etsy success: cat rabbit
Somewhere in between all the sewing, stuffing, exhibiting and making a children's book, Melbourne-based textile artist Cat Rabbit finds time to manage a kick ass Etsy store.
Somewhere in between all the sewing, stuffing, exhibiting and making a children's book, Melbourne-based textile artist Cat Rabbit finds time to manage a kick ass Etsy store. We figured she must have a word or two of advice about how to sell crafty doodads online, so for part three of our Etsy Success series we've thrown a bunch of questions her way.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you sell. My name is Cat and I make plush toys and embroideries under the label Cat Rabbit. I make lots of different (mostly animal) characters out of felt, fur and fluff. I also have a range of felt jewellery, printed cotton hankies and embroidered pieces.
What was the process for starting your business? Cat Rabbit was a hobby-turned-business, so it was a gradual process. When I saw that I was spending more time on Cat Rabbit than anything else I decided to take it more seriously and see if I could turn it into a viable living. I had just finished a Masters degree and received an Artstart Grant, which meant I could rent a studio, buy a nice computer and a nice camera and get to work!
How long has it been running? About nine years. I started making things under the name of Cat Rabbit in about 2004, but mostly as gifts for friends. I started selling things in stores and small galleries after that and then opened my Etsy store in 2008.
What's the best thing about managing an online business? Being able to keep your own hours! I often update my Etsy store from the comfort of my bed at 11 o'clock at night.
What have you learnt about running a successful Etsy store? For me it has been very gradual. I learnt early on that having decent pictures of your work is essential, and I'm trying to improve my product shots all the time. I have also learnt not to try and second guess what customers want - it never works for me. I could have overwhelming demand for Alpacas flying in from Facebook and Instagram and it doesn't necessarily translate to sales in my Etsy store. Because of this I try not to let my audience dictate what I should make next, I make those decisions for myself.
Have there been any hiccups along the way? There have been many hiccups, but mostly little ones like lost packages, troublesome internet connections and difficult customers. Luckily Etsy have an amazing support system for shop owners and most things get straightened out pretty quickly.
Do you have any tips for someone starting an online business of their own? Be patient! I didn't get my first sale until one month after my online store opened, and from then sales only grew very gradually, and there can still be very quiet periods. My best tactic for dealing with the quiet times is to go back to my craft and make something new, just for the fun of it. It's very easy with all the marketing and administration side of running an online business to forget why you started in the first place!
For more Cat Rabbit goodness, have a browse through her Etsy store here.