ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN BLOOM
Jessica opened her Etsy shop, Fast Crawl, in October 2011. Her plans and creations have evolved since she was first interviewed in May 2013, so it was time to catch up! You can read that interview here: http://buffaloetsyteam.blogspot.com/2013/05/monday-interview-with-jessica-from.html
You’ve recently made big changes to your original your business plan. Where did the new direction come from? Do you work with a mentor?>>> I did make some big [and a little scary] changes! I think the problem was that originally I didn’t have a business plan — I was just sort of winging it. The idea for a change came when I realized my style and pricing were in competition with discount stores like Wal-mart and Claire’s. I needed a new clientele — one that would appreciate the handmade and unique pieces I was making. I didn’t quite know how to go about doing that until I got in touch with Elizabeth from Southern Carnival - https://www.etsy.com/shop/SouthernCarnival who graciously gave me all of the direction I needed. She’s been a fabulous mentor and cheerleader for many, many months, though she’d hate that I called her that!
Tell us about your new line: How are your new products different from your earlier products? Will your jewelry line be continued?
>>> The idea behind my new products is more or less the same, but the execution is different. My biggest goals are to create consistency and quality while being unique and paying myself for my time. I have slightly shied away from “one of a kind” pieces in order to focus on items I can make in multiples. Eventually I want to be able to produce large quantities of most of my clips. I am focusing more on bridal hair pieces, bridesmaid sets, and formal clips, though many of the items are versatile enough you can wear them every day. Styles range from very ornate and decorative to simple and understated. There’s a little something for everyone. I am using this transition period to eliminate the jewelry completely — my passion lies in silks.
You had a recent buying trip to New York City. How did you find/choose your supplier?
>>> My ‘mentor’ Elizabeth found my new supplier for me, and I feel like I owe her my first-born child as payment. Finding a US-based source for my business was extremely important to me. With so much of the manufacturing businesses moving overseas [especially in fashion], supporting locally made businesses and nurturing business relationships is increasingly important.
In January of this year, I went to NYC to source a custom silk flower factory. M&S Schmalberg Custom Fabric Flowers is the last remaining silk flower factory in NYC, the largest in North America, and they do everything out of a space that is only slightly larger than my apartment. They are a family owned business that has been operating in the Fashion District for almost 100 years. You can supply any fabric in the world to them [I’ve seen flowers made out of python skin, velvet, hand dyed silk, and even a Burberry scarf!], choose any die cut flower shape, and any mold to add texture, and they will make it for you. The possibilities are limitless. They will provide leaves and petals, or create an entire flower to your specifications. I chose the former, though they have plenty of ready-made flowers stacked in boxes if I ever want to go shopping!
My favorite part of the trip was being offered the same flowers that were made for one of Oscar de la Renta’s runway shows. How could I turn that offer down? I turned a trio of 3 velvet roses into a delicate hair comb, and now have bragging rights that my flowers were made for my favorite fashion designer.
Who is the FastCrawl customer?
>>> The Fast|crawl customer is youthful at heart, while drawn to unique details. Many of my pieces have a touch of whimsy in them that speaks to first time brides, debutantes, and anyone with a soft, vintage, and romantic side.
Has your marketing approach changed with the new line?
>>> Marketing is tough no matter what your product and who your clientele are! I am currently working with another local designer, and dear friend, Alexandra Farrington, of www.AlexandraFarrington.com to develop a website, and I am trying to be more cognizant of my social media presence. I’m on Instagram and Facebook, and am hoping to get started with a twitter account soon. I’ve built wholesale pricing into my pricing model, so I’m going to start looking into to get into some local boutiques by the end of the summer. Having local support is going to be key in growing my “hair flower empire.”
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
>>> Not to be afraid of raising my prices! I have a notebook where I write all of my prices — I know exactly how much money each rhinestone costs, each bobby pin, each hair clip, and each flower petal. I’m not only the workhorse who puts it all together, but I’m also the designer, photographer, editor, writer, etc. I’ve come up with a pricing plan and follow it rigorously, so I make sure I’m not coming up with arbitrary prices, and am actually making money instead of losing it!
Are your products available locally, and if so, where?
>>> Not yet, but I’ve had a few offers. I’m still working on getting my product line back where it should be before I start selling offline.
Lastly, and just for fun: If FastCrawl could have any celebrity spokesmodel, who would it be?
>>> I’ve always thought that Rachel McAdams is the perfect blend of Grace Kelly’s vintage elegance and romanticism. A little flower tucked behind her ear, or pinned at the base of a formal updo would be just perfect. So if anyone knows how to get a hold of her…you send her my way!
On Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FastCrawl
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FastCrawl
On Instagram: http://pinsta.me/fastcrawl
Many thanks to Nicole Johnson of Mealy Monster for initiating the original Buffalo Etsy Team interviews!
Until I ask questions again, this is Carla from 716 Buffalos wishing you a happy summer and loads of Buffalove!