{Thoughts on Shops} – Some New Stitches for Artistically Stitched

Artistically Stitched

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.

Artistically Stitched

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.

How Thumbnail Cropping Changes a Photo

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!
A ooak illustrator or jeweler seller doesn’t have to worry about that last part, but a ooak clothing seller does. This is definitely a numbers game, so the more she has to offer for sale, the more she will sell- so adding more items would be a plus for multiple reasons.
(everyone needs to be producing new work if you want to sell successfully online – everyone – would you visit a store that always had the same items for sale?)
Focusing on a specific under-marketed but viable size group is one thing she could do, narrowing her makings to drawstring skirts (the solid ones with side panels sold really well) and hoodies and then focusing on various sizes or even rethinking her entire ooak concept and maybe consider an investment in materials that would allow her to offer more sizes in one listing.
Artistically Stitched gives the customer the option to contact her for something specific, but I am thinking for every person who would do this, there are likely 10 people who would buy the exact garment if they could have a size option. I did see a couple ooak clothing designers with high sales numbers and I am definitely not saying it is not possible- it does become even more important then to have very decisive branding (a customer sees a piece and knows immediately it is yours) and great product shots.
Something she might want to consider is designing and creating a seasonal line – she could position herself as ‘the hemp drawstring skirt shop’ or ‘the rasta lion hoodie shop’ or both. She could have a specific skirt and then make it available in various color and fabric choices and the same with the hoodies and the racerbacks. This isn’t as much fun as making ooak pieces and it requires a different kind of cash investment in materials, but it could produce alot more sales, as she widens her target market to include other sizes and as buyers return with more orders, after they discover how amazing Artistically Stitched pieces fit and feel! Her skirts seem perfect for bridesmaids at casual, handmade backyard weddings. I have a feeling Wendy’s creativity is loving ooak work, so lines might be challenging and not something she wants to do, if she really wants to keep it ooak she needs to figure out a way to find that market  – I would add sizes to the titles, too.
NOTE- Some other things Artistically Stitched could do include tagging with color, work SEO optimized titles into the item description, tag drawstring for drawstring skirts, add more inventory, consider making her photo her avatar so customers can see her and connect with her, add shop location for shop local customers, add shop homepage link in shop profile opening (since so many things link to our profile pages these days), eliminate the photoshop color pics, retake the hairclip pics so they fit in with her shop better or eliminate them for now (she can add them back in with maybe different pics after she finalizes her branding).
Creating an audience for her work herself by crafting a blog that will interest her audience, commenting on blogs her customers might read with a link back to her shop, being active in the community her customer would frequent and getting really focused on her branding will all also help Artistically Stitched create a larger audience for her amazing work!

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  1. Great yet again! I read every one of these and am not always able to post a comment. Thanks for volunteering and thank you ever so much for the details and explanations shared in “thoughts on shops”.

    I look forward to each and every one!

  2. I look forward to these posts every week! I think they are a fabulous way to help each shop & the team. I also think the shop owners are very brave to offer themselves up. Thanks Wendy & Cat!

  3. Wow!! This is such an amazing post!! Great information in detail that I can absolutely use to improve my shop too!! Enjoyed seeing this shop and her beautiful skirts as well!!! +++

  4. Textile artists kick butt!

  5. I am hooked on these Thought on Shops postins! So much great information and critiques are so well researched.

  6. Awesome post, Cat!!! I took notes :)

  7. Thank YOU Wendy for being so brave and having such an amazing shop!


  8. wow, great info here Cat! Thanks so much for your wisdom and helpful tips.

  9. Thank you sooo much for the review of my shop. Some of the things I knew I really needed to work on but there was lots of other info that I never even thought about. This review has been very helpful, thank you for your time & expertise :c) peace wendy