A little while ago, I came across this photo on Naomi Rose’s flickr stream, showing photos taken by Marie of the Blue Balloon. I loved the images, so I followed the links to Marie’s etsy shop, and man am I glad I did! Because as well as amazing photography, Marie sells lots of lovely vintage jewellery. I traded one of her necklaces for a knit hat, I’m wearing it here. And she was kind enough to do an interview with me AND offer stuff for a giveaway! Woot! Let’s get on with the interview:
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Marie. I am the mama of the most curious and adorable (in my very biased opinion) baby boy. He was due on Christmas Eve, and was born on New Year’s Day, so the holidays last year were interesting. I’m still in awe that December is upon us again and that my baby is almost 1 year old! I am a full time mama, and also wife to a busy, often touring drummer boy. We live in our cozy home in Milwaukee, a few blocks from Lake Michigan. I’m still adapting to the stay at home life, but am enjoying being fortunate enough to spend so much time with my baby, and in between, time to work on my shop. Besides crafting, I also play the violin, get excited about coffee and love books.
How did you end up as an etsy seller?
Photography is one of my true loves. Since I suddenly had all of this free time before baby was due, I decided to open up shop. I listed my first item a week after my last day of work. I had started out selling mainly photos and stationery based on my photography. That soon evolved into photo jewelry and ink stamping. While I’d be shopping for pendants and chain and other supplies, and I’d come across adorable charms and other trinkets, and before I knew it, they were in my cart. That’s mainly how the transition from the initial notion of starting a photo shop slowly evolved into the shop it is today- still full of photo based jewelry, but also creating many pieces based on brass, glass, natural and vintage findings. You could browse from the beginning of my sold items and see how much my shop has changed over the last year.
Do you have any tips for someone just starting out with selling online?
My tips for someone starting out on Etsy? Gosh, there’s so much I’ve learned over the last year, but I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. First, I would say not to get discouraged. Try and try again- find your niche. I think it’s safe to say that the first few months on Etsy are probably the toughest, and it takes some trial and error. Take stellar photos of your items, make them stand out from all the rest. Use natural daylight, great angles, show off the details of your item. And use all 5 of the photos Etsy allots you! When people are browsing on Etsy, and you have great product photos, they are much more likely to stop and click on your item over the hundreds of others that show up in a search. Use relevant and creative tags, and use them all. Try to list something at least once to every few days, to stay towards the top of search results- there are so many sellers on Etsy, and it’s so easy to get buried. If you have a bunch of things to list, though it’s hard- try to pace them. And the last major tip I would give, the one I would say that has benefited me the most- start a Twitter account. Use it to promote your shop, sales and new listings- without being spammy. If you balance it right, you’ll find that you have a great way to promote, and at the same time you’ll be making some great new friends. Lastly, make what you love, and stay true to that. Don’t start an Etsy shop because you want to make money. Start one because you want to share your creativity with the world. Be unique!
You use a lot of found materials in your jewellery. Where do you find things and what was the best thing you’ve ever scored?
I look for things everywhere- thrifts, the beach, on walks in the woods, basements, attics. One of my favorite necklaces sold a while back- it was an old skeleton key hole I had found in one of my very first apartments, hiding on the floor of my closet. I love finding old things, and so I held on to it all these years. I finally decided it was time to do something with it, and thought it would make an absolutely lovely vintage-inspired necklace. I also shop around online, and try to look for the most unique findings I can. The word “vintage” is a search word I always use.
I think one of my favorite finds is the scrap metal tubing I picked up from a local science store. I don’t even know what they were originally used for, but I instantly saw necklace potential in them. I’m thankful my husband was able to set me up with a vice and a saw to cut them down and turn them into these necklaces. I’m crossing my fingers I’m the only person who likes these tube scraps, because I fear that one day I’ll go in for more, and they’ll be gone for good!
What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to be/do in ten years time?
I want to be a country mouse. I always have wanted to, since my youth. My plans for the coming years involve an old farmhouse somewhere rural. My husband and I discuss our country life multiple times a week, and I can’t wait to start searching for our dream farmhouse when the time is right. Included in these country dreams are a little girl (though another little boy would be fine, too), a horse, a barn for stray kitties and a hay loft for the kiddos. Right now my husband is in touring band, so I’m not sure how realistic this all is, but we can still dream! In the short term, I hope to be able to continue to make my jewelry, and continue to be lucky enough to stay at home with my son and any future babies, while they are growing up. I’d also LOVE to find a company that puts on musicals all year round, and have a permanent place in their pit orchestra as a violinist. That would be a dream job. My fondest high school memories are of playing in the pit orchestra, especially the year we performed My Fair Lady.
You say you’re a photographer with a new found love of creating jewellery. What style of photography are you interested in, and do you have any favourite photographers?
I don’t know if I have one specific style of photography that I prefer. I’ll always prefer film over digital (though lately my film cameras are collecting dust). I just know that I’m strongly drawn to photographs with a dreamy aesthetic. Ones that just feel like magic and make me wish I could just jump in to the picture and stay there forever. A few of my favorite photographers:
And what about your current favourite etsy sellers, artists, designers etc.?
Oh boy, that’s a tough question. A few of my favorite local designers are :
Little Ocean – I would wear each and every one of her pieces.
The same goes for my pal Kate at Midwest Needles – she makes me wish I could remember my one knitting lesson from my Aunt a few years ago.
And just off the top of my head, some shops I’m absolutely in love with:
Little Byrd Vintage
I also was recently introduced to Yumi Yumi’s shop, and am in love with her watercolors
Thank you so much for having me here, Franca!
Thank you, Marie!
And as for the giveaway, one lucky winner will get their choice of the Rainbow Warrior necklace
Or the Autumn necklace
– leave a comment, telling me which prize you would choose. If you fancy, you can tell me your favourite item in Marie’s etsy shop too.
– for an extra entry, follow the blue balloon on twitter and leave a separate entry
– for another extra entry, like the blue balloon on facebook and leave a separate entry
I will leave this open for a fortnight until the 20th of December. Snow madness permitting, I will be in Luxembourg, on my parents’ painfully slow internet connection, so I may not announce the winner publicly til after I get back to Scotland, but I’ll make sure at least to email them and get their address. So please make sure I have a way of contacting you in case you win!
This is open internationally!