Thursday, December 16, 2010

Etsy Shop Critique - Rogue Magnolia

First impressions matter a lot, and we all know this to be fact.  Even the enlightened capitalists who buy handmade on Etsy can't escape the urge to be visually stimulated and wowed by visiting our stores before spending their hard-earned dollars from being a barista or shelving books.
And, your shop makes quite an impression.  Let's examine why...

Shop Name: Rogue Magnolia is perfect for your shop.  The "rogue" suggests that it's edgy, daring, and progressively fashionable, while the "magnolia" tempers it back to a refined, feminine image.  With your products, the edgy/floral amalgam is perfect.  Kudos to that.

Your banner is perfect.  It looks like it should be on the cover of a visually striking indie film about forbidden love in South America.  I dig it.  The font, the colors, the contrast... very clean, sharp, and it matches your shop's theme.  It suggests just enough malice to be enticing without crossing the border into risque.  

Overall shop appearance:

It should be clear that your products are the focus of your shop, but it's not... and this is where you get your first WTF!? point.

Damn, that's a lot of head!
The focus of your shop is your dome, not your flowers.  Almost every picture is a picture of the top of your head.  It is overwhelming... just heads everywhere.  And why are your eyes closed?  Are you in rapture at the luxury on your head?  While some people may not mind the fact that the hairbow they are buying has been on someone's head, it certainly bothers others.  I would stick with just putting one picture of you with a hairbow on (pick a fave), and put that same picture on every listing at the bottom.  Leave a note in your item descriptions that says the last picture is an example of a similar hair flower, shown as an example.  Make your products take the spotlight, not the top half of your cranium. 

There are some shots, though that would be much better options to use if you are going with the live models for display of your products.  I think the image (above left) with the poinsettia is much more marketable than the awkward decapitated forehead shots.

The way your brooches are photographed is great.  The snazzy dress form suits your flowers.  I'm not loving the wood grain in the background, though.  Don't you have some drywall somewhere?  Drapes?  A shower curtain? 

Sometimes, though... wood isn't a bad thing [ insert jokes here ].  For example, the natural, dark grain you have as a backdrop for some of your pieces is rustic and has character while providing a brilliant contrast for your products. 


Overall, the photography is fantastic.  You have used natural lighting, which makes for accurate color representation, an uncontrived balance of light and shadow, and simply more attractive images. 


I'm a little concerned about the pricing of your items, not because I don't think they are worth the price, but because the competition on Etsy has them priced generally lower.  While Etsy is a global market, the majority of Etsy shoppers and sellers are in the US.  You are already battling with them over vicinity, but then your prices are higher than the average US flower brooch/headband sellers.  You should certainly make shipping free, or lower your prices.  The second item should ship for free. 

You are just going to have to make a decision about whether you want to sell them for what they are worth to you, or whether you are going to lose business to desperate people selling them for less. 


Your products are great, and with a little tweaking to your marketing (and maybe your pricing), you should see a lot more sales come your way.  I think one major thing that will increase the volume of your sales is to simply increase the amount of products you have available.  You have a better chance of someone finding just what she was looking for on your site if you have more designs from which to choose.  Put your dress form in front of a plain wall next time you take a brooch picture, and stop chopping off your own head!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things

Etsy is the next-door-artist supermall to get your personal, esoteric, idiosyncratic holiday gifts. I had a big, philosophical introspection about why Etsy is the great economic equalizer in dire economic blah blah blah, but a formatting error caused me to lose all of that... BAH HUMBUG, assholes. Just look at the pictures and imagine that I said something clever first.

This bracelet from Lenokeidesigns is a gorgeous statement piece. I love the unexpected color palette, with the rich, creamy pearls, the antiqued gold, and the lush red.

This is a hand-cranked wooden toy from CartoonMonster, one of Etsy's "dudes." Am I too old to want one of these for my desk?

One of my favorite Etsy artists, a former school teacher and an artist, SOiNTOiT, carved and created this piece of artwork. I have one of these in my bedroom. Worth the investment, definitely, as you will smile every time you see it.


