{thoughts on shops} curb appeal with Darryl Black


Welcome back lovelies!  It’s another fun shop visit!

This week we’re headed to the fabulously unique handmade eco friendly apparel shop: Darryl Black. I just love the gorgeous upcycled designs here. I think the look is edgy, fashion-forward, well-constructed  and just brilliant. I’d love to help Darryl take these beautiful creations to the next level, shop wise!

I thought we’d use a fun framework this week to peer at our featured shop; one we can each use to reflect on our own shops, too! Since the basic overall purpose of our shops is to showcase our handmade items and to sell these said items, I’ve been thinking about how we can take a few lessons from professional home staging tips (how folks prepare their home they want to sell to make it most appealing to the greatest number of potential buyers.)  Darryl – I think your work is GORGEOUS! I have a few suggestions on how to showcase it better!

Let’s help our shops SHINE!

{ tip #1: Curb appeal }

translated: what folks see when they first arrive at your SHOP.

How can we make our curb appeal the most appealing?

First off – we have various kinds of curb appeal to think about in an online shop:

Type 1)when folks come to your shop by entering on the main home page.  In this case, our banner, profile, shop announcement and *featured listings*are all key to assess.

OR Type 2) when folks are entering our shops through an individual listing. Here –  we have our listing photos, listing info, shop avatar (profile picture) and nearby listing images to consider when making our curb appeal shine. These are all VITAL components to look at in our shops.  Make sure each of these elements are given the attention and time they deserve to best increase our gorgeous shop Curb Appeal!

In the case of the Darryl Black shop, I like various components of what I first see when I come to visit.. I like the elements of what’s in your banner: your shop name and images of what you sell! However, the banner image itself is fuzzy (I’m guessing it’s been sized incorrectly) and I’d love to see a stronger logo (i.e. for better overall branding)  in the banner (more on this later) .

I really love what Darryl’s chosen to include in the shop announcement. It speaks to the passion of the artist and vital info (“every piece is one of a kind!”) right off the bat! Super!

I’d suggest ADDING key searchable terms, like *unique handmade recycled clothing* to the shop byline. Remember – shop byline’s text are SEO searchable – so let’s use these significant words to the best of our advantage! Getting our shops to appear higher /sooner in online searches will inevitably bring more folks our way! Sadly, those words appearing in our shop banners means they’re non-searchable as things are now. So let’s move them from the banner to the byline!

Your avatar looks fun when I try to zoom in, but I worry that it’s too busy and too dark to see in general!  We want our avatars to be recognizable, and forward our shop brand.

Lastly, I love the *featured listings* Darryl’s chosen for the top of the shop! These images happen to be among my favourite photos in the whole shop (and I’m guessing are Darryl’s too, that’s why they’re featured!) It’s excellent curb appeal to put great images at the top! It’s the first glimpse of our work our visitors will see!


{ Tip #2: Make a great First impression inside }

translated: what kind of impression is your shop making?


Just like when we walk inside a home and instantly sub-conciously feel our  first impressions, we want to make folks first steps inside our shops AMAZING!

How to do this: Ask a few folks. Ask for honest feedback about what descriptive words come to mind when they look at your shop right off the bat. Does the first impression your shop gives off match the impression you’d like to forward with your work/brand? If yes, great! If no, rework the elements you can change in your shop and listings to create the first impression you REALLY REALLY want!

For the Darryl Black there are a few different first impressions I come away with. First off, let’s talk listing images impressions:

I’ve noticed there are two contrasting styles of photos at play in this shop. There are also, interesting, a variety of different clothing line collections at play. Let’s tie these all together for a cohesive shop LOOK and make a fabulous first impression!


First – there are the photos I love in this shop. They include: solid, uncluttered backgrounds. Unique, angular poses that create their own definitive branding style. And great colour contrast at play in each image. These factors combine to create, in my opinion, EXCELLENT product shots that are a) ready to be featured and b) make your beautiful works super appealing to BUYERS! These shots show off the beautiful textures and one of a kind appeal of each unique piece: exactly what I love to see in product photos!

Versus photos in the shop I’d suggest reshooting.

