Arts + Crafts, Etsy Faves


November 29, 2007

When Kimberly from Chez-Sucre-Chez wrote to me last night confessing her fear of self-promotion, I knew I had to rid her of these fears by posting about her work here on decor8.

The #1 mistake we can make as creative types is to kick our own butt by not talking about our work and passions with others. Always carry business cards, a small photo book showing off your wares (a little Kate Spade or Hable Construction brag book is both fashionable and durable while giving a professional appearance. Plus, you aren’t a walking url, you can’t show them your website while in line at Starbucks, but you can pull out a mini non-intimidating book showing recent photos of your collection inside). And most importantly, keep a positive feeling in your heart about who you are and what you are working so hard to do because that passion inside will beam through on your face. If you don’t love your work, no one else will. I walked around Renegade last year and though I really enjoyed it and plan to return next summer, I couldn’t believe some of the non-communicative, fear loaded vendors sitting around talking to their partners and ignoring their customers. I know they weren’t being mean, they were most likely scared to be approached. Don’t be. Then I noticed Emily from the Black Apple who took a very different approach – chatty, welcoming, warm. As a result, her booth was hopping, not 5 minutes passed where that booth sat still. So let’s put an end to I’m not good enough. You are good enough. You rock. Get it? Self promote with style (don’t annoy, just share) and you’ll go far.

Now back to Chez-Sucre-Chez. This is a confident business lady, she takes pride in her work which is exactly why she wrote to me despite her fears to self-promote. I’m so glad she did. Her little crochet letters are Domino or Blueprint magazine worthy for sure. Best part, she’ll create any letter you’d like, or if you’d like several to spell a word, just let her know. Wrap a few up and give to your friends. I appreciate how she showcases her work arranged here in a studio space. Fantastic!

(image from chez-sucre-chez)


  • Reply Richie Designs November 29, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    that’s lovely thanks for that reminder! you may get an email from me soon.

    cheers! here’s to tooting our own horns.

  • Reply Katherine November 29, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Re: behavior toward customers at craft fairs, when I’m shopping, I absolutely hate it when sellers are too pushy and overly involved. It frightens me away. If I have a question, I’ll ask, but I would really rather they not try really hard to engage me or to look at me constantly when I’m looking at their stuff. So, as long as I can get their attention when I do have a question or what to buy something, I would have a better shopping experience if I knew they were occupied with talking to their friend and not looking at me.

    I think this may be an introvert/extrovert thing, perhaps? Or just the preferred way of doing customer service (the reeeeeally friendly, introducing yourself by first name, etc. is very American, I think). Anyway, since the above is what I prefer, if I were to do a craft fair, that’s probably what I would set my table up as…but I don’t want to drive off people because I seemed cold. On the other hand, I’m really just not naturally a bubbly/chatty person. What to do?

  • Reply Lobster and swan November 29, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    I know exactly how kimberley feels, I have a real hard time when people compliment me or ask about the things I make, English trait I think! My friends were saying I should have parties selling my stuff at their houses, and it terrified me to the point of becoming painfully shy, red faced and speechless : (
    I guess they don’t see how I can be creative but not want to shout about it?
    Getting online has helped me lots tho! : )

  • Reply Cher Ami November 29, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    everything about that wall is great…

  • Reply Cher Ami November 29, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    everything about that wall is great…

  • Reply decor8 November 29, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Katherine – Good points you make!
    Oh yes, I’m sure it comes down to Introvert/Extrovert. You asked for my thoughts so let me see…
    Okay so here’s what I have to say in reply. I think that it’s annoying when someone is standing there pointing out everything on their table and chatting me up. And I’m southern (raised in South Carolina), very extroverted, and usually love to talk. But at craft fairs I get a huge case of sensory overload so I just want to go into my head as I look so I am making sure that I’m purchasing what I want, thinking of where it will go or who it will go to, are the colors right, etc. If someone is chatting me up, I can’t think so I mostly walk away. So for me, I think the perfect booth transaction is like this:

    I approach a booth. Usually the seller is sitting there reading or talking to their biz partner. They glance my way, give me a warm smile, tell me that if I have any questions to ask them because they are the artist, and that’s that. No more talk required. A warm smile is enough to make me feel really warm inside. It’s one of the reasons that I started to shop indie in the first place, getting to meet the artist and discuss their craft with them in person. I can’t meet the designer at Target or Anthropologie.

