For this week’s Thought on Shops we are looking at the wonderful hemp clothing shop of Artistically Stitched. Wendy is a work at home mama and artist creating one of a kind pieces from hemp and other materials – her work is gorgeous and definitely made to last!
Let’s start with the visuals because it is hard to sell on Etsy without amazing pictures. I think Artistically Stitched’s banner works with her shop and I immediately get a feel for what she does. I think she could definitely improve it though with some more focused branding. There is a feeling of “something we have seen before” about it and it maybe lacks the originality of her actual work. If she really loves it or it has some special meaning to her, she could definitely work with it because we can see her shop in it just maybe not her best thing which is her ability to “bring you a piece of wearable art that you will *love* for ages” (wonderful best thing!) and her commitment to sustainable materials.
I would spend some time really deciding what she wants her brand to feel like – what is Artistically Stitched all about, what are its values, why should someone buy something here, who are its customers, when someone thinks of Artistically Stitched – what does Wendy want them to be thinking and feeling?
When you develop a consistent brand image, your customers will be emotionally invested. You will attract people who are the right people to buy from you.
Her shop name has a number 1 google search ranking for her website – yay! It doesn’t rank as well for “organic, hemp, handmade & recycled clothing” so she could try tweaking this a bit and see if it increases traffic. We all need to think of this tagline as a google search tool and not an Etsy tool. It probably needs to get more specific to rank – maybe “handmade hemp drawstring skirts and more” – the ‘and more’ is good for Etsy shoppers eyeing your homepage – the rest might get a higher google ranking since it would be more specific and still something a shopper might search.
Artistically Stitched item’s titles also could sometimes work better for her with a little tweaking – you get 18 characters viewed in Etsy gallery mode and 30 (I think) for Google. So for example – Forming Crystals Dress – might be better as – Purple Hemp Summer Dress (or something like that). I know we all like cool titles for our stuff (I do, too) but as a search tool they do not work as well. She is usually very good and direct with her titles.
Wendy’s shop announcement starts with hemp facts and I might move this down a bit and start with info about her – like she does in her profile so people get to meet her and hear her story (telling our story is important for small makers – the more personal we can make the shopping experience, the better), her profile is great, her pictures are clear and bright with lots of great model shots – the backgrounds are sometimes too distracting though.
Too many color changes and lines in a background can distract the customer’s eye from what we want them to focus on. Also Etsy’s thumbnail cropping can really chop up a gorgeous image so we always need to be thinking ‘square’ when taking our photos and looking for simple backgrounds so we aren’t fighting our backgrounds to create attention for our images. Think negative space.
You can see from the illustration above how good photos can be altered, and how our eyes can lose their focus on the subject, with thumbnail cropping, so it is important to work with square photos as much as possible.
If you want an organic clothing item to stand out getting your model in front of a grey cement wall or other neutral background can really help your item pop off the page and stand out in its category. Artistically Stitched’s favorite items feature some clothing items that you can tell by looking at the pictures totally stood out on their pages, so she could look to create a more simple, organic feel with her backgrounds in similar ways while staying true to her own vision. Searching one of her categories- for example- drawstring skirt will allow her to really see what jumps off the page in that category and think about how to create this with her photos. Also interesting angles instead of straight on product shots can help make her shop pages more interesting and visually appealing. Searching your categories is also a great way to see ‘what isn’t there’ – to find a niche just waiting for someone to fill it.
Wendy’s biggest sellers look to be her drawstring skirts and hoodies, so I would definitely expand on these if possible. There are 52,000 skirts on Etsy, but only 339 drawstring skirts and 378 hemp skirts so making sure her skirts are tagged drawstring should get her a top 2-3 page ranking with weekly relists. Her men’s appliqued hoodies sold well and there are under 200 items in that category, so she could think about offering these again.
- The biggest challenge for Artistically Stitched when looking to grow her business may be the very concept of ooak (one of a kind) handmade clothing. Because although I am all for niche selling, and think it is the only way to build an audience and grow a business for a small maker in such a crowded marketplace, this niche could be teeny, tiny.
- First you need to find the customer who values handmade clothing enought to pay a premium for it (this stuff is hard work and you absolutely need to be paid for your skill and time) – then you need to find a customer who likes your particular style / design and then (and this is the hardest part) you need to find a customer who wears the right size!
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