I opened our Etsy shop already seven years ago, it was the beginning of March 2013. It was not a decision taken in a few days but an idea born during the Christmas market after talking to my uncle’s daughter, who is a jewellery designer. She was the first introducing me into the Etsy world. Starting from reading the “Seller handbook” and make research how to write a good description and title, I tried several times how to make clear and nice pictures using my uncle’s camera and very important, studying British English and American English after 12 years, when I studied it at school.
My uncle makes cute and colourful home and outdoor decorations and ethnic jewellery. He is the maker of our family. Where we come from (North East of Sicily coast) has never been proper tourism, are mostly relatives coming from Northern Italy or heirs from abroad during summer peak months and the only chance to sell is standing on the promenade where folks walk at night having an ice cream or a drink. I have also thought that it is a hard task working long hours while uploading and downloading boxes, standing at a stall for a very short period of the year. And this summer would be even complicated because of the breakdown. I still cannot figure out this. Back in 2013, I was unemployed so I had all time possible to learn new skills I trusted I would be found useful for future jobs. Looking at what is happening all around us I am happy to still keep open and manage our Etsy shop. it is my daily aim of improving it and get sales to compensate my uncle missed earnings.
SELLING HANDMADE CRAFTS
Our first sale arrived four months later. They were two doorstops to be shipped to the US. After the enthusiasm I had a sort of panic attack, asking myself what kind of packaging would be best and how to ship, not forgetting the receipt. Opting for a simple gift wrap and bubble envelope, I went then to the post office. For a long time I hoped for a reply from the buyer but it never arrived. In all these seven years I must admit the most exciting moment of this business is not the famous “cha-ching” (sound of purchase) but reading the message or the review of a buyer who is happy and says: <<keep up the good work>>. Reviews boost me and confirm I am on the right way.
It is hard trying to sell online if you are never done this before. First of all, everyone should know laws, digital and marketing skills. If you do it without any help and little money is much harder. Having and manage time is another requirement too, even for those who have digital skills. My obsessions are the views of listings, especially when in a full month I have zero views. I struggle to find the right keywords for both Italian and English, but English is more time consuming and attempts. Photography is as well a critic moment since I do not live in a large apartment and have a lot of natural light. There are just specific timings of the day when I can shoot, making my best to get clear and nice pictures. It has been in the last two years I took this business seriously, studying and reading digital and content marketing in my spare time, following group chats on social media and experimenting myself.
In the meantime, I built up a collection of fabric yarn necklaces which I started making and selling first in Sicilian open-air markets and later in Malta. In this small country I also finally got a job as Assistant Librarian after several years after reading a master degree in Conservation of Cultural Heritage. Moving to Malta has enabled me to think in English rather than use a translator any time. I believe that otherwise, I would not be able to support buyers from the US first, then Australia, Canada, Japan, Hawai, Thailand, Singapore, Israel among the countries I shipped handmade items with a vivid joy of my uncle.
Starting this business has changed my interests.
Ten years ago I was not used to read fashion magazines, I was not keen on psychology and communications techniques. Since I manage this virtual space including this blog, I realize that interests expanded. Today I mostly read essays than fiction but this might be influenced by my main job as academic librarian. I must confess digital marketing is fascinating and transferable in each field.
CHOOSING WITH AWARENESS
Why Etsy and not a different marketplace, maybe are you asking dear reader.
Because I liked the way of thinking and approach passing through the website. It was the first marketplace to admit of causing pollution because of emissions due to deliveries and trying to support sustainability planting new trees. It is a specific platform where you find marvelous gift ideas and lovely vintage items. There is so much great design and art that you are never tired of browsing.
Links below might be useful for those of you who want to learn more:
Olive trees grow across all the Mediterranean countries and their particular shape make them recognizable even from those who have not much knowledge about tree species. They have twisted branches and large trunks and some are old, it is amazing overlooking a field of olive trees.
I would like to say something about symbolism and history of this kind of tree, called in the proper way “Olea europaea”. It was known and used from the Greek and Roman period. Olive oil was a luxury good well traded while during Olympics athletes and later in the Roman empire valorous men were given on their head an olive round branch as a symbol of glory. The sacrality of the olive branch is also documented in the Bible and it is important for both Hebrews and Christians as an expression of peace and fraternity.
But this marvellous and beautiful tree has many other healthy features: its bark can be used in wood-burning oven releasing delicious smell on baked food, its leaves can be boiled for herbal teas which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Olive oil is full of vitamin E and can be used for improving hair and skin.
And that is not all. Olive wood has been used since Middle ages in arts and decorative furniture from artisans making pulpits and statues in churches, columns and decorations in private villas, toys, plates, cutlery, trays and more other stuff. It has been used in various ways because of the beautiful pattern of its inner lines it has and a good consistency when carving it and what a smell it makes!
It is largely used in Italy in almost all center and south regions, Sicily included.
Whoever holds an olive wooden craft has love and respect for nature
If this one chooses to buy an artisan piece has the awareness
and respect the work and talent of that man or woman who made it.
My uncle, who has always been a great lover of this wood, creates simple animal-shaped keychains using pieces of the olive tree from the annual tree pruning. With the same template that he uses to make magnets of fir wood, he cut out the shape of the keyring with the reciprocating saw, which he then models with sandpaper. With the drill, he affixes a small hole on each keyring to be able to insert later a cotton thread that weaves and knots or a semi-rigid steel cable and a stainless steel ring. To have an even smoother final effect and a vivid colour, it buffers them with oil which reduces water absorption. They are almost all unique pieces all handmade by himself only and really practical, solid and long-lasting. Mine is a dolphin that I use every day to open the front door from the last three years already. Its shape makes it easily recognizable when I look for it in my bag, especially when I don’t look into it.
Would you like to browse more? Visit our shop mediterraneanart