    Then, as I start shopping the booth, I may have a question. From the initial greeting, I know who the artist is (vs. the assistant/partner/friend at the booth) so I know who to direct the question to. I think it’s GREAT when booths go a step further and wear name tags, this REALLY helps me know who to direct the right questions to. If it’s a general q, I don’t need to talk to the artist. If it’s more specific, I need to ask them so it’s good if up front, I know who I’m dealing with.

    And for me, that’s the perfect arrangement – the buyer/seller transaction. I encountered this at Renegade with 50% of the booths – but then there were 50% that seemed really reserved, shy, or just too cool to talk to me. At one point, I was going to purchase about $200 work of art from this girl and she just kept ignoring me to take calls on her cell. I walked away.

    Have I answered the q? If not, ask me more. :)

  • Reply Marisa and Creative Thursday November 30, 2007 at 12:29 am

    Love it! It’s a fine balance, but you have to engage with your customer. You just do. And I’m a person who doesn’t like to be sold to, or ignored, so again find the balance and be genuine. If you are genuine then you will know for certain that you are probably striking the perfect balance for you and for your customer.
    It can take a while for any of us to feel confident selling our creative work, but it is a must that you eventually find the confidence to sell it ~ and if you keep moving forward with a love for what you create then you will most certainly be a able to sell those special works of art. I think the trick is understanding that confidence takes on both introverted and extroverted forms, but when you have it, you have it and people/your buyers can tell the difference. Confidence can be quiet and it can be loud, but it’s inspiring to see those who have it combined with the passion for doing work that they love.

  • Reply j. shim November 30, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Finding a balance is tricky. I worked (and work) retail for a long time and I still remember how nervous and eager to please I felt in the beginning and how off-putting that must have been. At this point I feel a lot more relaxed about it, and I think that puts the people I interact with more at ease.

  • Reply chezkimberly November 30, 2007 at 2:37 am

    thank you so, so very much, holly and everyone who has taken the time to check my blog and my site, for the kind words and the encouragement.
    i am glad to have helped spark such an inspiring dialogue! i think there are a lot of artsists/crafters out there like myself who get very comfortable in the confines of our studios and feel shy and hesitant about taking our work to the outside world. it takes a bit of courage to share, sometimes… but knowing that there is such a supportive and accepting community out there is such a lift.
    i’m doing a craft-fair this sunday (cafe grumpy in greenpoint, brooklyn) — I will be sure to take these words to heart!
    so much appreciation and gratitude,

  • Reply November 30, 2007 at 3:43 am

    You are so right on! I love that you blogged about this… I always go to shows and such and think, if that person had been nicer to me, I would have purchased etc. etc. But their discomfort is sometimes palpable…

    Then again the other side of the coin is when I am in that spot… I try to be welcoming and warm (not always easy).. The truth is, the people peeking at shows etc. are sometimes just as apprehensive as the artist.. They have questions, the art might be very new to them.. etc. etc..

    Miss Emily is a beloved dear heart indeed! xo

  • Reply Alkemie November 30, 2007 at 7:06 am

    This was a really empowering post that I am so glad that you posted. Thank you for writing this post. Everyone probably has their own style in promoting or getting themselves out there, but coming from an Asian background where we are taught not to toot our own horns – this can be detrimental at times where it is important to do so in the appropriate settings.

    Thanks again!


  • Reply GAILE GUEVARA November 30, 2007 at 7:34 am

    hmm – what a great article, funny how it reminded me of the days when I worked in retail. I worked in a lingerie shop downtown working part-time through high school … I remember being the top in sales and the one to train new staff on how to leave a lasting impression with new clients … I take to heart Marissa’s comment about being genuine … it is so true. Greeting every customer is a must and most of the time, I found pure enjoyment engaging in conversation and asking people about their day, not just to say how is the weather but to be a good listener & observer. A warm “hello … if you have any questions or are looking for anything in particular, just let us know.” Taking note of seeing something beautiful in meeting someone new … taking notice of the opportunity to learn something new with each customer. I loved to take note of a client’s shopping bags and hearing how a customers experience was when shopping in another store … to sharing a story … oops, getting side tracked, what I was trying to say is that when we are surrounded by those who appreciate our work or are there to sell a product we believe in, I think it’s important to appreciate those opportunities and making the most out of them. One of my favorite quotes
    “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ?Maya Angelou”

    Thank you for inspiring me today and reminding me how important it is to promote your inner glow, you’ll be surprised as to how you much you can impact another person’s day by being true to that.

