Please tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m an athlete at heart, having been a gymnast and track and field sprinter/hurdler. I’m a hockey and football fan as well. Most times, I’m in front of the TV as I create charms – either watching a sporting event, DVR’d shows, movies, etc. I even get into books on tape every once in awhile! As a newlywed and new home owner, there are also TONS of ‘house’ related projects that I’m enjoying as far as decorating, room planning, learning recipes, etc. I like being active, making healthy choices, and learning/creating.
What do you create? How long have you been working on your craft/art?
I create wine charms for all sorts of events and occasions!
I recently got married in August 2012. My husband and I had a beautiful wedding inspired by my Italian heritage, our love of clean and classy styles, Sinatra, food and wine. As part of the planning process, I thought it would be a cute idea to give wine charms as favors. The ‘wedding’ sets I was finding were so expensive, and they weren’t very personal. I googled ‘how to make wine charms’ and found that it was really quite easy, and that if I used a certain kind of wire, they were actually more durable and less complicated to use! So, I set to work…
My original ‘wedding’ set represented my husband and I with charms like ‘love’, ‘thank you’, a wine glass, a blue bead representing the college where we met, our initials, and a tag with our names and wedding date. I made over 1300 wine charms (which took me the better part of 6 months to do!). With about 400 charms to go, I realized that I enjoyed making them, but was getting so sick of the current design. I started imagining other options and designs for wine charms. I had a bunch of supplies left over at the end, and so I began researching online selling venues like Etsy and learning about how I could create and sell my wine charm designs to others – mainly because I knew that if I didn’t sell them, I’d end up with a houseful of wine charms!
I opened the shop in November 2011, however with the wedding plans, a house purchase and kitchen renovation, I didn’t really start creating items and putting time into the shop until about October 2012.
I spent a good week agonizing over a ‘good’ shop name. I wanted something that resembled wine charms (CharmedWine, WineCharmDesigns, etc) I tried every combination I could think of. The ones I liked were taken already, and the rest just sounded….bleh. To me “Charmed By Wine” is a bit more open ended. It relates well to wine charms, but also allows me to create other wine-related items, or charm-related items. I like that I have that freedom.
How does Buffalo influence your work?
For me, creating wine charms is about adding that little extra something to a party, dinner, evening alone with a movie, whatever. It’s about gathering with family and friends. It’s adding a little personality to someone’s life, or sparking a conversation between two people.
I think Buffalo plays a strong role in that. We are the “City of Good Neighbors” for a reason. Many of us have strong family ties, or close-knit friendships with the people in our communities. I try to build off of that vibe and create a fun accessory that can be used to put a smile on someone’s face even when it’s 20 degrees and snowing.
What is the best thing about having a etsy shop?
Being able to sell outside the local community. My first sale went to someone out west. There was something so cool about knowing that an item I made was traveling and finding a new home with a new family in a state I’ve never visited.
How do you promote your work to the world?
I stay involved in Social Media. I post on forums within Etsy, have my own website, blog and facebook page…among other sites. I still have a long way to go to really get ‘seen’, but hopefully each baby step gets me closer! I’m also part of a kick-butt Etsy team that does a great job of ‘talking proud’ about Buffalo Etsy shop owners!
What is the hardest part about selling online?
Getting “seen” and making sure my items are portrayed accurately. The hardest part about buying online is not being able to touch the item. This is where good photography comes in. I try to photograph several angles of my items and give people a good idea about the item’s size/materials.
Where can your work be found locally?
I actually have not yet sold offline. Once I am a bit more settled, I have plans to research some local craft fairs and possibly talk to a few local businesses. I want to make sure my online presence is strong enough so that I can refer in-person sales to my online shops to encourage repeat business!
Do you have any up and coming art shows/craft shows that you would like us to know about?
Nope! Just me working away at creating new designs…
Do you have any advise or suggestions for new sellers to etsy?
Do a LOT of research and planning ahead. A LOT. Learn about all the tasks you’ll have to manage (financial tracking, taxes, inventory management, marketing, website design, creative /crafting time, packaging, shipping, tracking, pricing and listing, etc). Consult with other small business owners to learn about tools or tips that might help you. Be patient and realize you won’t be great at everything right away. Have a backup plan or an “if I fail” plan.
Also, really think about your items and how they apply to everyday use. I had someone tell me pretty early that nobody will ever buy my items because not everyone likes to drink wine. I spent an afternoon making a list of every possible thing you could do with a wine charm…and I came up with an awesome list. So now, I can market my charms as being perfect for so many different events or décor! I even started to photograph my items differently to showcase some of the alternative uses.
- coffee mug/teacup charms (on the handle!)
- water goblets or any other stemmed glassware
- christmas tree ornaments, or other holiday décor
- plant décor (add a little sparkle to your house plants/tree branches)
- gift tags or part of gift wrapping
- tapered candle charms
- charms on any stemmed candle holders
- GIFTS! (hostess gifts, holiday gifts, party favors, wedding shower or wedding favors, etc)
You can find Charmed By Wine in several spots!