{Thoughts on Shops} – a question from Picky and some minor tweakings

Thoughts on Shops is back! For this week’s tweaks and peeks we take a look at Picky the amazing old fashioned french children’s boutique of Canadian seamstress Elsje Boer. Elsje has the specific question of whether to have 2 shops for her 2 different lines and wanted a second opinion on branding, adding DIY patterns, made to order items and her price points.

Picky French Children's Boutique Upcycled Clothing

Picky features beautiful children’s clothing - individually handmade, old fashioned garments made entirely from upcycled and vintage fabrics. They are gorgeous! Elsje’s first question is about having multiple Etsy shops. It is more work to have multiple shops and there are some pluses and minuses to combining multiple lines and to keeping things separate. I think supplies should be separate from makings – there are exceptions to this of course, like some minor destash (maybe), but it can devalue your work to sell your leftover supplies. There are definitely ways to combine multiple makings into the same shop – if you are a seasoned maker who has found your voice with your makings you will definitely have a certain style and way of being that people will recognize as yours whatever you are selling.

A shop that comes to my mind that does this very well is dancingmooney – she sells soap and jewelry and picture frames and the occasional vintage and because she has a consistent aesthetic and voice with all of this it works for her. I am not sure I could make this work and would probably muck it up. You need a seasoned hand to do this (I’ve heard hers is well salt and peppered – dogs love her), but it is possible and because all her items have a similar aesthetic and will appeal to the same target market it works.

The first multiple shop question you want to ask yourself is about your target market – your audience. Are the same people who would be buying your one shop offerings be interested in your 2nd’s? If the answer is no, the decision to separate the shops is easier. If the audience for both shops would be the same customers and your makings have a similar aesthetic I would consider one shop.

I have 2 shops on Etsy and I will tell you that although my target market (and I hate that term because I am always picturing ducks in a shooting gallery) for both shops are similar – I rarely have someone purchase from both my shops, even though every listing in one shop links to the other shop.  I know that at craftshows I notice customers often choosing between my cork jewelry and a locket as if in their mind they can’t have both- so one shop on Etsy may have resulted in less sales for me, I’ll never know. The one thing I do know about multiple shops is that it dilutes your authority for SEO. If I had opened one Etsy shop with my studio name and then listed both lines there I would definitely have a stronger web presence because everything would be all together instead of all over the place! I am not sure this translates so well into dollars though, so I stick with 2 shops.

Picky's Old Fashioned French Children's Boutique

Picky comes up very high in a search for ” old fashioned french children’s boutique” and old fashioned french children’s” – if these are terms Elsje’s target market would be searching this is great. If they might be searching for upcycled or repurposed boutique clothing she could think of ways to work this in, too. Since upcycled boutique french clothing is very unique I would definitely try to work that in as often as possible.

As far as branding her shop and becoming the place people think about when they think upcycled French children’s boutique style clothing – it is all about the consistency of your makings and your visuals and then getting your name out there. The consistency in Picky’s makings is obvious. We can see her experienced hand and eye in all her work. I would probably work with the visuals to get more consistency and more of the warm french boutique feel that she has already mastered with her makings.

Picky's Old Fashioned French Children's Boutique

A little cheat for getting a consistent look with your shop photos and using this consistency to reinforce your brand is to take 5 similar photos of each item: 2 photos from interesting angles (both close up and the photos must be clear and bright-  I always need to lighten and warm my photos in Photoshop. There are also photographers who sell great action packages where you can  – with the click of a button – make the skies bluer, the grass greener, skin tones warmer, colors pop, etc – I use Paint The Moon’s actions and textures now and then – and there are lots of others available) - 1 photo with your product packaging (wrapped up all nice and inviting) – 1 photo of your entire item – 1 photo of your item in use

If you have 5 somewhat consistent pictures for each item, it will be easy to give the  pages of your shop a cohesive but eclectic and interesting visual by varying which picture you use as your first picture. Since Picky’s branding is all about old fashioned french children’s clothing – making a vision board of what this means to her visually can be a help into figuring out a way to work this imagery into your shop’s visuals.

Picky's Banner

Banner / Avatar - Your banner is the sign you would have hanging on your storefront if you had a brick and mortar store. I like the fonts used in Picky’s banner. The little logo looks a little blurry to me  so maybe the little sewing sheep could be sharpened up and the spools under his feet added in. I like avatars to be the seller’s photo since I like to see who I am buying from (or a picture that well represents your work if you plan on alot of forum posting where your avatar will be separated from your shop).

Picky is also deciding whether to add DIY patterns and made to order items. I think it is probably difficult to sell one of a kind clothing without having some kind of made to order available because you have to find the customer who loves your work and fits in your clothes or has someone to shop for who fits in your clothes which can really narrow your market.

Picky Father to Daughter Repurposed Skirt

Picky Father to Daughter Repurposed Skirt

There are alot of headaches with made to order but I would definitely consider it. Elsje’s father to daughter repurposed button-up shirt to skirt is pure genius and I can absolutely see customer’s wanting to supply their own shirts for Elsje to create one of these for their little girl (or big girl – I love this!)

