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Etsy Questions
Can you make substantial money?
CurlySu717
CurlySu717  Friend of PR
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Texas USA
Member since 10/26/06
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Date: 11/16/08 7:23 PM

I know a lot of y'all have Etsy pages -- I know y'all aren't supposed to advertise on the boards, but I have some general questions about the website.

I know most of us sew and quilt for ourselves and not necessarily to supplement our incomes. But times are tough, and every little bit helps. Given the time put into making garments and bags and such, can you make substantial money? Especially with Christmas coming, and knowing that people may be searching Etsy for potential gifts, I've been considering it as a way to make some extra money.

Do non-crafty people even know about Etsy? Would they shop there for Christmas or birthday gifts?

Have y'all had good experiences selling your crafts on Etsy? Any horror stories out there?

Any info or insight is much appreciated. =)

------
"To love another person is to see the face of God!" ~Les Miserables

www.lillianbettyandsibyl.blogspot.com

ButtonLady

ButtonLady
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Date: 11/16/08 8:45 PM

...
-- Edited on 11/16/08 10:49 PM --

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ButtonLady
http://michiganbuttonsociety.org/
http://nationalbuttonsociety.org

michellep74
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michellep74  Friend of PR
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Date: 11/16/08 9:23 PM

I've sold nearly 200 pieces of my handmade jewelry on Etsy in a little over the past year and a half. It took a while for my business to get rolling, but I make enough in profits to keep my fabric stash growing.

You might not be able to get a shop established quickly enough for regular business in time for the holidays, but it's such a low investment (money-wise, not time-wise) for us shop owners, that I'd encourage you to at least give it a try.

A few tips that I can give:

1. I noticed that my shop sales started picking up when my jewelry photography skills started improving. If you don't know much about lighting, focus, etc, to show off your items, I'd strongly recommend having a photo-knowledgeable friend help you with this aspect.

2. Be open to custom orders. You'll get PM's from people who like an item, but want it in a different color, slightly different style, etc. I'd guess that at least half, if not more, of my orders come from custom orders. Of these custom orders, probably nearly 2/3 of them are brides...which brings me to my next point.

3. Find a niche that is currently underserved on Etsy. Even with the economy in the toilet and a drop-off in my pre-made jewelry, I'm still getting a steady stream of orders for bridal/bridesmaid jewelry. If you're going to make sewn items and your main object is to make a little extra spending money, I'd highly recommend making at least a few items for men. You wouldn't believe how few choices I had when I wanted to buy my fiance a laptop bag as a back-to-school gift earlier this semester...there were tons and tons of pretty Amy Butler fabric bags, but not very many that were aimed at a unisex or male audience. (I did wind up finding a very cool bag made out of recycled seatbelts, ala Korto's coat from Project Runway.)

I'd be happy to answer any other questions that you might have, or feel free to PM me if you don't want to ask them in this thread...

-- Edited on 11/16/08 9:25 PM --

------
--Michelle

***
Blog: http://happilycaffeinated.blogspot.com/

2014 Fabric IN: 153.13 yards
2014 Fabric OUT: 88 yards
2014 Fabric Sewn: 38 yards
2014 Fabric Donated: 50 yards
pre-2014 Stash patterns used in 2014: 7

Nancy K
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Nancy K
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In reply to michellep74


Date: 11/17/08 9:06 AM

I know that you aren't supposed to advertise here on the boards, but would you pm me with a link to your etsy shop?

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www.nancyksews.blogspot.com

CurlySu717
CurlySu717  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Texas USA
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Date: 11/17/08 11:44 PM

How does Uncle Sam feel about Etsy? I'm assuming you have to report it on your income taxes? What about sales tax?

In browsing Etsy, I've seen a lot of people selling bags made from Amy Butler patterns. Do you think there are too many people using her patterns? Most of the bags I've made are from her patterns, but I can branch out.

My other thought was on offering custom orders for baby gifts -- baby clothes or quilts or whatever, in whatever colors would match the nursery or the mother's planned color scheme. I had an idea for doing some things with college logo fabric and fleece, too.

------
"To love another person is to see the face of God!" ~Les Miserables

www.lillianbettyandsibyl.blogspot.com

Marji
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Marji
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In reply to CurlySu717


Date: 11/18/08 8:45 AM

Uncle Sam expects you to report all your income, from every source. If you choose not to, and are audited and it comes up, you will have penalties to pay.
Currently you can get away with charging sales tax only to those items you ship in-state, however, rumor has it that is about to change as states look to recoup lost tax dollars as internet sales continue to grow. And there are those who're saying that just because something is going out of state doesn't mean that state sales tax isn't owed, and are looking for state sales tax retroactively on past sales. If that happens small independent sellers are going to have a small problem but the big retailers who haven't been charging tax are going to have Huge problems.

A good source for answers to a lot of entrepreneurial questions you have is The Fashion Incubators book. (written by Kathleen Fasanella)

One thing you haven't touched on here but need to be aware of are copyright issues.
As long as you are selling your own designs you're good.

