Brooklyn ceramics artist Alyssa Ettinger of Alyssa Ettinger Design handcrafts stunning bowls, jars, jewelry, buttons, and other creations, all from porcelain. She recently spoke with IndieMade about becoming a craft business owner after a long hiatus from her art, and her excitement at finally having a store that's all her own
What attracted you to ceramics as a craft business? How did you get your start?
I started with ceramics when I was 14, at summer camp, then went on to major in it in college. Then, I didn't touch clay for a long time after that, but fell back in love with it several years ago during a stint of unemployment when a friend dragged me to a class.
What piece of business advice would you give someone just starting out as a ceramics artist?
Don't quit your day job. I mean this seriously. Start small, slowly, one piece at a time. See what other people are selling and try to find a niche for yourself
How did you start selling your products online for your craft business?
When I first started this business, I created a website but didn't have a shopping cart (and people don't really buy anything unless you have one). Once I heard about Etsy, I created a shop over there.
Besides on your website, where do you sell your stuff?
At the Brooklyn Flea! I spend every Saturday, April through November, selling al fresco in my little tent. During the holidays, as many holiday sales as I can get.
Why did you decide to expand your craft business beyond Etsy?
Etsy has been great, but I felt it was time to have a store on my website. I don't love paying Etsy fees to sell my work, and I know customers get scared away when they have to "join" Etsy. I am keeping my shop over there, because some people know to find me there. But I'd like to have the majority of my business come from my store on my IndieMade site.
How are you promoting yourself as a ceramics artist online? How are you using social media?
Some Twitter, Facebook, I'm planning to work with Constant Contact on a mailing list. I've been lacking in this area, sadly, and need to ramp it up.
Why did you decide to try IndieMade?
I first found out about IndieMade through a piece posted on Rena Tom's blog. After the site was suggested to me, I took a look around and was really pleased with what I saw. Friendly, well-designed page options, a store — which I'd been paying one dollar less for, and only for the storefront, on another site.
What is your favorite part of using IndieMade for your craft business?
That I'm part of a community of very talented designers, that I have a store — did I mention it's because I finally have my own store? And again the ease of use. Also, that I can change my design on a whim with the fabulous template options, so I don't feel trapped with a design I have no control over unless i know advanced coding.
Do you have any tips for new users of IndieMade?
Don't be afraid to jump right in, it's that simple. Try all the templates before choosing one, you never know what will jump out at you. Show off your new site with your mailing list, Facebook page, and Twitter. Just get yourself out there. (Clearly, as you'll read my answers above, I need to improve my social media skills.)
What's on the horizon for you and your business?
Possibly designing a home/hotel line with a popular fashion designer, more flash sales. I've lots of irons in the fire, and don't want to jinx them by talking about them before they happen.
What question should I have asked, but didn't?
I'm glad you didn't ask what i want to be when I grow up, because I have no idea. And a lot of people ask why I only work in porcelain, because it's notoriously uncooperative. Any time I've used other clays, they just haven't felt the same in my hands.