I think your creations are beautiful, Darryl. But I think SOME of your photos aren’t doing your great works justice! Elements of photos I’d consider changing are: cluttered backgrounds, wrinkled backdrops, backgrounds lacking contrast from the product (that means the background is actually competing for your attention) and out of focus photos. I think those elements takes focus away from the beautiful products and detracts, in general, from our overall shop professionalism.

So when you have a chance, I’d suggest a fun photo-shoot day. Gather up your favourite friends and loved ones as models. Decide on the branding look you’d like, and retake your shop photos! I would guess that it will be AMAZINGLY worth your time! It will make ALL of your photos the same excellent quality!


I’m a big believer in using our product listings to forward our brand. We talked about this here and here in the past few weeks. In this shop, the angular poses of the models in a few of the images really stands out to me. Hand on one hip. Hip jutting out to one side.  I think this style is unique and showcases those pieces brilliantly. I’d suggest utilizing this ANGULAR product shot approach in EVERY one of your 1st listing photos. I think it could be a revolutionizing product branding approach for you. We can all think of favourite Etsy shops that have a product PHOTO style that is totally identifiable and unique! You don’t even need to see the shop name to know instantly whose work that is! We can all work toward this! Let’s be as creative in our shop appearances as we are in our amazing creations!

I think as shop owners we need to experiment with our images, find ones that really work for our products and then run with that! You’ve found yours, Darryl! I’d suggest reshooting the others to match this style!

{ Show us what you’ve got! MAKE a photo collage or mosaic }

One further suggestion I have for Darryl is to utilize your 5 images well in your listings. I think some of your photos are really great. You show your beautiful garments from the front, side and back (all important when potential buyers of clothing online can’t try it on!) I’d suggest making a mosaic or photo collage to include as your 5th image. You can use it to showcase your beautiful works. Especially when each item of clothing is one of a kind, you want to show others your breadth of collections and range as a designer.  You’ll may only get one chance to try and entice your buyers to move from the listing they came by your shop from and invite them to look at your shop as a whole! Show us what you’ve got!


How to make a photo collage for free.

Here’s how I made the above photo collage.

1. Upload images to flickr OR facebook OR on your computer hard-drive.

2. Go to to BIGHUGELABS.com

3. Choose mosaic maker

4. Choose your layout (I’ve chosen square tiles format)

5. Select your column and rows # (I’ve chosen 3 x 3)

6. Select spacing between images, I’ve chosen 5 pixels

7. Select how to select images (I’ve chosen inidividually)

8. Select your photos (I’ve uploaded the images I want to use to my flickr account. I can now go in and inidividually select whichever ones I want to use to make my mosaic)

9. Press *Create!*

10. Save or edit your collage!

11. Repeat as needed!


You might have noted that I’ve left a blank space in the middle of the mosaic where I’d like to see Darryl Black use their current or new branding logo! It could add a professional charm.



This leads us to { Branding }

I love seeing a professional looking, unique logo in shops.  Darryl – perhaps you already have one that goes on the tags on your clothes? Or that you have on your business cards? I’d love to see it in your images somewhere – or in your shop banner. I think it lends professional presence to our online shops. And you could use it here in the middle of the mosaic. I’ve just stuck one I quickly made in for demo-purposes.


{the importance of a great logo}

Luckily with the plethora of free online resources available to us these days, we can ALL make our own professional looking banners, logos, avatars and more for our shops. If you go this route, I suggest doing some research. Brainstorm how you’d like your shop image to be perceived and then create an image that forwards these ideals. I.e. you’ll need to choose fonts and designs that evoke the image you want to forward. Create a couple of different logos. Then ask folks what they think. What does your logo say to them. Go back to the virtual drawing board as needed.

Alternatively, enlist the services of a professional. This is one of those parts of business that I think we really need to consider investing in. A great logo or branding image is VITAL. Super super vital! You’ll be able to use an excellent logo on your works, in your packaging, in your online shop, as a promotional feature in all kinds of advertising, at shows, etc! So find a designer whose work you love and hire them!


{ Tip #3: play up your assets }

definition: not all houses on the market are 5000 square foot dream homes. But this doesn’t mean YOUR home (READ SHOP!) can’t appeal to everyone!


We’ve all got something special to share with the world! In our lives and here in our creative works and our shops! Let your talents shine!


