I was thrilled to score an interview with Diane, the talented knitter behind the popular Etsy shop, Pixiebell. I’m shocked that it took me this long to ask her for one! Diane’s an Etsy veteran, having been on the site for more than five years now. She acts the part by kindly contributing to and commenting in the Etsy forums. She shares business and knitting responsibilities with her husband, Christopher, and together they have worked to expand their successful brand.
Pixiebell is one of the first shops I took notice of when I joined Etsy more than two years ago. I am one of their thousands of satisfied customers, and I admire all that they’ve accomplished. At over 9,700 sales, Pixiebell is at the top of the charts on Craft Count and her creative business is growing rapidly.
I’m so pleased to share this interview with you. Enjoy!
You opened your Etsy shop in April of 2007, and you’ve established yourself as a strong brand on the site. How has selling handmade online evolved over the years?
Five years ago there were only a couple of online venues for selling handmade, Etsy being the most well known. Very limited information was available about how to be found within and outside of these venues. Much has changed since then, so much information is available to help sellers on Etsy. Etsy provides fantastic blog posts as well as a forum full of very helpful sellers and buyers who share their experiences and tips. I am always learning something new, some new way to market our brand, some new avenue to get us seen. There are also a lot of new similar venues out there for people who don’t want to put all of their eggs in one basket.
You made your first Etsy sale on June 26, 2007. Do you remember what that felt like?
I wish I could say I remember, but 5 years is a long time and all I can really remember is being thrilled …someone liked what I did enough to PAY me for it?! Too awesome to be real ..but it was real and I get the same excited feeling with every sale. It never goes away.
To date, you’ve celebrated more than 9,700 sales. That’s AMAZING, and you’re the top seller in the knitting category at Craft Count! Do you feel that the more sales you get, the more momentum your shop has for growth?
It does certainly seem that way. It’s like a snowball effect. The more sales we have in a day, the more times we can renew an item, which attracts more attention, which gets more views and more sales ..ad infinitum.
Do you sell anywhere else online or in person?
Your products are now appearing in movies and on television. My favorite is Ty wearing your hat on an episode of Extreme Makeover. Can you tell us a little bit about how these opportunities came about for you?
Believe it or not, the stylists and celebrities who have bought from us found us through Etsy. In the case of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show (which is supposed to be a special episode that will air on ABC closer to the holidays), we were contacted by their field producer who asked if there was any way possible that we could have a handful of hats to them for an episode that they were shooting in just 2 days. My husband and I spent all night knitting 2 pixie hats and 4 gnome hats and we FEDEXed them the very next day. Originally the producer planned for another member of the cast to wear our olive green pixie hat, she thought Ty wouldn’t wear one. I mentioned to her that I have been a fan of his since he was on “Trading Spaces” and it would really make my day if he’d wear one ..and he did.. and sent me photos! They were so happy with the hats that we made two more the following day, one for another cast member and one for the executive producer.
Diane says: You never know who might be seeing your items on Etsy!
Most of the models for my items I do not know, they are friends of my photographers. I have been blessed with a great bunch of photographers who often trade finished items for photos of those items ..it’s a win/win situation!
What has been your best marketing strategy for Pixiebell?
Hang out where your potential buyers hang out. It sounds somewhat simplistic, but it works. There is a buyer for everything and those people tend to have similar likes and interests as the artist who makes the items. Find groups ..online and off.. and participate in them. I participate in a lot of knitting and crochet sites, forums and local meetings.
What has been your biggest waste of time or money in business?
In the beginning I wasted a lot of money on shipping supplies. It never occured to me that there would be sources to buy these items in bulk for much cheaper than the big box stores. When I think of all the overpriced padded envelopes I’ve bought before I learned about polymailers …I just want to cry. Source your materials, buy in bulk, save lots of money.
And finally, what is the best tip you would offer to handmade artists just starting out and looking for their first sale?
Even if you aren’t planning to sell on Etsy, there’s so much amazing information out there about photography, marketing and search engine optimization. Pay attention to the merchandising reports especially to help you understand trends and keywords you can use in your tags to better help your items get featured.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use tools to help you accomplish your online work faster. Some tasks can be a chore, but you can make them simpler with apps like BETSI and sites like Craftopolis. Use them and free up more of your time for creating!
Diane, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you!! Dear readers, please visit Pixiebell on Etsy to see more from Diane and stock up on cozy Elfinwear for your entire family. Until next time and all the best ~