Friday, September 18, 2009

Featured Friday: Darlinggifts

Who are you:
My name is Audra Knatcal, and I am located in Holts Summit, MO. I currently fly solo, but have applied to a couple of street teams. I am 31 years old, and just started my Etsy shop a few months ago. I have no children, so I have plenty of time to piece together new concoctions!

What else do you do:
I am an author, and I write under the pen name Jaela Darling. Thus far I have one book published through a vanity publisher. The title of this fiction book is, "I Called Him Bill." I am currently wrapping up a fantasy book and will soon be querying agents. I also write poetry on occasion. Much of my work can be seen on Other than writing and Etsy, my third love is singing, and I am preparing a couple of songs for America's Got Talent tryouts.

What first made you want to become an artist:
When I was a kid, I used to bake and crochet with my mom all the time. I was something of a loner, and spent much of my time reading and making my own crafts. When I "grew up," I dropped everything to find a "real" job and lost sight of my creativity. Then common sense dropped in on me and I went back to all things creative.

Describe your creative process and materials:
I use whatever I can get my hands on. My family never had much money growing up, so I am used to making do with what I have. I do not, however, just use any old junk lying around. I paw through and find only quality materials that will last a lifetime. Once I have a good bundle of items, I scatter them around my work area and pick out things that might work together. If I already have something in mind, I make it my mission to find what I need and get right to work. I try not to limit myself to any one medium, but I have found that I love paper crafts and handpainted items the most!

What is the handmade possession you prize the most:
I think most people become attached to their first creation, and for me that would be the three floral hair clips I have in my shop. They were the first items I listed, and my favorite of the three is the golden orange one. Here are the clips:,, Other than those, I would have to say I am most proud of my golden treasure box, here: It came out much better than I expected it to!

The top 5 websites you visit besides Etsy:
Facebook is at the top, though I hate to admit it! I also spend a lot of time at various Scottish sites for inspiration, particularly sites about the Rowans on Skye because it is my dream destination. Let's see...three other sites would be Craft Cult, Craft Gawker, and (though I don't post regularly - just browse and buy).

Any advice for new Etsy users:
Take it from a fairly new user - patience is KEY. Set up your shop with at least twenty items (and even this is bare minimum). If you have fewer than that, don't fret. Post more as you get more. Go straight to the forums, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. There is a wealth of information on the forums, and lots of people willing to help! Ask politely, and don't make a post about how you need more sales or some such. Just introduce yourself and ask if anyone has any tips. Also, make good use of the search function on the forums. No sense creating a new thread for an old topic! And finally, advertise, advertise, advertise! Advertise anywhere you can, and jump on opportunities as soon as you can. Make sure you have business cards and pass them out everywhere. Wear your merchandise if you can. Make yourself a walking billboard. Be optomistic and patient, and you'll get those sales rolling in soon enough.

Favorite features of Etsy and what you would like to see:
Etsy is very thorough. They offer workshops, great promotion tools, and an easy checkout system for buyers. I absolutely love the forums. There is nothing better than peer-to-peer encouragment and coaching. The thing I think they need the most is an alternative to PayPal for buyers, such as Google checkout or even just their own cart system. I personally do not care for the extra fees imposed by PayPal, and PayPal's policies are difficult at best. This is why I will accept checks, money orders, and cashier's checks (with a 5-day hold for clearance) along with the PayPal option.

How do you promote your shop/work:
I spend tons of time in the forums. I have gotten a couple of sales from doing so. I also promote on Twitter, though I don't make a nuisance of myself. I have just started a blog and I have something of a fan page on Facebook, though I haven't done much with that one yet. I put a listing on Craigslist, which has garnered me plenty of spam, and in the near future I am going to put an advertisement in a few local newspapers. I have submitted a few things to Craft Gawker, but my photography needs some help! I also have run a showcase on Etsy, and whenever I make a sale anywhere else (such as through my seller account on Amazon), I include my business card with the purchase. I also pass out business cards and utilize community boards.

Where would you like to be in ten years:
My dream is to become a successful author and crafter. Ten years from now, I hope to have my fantasy series underway, with a few more books either published or well on the way, and I would like to see a full-blown Etsy shop with at least one brick and mortar shop behind it. I am a creator at heart, and I want that to show in whatever I do.

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