T.E.S.T. Interview: Paper Turns

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

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 93rd in our series and is with Katrin of PaperTurns.

Tell me about yourself and your brand. 

One of my earliest memories is playing with paper from my dad's wastebasket, sitting underneath his work desk, where he was typing away. At the age of 8, I got an origami book (which I still use!), and I have made greeting cards and invitations all my life. Even though I also dabbled in almost every art and craft while growing up, somehow paper stuck. In professional terms, I ended up mostly writing on it as I became a professor of English, but the academic job market is in a crisis, and so I was searching for something that would provide a creative outlet and more instant gratification on the side. That's how Paper Turns was born in 2014. My brand specialises in greeting cards that are all about texture and often include origami. Since much of what I do with paper involves folding, cutting, layering, and twisting, I wanted my brand name to reflect movement and texture. I'm also a dancer in my spare time, and I feel that Paper Turns really captures all sides of my creative personality.

 I haven't seen origami being used on cards before. What inspired you to create cards with origami?

Two things came together. The first was that I fell in love with Japanese paper. The craftsmanship, the myriad of textures, the brightly-coloured silk-screened papers... I really wanted to work with those. But I didn't just want to showcase the papers; I wanted to bring them to life, and so I needed to find shapes to complement them. That's what led me to origami. Both my favourite papers and the art of paper folding originated in Japan, so they seemed a perfect fit.

Why did you choose Etsy as a platform for you to use to sell your items? 

I wanted to expose a wide audience to my cards, and I figured that a well-known online platform would be an easier and more cost-effective starting point than a few small brick-and-mortar boutiques. There is obviously a lot of competition on Etsy, but it's also in itself a brand that people who buy handmade trust, and that was important. It's also very convenient, especially when you don't have the time to create your own platform and do a lot of marketing.

What was the biggest goal you achieved for your Etsy shop? 

I think selling on Etsy has always been more about little goals for me. To achieve the first sale. To increase sales on a yearly basis. To update the shop more frequently. To have my seasonal products photographed and copy written before people start looking for them. The last one is a hard one when you're starting out in an area as dominated by seasonal sales as greeting cards. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to make Christmas cards in August and Valentine's Day cards in November.

How do you balance teaching, Etsy, and other aspects of your life? 

It's a constant challenge but I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it. The joy and passion keep me going. After spending hours reading black ink on white paper for work, colourful textured paper provides a really nice balance and stimulates a different part of my brain. Also, since I work with tiny sheets of paper I can practically do origami anywhere. For example, I fold origami on the TTC all the time, and even during rehearsal breaks in the dance studio. That leaves more time for other parts of the creative process when I am at home. It also helps - I won't lie - to have a partner who is supportive and doesn't mind taking on some extra chores at home during particularly stressful times. (A shout-out to my husband here!)

Do you have any advice for those who plan on starting an Etsy shop in the future or who are relatively new to it (like myself)? 

I'd advise anyone to approach the process of selling on Etsy with dedication and commitment but most of all patience and an open mind. That is, do everything you can to set the shop up well (read up on SEO, provide good photos, link it with social media etc.), check out your competition, and find ways to distinguish your products from other designers'. But also, don't despair if it takes a while for orders to trickle in. In the meantime, you can do other things that will help your business in the long term: improve your products and create more stock; go to craft shows and build a local customer base that way; explore sales avenues in retail; create a blog; and network with other crafty people...

Check out more of Katrin's work in her Etsy shop, PaperTurns.

Blog: http://paperturns.blogspot.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paperturns
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paperturns

Katrin is also an instructor at the The Simple Craft Co.

Interviewed by Michelle of ElixirChicDesigns, June 22, 2016.

Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto DEADLINE IS TOMORROW!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Hey everyone! Just a reminder... our Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto deadline is JUNE 22, 2016! This is a hard deadline. Don't miss it. APPLY HERE.

