Friday, March 18, 2011
Featured Crafter: Alison Goyette of Boston Sea Glass on Etsy
For your inspiration, today we offer a glimpse of nature, elegance and the shore. Please welcome today's featured crafter, Alison Goyette of BostonSeaGlass on Etsy.
Describe your online selling experience.
Right now I sell online at Etsy. It has been a huge learning experience for me, but it is so satisfying to create something and have someone send you a note telling you how much they love it--especially if it is for their wedding day.
What was the impulse to start your business?
I had been selling sea glass in bulk to other collectors and crafters since 2008. In September of 2010 I lost my job, and decided to give this a try. I was blown away by the response, and had a wonderful holiday season, sales-wise. That got me really inspired to dive right in.
Anytime I talk about sea glass, I notice that people go all soft dreamy and say, “Oh I love sea glass." So many people have told me that they collect it with their moms, or grandchildren or best friends. There is a something magical about sea glass, not just the pieces themselves, but warm memories people seem to associate with it. I think that accounts for more than half of my sales.
Jewelry crafting is competitive. What is your niche? What sets you apart?
There are a lot of jewelry crafters out there, and no shortage of sea glass jewelry crafters. I am still working on discovering my niche. I started wire wrapping basically because I don’t have the right drill to create drilled sea glass. But I think I have come to prefer the wire wrapped look; it adds a little personality to each piece. Also, I try to do everything very simply. I don’t want the glass to look like it is being held prisoner by the wire. My goal is for it to look "flowy," and allow the sea glass to be the focus.
Where do you get your sea glass? Do you collect it all yourself?
I collect most of it on a beach near my home with my mom, my husband or my 5 year old son. I also find quite a bit at a beach that my dad and his wife showed me, but they swore me to secrecy as to its whereabouts.
The area where I live, Hough’s Neck, was a popular tourist destination at the turn of the century. There was a street car that brought visitors here from Boston, and they left a lot of glass behind. Also, there is a ton of sea glass out on the Boston Harbor Islands. I don’t have a boat to access them, but my neighbor and her sons have brought me some of the most beautiful pieces from islands.It is a little challenging to be dependent on the ocean for your inventory. If something sells well, I am at the mercy of the tides to get more. Luckily I have friends and family who are willing to let me pick through their collection. I just did a custom order of twelve coordinating necklaces for a wedding party and I had to go house to house, digging through jars and vases.
What do you see for the future of your business?
I am hoping to expand the business and do some craft shows, add more items for the home and create an entire wedding line. I was married in Key West and love the idea of beach weddings. I would love to make a sea glass tiara, although it would be heavy.
And here' a twist, readers. Instead of answering the standard last question, Alison has a question for you:
How do you get to know who your customers and and what types of things they are looking for when you primarily sell online? Is there a faster and more cost effective way than simply trial and error?
Thanks so much, Alison! Readers, please reply to Alison in the comments. Also, if you are interested in purchasing an item from her shop, she is running a free shipping promotion, through Mother's Day, with the code MOTHER2011.