    Thanks Holly for a great post – cheers n’ smiles your way!

  • Reply michelle giacobello November 30, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Thanks so much for the (virtual) kick in the behind.

    It seems to me that more often than not when I say ‘Im an artist’ – people take a stepo back and their expression changes slightly.

    It’s nice to be reminded that I ned to work on my winning smile, be charming, and say ‘I’m so lucky, I get paid to paint!’

  • Reply Erin Lang Norris November 30, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    GREAT advice about the shows.

    I’ve only vended at 3 so far, one was terribly slow so I wasn’t going to make sales either way. But the other 2 were okay. I’m getting better at chatting people up but the last show I was at I was right across from a very warm and chatty girl- I kept wondering “HOW does she do it??” She was just so natural at it, while I still feel rocky at times. I think it comes down to the introvert/extrovert thing like you have mentioned…I just wish I could be an extrovert! They have so much more fun in general! (and more sales!) I wonder if it’s all psychology or if you can truly convert yourself? I guess it depends on how you perceive people in your daily life and how you think the perceive you, so going all out at a show can be such an awkward feeling at times. I’m moving to a new city next month though, so it’s time to start fresh and be chatty with anyone and everyone.

  • Reply Molly November 30, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I also dislike a hard sell, but I also dislike grumpy vendors. In my best experiences, the vendor offers a friendly greeting, offers to answer any questions, and then makes a comment or asks a question completely unrelated to their products… such as – “I love your earrings, are they from a local designer?”. This can start a friendly conversation (or not) and keep me in the booth, but it’s not the hard sell that drives me out.

    As for self-promotion outside shows,I think I’ll adopt the idea of carrying around a notebook – I usually do have business cards and promotional items with me, and have been known to hand them out in the strangest places – checkout lines, restaurants, etc. The more I do it the easier it gets, but I’m not entirely comfortable with promoting myself.

    Oh, and ChezKimberly, your work is lovely!

  • Reply patrica November 30, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    great advise and so true.
    We all want to be helped but I don’t think that anyone likes a pushy salesperson….at least I don’t.
    Holly, you had a similiar discussion about boutiques and how they keep their customers happy and coming back.
    And, for Katherine it gets easier, just keep at it! I am like you Introvert/Extrovert so I made myself do things that were difficult at first, like presenting a textile lecture to students, and I really loved it and every time it was easier. When I started my first business my B-partner and I took an acting class to help me with my shyness.Good Luck.

  • Reply Uncle Beefy November 30, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Holly…okay…now I really love you. Oh…wait…not in that stalker way, mind you…in that “wow, she rocks” kinda way. Thank you SO much for this post! I don’t have much to add given the great responses from everyone else but needless to say, Kimberly, you’re not alone! (Now I’m off to check out your site!)

    (Holly, if you’re ever in Seattle I totally owe you dinner & drinks for all this support!)

  • Reply Ziva November 30, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    i’d just like to pipe in with a different perspective, as someone who’s only starting to let her crafty wings take flight (most of my stuff i’d grade a b/b+ but with home curtains or handbags no one seems to notice the uneven or opening hems ;)
    anyway, my point is that sometimes for us buyers approaching the more talented folk behind the tables is more intimidating than i think some of the sellers realize. we’d love to hear more about what materials were used, what techniques, what was recycled, what the inspiration behind it was, etc. it’s all very fascinating and inspiring i think for those trying to get in touch with their more creative sides. that said, i agree that a hard sell is not as welcoming as a soft, smiling and informative seller.
    it certainly is a fine line between making someone feel welcome to shop and encouraged to shop.
    great topic for discussion though!

