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 48th in our series with Ali of Light&Paper.
What is your background/what do you do for a day job?
For the past two years I’ve worked full time at the University of Toronto – I currently work in Admissions/Operations of one of the student residences. I also work part-time for the Ryerson University International Midwifery Program and for my father’s consulting firm. I like to keep busy and have always had at least two jobs. I love being able to have an Etsy shop on top of my other work as it really gives me an outlet to do something different and creative.
When & how did you get started with paper cutting?
It was pretty much out of nowhere. I decided to try one day to create a gift for a friend using a box cutter and a piece of printer paper. I was immediately mesmerized! I’m usually not a very patient person – but I found papercutting so calming, even though it required so much attention. I began creating more and more items and sharing them with friends and family, and after receiving so much positive feedback I decided to try selling on Etsy.
Where do you get all of your design inspirations from?
I like to just play around with quotes or designs that stand out to me. I really like the phrase that I came up with - “up the happy” - so I’ll often try to create an interesting design around that quote – or sometimes a song lyric that catches my ear. I also like creating patterns within particular shapes – such as my heart or anchor design. Lately I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for designs that people would want to give as gifts – such as my papercut of a fingerprint or city maps. I create all my designs on the computer – so sometimes I’ll just start playing around and then come up with something.
Do you enjoy doing other crafts as well?
I really love making mason jar lights – which is why I list those on my shop in addition to the papercuttings. I’ve never enjoyed a craft as much as papercutting though – which is maybe why I haven’t had the patience to finish some projects I've attempted in the past. I have about a dozen half-knitted scarves in a bag somewhere.
Where do you want to take your business in the next 3 years?
I really want to get more involved with craft markets and shows around the GTA – my first one is the Made By Hand Show coming up on April 20th. I think that while online shopping is very convenient and gives access to lots of options that aren’t available in shops or markets it’s important for a lot of people to actually see and touch handmade items before they want to spend money on them. I’m hoping to boost sales and awareness of my products at local events. I also hope to improve certain skills that are crucial to running a successful Etsy shop – like photography and social networking.
What Etsy feature do you like the best as a seller?
I love the shop stats – it’s so great to be able to see where your traffic comes from. It’s especially rewarding when you post a link to your shop on another webpage and you get to see exactly how many views that brought you. It’s really helped me to realize what kind of strategies to develop to get the word out about my products.
What are your favourite items to find on Etsy as a buyer?
Gifts! I usually don’t let myself buy items for myself (I would get carried away!) but I love finding the perfect gift on Etsy – it’s always something so unique and personalized.
Ali will be at the Made By Hand Show in Mississauga on April 20, 2013 - come see her beautiful work in person!
Check out the other items available from Ali in her Etsy shop! You can find more of her work on tumblr and Instagram.
Interviewed by Wei of HoneyThistle in February 2013 in Toronto.