This is another piece of art from one of Etsy's most creative artists, Serden of Serdomania, that is on the top of my "buy this" list. From his "I draw my dreams" collection, this ethereal and evocative work needs to be on your wall.

This T-shirt from SpeakforYourself, well, speaks for itself. Because being called smart and sexy is an alliterative epic win in the gift-giving arena.

These vintage-inspired old world map gift tags from FoxesandRobbers might just be the proverbial icing on your gift-giving cake.

I love everything from 10eisha's Etsy shop, but this is one sexy, edgy bridal fascinator and veil. Her products are cruelty-free and customizable to your specifications.

RogueMagnolia's hair accessories are a must. While this red and black handmade hair treat might be classy, it still can't live up to the sophistication and elegance of her WTF!?Etsy debut, at which point she showcased hair bacon.

And for a find so inspiring that I broke my own aesthetic red theme to feature it... Sabrieth's gaming-themed hand candy, the STFU Noob ring.

I will probably buy this before anyone reads this blog. Just sayin...


Saturday, September 11, 2010

I am Red

I haven't ever bought from an artist on Etsy, but I saw something I had to have from a very talented artist named Serden from Istanbul, Turkey. It's from his "I draw my dreams" collection. I would buy the original if I could.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Etsy Shop Critique - Fresh Urban Vintage

Review Foreplay: I have to admit, I was almost salivating with excitement when Vicky of FreshUrbanVintage gave me full license to be brutal with this review. After taking a very, very thorough look, I was shocked at what I found. There isn't anything to gripe about.
From the first time I saw this shop until the time came for me to do a review, it looks like a different shop altogether.

First impression: the overall visual theme is gorgeous. It's tasteful and bright without being too busy. The banner is one of the best I've seen. It's not easy to incorporate a photo into a banner with text, but you've pulled it off flawlessly. The font is clean, the image reflects what is in your shop, and the font is clean, crisp, and easy to read.

Avatar & Photography: The avatar epitomizes what an Etsy seller should be: fun, quirky, confident. The photography is phenomenal. The contrasting colors, the salient detail, the vibrant angles, the fresh backgrounds, the sharpness of the lines... your photography has exactly the artistic flair that distinguishes vintage and upcycled wares from looking thrift-store/yard-sale to boutique.

Live Models: I have to comment on the photo below (left) with the vintage frames. I want other Etsy sellers to see what I mean when I am telling people to have confidence when they appear in their photos. These are adorable. Fun, quirky, and unabashed. The three-frame image is extra cool, a perfect trio for your avatar. I wish that I had this picture as a reference to use for many of the other reviews I've done in the past to show as the epitome of how to take great live-model pics. The background, the hairstyle, the expressions... they suit the glasses frames perfectly. It makes me want to buy them! I could so pull off the sexy English teacher look in those...

Matters of the Pocket: Generally, your prices are great-- not so high that they are unreasonable or inaccessible to the masses, but not so low that they devalue your products. There are a few items that are a little puzzling in regards to the price, though. For instance, the Charlotte's Web book. Maybe because I'm an English teacher in an old middle school, but I have seen so many copies of that book and other books lying around and in used book stores (I am always there), that I don't understand how $38 is a reasonable price for it. After taking a look at the listing, though, I read this:

Please Note:*******************************************************
If you are looking for a reading copy for your children or grandchildren this isn't the best copy for you- there are many nice reading copies available on the internet for much less money. This is a copy for a collector, a book lover, an avid fan, or to give as a gift for someone like that.
And even though I still think $38 is high, seeing that it came from your personal collection and that you qualified the price by saying it's good for a collector, I at least understood that you are offering something that is valuable to you, and it's hard to put a number on a special item. With vintage, it's hard to put a monetary value because the appeal and the sentiment and the history attached to it is worth more than a new version would be.

Descriptions: Your descriptions are exemplary: thoughtful, witty, informative. The clarity and organization are brilliant. The details of the process involved, the materials, dimensions, and history are fabulous. I really want the box of maps. I mostly just want the box, not the maps, lol. It's awesome, and seeing the description made me want more of your items. You offered something of yourself without oversharing by talking about the history of those maps and why you find them important. The quote in the bottom made that item seem even more special. Seeing in your shop the little quotes, the pieces of poetry, the quirky post scripts... sold me even more on how a buy from your shop would be worthy of my very limited funds. It's hard for me to even write this review for want of your box [ that's what she said ].

