My name is Bea Graansma. I'm 45 years old. I'm Dutch, but living in Belgium, with my equally creative partner Marc.
Other than creating things for etsy, what do you do?
I am a designer and creator (in between coping with serious chronic health issues). Designing and creating is what I do and who I am. Selling on Etsy is just a side activity (to be able to keep buying supplies and to be part of a wonderful creative worldwide community).
What first made you want to become an artist?
I have always been very creative. As a child I loved to draw and craft. Later in life, when I became a working single mother, I didn't find the time to create. But when I lost my health and had to give up my successful carreer, I refound my creativity. I was a locally well-known fine artist for a few years (before I had to give that up for health reasons too) and then started making the kind of things you'll find in my Etsy shop.
Describe your creative process and the materials you use
I love to create in many different ways. I use all kinds of materials and all kinds of techniques. I especially love to create unique and contemporary products with traditional or surprising materials and techniques.
What handmade possession to you prize the most?
The handmade possession I prize the most is William (see my avatar) William was the first bear I made out of an old pair of jeans, the name giver of my little business, and the item marking the turning point of me rediscovering my creativity.
Top 5 websites you visit besides etsy?
Top three websites I visit besides Etsy (I cannot think of any more):
Flickr.com (where I share photo's of all my creations, not just the ones for sale on Etsy, and where I keep up with my sons photo's, he's 25, a dj, journalist and photographer)
Marktplaats.nl (a Dutch equivalent of eBay)
Craftster.org (a huge crafters forum, where I first learned of Etsy)
Any advice you have for new etsy users
My advice for new Etsy users would be: to become a successful seller of handmade items you have to have talent and you have to be willing and able to put in a lot of hard work and dedication. You yourself have to sell your items! Etsy does not do that for you. Stand out from the crowd! And be patient. Building up any successful business takes years. But don't just sit and wait. Make it happen!
What are your favorite features of etsy, and what new features would you like to see?
My favorite Etsy features are the Categories and the Forum. I spend a lot of time reading and posting in the forum and checking out the wonderful products of my fellow Etsians.
I would not want to see any new features on Etsy. I prefer Etsy putting their time and effort into improving our visibility with search engines and improving Etsy's search.
How do you promote your shop/work?
I promote my shop in the Etsy forums, through social networking (online and offline) and through word of mouth (my satisfied customers keep coming back for more and guiding their friends towards my shop).
In ten years, where would you like to be?
Ten years from now I hope to be healthier, still happy and still creating all kinds of things.