Midsummer Marketplace Workshops

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hi all

We are super busy preparing for the big day this Saturday.

Our wonderful Midsummer Marketplace will be located at historic Campbell House Museum from 10 til 6 pm.
The first 50 guests through the gates will receive a free bag full of swag.

We are also excited to announce that alongside over 40 awesome vendors, food, coffee and popsicles we will be hosting some free workshops.

Yes. Free!

Want to learn how to crochet?
Have you ever played the ukulele?
How about book binding?
And you know you need to make your own floral crown...

You just need to sign up in advance using this link!

For a full list of vendors and our lookbook click here. 

You can also follow us on Instagram @torontoetsystreet for sneaky peeks.

Can't wait to see you on Saturday.
The weather looks promising, it's going to be an awesome day!

See you there!

TEST Etsy Newbie Bootcamp: Class 24 Photography Tips and Tricks

Monday, June 6, 2016

Welcome back to our followers! 

If you're new here, welcome to our Etsy Newbie Bootcamp! If you want to take part in Bootcamp and get one-on-one mentoring, or answers to any of your questions, please drop us a line at TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com
If you want to open an Etsy shop, just follow this link!

Vintage Camera Photographer Belt Buckle by piprobins
We have new sellers joining our Bootcamp all the time, so even though this is Class 24, you can join now or anytime! You can complete the classes at your own pace. Just click on our re-vamped NEWBIE BOOTCAMP tab above to get the lowdown on all the classes so far.

Today we're going to talk about photography and how to make your shop and your items look their  best!

Camera art print by RobertRatPrints
When you're selling online, photography is all important. This is the way your customers see your products, your profile, and your About Pages. It's how you communicate your story through Shop Updates and various social media.

There are some important Nuts & Bolts to consider, and basic tips for taking better photos:

  • Lighting, lighting, lighting! Even more important than your camera is to have a well-lit shot. Even a high quality camera can't make up for poorly lit photos, and conversely, if you are careful with your lighting, you can get great shots even with a simple point-and-shoot or smartphone camera. Good lighting brings out the details! If you shoot outdoors, wait for a cloudy day because harsh sun can create unwanted shadows. If you shoot indoors, you can shoot through the window to diffuse the light. You can use a white bedsheet or piece of vellum to get a soft glow. See this Etsy blog article for more tips. The real trick to mastering lighting? Like most things, it's a matter of practise. Experiment for yourself. Make it part of your workflow. Take photos regularly - not just of your products, but of your process. You can use these for your Shop Updates and other social media.                                                                                                                          
    Camera Laser Cut Cuff Links by RongDesigns
  • Focus. You want your photos to be sharp. Make sure you are familiar with how your camera focus works. On a smartphone or point-and-shoot it's often as simple as tapping the screen where you want it to focus or the shutter prior to taking your shot. If you're not confident with an SLR, you can always use the autofocus. If you are selling jewellery or other small items, or making detailed close-ups consider the minimum focusing distance of your lens and don't get too close, or it simply cannot focus. If it's a big part of what you do, you might want to get a tripod and macro lens.                                                                           
    Object Matter Collection - Instant Camera 3" mirror by L2RStudio
  • Take the time to compose your shot and save time in the long run! It's easier to correct lighting problems or make changes while you're shooting than to try and fix less than ideal photos.                                                                                                                                
    Six-20 Brownie Box Camera from TheArtOfDemolition
  • Avoid using a flash (unless it is remote from your camera or a bounce flash). A direct flash washes out colours and details and can be unflattering.              
  • Edit! Take more photos than you need and the you can be choosier with which to use. Also, take advantage of photo editing software. (Photoshop is common and the full program can do everything you could need. Affinity Photo is pretty similar and more affordable. There are also free online editors like ipiccy and picmonkey which have straightfoward tools. There are all sorts of apps for mobile devices, like free or low-cost photo editors Snapseed, Afterlight or VSCOcam, which can really help you improve your images). Cropping, increasing brightness, selecting your white and black levels and white balance can really make your photos pop. Check Etsy's photoshop tutorial here.

