Polka Dot Cheeks, named for freckles that adorn my cheeks [and forehead and nose], was started in May of 2012. After three plus years in business with Etsy, I am finally finding my stride. No longer do I say yes to every custom request or list everything I’ve ever made. In this three-part series I hope to give you my perspective on being an Etsy shop owner. Let me start from the beginning…
I had one sewing class under my belt, a bare-bones Singer sewing machine, a product to hawk [appliqued burp cloths], and a desire to flex my creative muscle. I was operating from the kitchen table in our 2 bedroom apartment, usually while my husband played with our 3 month old baby inches away from my sewing machine pedal. I spent my lunch hours at work in the back conference room, cutting out paper letters and tracing them onto fabric and then cutting the fabric letters out.
After my mom witnessed the agonizing process first hand, I was gifted a Viking Husqvarna Topaz 20 Embroidery machine as a 30th birthday gift at the ripe old age of 27. Armed with the embroidery machine [that took a lot of curse words and adult tantrums first operate], I was churning out burp cloths at the rate of 6 hours per order.
Fast forward to my first PDC anniversary, I had purchased the 5D Embroidery software, worked during my lunch hours in our spare bedroom turned office space, and wrapped orders on the floor of my cubicle. I was averaging a production speed of 3.5 to 4 hours per 4 burp cloth set and 2.5 to 3 hours per sign. My Etsy listings had evolved from 4 burp cloths appliqued with “BURP” in gingham to customized sets of 1, 3 or 4 burp cloths, Bengals, Cincinnati, & Kentucky burp and bib sets, monogramming by request, hand painted signs, and printable items. The following photos are just a small sampling of the products I’ve made or offer:
The second year, PDC grew in print design. After designing a friend’s paper goods for her wedding [invitations, programs, etc], I listed the designs as custom printables and cross promoted them through blogging, Facebook, and Pinterest. I quickly upgraded from MS Publisher to Adobe InDesign and sold roughly 2 to 3 programs a week for the majority of Summer 2014.
Present Day PDC has a few hits, a few misses, and a few most hated by the sweat shop owner [me]. The shop’s ebb and flow is primarily based on my level of promotion. My promotion is driven by the time I can steal away from my other responsibilities. In three years, I have discovered a lot about myself, my passion, and my procrastination. Next week, I will break down the good, bad, and the awful things about operating an Etsy shop.