Etsy Seller Ele Willoughby shares why community is crucial to your success:
As I write, I’m just entering my fourth week of motherhood, so I can’t yet offer a lot of specific advice about balancing your creative life with childcare. However, I do know from my own experience that if you’re like me, neglecting your drive to create isn’t really an option.
I always had twin passions for art and physics. I decided that it was easier to pursue art on my own than it would be to attempt to be a modern-day amateur scientist. I came to Etsy as a busy academic and ocean-going marine geophysicist. I was looking for a creative outlet, a home for the growing pile of art I was making in my spare time and a way to fund my copious consumption of art supplies! I found that Etsy allowed me to grow a business that grew with me; the more time and dedication I devoted to my shop, the greater the results. When my geophysics contract ended, I was able to switch focus and rely on income from my small art business to fill the gap. Since being an artist and my own boss is something I’ve always been able to fit around a busy schedule, now is the perfect time for me to pursue this second career. I know it’s something I can do own my own terms, and at my own pace while I take the time to care for my baby son.
‘Oh Nuts!’ print by Minouette.
Many new mothers on maternity leave launch successful Etsy shops, simply and affordably creating flextime jobs while they are full-time moms. It’s a venue which allows you to define success for yourself, whether that means funding your art supply habit, finding a home for those baby quilts you’ve made while nesting, supplementing your maternity leave income or embarking on a whole new career with more family-friendly hours. One of the tricks—like becoming a mother—is to find a network of people in the same position. Etsy Teams can be great, instant networks. I learned the ropes of running an online business from a team of fellow Canadian sellers; themed challenges from the Mad Scientists of Etsy have shaped my art portfolio and how I think about combining my love of both art and science; Printsy, the printmakers of Etsy, are a great professional resource for exhibition opportunities and more. When a fellow seller suggested we launch a local Toronto team I was quick to agree. I am now the captain of the more than 700 member strong Toronto Etsy Street Team (or TEST). It’s a great way to meet local sellers, share information about supplies, creative and business skills, local shops and sales. We host social events, workshops and our own craft shows—and I’ve made some good friends. This fall we launched our Etsy Seller Newbie Boot Camp, to help new sellers and give back to the community. If you’re thinking about starting your own shop, why not start there?
Photo of Kristiann Boos, Etsy seller, running a DIY fabric dyeing workshop at Queen West Arts Crawl in 2012.
Many Etsy sellers are moms who thrive within a community of like-minded makers.
You can open a shop on Etsy.com — the online marketplace for handmade and vintage products — and sell what you make or collect to millions of people around the world.
Get 20 free listings when you open your first Etsy shop. After that, it costs only 20 cents to list an item for four months.
Ele Willoughby is a mother living in Toronto and the creator of Minouette. She has been selling her unique prints for more than four years at local art shows and on Etsy, to customers around the globe. She is pictured above with her newborn son Gabriel.