I've been selling my vintage and handmade items on Etsy for about 3 and a half years. Mainly this was a little hobby, but after being laid off and not sure what to do that I was excited about, I decided I need to improve upon what I already have and make it into a "real" business already. A few weeks ago after filing one of my last unemployment claims (I was laid off from my graphic design job 2 years ago), I saw a post on the Etsy Facebook page for an upcoming "Seller's Symposium". After reading the details, and seeing as it was only $25 for a full day of creative inspiration and instruction on how to build a better business out of doing what you love (PLUS meals and a goodie bag!), there was NO WAY I was going to pass this up!
The day began at 5:45 a.m. as I got ready and said goodbye to Mr. Bunny who was going taking the day off to spend time and take care of the Bunny Twins (Boy Bunny and Girl Bunny, age 2). My journey of 25 miles took just about 2 hours (hey, did I mention it was in Brooklyn and I was coming from New Jersey and, oh yeah, it was morning rush hour?) I took the train to Manhattan and then the subway to Brooklyn, then walked a couple blocks and I was there.
I entered alone (and surprisingly ON-TIME – a first!) but feeling really nervous as I had no idea what to expect. I've been a stay-home-mom for 2 years and haven't been mingling much with other creative types. Was my pseudo-punk-looking Geisha t-shirt bought from Target 5 years ago too cliché? Or, oh no! Maybe I was supposed to dress UP in business attire. After all, wasn't I attending a seminar on how to improve my BUSINESS? Am I going to be nervous and clam up around all these strangers or will I be nervous and become Overly Chatty Bunny (she can get irritating)?
I was given a beautiful handmade organic cotton tote which held LOADS of goodies: Promotional postcards from various cool places like Swap Bot, "I Love Handmade" and "I Love Vintage" bumper stickers, promotional business cards from some guest speakers, an "Etsy" necklace, super-cool "Etsy" keychain made from a spoon handle, promo from Burda Style where you can download patterns (came with funky spool of thread and a promo button), hand-printed mini blank notebook by BangBangYou'reThread, awesome ceramic NYC photo frame by Our Name Is Mud (who was also a guest speaker), beautiful "Maker's Notebook" supplied by the folks at Make, and a few other trinkets.
Once I arrived, though, the staff (they all all themselves "Admin") were SUPER friendly and accommodating! Admin Danielle was very inviting and Admin Dave took the time to sit down at my assigned table and really get to know many of the sellers, asking us questions about what we think of this and that. Their new space was an airy open room with walls lined with fabric, sewing machines and many other crafty goodies for the classes they hold there. And a brand-new photo booth! A fellow seller and I broke the ice by checking it out and having our photos taken.
They had other areas such as a library and tech rooms but all of my lectures were in this one room so I mainly stayed in the workspace area.
The day began with some mingling and getting to know our fellow sellers while having breakfast (supplied by a yummy bakery in Brooklyn). We traded business cards and asked about each other's work. My wardrobe uneasiness was relieved as I noticed that some others were equally shy and some were wearing jeans and sweatshirts, others were dressed spiffily in boots, tights and vintage-looking dresses. Everyone was unique but we were all here for the same thing: To learn how to better ourselves, our items, and present ourselves better professionally. This goal was met tenfold. I almost forgot to mention, this whole symposium was being filmed and broadcast via the web to thousands all around the world. How cool!?
|This is Admin DanielleXO. She was really nice and helpful.|
The lecturers who were chosen by Etsy to speak on a variety of topics were truly amazing. Etsy Admin Vanessa was really knowledgable on many business topics.
Noah Scalin spoke about how he challenged himself to create a new skull every single day for a year, thus leading to a book deal and him launching a whole new idea in creativity: daily art. Check out his web site here: Make Something 365 .
April Bowles was one of my favorites. She's a former therapist who quit her "real" job and followed her passions to become quite successful and now helps others do the same thing: Blacksburg Belle
Along the same lines, but with a unique energy and some other key advice, guest speaker Michelle Ward told us of her painful, yet instrumental life decision to give up her dream of pursuing an acting career in favor of becoming a life coach: When I Grow Up Coach
In between presentations, there were breaks for using the facilities, stretching our legs and then a nice lunch break where we ate SUPER delicious sandwiches (I chose the vegetarian sub: marinated grilled tofu, carrots, cilantro and other veggies, and a veggie spring roll! Mmmmmm!). During lunch, we were treated to a talk by keynote speaker Nancy Soriano (creative, and former editor of Country Living Magazine). In the late afternoon we had a coffee/tea break with desserts from another awesome local bakery and complimentary sea salt caramels given out by fellow Etsy seller The Caramel Jar!
The day was long, but I felt it was extremely productive and inspiring and I know I wasn't the only one. So many people were happy to have signed up for such a great experience. I was rapidly taking notes throughout the presentations and trying to absorb as much as I could. One of the key elements I took away was the realization that I needed to start a BLOG. So here I am.