Shop Announcement: Your shop announcement is also perfect. It's minimalistic, not extending beyond Etsy's new layout, and not a wall of text which could detract attention from your items. It says what you have, it makes your name associated with your shop name, and it invites customers to be "spoiled" by you. And the ever-important connection: the blog link. Adding a Blogger, Facebook, or Twitter [ myspace is so 2008 ] profile to your page gives customers an occasional reminder to take a look at your shop without the annoying over-advertising of something like an email mailing list.
Announcement: Recycled, upcycled, art, accessories, & vintage.
Created & curated by Vicky Bell for Fresh Urban Vintage on Etsy.
I am customer friendly- let me spoil you.
You can also find me at
Wrapping up: I really wanted to have that review that I could just let loose the full extent of my acidic, bombastic wit and unload on this, but the only WTF!? moment I experienced is when I saw how much better it is since I first started doing the reviews way back in the day.

Abstract: Well done, FreshUrbanVintage. Well done.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Etsy Shop Critique - Jinglebat

First impression: we need a major makeover; and by major, I mean bring out the wrecking ball, the bulldozers, and Miss Jay Alexander. We will start with the banner. I can understand if you are experimenting with Photoshop or another graphics program that the text effects are fun, but they aren't professional looking. I can see that font on a middle school Halloween Dance flier. It needs a lot of help. I will make one for you, should you desire. But that one is just bad enough, especially with your big black block of a box (how's that for alliteration?) you have pasted at the top of your page, to warrant you a WTF!? Point. Your avatar is actually cute, though... so leave him!

The next prominent matter of aesthetics we need to discuss is the pictures. They are beyond terrible. The quality is not so bad, but they do not sell the products at all. It looks like you had a bunch of friends over, went through your mom's closet, and had a slumber party fashion show with her old digs. Go outside and sit in some tall grass in the sunlight and let someone photograph you or your models while they whimsically tie dandelions together to make a necklace or hair band. Go to a solid white wall and do some serious poses in a well-lit room filled with natural light. Your items don't seem "for sale" or like you're wanting them to look special. The way the pictures have been taken is like someone is messing around and playing dress-up in silly old clothes. If you want customers to buy your clothes and accessories, then you have to have to make them look special.

Let's examine some of the bad photos:
This is probably the worst-photographed item in your shop. Look at this picture: 98% face, 2% product. And this is not a shop-worthy picture. Bad lighting, terrible angle, and it looks like you even used a flash! See the detail in the earring? No, you don't. You can't. The picture is too bad!

And then you have a different person wearing the same pair of earrings! I think a lot of people are bothered by seeing earrings on someone else. Granted, if they are vintage they have probably been worn before, but that can make some people skiddish.

The worst, though, is your close-up shots. So blurry and yucky. Never use wood or faux wood as an indoor background for pictures.

When you saw this picture on your computer, you should have right-clicked on it, selected the delete button, then immediately went to the recycle bin and emptied it.

I have a guide for photography which can be viewed by clicking here.

And descriptions... You are an excellent writer, and I envy your natural knack for describing your wares; however, it seems that you downplay the glamour or appeal of many items right before finishing the listing. For example, with the same pair of earrings listed above, here's what you have:
These are gorgeous pierced earrings from the 1960's. Silvertone metal, faux pears and irridescent rhinestones, make for a very glamorous look even though I must admit they always made me think of snowballs.
These earrings used to belong to my mom and they are in excellent condition. I've always loved them,
That was all fantastic. Photographed properly, these leverback vintage earrings have easy selling potential on Etsy; however, you had to follow up with this:
but the truth is they are too heavy for me which is why I think I only wore them once, and I think she gave them to me over 20 years ago. A lifetime of several hoops in my ears left me with no tolerance for big dangling vintage earrings which is why I have quite a few more in my shop.
You just told your potential buyers that you find this item intolerable and bulky. You don't have to be dishonest, but some people want big and bold earrings. Say something about how the earrings are for people who want to stand out. Never tell people you're parting with your items because you don't have use for them or don't want them. You went from boutique to thrift store when you did that.

