Finally, this year I set up my Etsy shop, Sui Generis, selling my hand tie-dye clothes, and other tie-dyed items. I was SO excited, as there would be no more getting up early for the event that was usually from ten to fifty miles away, there would be no stalls, to pay months in advance, usually from sixty-five pounds up to one hundred, a lot of money when times have been difficult. There would be no Public Liability Insurance, no petrol to waste, no sandwiches to make and flasks to prepare, no change to make sure I have with me for the customer so I didn’t lose the sale, no bags to buy to put my precious items in, no sleepless nights, worrying about the event, be it a one day or a weekend, no clothes to decide what to pack for the events, no looking what the all-important weather will be, for no one buys tie-dye in the rain! I wouldn’t need to worry about giving ourselves time to pack everything into the car, the gazebo, the three large metal rails, the tables, the camping chairs, the large long black materials, great contrast against the tie-dye, the dreaded hangers, Paul hates them, he fights with them often, the four suitcases, ice cold drinks, wondering will I have a nice eye catching, spot with good friendly neighbours, will I set up in times, before it all starts? To name but a few things, everything is on me, as it’s my venture, Paul is my little helper, but he is not a morning person, while I can survive on three hours sleep Paul can’t so he needs lots of coffee and fags before he can get going in the very early mornings, and lots of coffee and fags throughout the day. I could not do any event without Paul or any other of the fabulous helpers who have given up their day to help, for them at the end of the day I would ask them to, “Pick any item to the value of twenty pounds as a thank you,” Some would choose not to have anything, some would pick an item they had their eye on all day, some would pick an item for their Mum, Dad or Child, each and everyone of them were Good People, an asset to my stall.
Depending on where I went, I would do really well, so-so or utter rubbish! I would leave on a high, if all my hard work had paid off and there would be tears and despair later on at home, if I had made a loss. The loss was hard to take, as everything was time consuming, for this is not my job but a hobby and it was to get us out of debt. When I made a loss, it pushed us further into debt, it was soul destroying especially when I would see other crafts people doing well, with their jewellery, gold, silver or beaded, leather handbags, painted glass, paintings, pottery, thatching, garden furniture, wooden toys, beautiful cakes, jams, biscuits, knitted baby clothes, basket weaving, beautiful cross-stitching, to name but a few, there are some very talented crafts people out there. And I am actually one of them. At craft events we often admired each other’s work, some customers would come up to my stalls and look closely at my work, I would ask, “Can I help?” They would say, “I’m trying to see HOW you did this?” My reply would be, “You will never guess,” Or at other times some would ask me, “How did you do this?” My reply is always the same, “This is what people pay for, the uniqueness of my pieces,”
Because I didn’t own a shop, I had one of each item, I didn’t have an item in five different sizes, so if the customer really loved an item, if it wasn’t in their size, that was it, a lost sale. On a plus side I had many customers and at a regular event I went to over the twenty plus years I had regular customers, who bought from me every year. Even when at first, I didn’t always remember them, they would hunt me out and buy an item from me, then when I realized I would give them a discount. I had some amazing days, and some very, almost too hot summers, with my tie-dyes flying off the rails. The down side was the rain, or rainstorms, or poor adverting on the Organizers part, where all of us Crafters made losses. At most big craft events it never seemed to amazed me that some sold items costing one pound and at the other end some sold items for thousands!
Covid happened last year, so everything was cancelled. People went on-line. I know lots of people were on-line anyway, but as you know if you couldn’t get it in the shops because it was closed, on-line was not closed, I even set up on-line banking. I decided not to go to any events again, way too much hassle, so they stayed in their many suitcases. Then my daughter Meghan mentioned selling on-line, with her help she set me up on Etsy.
I was often asked when I did do craft fairs, “Have you got a website,” My reply was always the same, “I don’t know how to do one.” So now I suppose, this was the next best thing. It took time to learn how to do it, as it was different on my laptop and different again on my mobile to list things. It was exciting though, getting on the bandwagon of on-line shopping, everyone seemed to be doing very well, it was on the news often. I’d tried eBay years ago, on there I did well but not with my tie-dye, nor did I do well at car boots, what people didn’t know was, I had to buy the white linen dress, for twenty-five pounds, and each pack of dye cost five pounds, then there was my time designing it, dying it, washing it, ironing it, taking lots of photos of it, I really loved each process, it gave me a real buzz, and the final price, reflected this. One of my biggest regrets was my show stopper item, I like to have one at each craft event, well at one huge event I was setting up and had put my showstopper out first, it was a beautiful, long, heavy linen wrap over skirt, I had priced it at seventy-five pounds and a young woman came up to me and said, “I REALLY love this linen skirt, but I have only fifteen pounds!” She seemed to love it as much as I did, and I sold it to her for that price. Later that day and over the years I was gutted and wondered how she had talked me into selling it to her for that price. At the same event years later, a posh lady came to my stall at the beginning of the event and picked up ten of my most expensive and newest items that I’d done for that event and asked me, “What is your BEST price for these?” I had learnt from the linen skirt, and mourned over the loss of it and I vowed I wouldn’t get ripped off again, but I was trying to add up in my head, for some items were seventy five pounds, sixty five pounds, fifty pounds and forty….. She must have thought I was stalling and said, “Can I have them for a hundred pounds?” I thought, one hundred pounds is a lot of money, to make that at the start would be fantastic, my first sale, would be amazing, so I said, “Yes,” She quickly paid and left with her very expensive, quirky, designer, one-off, tie-dye goodies. Really, I was robbed, and as the penny sunk in, I began to feel sad, then she came back ten minutes later and she said, “Can I give you fifty pounds more?” She would have seen exactly what I had priced them at, I quickly said, “Yes.” She then told me her name, and added, “I have a shop, just around the corner,” It was there she would sell my five hundred pounds worth of items, that she had just bought from me for a mere one hundred pounds! The pain of that was too deep, I hadn’t learnt my lesson from the beautiful, long, heavy linen wrap over skirt. But now on Etsy, I would be in control. There would be no sly talkers!
If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And everything takes time. I took my time and one by one I would pick an item, iron it, take pictures, Etsy suggests a short ten second video but I don’t know how to do that using my laptop. I decided to give myself a better chance by selling abroad and all my items will be sent, registered, tracked and signed for on arrival, for to me, it is very important that my items arrive and not stolen along the way. Many years ago, I remember for items registered and tracked was one pound seventy in the United Kingdom and eight pounds outside the U.K. so, I did this for my postage, putting eight pounds plus my postage the average was between twelve and fifteen pounds and twenty pounds I put for the two king-sized bed linen which consisted of a unique duvet and two pillowcases. I had set my items for automatic relist, each item is on for four months, how good is that, compared to eBay where it was one, three, seven or ten days. I was very excited.
But nothing happened. I googled to see why that was and apparently that is why Etsy has their listings at four months as it takes a while to be found, so that made sense, after all, it is a big wide world and more than ever, there are more sellers on-line. Then after three months I had my first sale, I was chuffed to bits!