, June 24, 2011

Feature Friday - Leslie Witmer

Before Etsy became the place to sell online, people were setting up on eBay to market their handmade goods. I was excited to meet Leslie Witmer, someone who has experienced both selling platforms. 

You'll understand a lot about Leslie when you learn where her creativity started: 

I do not follow any design rules when I create, I have no training to enable or remind me to do so. In the 7th grade my art teacher came upon my project, (a drawing of Iron Maiden's Eddie) she took the pencil out of my hand, erased a portion and re-drew what "she" thought was better. Since that day I have gone against the grain, rebelled against authority and firmly believed in the saying, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I mix my materials like a mad woman who crawled out of a box of broken crayons and leftovers. I am eclectic to the core.
I love to make jewelry!!! I started out in the 4th grade making paper clip earrings and necklaces. I sold them to classmates. I then began to add charms to suit individual girls personalities. Mind you I grew up in the 80's and 90's so the tastes ranged from kittens to skulls lol. (I still create using skulls...not to many requests for kittens though.) Even as early as 2nd grade I had a creative entrepreneur spirit, (my mother was an artist of many mediums) I would draw trees with individual leaves and sell them to my classmates to use on their projects. I have sculpted, sewn dolls and their outfits, painted, drawn and created my entire life. For a time I was fortunate enough to teach faux painting classes, one of the best experiences of my life.
One of the great things about Etsy is that it provides opportunities for people who are facing some limitations with time, abilities, etc. Leslie has certainly experienced this: 
Alas...I have had 4 hand surgeries thus far in the last 2 years from damaged bones, joints, and tendons, (18 years of heavy manual labor work related). They have literally removed bones from my hands. Mortifying as could be, because of pain I am unable to do nearly all of the things I use to, such as paint, sculpt, sew and build. Not to mention every day things like carry groceries or do dishes. Assembling my ideas into jewelry, seems to be the only thing that does not cause nearly as much pain in my hands as trivial daily activities do. It is the only artistic release that requires no lifting, pushing or pulling. My greatest fear is that someday I will be unable to create at all. Like any artist at heart...that day will be the ruination of my soul. I now create each piece to make someone smile, to make them feel glamorous or beautiful, to make the moment they dress and put on their adornments one of happiness. It is all I have left to give, but I enjoy every moment of it.
So how does selling on eBay compare to selling on Etsy?
I started out on eBay in 2008. Since then I have sold around 350 pieces, give or take. I enjoy it so much when I see feedback that says someone "loves" their new jewelry. That is my goal, to make someone smile and earn a little cash for the extras in life. Unfortunately, eBay has become very nonhuman in my eyes. The ever changing fee systems, allowing buyers the power to destroy ones ratings because they do not understand how shipping works over seas etc. I have seen to many sellers in 'Japan' for example...where buyers leave negative feedback because it took weeks to get their purchase. This is far from the sellers fault, yet eBay allows it and then penalizes the sellers with higher fees, less productive search results for their wares, (basically omitting their items in buyer search results) and they send chastising emails to add salt to the wounds. I do not approve!
I prefer the seller 'community' on Etsy. Ebay puts us all against each other so that eBay profits from us in the long run for the combined nonsense. Etsy promotes kindred behaviors, which is what many creative souls desire in the first place. Etsy allows me the time to create with the long listing times, rather than focusing on listing and editing every 5-7 days to keep my items higher in the search ranks, and paying more fees to do so. Etsy absolutely has an advantageous search and tag system. It is simply a matter of mastering it. I am hopeful that I will eventually find my niche here on Etsy, as one does "require" sales success in order to continue investing. I hope to be successful enough to stay for good. I would be quite disheartened if I had to crawl back to eBay in order to maintain my sales, and the happy fuzzy feelings from receiving positive feedback. I want to stay right here!!!
I completely understand where she's coming from with her comparison. Several bad experiences on eBay traumatized me because buyers filed claims for not receiving items and eBay and Paypal forced a refund. As a seller, there was nothing I could do.  The money and the product were both gone. I haven't had problems like that on Etsy (crossing my fingers).

Take a look around Leslie's shop.  She is offering a 40% discount on everything in her shop until June 26 (she's moving and doesn't want to haul the entire inventory).  By the way, You're welcome to buy me any of the pieces in her shop...

2 mad comments:

=e said...

just wanted to say hi! and i love your blog :) thanks for all the wonderful info you share on here :)

Karen T said...

Thanks for the kind words. It's a great way to work through the frustration, plus I get to meet a lot of wonderful people.

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