I'm asking the questions you didn't even know you wanted the answers to! Running a successful shop doesn't just depend on having good business sense. You have to have the personality and the perseverance to pull it off. Let's get inside the hearts and minds of up-and-coming artists, as well as those who are long in the tooth. Between all of us, maybe we can figure this thing out!
Every time I receive interview questions back, I am so excited to learn about the person behind the storefront. And I am never disappointed. Everyone's love and dedication far exceeds anything Etsy could ever contain. It's not just about crocheting, making jewelry, or tieing hair bows in order to turn a buck. There is a real sense of community that we embrace, both in Etsy and in our non-virtual community. Norah Downey, the owner of Your Daily Jewels and A Repurpose In Life, is your classic example.
I first ran into Norah over at http://www.handmadeology.com/, where we are both writers. From her profile there, I learned that she is a pediatric physical therapist. This is what birthed her jewelry making.
I have been a collector of special beads and beautiful stones and baubles since childhood. Years ago, I needed a small reward system for some of my young patients and thought they might enjoy my collection as much as I have. So I began making simple jewelry for them with my collection. I told them a little story behind each bead or stone in their jewelry and the kids loved it. My pieces were a hit and I discovered a new creative outlet.
It's that same beautiful spirit that flows into each of her pieces. She not only puts her best effort but she puts her self into each creation.
What prompted you to pursue administering physical therapy to disabled kids?
I wanted to work in health care for as long as I remember. I ultimately chose Physical Therapy and I am so glad I did. My first seven years was devoted to working with adults. I started and ran a wheelchair racing program in NYC’s Central Park. We were the first to use the "handcycles" that are commonly seen today. Fantastic fun and rewarding beyond words! But, I had to move from NYC and thus, decided to change paths. I moved up the street from a horse stable where I volunteered with a program for children with disability and was hooked from day one. Children with disability are just kids! People forget this and get all serious around them. I love helping them and I especially love making them laugh.
For the month of April, you are donating 10% of proceeds to the Autism Society of America. Do you select a different cause each month to support?
My mom died of Alzheimer’s last year, so this cause is close to my heart.
I will probably take a month or so off in between each cause, but I plan to support five or six causes a year that are close to my heart for different reasons. The immediate next causes are Haitian Relief, The Lupus Foundation, and an under-served school that my best friend’s children attend.
Are you married with children of your own?
I am married, no children, except the kind that bark, a lot.
You have sold on Ebay for several years but just started on Etsy in the last year. Can you give us a short pros/cons list between the two or maybe just some advice in general about working two different platforms?
We know that Etsy is a handmade community. There are two very important words in this sentence. In my opinion, there is a scarcity of handmade product on Ebay anymore. It has become more of a wholesaler-re-seller marketplace for new items. It is a great place to sell, if this is how you want to do business. The second word is community. Ebay is lacking in any assemblage of community. It is a very cold place to do business.
To sum it up, I love the feeling I get just signing into Etsy in the morning. Signing into Ebay gave me knots in my stomach.
You also have a separate store for jewelry that you "remake" out of vintage pieces. Have you found that running two stores, even though they are both jewelry-oriented, is beneficial to your business?
Yes. One way I find I it beneficial is personally, because my design taste runs the gamut from elegant to quirky.
In "A Repurpose in Life" I create and sell re-loved jewelry and within this platform, I can "get my quirky out" and sell at a lower price point.
Next, I would say it has been beneficial for my business because my sales numbers are almost the same between the two stores.
If you're in the mood for shopping, and I know that you are, Your Daily Jewels is having a 15% off sale today. Remember, 10% of the proceeds supports the Autism Society of America, so you can justify that spending bug you've got.
Norah is also a member of the Jewelry on Etsy Team, aka JET. If you are also a jewelry-maker on Etsy, you should definitely look into joining JET.