On Being Self-Sufficient

November 09, 2012
My cousin works overseas teaching English, and she is currently doing some materials development for the college that she works at. The unit that she is currently working on is on being self-sufficient and she thought about my shop on Etsy. She contacted me wondering if she could do a written interview with me about my shop. She asked me some excellent questions, and I thought I would share them with you.

If you already own a shop, then maybe you'll agree with some of what I've said, and if you're thinking about opening up a shop, maybe it'll give you an idea of what goes into a business. I didn't go into any deep conversations or anything, but I think I sound pretty smart:

1. What is your online shop? Can you describe it briefly. (When did you start? What do you sell? etc)

I sell small cards and art prints that draw myself, scan into my computer, and print out on high quality paper with a good printer. My shop is part of a handmade marketplace called Etsy. It's like going to a market where you can find all kinds of items, but they are all individual shops, they just use the market to draw larger crowds to their shop rather than standing on their own. I started selling art prints and photographs in March 2011, and soon expanded to include cards. I have since discontinued selling photographs. Part of owning your own shop is experimenting and recognising what sells and what doesn't.

 One of the photographs that I used to sell, but didn't sell.

2. What made you decide to open your shop? Why did you start?  

I had stumbled upon Etsy in January 2011, and immediately fell in love with it. There were so many amazing artists all around the world that were suddenly at my fingertips -- through the internet -- and I started buying art, toys, and jewellery through the shops that I found on Etsy. After a while, I thought, "Hey, I think I'd like to open up a shop to sell my artwork," and it took off from there. I had no idea what I was getting in to.

3. What were some challenges you had? What was easy?

There are so many challenges when starting a business. I had no idea how hard it would be for people to find me. Even though I was part of this marketplace that brought people to me, I still had to work hard to bring people to my shop specifically. I began using Twitter and started a Facebook Page. I also started a blog and began networking with other blogs. I advertised, and did giveaways to draw people towards my shop. It has been such a huge learning curve, and I really didn't expect it. I honestly haven't found anything easy about owning my own business.

 One of the advertisements that I've used.

4. You are pretty successful now (congrats on being in that magazine). What would you attribute your success to?

Haha! Thank you for thinking that I'm pretty successful. Yes, I am doing a lot better that I was in the beginning, but I still have such a long way to go, and a lot of business owners don't ever feel successful. There are always goals to be attained, and new items to be created. I would attribute the successes that I have had so far to the work that I have put into my shop. I work on it every day, and I always have a schedule and goals to work on. I have never had the attitude of, "Oh, I'll work on that later," or "I give up," because I'm the only one that's working on it. I've got to keep plugging away at everything even if I don't make a sale everyday because I need to look toward a day that I will sell something and I need to be prepared.

5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Be prepared for a lot of work, and that you won't be a superstar over night. Of course some people are successful within months after starting a business, but most people have worked for years to build up their credibility and make a business that people can trust: a business that is good to their customers and sells quality products.

Have an amazing weekend!


  1. Congratulations on your success and inspirational story. It is wonderful to be self-sufficient and earn money by doing something you enjoy.

    1. Thanks so much, Sandy! It really does feel good to be able to make money doing something I love. Even though I have worked hard to get where I am, it's important to remember that I love creating art :)


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