What part of the world are you in?
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Suburbs.
What does customer service mean to you?
I think customer service is incredibly important. In addition to enjoying the artwork, the customer wants to enjoy the entire purchase experience. Every element that makes up the transaction will leave a lasting impression on the buyer. So, you want to make the transaction as perfect as possible. This includes notifying the buyer with shipment information and carefully and professionally wrapping the item for shipping.
What is your most memorable experience with a customer?
Oh my.... I've had so many wonderful customers....it's hard to choose just one. But, if I had to choose one, I'd probably say that it's the customer for whom I created several original pet portraits of her beloved dogs. At the time, she knew I was pregnant with my first child. She sent me one of my very first baby gifts....a beautifully woven cotton blanket which my daughter adores to this day....now 4 years later. It was such a thoughtful gift and really touched us.
What sets you apart from other sellers who are selling similar items?
This is a hard question as I would need to know what the other sellers are doing differently from me. I suspect that we are all very passionate about our craft and doing what we can to be successful, so...in that respect....I'm probably not all that different from the other sellers. I just love what I do and try to do it to the best of my ability.
How did you learn the skills that make you successful today?
Friends, family and fellow artists have all be instrumental in helping me hone my skills as a seller and an artist. My husband has listened to me reason through my different selling 'strategies' and offered lots of great advice over the years. Sometimes it is useful to just have another 'set of ears' to help listen to ideas. Granted....there's a lot of trial and error and a bit of risk-taking involved and not every project ends up being successful. But, I think you can also learn a lot from your mistakes.
Do you have any formal training in your craft?
I took one art class in high school and an elective class in college. But, I think the desire to draw, paint and create is truly in my nature. My parents are both very creative people. My father is an extremely talented woodworker and my mother is great with photography, silkscreening and other crafty items. It just seems like second-nature to me to be expressing myself in this way.
What is your goal for the next year?
I'd love to be doing exactly what I'm doing while also trying to help my business grow. As I am relatively new to the East Coast, I'd love to be able to expand my business to some of the local boutiques and galleries in the area. In addition, I'd love to be able to work on some sort of wholesale business or licensing of my artwork, graphics and illustrations.
What keeps you motivated when sales are slow?
The artwork itself is very motivating. Even if it isn't moving as quickly as in previous months, it is still a wonderful feeling to be creating something from a blank canvas. It's tough when sales are down, but there is almost always a kind email or word from a potential buyer to let you know that your work is appreciated.
What do you do to attract new clients and encourage re-occurring business?
I advertise my website online and I use the social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. I often offer discounts for multiple purchases, free shipping offers and special rewards for returning customers.
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 it! If you love what you do and the work makes you happy, it will likely bring joy to other people as well. Try your luck and see how it works for you. You never know until you try. The business cycle can get frustrating...especially in the slowest of times....but continue to create according to your passion, and eventually the market will upswing again.
You are correct Kristen, this business is a lot of trial and error. A lot of hard work and dedication. That's why we love showcasing artists like you! We know what it is like and we love promoting wonderful new talent. Thanks so much Kristen for sharing your beautiful artwork with our readers!
Check out Kristens online store, located at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5192173 and check out her wide selection of: signed prints, photographs, fine art tiles, pendants and gift certificates. Prices range from $10-475.
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