I know that one of the Apron pattern makers out there sells a license to those who want to make up her patterns and sell them, and the license has different rates depending on how many you plan to sell. I have no idea how those who're selling Amy Butler bags made from copyrighted Amy Butler patterns are doing it, if AB has a licensing program to allow for those sales or not.
Before making anything out of a published pattern that someone else has developed you need to check out the copyright. Most patterns are developed for "personal use" only.
I would also recommend checking out licensing issues before using any licensed fabrics, such as Merimekko.

And also under the copyright issue comes the team logo stuff.
Hancock's puts this on every team fabric they sell

Quote:
PLEASE NOTE: The licenses for these College products are for personal use only. They are not for resale. Manufacturing of any finished product for resale is not allowed.

I did hear of someone at one of the SEC schools setting up sales for team logo stuff she'd made out of preprinted fabric who had her inventory seized because she wasn't licensed by the University to sell it.
The universities and teams derive a great deal of revenue from the sales of logo stuff and are pretty protective of those sales.

Not wanting to discourage you.
Just wanting you to be aware before you get in trouble for ignoring copyrights.

I know of several people who, like Michelle, are making a killing on Etsy. What they're selling are those stitch markers for knitters made out of wire and cyrstals, stones, and beads.
Fast to make, pretty, no copyright issues to deal with.

------
Marji
http://fiberartsafloat.blogspot.com

EveS
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EveS
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Date: 11/18/08 9:13 AM

Marji hit the nail on the head w/ both the tax and copyright issues. You might think, ah...they'll never find lil' ol' me, but why risk it? Funny Amy Butler came up as, as they (along with our fine friends at Disney :rolleyes:...but Disney's another soapbox) attempted to sue home sewers for USING THEIR FABRIC...!!!... to make a few measly bucks some years back. Nice, huh? This would be the reason that I don't give one thin dime to Amy Butler...anyone with that kind of greed doesn't really need my money. But I digress. Yes, they lost that particular battle, but my point is - do you really want to put yourself in the position to do battle w/ a big corporation? And even though the "intellectual property" issue is always under great debate, I believe the copyright argument still holds up in the eyes of the law. If you are going to make clothing (or anything) you will have to either draft your own designs or find copyright-free patterns (there are a few indies that DO play nice with others).

And Uncle Sam can always find you.

Eve

------
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it - Chinese proverb

CurlySu717
CurlySu717  Friend of PR
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Texas USA
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Date: 11/18/08 2:16 PM

Huh...bummer. My dreams are fading fast... Pattern drafting is definitely not within my abilities at this point. And I definitely don't want to make Uncle Sam cranky.

Thanks for the heads' up! This is why I ask y'all these questions! =)

That's so weird that they would sue people for using their fabrics...what are we supposed to do, weave our own fabric, too? Good grief. The world just isn't small-business-friendly anymore. Unless you're some huge corporation that can afford to make its own copyrighted fabric and its own copyrighted patterns, you can't make a buck, huh?

------
"To love another person is to see the face of God!" ~Les Miserables

www.lillianbettyandsibyl.blogspot.com

michellep74
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michellep74  Friend of PR
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Washington USA
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Date: 11/18/08 2:51 PM

Depending on what you're interested in sewing, BurdaStyle has a few accessory patterns available for download on their web site. These are "open source" patterns, and they're fine with you using them to sell items on places like Etsy.

------
--Michelle

***
Blog: http://happilycaffeinated.blogspot.com/

2014 Fabric IN: 153.13 yards
2014 Fabric OUT: 88 yards
2014 Fabric Sewn: 38 yards
2014 Fabric Donated: 50 yards
pre-2014 Stash patterns used in 2014: 7

Marji
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Marji
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Missouri USA
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In reply to CurlySu717


Date: 11/18/08 3:00 PM

Curlysu, you can use a myriad of fabrics, just not "licensed" fabrics.
Those fabrics that are part of a companies trademark designs.
(Same goes for embroidery patterns that are licensed.) That would be images of TM characters such as Hello Kitty or Mickey Mouse.
A fabric that is licensed is often sidemarked on the selvage as a licensed fabric. Or it's got those little tm's all over the print next to each little motif. Most fabric that you buy you are free to do whatever you want with it, and can sell it to your hearts content.

The University's and Pro sports teams have paid big bucks to develop their logos, and they license the logo's to companies that are willing to pay the licensing fees to manufacture and sell products containing those logos.
That's why you can buy the logo fabric and make your own stuff, because the mill has paid the licensing fee, but they didn't pay it for you to be able to resell it.

Anyway, if you want to make baby items you can easily make things like blankets, quilts, bibs, and items that are pretty generic as far as pattern drafts go. What you can't do is buy a McCalls pattern and start making the ViewA bonnet.
You can buy several bonnet patterns, study how they're put together, then get on the internet and search out vintage sites that put up directions for making baby bonnets, and come up with your own design and sell it.
It's not magic, and is fairly easy to do.

As far as collecting state sales tax, contact your local state offices. I don't know about TX, but here it's the revenue office. There are some really short papers to fill out, and you're given a state tax license and are required to fill out annual (or quarterly depending on your revenue stream) statements and make the payments of collected tax monies.
It's what you would do if you were setting up a small business in a b&m store. That tax license also gives you the ability to go ahead and buy your supplies at wholesale from suppliers.

------
Marji
http://fiberartsafloat.blogspot.com

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