Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Etsy Shop Critique - HennessyHandbags

First impression: I really like you, Hennessy. To be great, you have to break rules and be unique, which you obviously have the courage to do. You've got initiative and you're not afraid to take creative risks. You get a badass point.

The nagging issue that is just overwhelming for me is that while you are one amazing artist, there is something I just don't get. Just looking at the detail of the eyes in your banner is indicative of the level of skill you have as an artist, but WTF is up with the jaws of your women? They are either missing, wide and masculine, or overemphasized/thick. I don't mean this at all to be insulting to you or anyone else, but they look like transgendered women. Why is it that you spend so much time detailing the women of your purses, but you neglect the jaws or draw them disproportionately? It seems that many of the women's faces just immediately transition into the shoulders with no neck. It makes the faces seem like they belong to someone very large, but the bodies are slender, long, and feminine.

The hair on your purse vixens is really cool, the spiral being a universal symbol of femininity or feminine strength. I also love the eyes of the women on your purses, each one representing a different mood. This is a stretch, but are you mixed or in a relationship with someone from a different religion or background? Your works have a lot of harmonizing contrasts, black and white being predominant themes. It is really cool how most of your purses have two faces, reflecting a dark and a light side, either literally or dark/light with mood. One side of your purses usually has a passive or reticent side, the other a dominant and confident side. It's very yin and yang. :-)

I love the purse with the old book pages. That was a really clever integration, especially with the way you incorporated it into her hair. I like the purse itself, too.

Your photography is great. You have a combination of simple, organic backgrounds and high-contrast white, which is always a great way to put the focus on the products.

I can't really fault your shop announcement because there's not much there for me to critique. You might use it to write a little blurb about how you revitalize retired purses or how people can carry an original painting with them.

I think Etsy is going to be a hard venue for you to sell your bags. Trying to find a purse on Etsy is nearly impossible, especially since people tag so many non-purse items as purses. Discovering one single seller in the ocean of etsy purses is a long shot, especially if people sort by price. I would say you need to do exactly what you're doing now, which is to get recognized by bloggers and people with high-traffic sites so your unique designs can be seen.

Another thing you need to do is list more. You don't have a lot of items, which is understandable since art is not exactly something you can mass-produce, but i would suggest maybe doing some less labor-intensive, less specific designs for a smaller price range to drive traffic to your shop. Make sure when you make sales to stick a bunch of business cards in your purse. The purses themselves will be a great advertisement.

One thing that has really helped me is when customers from other forums and websites outside of Etsy buy from me, they are buying from *me* as a person, not my shop. I can get to know them and some people have taken a ton of my business cards and put them around workstations at their job. This one beautiful, beautiful and now very dear friend from Canada has been responsible for nearly 1/4 of my sales because she has gotten her family and co-workers to buy from me.

Another thing I suggest is that you do some artwork that is more generic than faces, which might appeal to a broader customer base. I know it might seem cliche, but people aren't as fearless as you when it comes to taking a fashion risk, so they will feel a little more safe buying something with a design or symbol that stands out but not as much as a face.

Your profile is cool. It's zany and free-spirited, like you. I think you've captured yourself, there. I always tell my students that I'm a treasure hunter, not a teacher. I like to find treasures which are in plain sight, but my trained eye and knowledge allow me to know how very rare and special some things are that others may think are just junk. I like to show a geode that I cut in half to my kids, first whole as a lumpy brown rock, then the amazing crystal formation in the middle. Maybe you could use your treasure-hunting idea as inspiration to help people find your shop. You could even blog about how shitty the experience can be if you're looking for a purse on Etsy, and how HennessyHandbags is the place to be if you want a truly unique treasure.

You have a great business idea and your shop is set up nicely. I am afraid that no matter how hard you try, Etsy is going to be a hard venue for you to sell unless you get your product volume up and add some variety to your designs so you have a more broad chance of keyword searches coming across your shop.

You get five WTF points for this:


  1. awww... i finally got a wtf rating .. five .. dang. Thanks so much for doing it and I'm glad your back and hope your feeling better. I think you were very kind and that shtick (thats how I want it to sound) that you have kind of got mellowed out but maybe you sensed my need for compassion. The only real criticism was about the jaws.. lol. And the quantity of items. I never really looked at that but I will try to notice. maybe i just like floating heads.I did just finish a new purse and I really like how it looks. I hadn't really thought of myself as a risk taker but infact that is exactly what I think when I am making art. I think WTF? I just got this from a thrift store and who cares what I put on it? I do the faces cause I think somewhere in me is this subconcious need to be seen.. and I do think some days the works just become emotive based on my own mood. I do realize that the purses in general are loud. They will definately get attention and I can't see a woman walking into an office with her face on her bag . ... but maybe thats a thought, mood purses like the old mood rings. One side happy and the other sad, mad or pensive? lol .. I have done a few with some animals on them and I could certainly do a lot of different images. I have noticed that the purses with the circles get the most hearts or views even though no one purchases any. So .. i do agree that I need to work on getting people to the shop. I do have plans to put art in my shop that is not even on a purse. I know it doesn't go with my shop name but I don't want to have more than one shop. I'll let you know when i add stuff. Either way inspite of not having a single sale I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to interact with the etsians that are here and are willing to step up and say hello, share and be as giving as you have been. I'm honored and I look forward to following your blog for some time. Thanks for doing this!! May it all come back to you in spades! : )

  2. one more thought maybe you are a tad intuitive. you seem to pick up some nuances of a person by their shop works and words. I'm not mixed but I have very dear friends that are quite opposite in religion and color than I am. I kind of like to think that part of that is due to my parents dragging me out of the country as a wee child and exposing me and my siblings to a wide variety of cultures. I lived just over six years in Africa. Those years were the best years in my life. Resulting in a great lesson in acceptance of others which has always been my preference. So keep up the good work and witty words.!!!

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