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I recently interviewed the talented woman behind New Hampshire Land Pirate! Read on to learn more about her, her business and her tips for other creative entrepreneurs! :)
Where are you from? New Hamphshire
2. Tell us a bit about yourself and your shop/ business.
I currently sell framed original photography. I have a collection of typical New England agricultural scenes. I live in NH but i travel all over the New England area. I also paint and I plan to soon sell originals and prints of my artwork. Hopefully by 2013 I will have a 2nd etsy shop devoted to Vintage clothing and accessories
3. When did you open your shop?
4. Why did you decide to start your shop?
I had been wanting to open a shop for years. In 2007 I started to take my passion for photography and painting to a next level and began producing work that I could consider "sale worthy". I was in college and the work load was pretty demanding. I graduated this May with a BA in psychology and decided I was finally going to open a shop.
5. How do you promote/ market your business? What works best?
At first it was just through word of mouth, just showing some of my work to close friends and then started showing some of my work on myspace and facebook. I made a Facebook page dedicated to my artwork and started getting some solid validation that people enjoyed my work. Since i completed my degree at school I have been more active in getting my photography and paintings shown at art shows and displayed in local restaurants and businesses. I have a blog but I don't update it nearly as much as I should. I am very active in Etsy teams and do a lot of networking through them.
6. What’s your favourite item from your shop and why?
Currently my favorite item is a framed photograph called "Red Doors". I'm not entirely original when it comes to titling my work haha. I have always loved the colors Red and Blue together. I was out to breakfast with my parents this summer and there was a long wait for us to be seated. There was this barn across the street and I snapped a few photos. I liked also how there were a few panes missing from the windows. I see that a lot in NH. There are a lot of barns that people use for just storage and they show a lot of wear and tear.
7. Do you also do business offline? If yes, what do you prefer and what works best?
I usually don't do business offline. I've tried doing that before but all too many times I end up taking way too much money off the asking price because it's for a friend or I just don't end up getting paid at all. It's a weird dynamic selling your work to friends because you appreciate the support and I sometimes feel that I ought to just give them my work as a gift. But in order to be taken seriously as an artist, it's important that I view myself as a serious artist. I have also had my work at galleries and art shows where they take a commission which is fine, but I have yet to make a sale that way.
8. Where do you get inspiration?
I get most of my inspiration from my sister. She passed about 3 years ago this January. She was the one who inspired me to paint and to be 100% myself with it. She was my biggest fan and was always bragging about my work to most people she met. Now I want to make her proud of me and always have her in mind whenever I create anything. I always get inspired going to art shows and art walks, seeing what people put out there. Even if my tastes are completely different from the work I see, I get inspired by the artists drive and determination. I also am a horrible "pinterest" addict. I could easily be on that website for hours on end and not even realize it. The same applies for etsy.
9. Who is your target audience? Who would typically buy an item from you?
I'm still trying to figure that out. I feel that my photography is all encompassing in the sense that it is gender and ageless, I get compliments from people ranging from kids to seniors. I envision my work hanging in a country home or a New England summer home. Although typically most of my sales have been to post grad college students. I like to think of my work as an alternative to decorating your home with factory made prints for original unique photographs that come directly from the artist.
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10. Do you ship internationally?
Currently I do not. I have been selling on eBay for some time and usually had trouble with gauging cost. I think once I have more experience with Etsy and if there seems my shop gains a big international following, I will absolutely ship internationally.
11. What has been the most challenging part of starting and running your own business? Getting started. Being new is difficult and it sometimes feels like I’m stumbling in the dark. At times I find myself getting discouraged when I don’t make sales, but I have to keep telling myself that I am new at this and it will take some time to get noticed and get the hang of the networking and business skills to make more sales.
12. What has been the best part of starting and running your own business?
The best is that it is all MINE. I don’t answer to a boss, its my own creation and I set my own rules. I get to create the inventory and sell it myself. My customer knows where the product comes from and who made it.
13. Do you have any business tips you’d like to share with us?
On etsy, joining a lot of teams has been very helpful. It's a great way to network with other artists and get tips on how to promote your work. Also I talk about what I'm doing with everyone I meet. Since I've finished school I am constantly asked what I've been up to so it's a perfect opportunity to plug my shop (it's also a great way to disguise that I haven't found a "real world" job haha) Also, even though I'm still in the early stages, I have to make sure that I treat my work as a business. All too many times you end up seeing your work as a hobby. If you don't take your work seriously, no one else will. Its about finding a balance between work and play.
14. What are your goals and dreams for your business for the future?
The plan is to expand. I also paint and I really think that prints of my artwork will be enjoyed by many and bring more traffic to my shop. I also make some crafts. I make felt flower pins, recycled paper bowls and ethereal/hippy/fairy flower head bands although I’m still debating whether or not to sell those just yet. Hopefully by sometime in 2013 I hope to launch a 2nd etsy shop dedicated exclusively for vintage items. I sell a lot of designer and vintage clothes jewelry and purses on eBay and have an excessive amount of inventory. Now that I have completed my college degree I can dedicate time to this project.
15. Where do you hope your shop will take you?
The idea is to eventually make a steady profit from Etsy. I hope that I can get recondite as a serious artist and business woman. I hope my shop can my vocation my vacation so to speak.
17. What’s next now? Could we get a sneak peak of what you’ll be doing and sharing next?
I have so many ideas circulating in my brain on collections of paintings to create. Throughout 2012 the plan is to continue having art openings art local hot spots.
18. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I also write a fashion blog, I update it 2-3 times a month. Check it out:
Isn't she talented!!? I'm so glad to have met you, Erin, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you :) Please keep us updated!
Please go and check out Erin's shop, and connect with her through her blog, twitter, Facebook page, stumbleupon and pinterest. And e-mail her if you have any questions! :)
Be sure to leave Erin a lovely comment below sharing your thoughts, feedback, questions, tips, etc. :)
Ps. Check out our past interviews and be sure to join in our brand new Five Films I Find ____ Friday Blog Hop!!