At the Darryl Black shop, one of the assets to play up is the great texture of each piece! I love that! And that each piece is totally one of kind! That’s a niche market indeed! Here are some thoughts from last week on finding your niche markets and marketing a one-of-a-kind production shop.


{ Getting the word out about your fabulous shop!}

It’s not noted in the shop profile if Darryl uses social media to spread the word. If you do have a twitter account, creative blog, business facebook account, or email newsletter,  I’d love to see these noted in your profile, so that folks can connect with YOU, the person behind the shop! If not, I might suggest choosing one to focus on in the next half year as part of a plan to grow your business base.

{ Tweaking Listings}

I  like the way you’ve included great suggestions in your listings, Darryl,  like: this garment is *perfect for…* and* looks great with…*  .

Giving potential buyers ideas on how they can utilize our creations is a great idea. It takes the guesswork out of why I might need that lovely item you’ve made!

But as a buyer I’d also like to see more info in your listings, Darryl. I might like some basic  size measurements of your gorgeous garments ( like  approximately this long from shoulder to edge of sleeve and this wide at neck, etc)   Putting more important details and info in our listings means I don’t have to pause as a buyer and contact you, and wait for your response. It also means that I won’t be surprised by sizing when the garment shows up, and saves returns for the buyer and seller.


{ Link up with Trends}

While we all hope to create items and have shops that are classic and timeless, we can all benefit from linking into current trends to  bring more exposure to our products. Here in the Darryl Black shop, current trendy fashion words like colour-blocking, geometric shapes, triangles in fashion come to mind immediately.  Read the etsy articles on what’s coming up; what Etsy is LOOKING to feature. Use these trendy terms in some of your tagging to attract new folks who are looking to shop with the trends. This will expand your other target markets (like eco friendly shoppers, one of a kind fashionistas, etc) to appeal to an even wider base. A wider audience = more chances to sell your lovely products!

{ Tip #5: light housework in our shops}

A good tip I learned a while ago is to make a light tidy-up of my shop a re-occurring job.

It’s just little things. In the Darryl Black shop, I noticed 58 items for sale but only 53 items listed in shop sections. This means that 5 items are missing out on having folks who like to shop by *shop sections*  find them). And little tidy ups to  make sure all listings words are current (I’ve left lines like “ Christmas SALE on now” in a listing until March= bad form! It makes it look like I’m not involved in my shop! )

Don’t make my mistake. Instead,  I suggest getting in the habit of doing some good house-cleaning on a bi-weekly basis. Add current trending words to tags, etc.  Make sure your listings verbage is up-to-date. Consider jump starting new traffic by changing up tags or the main category you’re listing in (seasonal, holiday, etc, if possible)


and Ta-DA! Now our shops (and homes!) are ready for the world!

It was a pleasure visiting your gorgeous online home, Darryl Black! I love your work!

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  1. Love the talent of shop owner Darryl Black and just recently found her shop and am totally smitten with designs! Wow… and then learned she’s on the Eco Etsy team when I saw this thoughts on shops! How helpful is this! amazing! What a generous team this is to help us all with such in depth looks at how to notch up what we’re doing.

    Thank you rikrak and thank you Darryl!

  2. This reviews are real treasures – just amazing how much I can learn from every one of them.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this amazing work for all of us!
    Appreciate it very much!

  3. so glad there were some helpful tidbits, nicies! thanks for your comments!

    darryl – it was a pleasure spending so much time in your lovely shop! i just adore your beautiful handiwork!

  4. Darryl Black says:

    Thank you SO much for this detailed overview of my shop – you given me so much to think about and lots to do.
    Off to do a photo shoot this afternoon in fact so I’m going get started on one of your suggestions already….
    I have a Logo that I use for my labels but so far I haven’t worked out how to incorporate it into my Etsy shop and I do have a Facebook fanpage already but I realize now I haven’t put a link in my shop announcement to it so here it is for now :
    Thanks again this has been so fantastically helpful

  5. wow! I am learning so much form these fabulous critiques. (And now I’m off to do some light housekeeping!)

  6. So much indepth critiquing in this post ~
    thanks for sharing!
    I will certainly refer back to these posts to help improve my own shop as time permits. :)