We hope to introduce you to all the great Etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 47th in our series with Wei of HoneyThistle.
Tell us about you and your shop?
Honey Thistle was born after my first year at university because I started making jewelry back in high school, and by 1st year university I had more than enough pieces to wear myself! I was also going to school for business at that point in time and I wanted to get some "hands on" experience, ha!
Personally, I have enjoyed crafting all my life, and have tried mediums like paper mache, fabric & felt, polymer clay, and recently did a series of metal smithing classes at the lovely nanopod studio (hi Tosca!). Making jewelry (necklaces especially) is just my most favourite craft to do and that's pretty clearly reflected in my shop.
What was the scariest thing about opening your Etsy Shop?
The scariest thing for me was thinking that nobody would be interested in the items I sell. So I started out making things that would fit my own personal taste as well, just in case things didn't work out, because then I could just wear all of them myself! Although I still make things that fit my own aesthetic, the fear of not having sales is no longer what drives that. I've come to realize that by going with your own gut instincts in what looks good and what doesn't, it results in much more honest products! I don't ever want to put my name behind items I won't even wear or use myself.
You have such a variety of different types products in your shop - what's your favourite thing to make? Least favourite?
My favourite thing to make would definitely have to be my medallion necklaces & my leaf pins because they're things I would wear in my day-to-day life, but are still unique enough that people who see them have paused and ask about them.
I don't have anything I don't enjoy making in my shop since I'd rather just not make them! But sometimes I do phase out products (like my mp3/iPod cozies) because they offer less variation & creativity than I'd like.
Do you have a "day job"? Do you find you are able to dedicate as much time as you'd like to your Etsy Shop?
I do have a day job actually - I'm a business analyst! There's not a lot of overlap between what I do during the day and what I do for my Etsy shop, but I really enjoy that variety. I'm sure even for full-time Etsy shop owners, there's never enough hours in a day. I definitely would love to have more time to design & make more products for Honey Thistle, and I'm slowly learning to manage how I spend my time in the evenings and weekends to support that.
What are the biggest mistakes you've made - or what do you wish you'd done differently?
I don't think I've done enough to have made a large mistake (although that in itself may be the biggest mistake ha) but I do wish I took packaging and marketing a little more seriously in the beginning. I've slowly improved my branding over the years, and only recently started to focus using Facebook & blogging as a way of sharing my brand, and I have noticed a large difference in my sales last year as compared to the previous years before.
What do you think is the most rewarding thing about having your shop?
The most rewarding part of my shop is when I get messages and emails from customers telling me how much they love their new purchases! I love that some of them give my items as gifts, because it just spreads warm fuzzies all around.
Do you have any new designs that you are excited about?
I'm excited about this new line of doily necklaces I'm putting up in the next week or two. It's part flower child & part talisman (I never really thought to mix the two before) & it's just something I'd love to own myself haha.
Check out the other items available from Wei in her Etsy shop! You can find more of her work on her blog, Facebook and Flickr.
Interviewed by Ali of Light & Paper in February 2013 in Toronto.