Camera brooch by Clayshapes
Next there are things which are important as a business in communicating your Brand:
  • Consistent lighting across your listings can reinforce your brand
  • Choose backgrounds which compliment, rather than clash or compete with your products
  • Make sure your listing photos are clear and obvious: show the full product, show details, show products in context and lifestyle shots. Vintage sellers should be careful to show the product's condition and note any flaws.
  • Watermarks may protect your intellectual property, but they make images less likely to be included in curated features for online publications. You might want to be more creative in how you tie your images to your business. Shooting your product with branded packaging in the shot, for instance, can be a clever compromise. 
  • Tell your own story! You About section and even listing shots can be a great place to communicate who you are and what you do by including shots of where you work, your tools and you, doing your thing!

Shoot: Canon Ftb Classic Camera linocut by minouette
Right now, Canon is partnering with Etsy! As part of their #EtsyXCanon promotion, Canadian Team Captains can share a promo code which adds a special quarterly promotional discount to your overall sale price on purchases in the Canon eStore! So if you are in the market for any Canon cameras or other products, be sure to take advantage by applying my promotional code at the checkout: ETSYXCANON1689

Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto APPLICATION FORM!

Friday, June 3, 2016

It's what you've all been waiting for... the Etsy: Made in Canada Toronto show application form is now LIVE!

We've been working hard to get this application out as early as possible. It took a wee bit longer than we had hoped but we know it will be worth the wait! MaRS has made some changes since last year and has some more renovations occurring so we had to get the floor plan just right for our vendors and visitors. All vendors will be in the airy, light-filled Atrium beneath the skylights and we know you'll love our other 2016 innovations for making our 3rd #EtsyMICToronto show spectacular.

September 24, 2016
10am - 6pm
MaRS building, 101 College Street, Toronto

The Toronto Etsy Street Team and 416Hustler are co-hosting our 3rd annual huge handmade & vintage show as part of Etsy's pan-Canadian extravaganza. There will be simultaneous shows at OCADU and in more than 30 cities across the country! Etsy is planning a national ad campaign! This promises to be our best show yet!

Every standard vendor will get one (6 feet by 2.5 feet) table and one chair in the MaRS Atrium. Clothing vendors will be given the option of using their own clothing rack instead (if no larger than 6 feet long by 2.5 feet wide by 8 feet high). If there is sufficient interest, Newbie vendors will be able to share 8 foot tables with another vendor, so that each Newbie who chooses this option will have 4 feet by 2.5 feet of table space.

We plan to include a Special Vintage Market within the show.

We plan to introduce a new Special Newbie Vendor Section!

This is a juried show, but it will be huge! We plan to host over 130 vendors, so don't hesitate to apply!

Last year's show attracted more than 8000 shoppers, eager to buy. Our swag bags attracted a line-up a full three hours prior to opening. Many sellers reported that it had been their most successful single day of selling all year, or of all time!

The fee is only $100!*
*If we introduce smaller Newbie spots, these will be also have a reduced price ($67). If you are a Newbie seller interested in being part of the Newbie section you will be asked about your table size preference.

This application is open to all Canadian handmade or vintage Etsy vendors. We especially encourage our team members to apply, but this show is exceptional in that it is open to vendors who are not part of TEST. You MUST have an Etsy shop!

Want to take part in this awesome opportunity, but you don't sell on Etsy? No problem! We are specifically seeking newbie sellers! Just take 15 minutes and launch your new shop today! Then, you can apply for our show and sign up for Newbie Bootcamp by emailing TorontoEtsyST@gmail.com and we'll help with everything you need to know about launching your online business!

We're excited to hear from you!


The DEADLINE is JUNE 22, 2016. THIS IS A HARD DEADLINE. Don't miss it.
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