Patterns are big sellers on Etsy where alot of the buyers are also makers and I would think patterns would be a big seller for eco minded customers looking to repurpose and make their own children’s clothing . I think as a seamstress Elsje could add patterns without worrying about working against her own best interests since most people do not have the skills, experience and equipment to sew their own clothing so I think this would open her up to a new market. I would just get her visuals consistent first.

I hope something in here is helpful to Elsje – everyone should definitely check out her beautiful work. I love the idea of getting the boutique children’s clothing buyers (a niche in itself, in the U.S. that started with pageantry people, but expanded mainstream) into upcycled and repurposed clothing – this is an exciting market Picky is exploring and she is doing an amazing job!

As for Picky’s pricing question – they look super affordable to me – and as always have to be based on each seller’s time and materials – we don’t want to underprice ourselves. I’m not sure about setting prices so that the US prices are not round numbers – it is a little distracting unless most of Picky’s sales are not in US funds. Thanks for volunteering your wonderful shop Elsje!

Comments

  1. I think we are all in the same boat with these questions. There are often times when the word “niche” just makes me scrunch my nose:<( like it's a dirty word. But knowing is half the battle. From there it just takes time to put the knowledge into action! You have such a charming shop with loads of potential and you're obviously willing to put in the time!!!Go Forth and Conquer!!!

  2. Thanks DancingMooney… so glad you’re chiming in! Yes all those things have been on my mind with the one shop idea I’ve had.

    I must say that it was also a bit of an attempt to move away from my name as ‘picky’ because I was never sure about it. I had a few dear friends who thought MY name, Elsje Boer, was more appropriate as a designer. I have to say that I agree, although I am still attracted to the idea of something cute and catchy…

    …but maybe I can add that in with the description and banner etc… What do you think? I could shift to my elsjeboer.etsy.com, which is dutch btw, and then follow my desire to go with my scandinavian folk style heritage. It was after all my inspiration at the beginning. The simple, colourful, folk art designs, the natural materials, and the well fitting pattern designs.

    It’s not so easy to spell though, which I’ve wondered about, and whether or not people would remember it? Or does that even matter these days in the age of bookmarks and linking. Hmmm…

  3. Thanks so much for mentioning my shop here Cat! ♥

    Elsje, I think your shop is really cute and you are off to a great start with what you currently have listed…

    Personally, what helped me decide *not* to have two shops, was that I didn’t want to have two shop names, two email addresses, possibly two blogs, or two twitter pages, two sets of monthly listing fees to pay, two business cards, two etc, etc. I’ve tried having two shops on more than one occasion, but it never worked for me. Lots of people do it successfully, I guess I am just one of the unusual ones, haha. :)

    What I like about combining items in one shop, is that for me, my dream has always been to have a gift shop, or a boutique of sorts. So, I suppose that’s why a variety of items in my shop works for me, because I feel like if I were to go into a shop of someone else’s, be it a real store, or an etsy shop, I would enjoy looking at all the things I see in my own shop, and I know there are others out there like me…

    That said, Cat is right about buyers usually purchasing one item, or another, and not typically both at the same time. But, there are times {like during the holidays} when I make more combined item sales, and my soap customers every now and again will add a piece of jewelry to their orders, and jewelry customers every now and again will add on a bar of soap.

    I think in the end, deciding on combining a variety of items, or having separate shops really comes down to what your goals are for the cohesiveness of what you sell. If you wanted to have simply a children’s line, then do so, but if you wanted it to be a mother/baby type shop, it will thrive just as well, because those who shop for babies also like to shop for moms, and those who shop for mom’s also like to shop for baby too. ♥

    Don’t be discouraged if one line is more popular than another, you’ll see shifts in what sells from month to month… just go with the flow and you’ll find that your customers will help you find your own special niche. ;)

  4. Branding and consistency is a process for most of us – especially when there are so many things we want to create and only so many hours in the day! I think you can combine your shops Elsje – I definitely think mother/daughter match ups would work- I love your boutique upcycling- just genius! If you decide to combine maybe leave the one open with info for customers about where to go until you get the SEO where you want it to be with the other shop. Yes, Jennifer those actions are how people get those effects – they are sometimes amazing- sometimes a little too much for product photos – I like playing with them though.

  5. This is such a very excellent article on a beautiful shop!!!

  6. OMG what an amazing post Cat… Thank You. The info about banner styling, and photo consistency and color editing is all stuff we’ve heard before, but when you put my pics in there, it all comes to life in a much clearer perspective. There is so much here to digest and I feel so MOTIVATED to turn over a new leaf in my shop now! I also feel pretty clear that I want to combine my adult and kid clothing into one shop for convenience and maybe even more sales… ie. mother-daughter match ups perhaps? I am going to be going over this thoroughly today and making some great progress. Thank you again Cat, as always you are so insightful

  7. Congratulations on your wonderful shop, Elsje! Love these tips too! I always wondered how people on Etsy got those sort of washy/dreamy photo effects and now I know. :-) Thanks so much for this!

  8. This is a wonderful article and shop! I am in a very similar situation in my shop. I am working on branding, better photos and an overall aesthetic. I have wondered if I should branch off my quilt items, but some of the same people that buy my bags might like a quilt. The variety on my shop lends itself to people spending a bit more time on my shop. However, I struggle with the unified look that I so admire. First up – better and more consistent photos as mentioned above. Thanks for all the great advice!