Friday, March 25, 2011
Featured Crafter: Cari Shannon of Coquette Bath on Etsy
This week's featured crafter is Cari Shannon of Coquette Bath. Her interview has a lot of good information for crafters starting a business. There are several lessons to learn, here. Take one!
How do you find out about craft fairs in your area? Do you do all your own research? What about selling online?
I find craft fairs from eventlister.com. Once at a show, I do ask the other vendors where they sell and if they’d recommend a show. It’s also very helpful to find shows not to do! I do shows, mostly in the fall, and I sell on Etsy, Artfire and eCrater. I also have a standalone website: www.coquettebath.com
What was the impulse to start your business?
I owned a gift store from 2001-2006. When I’d go to Market, I couldn’t find the ‘right’ items for my store. After a bit of frustration, including finding a product I’d just ordered ‘stacked high and sold cheap’ at JCPenney, I decided to learn how to pour candles. After that was mastered, and they were selling briskly in my store, I branched out into other areas, based on consumer request. My product line now includes votive candles (by request only), jar candles, fragrance oil, sachets, soap (3 kinds), lotion bars, lotion (returning soon), lip balm, perfume, sugar cube scrub, and bath bombs. With all of the scents/flavors offered, I probably have about 350 different choices for my customers at any one time.
What is your niche? What sets you apart?
As mentioned, I had a store. It was rather fun and a touch funky…and that was what I wanted to find. Something made with great ingredients, but also something colorful and happy. I could find a lot of lines that were ‘spa’ themed. Or luxury themed. Or geared to kids. But nothing that was what I envisioned. So I made it myself.
Which materials/colors/techniques interest you the most right now? What is inspiring you, creatively?
We’re coming into spring, and I’m a super floral lover, so this is a good time for me! I’ve already introduced a new line: Simple Indulgence Soaps that has a lot of wonderful floral scents such as Sweet Pea and Gardenia that are hard to find in soap. I’ll be pouring candles very soon in springtime fragrances. But honestly, most of my products come from noticing a lack in a category, introducing a new product and listening to my customers. Of course, customer requests are also very welcome! A few top sellers have come from a simple ‘hey can you make X product in this scent?’
What piece of advice do you wish you had, when starting your business?
Knowing how to get folks to find me. I’m somewhat dense with the entire social networking/online promotion thing. When I went to college, I learned to program computers with punch cards! Not joking. I worked, as a student employee, on one of the very first intranets. But I’m not ‘tech’. I’m creative. And understanding this world is not easy for me. So, knowing more about it would be a blessing.
What question would you like to ask our readers?
Well, I’m always very interested to know what you like. Feel free to drop me a comment through my Etsy shop. I’m there everyday, reading and learning. You can also reach me through my website email at ‘info @ coquettebath dot com.’ Finally, I do have a Facebook page, but I don’t have it set up appropriately at the moment. Eventually, I’ll change it to reflect just business. Right now, it is a bit of a mix of everything. Finally, I do have a blog: www.coquettebath.com/blog
Thanks so much for the interview, Cari! Readers, what can you take from Cari's experience, to make your business better?