Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Featured Seller - The Proper Peach

What part of the world are you in?
I live in Michigan and I have for my entire life. My hubby and I bought our first home in Madison Heights (a suburb of Detroit) and are still arguing over paint colors for the kitchen. Needless to say, more work gets done on our own hobbies than our house.

What does customer service mean to you?
Customer service is all about making a connection. Being friendly, being helpful and making sure that your customer knows how important they are to you. I want my customers to know that they are validating what I do and am passionate about every time they buy from me. I think that is what makes buying handmade such a positive and powerful experience for both buyer and seller.

What is your most memorable experience with a customer?
I just recently participated in my very first craft fair. It was awesome! I had a really nice lady with her daughter who bought some of my goodies. I received an email from the very same lady a couple of days later who wanted to buy her daughter a plush scented skunk too. She explained that her daughter had loved them at the fair and she was buying one to give to her Christmas morning. The thought of a little girl opening up one of my handmade skunkies on Christmas morning seriously blew my mind. That was amazing.

What sets you apart from other sellers who are selling similar items?
There are so many talented people out there it's hard to set yourself apart sometimes. I try to ensure everything I make, whether it be one of my scented creatures or a brooch, is crafted to the absolute best of my ability. Is it nice enough to give to my mama?? Then it's a go. I want to make sure that I earn a reputation as a quality seller...someone who truly cares about what my customer is getting.

How did you learn the skills that make you successful today?
Trial and error, mostly. Lots of errors! My mother showed me a lot of things...she's still my biggest helper! I actually am not sure if I know how to properly use my sewing machine to this day, which is scary. I learn a lot from my fellow crafters....whether it be a professional or my daughter. She teaches me new skills every day!!

Do you have any formal training in your craft?
No...I think "formal" is the least likely word to describe what I do and how I make things. I do what works best for myself and what looks good, not necessarily the textbook way. It gives me a lot of freedom to experiment and not worry about whether or not I'm doing something the "right" way.

What is your goal for the next year?
My goal for this upcoming year is to reach out to the craft community and really put myself out there. I'd love to get my stuff into some more craft shows and build relationships with other crafters. My biggest inspiration is seeing other people doing what they love and how they've turned it into something successful. My biggest goal is to get some of my items to local boutique-type shops and see what happens.

What keeps you motivated when sales are slow?
Knowing that I have an opportunity to do what I love. Period. Reminding myself that I do this because it's my passion, because it makes me feel human...not to make the big bucks. I think sales are kind of like a bonus prize.
Also, my daughter keeps me motivated. I want to be a role model to her and inspire her to express her creativity and inner craftster.

What do you do to attract new clients and encourage re-occurring business?
I always send a personal note and a small thank-you gift to returning customers. I make sure that I go above and beyond for customers who enjoy my goodies enough to buy from me again.
I talk about what I do all the time, to all sorts of people. I wear my creations. I also use the internet to my advantage...blogs, email.
I try to engage people in a dialogue about my craft and it usually ends up with a visit to my shop.

If you could share one piece of advice with someone who is considering opening their own store of handmade items, what would it be?
Do what you love and what you know. Enjoy it! Every item that you put out there is a little piece of yourself...make sure you had a great time creating it.

You can view Brooke's Collection of handmade goodies on her website Thanks Brooke for sharing your story with us! Best of luck with sales in 2009!

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