And, if you are selling previously-worn earrings, explain to your shoppers that you sanitize them, or even offer to put new hooks on them.

This lilac gingham dress another example of the kind of image you shouldn't use. >This is an adorable vintage prize, but the presentation doesn't do it justice. The model's facial expression looks miserable, like some serial killer has her held up in the basement making her wear his mothers old clothes and pose for a camera. This model could be great for pictures, but the theme is just glaringly awkward. Your models should be smiling, posed artfully, and doing things people would do in a dress like the one in the picture.

The black and white vintage hat: brilliant! What a fabulous item! With the right presentation, you can easily get $40 out of it.

Let me point something out to you. Take the picture below:
This model is gorgeous. Look at that long, elegant neck and those full lips. Dress her up, put on a little lip gloss, and do this hat justice. This hat is front-page worthy and is in excellent condition for vintage. A little black dress, a cocktail table, some red lipstick... something! I have seen similar items, not as nice as this, sell for more than $100 on Etsy. This is one of those items that needs to be photographed with a little red for contrast and against a bright, glaring white background.

And you have another, "this is great, but..." clause in your description. Any time you have the word "but" in a description, just go delete it right now. That's priority number one.

I'm going to post your shop announcement in its entirety and respond to lines individually. My responses are in red.

My shop is really a big combination of things, hence the name. You are an inventive writer. Don't use the words "big" and "things." I will be posting some of my own artwork as well as a a lot of stuff from my vintage collections. Don't say "stuff" either.

I am a big big again fan of vintage and have a big big... really? collection of clothes, jewelry and other random things things is now a banned swear word and have been collecting them since I was in high school. The problem is, that's a lot of stuff so is stuff, and I've run out of space. Add to that the horrible realization that I really shouldn't wear at 40 the same same mini-dresses I was wearing at 20 do you realize you just lost an entire demographic of middle-aged women by saying that?, and I'm left with a bunch of stuff okay, don't say bunch either. and what's up with all this "stuff" stuff? stuff has the same negative connotation as "junk" on my hands that I really need to part with instead of saying you're parting with your items to save space, say that it's time to share your decades of fashion legacy. I try to keep my prices low, that way I can get rid of them faster don't say "get rid" either. you make your items sound undesirable; you get a good deal and and the stuff NO MORE STUFF! HOT DAMN! gets put to good use - everybody wins! If you're adding a note about your prices, then give a better reason. Call it "recession-friendly," or talk about how everyone deserves to own a piece of pop culture history. They do, right?

Most of the vintage clothes I will be posting have been in storage for quite some time, so I will be washing everything before I even take any photos. You might not get a mint item that has never been tainted by modern soap, but at least you'll know it's clean. Scrap this paragraph and just mention that your items have been cleaned and have been stored in a pet-free, smoke-free environment.

There are a few innuendos around your shop which suggest that there is something negative about being 40. Really be mindful about making an age (any age) seem like something undesirable. Even if mainstream models are generally between 17-23, Etsy's consumer base is not the mainstream. As long as you present yourself and your models as elegant or fun or quirky and confident and beautiful, then your customers will feel like the items they're buying are something that will make them feel the same.

If your camera sucks, then take advantage of natural lighting and go outside. Practice, practice, practice. Approach your picture-taking with the same artful consideration and precision you use when you create your art.

You're going to need a lot more items before you can expect to make many sales on Etsy, but items like some of your clothes and that black and white hat will sell quickly when you have them presented well. Your avatar is cute, but how does it relate to your shop? That hat needs to be your avatar. ;-)

I know I focus more on the negative aspects than the positive when I do these reviews, but I'm doing these to help you get sales. Put more of your artwork up, list more items, and work on your pictures [ a lot ]. If graphic design isn't your forte, then you can get a great banner made for your shop for five bucks all over Etsy. I see people offering free banners in the forums often, too. Etsy takes hard work, and your efforts have to be effective. You can spin your wheels and work your ass off, but if you're not taking the right measures, then you'll not get anywhere.

And work on that bio! One line? That's all there is to you?