I'm going to touch on some basics of selling on Etsy specifically - starting with choosing what to sell, photographing your items, writing shop policies, and writing product descriptions.
If you want to start a business, the first and most obvious thing you need is a really unique product to sell.
Before I even opened an Etsy account, I had a general idea in my head of a the type of product I wanted to sell. I wanted to get into Lingerie. For me, lingerie was a fun thing to sew, something I personally really enjoyed, and I thought would be a rewarding challenge to try! We touched upon foundation garments in school, mostly corsets and bustiers, but other than that I did not have much experience with lingerie. I gathered up resources; books, vintage patterns, vintage pieces, I sewed lots of samples. I sewed things that sucked, I sewed things that I threw in the garbage... I sewed a lot. And I continue to sew a lot. I still have piles of items that just don't make the cut. I still sew things that get tossed in the garbage! I continually am trying new technique and trying to improve.
|Practice your craft over and over... your style will evolve and your techniques will improve!|
It is also important that you do some market research. While there is hardly such thing as a completely original idea in this world, it is important that you, as a designer, have a unique aesthetic, something new and exciting to bring to the table. There are hundreds of thousands of other sellers out there on Etsy alone, so imagine how hard it is to stick out? Lingerie can be tricky because there are really only so many styles of knickers you can sew, but there are things you can do to make your garments stick out of the crowd. Do you use top of the line, natural fabrics? Do you silkscreen your own designs on them? Do you add some kind of funky embellishment? Were you taught to hand sew by a fancy french couturier? Whatever it is, do something that makes you unique, so that people will instinctively look at what you do and think, "Oh! That must be *insert your brand name here*!" I think of brands that I admire, like Hopeless. Hopeless has a very unique aesthetic, and I can always tell from a photo if it is Gaby's work.
|How well do your designs stand out?|
On the note of being unique, I just read this article this morning, The Technology Trap: Fashion, Copying and the Speed of Technology. From the article,
"“The US is the only developed country without copyright protection on fashion designs,” Banks noted, “France, Japan, India and even China have some level of copyright protection for fashion designs.”
Institutions such as the Fashion Law Institute and the CFDA are actively lobbying Congress to pass the Innovative Design Protection Act (IDPA) that would allow copyright protection on fashion designs for a term of 3 years."
I would love to hear your thoughts on the ability to copyright a fashion design. Would it stagnate designers? Or, would it encourage more creativity? The fashion industry largely thrives on copying one another. While larger brands can compete with that type of competition, I always have concerns for smaller brands who do not have the production power to compete on the level of say, H&M or Urban Outfitters. You hear horror stories of Etsy Artisans being ripped off by mass producers overseas. While I personally would try to avoid purchasing from brand that I knew was outright copying someones design, I know there is a high demand for fast fashion. We have made such a sticky situation for ourselves. We want high end designer garments at a minimal price. We practically begged for knock offs. But now it makes it hard for new small designers to make a real break because their designs are being knocked off before they get a chance to make a name for themselves. It's a tricky situation, and I'm not sure what the answer is. I do think that if we, as designers, make integrity a strict design policy, it would definitely help. End Rant!
If you run a creative-type business, how did you decide what to sell? Was it an obvious skill you had, or did you have to think long and hard about what you would sell? How do you keep your designs unique?