We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 28th in our series with Steph of stuffbysteph77.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
I was born & raised in Northern Ontario, the winter months could be bitterly cold and needing indoor activities to entertain myself, it seems I turned to crafts to keep me busy. I can remember trying to learn many different crafty hobbies but nothing really interested me more than paper and cards; I liked the happiness my handmade construction paper cards brought to the people I gave them to and my love for paper really took off from there. I have a pretty impressive paper collection and love hunting down just the right piece. Colour, weight, texture, age - it all matters when I’m planning a layout (card design or scrap booking). Paper makes me happy.
When and Why did you start your business? what prompted you to open an etsy shop?
Several years ago I faced a major health crisis, lost a significant amount of my vision and was unable to continue working full time, this severely affected my ability to contribute to the charities I was/am involved with. I had been getting such positive feedback from friends and family with the greeting cards I made for them that I was ready to take the risk of offering them for sale. When I discovered Etsy, it was the perfect venue for trying to sell my creations and I very quickly learned that I could use this as a tool to continue to raise funds and support my charity work.
What is your source for inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere! Inside, outside, online … I feel very fortunate to have had the vision I had for the first twenty-something years, I know colours and textures and what looks nice together. I don’t think I’m really influenced by any person in particular, for me it is all about the paper and what I can see it being made into. The kids in my life really inspire me to get down and see things from their eyes and I think this does play a part in where I get inspiration from. I’m also hopelessly addicted to Pinterest and can spend a lot of time browsing & pinning. My Pinterest address is pinterest.com/stephaniess/
Besides your Etsy shop, what other selling, websites or shows etc do you do?
One of the reasons Etsy works well for me is as I am painfully shy (ridiculously, some might say) which doesn’t allow for a lot of activities where I actually have to speak to people. There have been a few occasions where I’ve brought my creations to get-togethers or house parties and was successful but other than that, I stick to Etsy. I also have a twitter feed: @stuffbysteph
Do you have a bread and butter or day job?
At this time, no. I do some consultations and behind the scenes paperwork and program planning, but not on a full time basis by any means.
What is your best marketing/selling/entrepreneurial tip for other craft artisans?
Love what you do! The biggest ‘lesson’ that being an Etsy seller taught me was to stick to what’s in your heart and love what you do. I fell behind and kind of lost interest in creating when I had a spell of ‘what can I make that will sell?’ It showed almost immediately in my shop success, views were down and sales were like tumbleweeds. Once I went back to simply making what I like to make, it made an instant difference.It is still not what it once was before illness took over, but is getting better every day
How does being legally blind affect your work processes/extra steps?
Because I have vision left in the upper portion of both eyes, it’s quite a sight when I’m deep in creating - I flip myself upside down and generally work with my head on the floor so I can get the best view… it’s a lot of planning and staying organized but I knew I had to find the best way to continue and so far, this works! The hardest part still is the photography, I haven’t found a way to work around the blind spots and using the screen on the digital camera is the only way to take pictures ( I cannot see through the older camera view holes) For every picture that I get to use, there’s usually about 20 more unusable ones and that can get frustrating. But I just wait for ‘good light days’ and take as many as I can and sort through and edit for the next couple of days.
Do you have any special tools/software etc. that help to make your work easier?
Yes, I have software from the CNIB for my PC that enlarges both type and images and a setting to contrast only to black and white (the easiest colours to see when reading type)
I do also have some handheld magnifiers and extra large print rulers for taking measurements and even spacing.
Find more stuff by Steph in her shop, or follow her on twitter and Pinterest.
Interviewed by Shannon of BLISSFULpatterns and BLISSFULsew in May, 2012. Shannon writes, "Steph's story is a great one to share. I have learned a lot from her and we have not even met. We have been swapping ideas on how to make her creating process easier to utilize the sight in the top portion of her eyes so she does not need to lie down and work above her head to make her cards! Makes my mad dash up to my sewing room when the kids are sleeping seem like a breeze!!"