  • Reply PSD December 1, 2007 at 12:46 am

    i have to add my 2cents..i thought it was just me at renegade who felt that some of the vendors seemed almost uninterested in even acknowledging your presence let alone being available if you had a question..the vendors that i bought from were the ones who at least looked up and made eye contact or who said hello or smiled or whatever..

    but i just view it as a sign of service…i used to be a host for events and at a cafe and no one had to tell me that you engage your customer/potential customer even in the smallest way by acknowledging their existence..its sales 101

    i would hate to think that some of these people are too cool or shy to make money, if that is the case, they should just sell online..

  • Reply kari beth December 1, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Thanks for the confident booster for those of us (myself included) who are still a little bit hesitant to speak up and get noticed. I love my jewelry, but sometimes the shy bug gets the better half of me.

    By the way, the visual in this post is absolutely drool worthy! Amazing work Chez-Sucre-Chez!

    Great topic!

  • Reply theblackapple December 1, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Aw, Emily here. It makes me so happy to be percieved as “warm and welcoming”! I have all the same fears about interacting with customers…balancing the fine line, etc.
    I usually just make sure everyone gets at least a smile or a “hello + smile” (so they know they can approach me with questions or whathaveyou) and then go back to chatting with my company. I HATE when people are eyeing you/trying to engage you in conversation the whole time you’re trying to shop, but I also hate it when, like Holly said, people are just too cool for school and won’t get off their cell so that you can ask them a question or buy from them.

    But thanks again, I feel really happy to be held up as a nice example! (Because I feel like an awkward introvert on the inside). ;)

  • Reply Gussied Up December 2, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    You are on a roll! I’m so happy that you’re exploring “Craft, Inc.” right now. My friend, Zinski (Flickr examples and Etsy shop just up), has her first craft show (Craft Saturday in DSM, IA) this weekend and she’s so nervous. I’m also trying to figure out how to open my own Reform School/Modish/Elsewares here in town. Your shop inspirations and motivating posts are exactly what we need! Thank you a million times over.

  • Reply decor8 December 2, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Oh yes Gussied, Craft Inc is a great book. I’m on Chapter 2 and really have enjoyed it so far, it’s nicely written and informative.

    These “shop” topics have been a subject of conversation long before any book though, click on the link below to read discussions that have taken place on this blog in the past:

    Topics include:
    *Seek and Conquer!
    *What Can Etsy Do For Me?
    *Etsy, Anyone?
    *Foot Traffic – How To Reel ‘Em In
    *What Can Shop Owners Do To Attract Loyal Customers?
    *How Do You Stay Alive?
    *Partner Up + Ask For Help
    *Get Online!

    I have an extensive background in business, both in management and communications on a corporate level and in sm. biz, I am from several generations of small business owners – my family is loaded with them, including my parents. My mother and father owned restaurants that she managed during the day while he was at his “day job”. I prepped food and did lots of errands as a kid for them there, including mundane tasks like folding linens and ironing tablecloths. Later, I helped my mother open a day spa when I was 18, decorating it, designing the marketing materials, ordering, handling paperwork, etc. I even named it. My great aunt owns a dance studio, my uncle had his own practice for years, grandparents owned their own cobbler shop, others in my family own a popular indie music magazine, graphic design studio, day spa, shoe stores, a montessori school, I could go on forever with this. You could start a small town with my family alone.

    I know my exposure has helped me a tremendous amount and I have my family to thank for that. But what good is my experience with all of this if I remain quiet, right? These topics are helpful to us all, and now that I’m also on the “other side” of corporate doing my own thing, most of these topics motivate and help me too.

  • Reply Catherine December 3, 2007 at 9:38 am

    This is such a timely post for me and I thank you very much for it. I have loved crafting and creating for so long, and inspired by the amazing network of people out there in blog land and etsy I decided to open my own store. How to promote and whether to promote has been on my mind, I feel nervous about putting myself and my creations out there but at the same time would love to share. So thank you for your virtual kick on the butt : )

  • Reply Susse Collection December 3, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    I used to very shy at shows but I discovered a new tool and ice breaker.
    I always use my mini I pod I have a slide show of my look book on it. It is a huge hit when I go abroad on sales trips. It is nice to have a few personal pictures too. It’s great for people to see what your about aswel as your own design work. Customres loved my silde show I had at my last exhibtion in Tokyo. It’s not so heavy as a lap top.
    What do they say? A picture paints….

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