Today we would like to introduce you to
Etsy shop ShereesAtelier
ShereesAtelier has been selling on Etsy since February 2009, they sell beautiful handmade clothing, cushions, accessories and more! Today they are going to give us a little peak behind the scenes of their Etsy shop.
What motivated you to start your shop?
I officially opened Sheree's Atelier in February of 2009 while living in Germany. I had left my job as a chemist because my husband took on an expat assignment in Duesseldorf. So we moved the family over to Germany and I started a blog as a way to keep in touch with friends and family back in the US. The blog is called Sheree's Alchemy and I talked about our travels in Europe and I shared my sewing and knitting projects. The blog started drawing an international audience of makers and not just my family and friends. Many blog readers loved my fabric choices and combinations. They were constantly asking where I got the fabric from and wanted tips to make the handmade items I was sharing on the blog. They eventually encouraged me to open an Etsy shop selling fabric. I opened Sheree's Alchemy in the Fall of 2008. I sold lots of European fabric as well as US designer fabrics that I have moved over to Germany with me. Next came the nudges to sell my handmade items. So I started Sheree's Atelier to sell the things I made. I have stocked the shop off and on over the years. I just started this Fall working hard to build inventory and build up the shop. I had a brick and mortar shop for a few years here in Michigan where I now live. I closed the shop and now plan to focus more on selling on Etsy.
What is the story behind your shop name?
Well, my name is Sheree and ever since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with France and the French language. I have no idea why. I always loved perfumes and pretty things. In middle school, I started taking French classes and continued through high school and college. I am a chemist by training. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry. I taught myself to sew when I was 12 and have been obsessed with it ever since. I am naturally a creative person and I have always loved making things, mixing up things and seeing what new would come of it. Because of this, Sheree's Alchemy would have been a perfect name for the shop, but I was already using it for my fabric shop and I knew I wanted to have a separate shop for the handmade items. I started thinking about studios and picturing myself in an old brick studio in France. And the image of a French Atelier popped into my head. Voila, it was a perfect fit.
What surprised you most about having your own craft / online shop?
I have always been surprised at how many people shop on line for handmade items. I don't know many people in my personal life that share my passion for making and handmade. So I have always been pleasantly surprised by the fact that people from all over the world somehow find my little shop and then make a purchase. I actually have more international customers at this point. So that is even more amazing and awesome to me. I am always tickled when I package orders that are going to Australia or England. The coolest place I have sent a package was Tasmania. My kids really got a kick out of that. I am also surprised at the support and networks that exist on Etsy. I have made so many changes to my listings as far as pictures and descriptions, all based on help I have gotten in Etsy forums and team forums. And I am still learning and improving. As I start to put more effort in to building up the shop on Etsy, I have been using the online labs to learn about marketing. Chemistry and lab work, I can handle. Sewing, knitting, baking....no problem. Marketing is a whole different kind of beast and I tend to shy away from self promotion. But I am learning to put myself out there.
What is your favourite creations from your shop?
I also love to make a dress for a little girl. When I was little, I lived in dresses. I loved them with the fold over ruffle socks and fancy shoes. My daughter also loved to wear dresses when she was little. For a few years, I made nearly all of her clothes. She was quite the little fashionista and that is when I first got attention from people requesting me to sew for them. I sewed a little for customers and eventually met with a buyer for a local boutique where we lived. I made a few collections for this boutique as well as another baby boutique in the town I lived in. This was all before we moved to Germany. It was the first experience of someone paying me to make something for them. So little girls dresses are always special to me because of that and well, I just love a sweet little girl in a sweet little dress!
What do you find most challenging about being an Etsy seller?
My biggest challenge is actually the isolation involved. I am a one woman show. I am running two shops and I do custom work locally. So I tend to need to be very productive when it is work time. As a result, I have found that I am not socializing as much. When I had my brick and mortar shop, I was talking with people all the time. I taught several classes every week, so I was interacting, teaching, learning, all the time. Now, I tend to be in my studio alone, listening to music very loudly. Most of the time I enjoy the alone time and quiet (besides the music). I need to be alone and undistracted by others to sew and create new designs. But I do wish sometimes that one or two days per week, I would be in a more social and creative setting. I have considered opening my studio up for classes soon. My customers want me to. But on the flip side, it is very time consuming and goes against me building up my Etsy shop. So I will stay focused and when the time is right, I will likely start to offer classes again. We'll see what the future holds in that a regard.
What's your personal philosophy behind your shop / products?
I really aim to provide extremely well made products that are unique and beautiful but also have a practical purpose. I work pretty much exclusively with natural fibers and fabrics, many of them are certified organic or made in Europe where harsh dyes are not used as much. My taste is pretty bold and eclectic but I think classic and yet modern. I spend a lot of time sourcing fabrics and supplies, making original patterns and designs and items are my one at a time with a great attention to detail. Many people feel like handmade items are not as well made as those you can find in high end stores. I am proud to make items that meet and exceed those high expectations. With my girls clothing especially, my philosophy is that the clothing should be lovely, fun and even whimsical. But they should never overwhelm the girl. They should enhance her sweetness and beauty. So I aim to keep it simple, but lovely.
What do you do when you aren't working?
I spend an enormous amount of time running my kids around. My husband travels a fair amount for work, so I hold down the home front. My daughter does competitive dance. So I spend many weekends on the road with her and her dance team or shuttling her to and from practice. My son loves sports and is a great little piano player. He also plays the upright bass and the trumpet. So I am running him to and from lessons as well. When they are not consuming all of my time, I enjoy baking, experimenting with cooking gluten free/grain free foods, doing DIY projects at home and knitting. In the summer I garden and we travel a lot. My husband is from Europe and he traveled extensively with his parents and brother while growing up. So it is important to him especially that we travel a lot as a family. This past summer we spent time in Chicago, Germany, Austria and the South of France. Meeting my girlfriends for lunch is always fun. And I just started doing barre exercise and am enjoying it very much. The dancer in me is coming back out!
Anything else you'd like to tell us or share?
Thanks to the Etsykids team for welcoming me and providing support and insight in to selling on Etsy. I am honored to be a part of this group.
ShereesAtelier is offering a 15% discount in her shop. To use the coupon visit her etsy store and enter code "ETSYKIDSBLOG" at checkout. Valid until December 31st 2014.