Back in November I was contacted by Coastal Living Magazine to possibly feature one of my surfboard coat racks in their March Issue. I was thrilled. Coastal Living Magazine is my ideal in beach cottage décor and them contacting me was really a dream come true. It also made me realize I needed to get my own website up pronto!
I’ve sold my frames and other home accents on etsy.com for over a year with increasing success. Its not only convenient to have the power of etsy’s e-commerce system behind your store, but also the reach etsy has to online consumers is very impressive. If you’re not familiar with etsy, its an online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods and a great place for small, home-based businesses like myself to sell their products. The site is very clean and simple in design and tries to foster a feeling of community among is buyers and sellers. It definitely has a more mom and pop feel then other large online retailers and its very nature encourages communication between buyer and seller. In this vein, I receive a lot of custom orders on etsy - colors, sizes, add-ons, etc. And although I like and appreciate this interaction with my customers, the back and forth – done mostly via email – can take time. I started thinking I wanted my website to give these a customers a place to exactly customize their order while they were purchasing.
So my wishlist for my own website began – and grew! I wanted to bring over a lot of the products I had on etsy but re-arrange their categories to make more sense to the customer. I didn’t want the site to only be custom orders as I think it helps to see some of the pieces I designed myself – it gives the customer ideas on color combinations and picture sizes. I’d also started doing prints for kids rooms and wanted to expand the options for prints to include personalization, another customer request I get often on etsy.
In January I learned that I would definitely be in the March issue of Coastal Living and they wanted to know what website to put under the surfboard coat rack they were featuring – I choose my own site instead of etsy. There is nothing like the deadline of a wide-selling magazine with your web address in it to light a fire under you!
But there were things to be considered, first off was a color chart. This was difficult for me because as I design I often mix colors together to get what I need. Plus, I’d probably used at least 50 colors in my products but I really felt they needed to be narrowed down so the custom ordering process wasn’t too cumbersome. I settled on 20 and I think they are very comprehensive to my style. Next was how to organize the Design Your Own sections of my site – how many options is too many? How can I best layout the steps so its not confusing to the customer?
With the help of my best friend/neighbor/partner-in-crime and web designer extraordinaire, Allyson, we embarked on a very hectic January. We figured Coastal Living would start hitting mailboxes in early February with my surfboard and we needed to be ready. We spent many late nights in my studio adding products (150+), fixing bugs and fine-tuning the design.
By February 5th we were ready. And we waited. I didn’t know if I’d be inundated with orders immediately or totally ignored.
And then it happened – our first order came in! We were found! And its been a steady increase in orders ever since.
So now I have my own website and it will be a continuing organic process of adding new products, offering specials, blogging, putting new ideas in our idea gallery and hopefully fostering the same kind of community I have with my customers on etsy. I want you to love having the products I make in your home and I want you feel comfortable in my online home as well.
Welcome to The Project Cottage!