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 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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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