ScrantonMade and GreenBeing’s own Cristin Powers was interviewed in this wonderful Times-Tribune feature Outlook 2014: NEPA 2.0 along with our pals Aubrey McClintock of A Daily Obsession and Mandy Miller of Little Lady Accessories!
Reposted from The Times-Tribune.
Finding local artisans’ handmade products no longer means just heading to weekend bazaars and craft fairs and seeing what they have to offer.
That business has moved to the Internet, where websites like etsy.com and scrantonmade.com offer a year-round, worldwide marketplace.
When she closed her downtown Scranton business GreenBeing a few years ago, city resident and ScrantonMade founder Cristin Powers moved it online. Her website, shopgreenbeing.com, and Etsy shop give her more time to pursue other interests and a wider area to which she can sell than the brick-and-mortar store did.
“GreenBeing’s customers are mostly in California and Texas, believe it or not, so maybe they have a harder time finding what I have to offer at that price (where they live),” she said. “But it’s easy now because of the Internet, and I think more and more people are turning to the Internet to shop because there’s so many options.”
Before opening her Etsy shop, A Daily Obsession, Aubrey McClintock of Old Forge shopped for years on the website, where people set up stores to sell handmade and vintage items. The mother of two started sewing bags a few years ago to rave reviews and eventually set up shop online, where it remained more of a sideline until she was laid off from her teaching job last year.
“I decided I was a stay-at-home mom and I would also try to pursue this more full-time, which I did and definitely enjoyed, and it started to become more serious,” Mrs. McClintock said.
She returned to teaching for a bit but then became a stay-at-home mom again, churning out her line of customizable bags, children’s clothing and accessories, pillows and more from her dining-room-turned-workshop. Mrs. McClintock has sold to clients worldwide during the last four years, and if you now ask her what she does for a living, she said, “This is what I do.”
“At this point, now that I’m actually shifting my focus to really spending the time on this, I am at the point now where I don’t fund it out of our personal checking,” she said, noting the business self-sustains. “And as I’m pushing, especially like these last few months in developing more lines and getting into more venues and things, it’s starting to tip the scales more and more.”
Mandy Miller of Dalton found similar success with her two Etsy stores, the children-focused Little Lady Accessory and bridal Lovely Lady Accessory. After buying headbands for her daughter through Etsy while on maternity leave a few years ago, she tried making her own, which garnered interest among friends. When it came time to return to her teaching job, she said, she decided to see if she could make running her own business work.
With three helpers, Ms. Miller now creates items like headbands, mini top hats and birthday crowns for children, and sashes and hairpieces for brides while teaching part-time and raising her two kids.
“My hours are as flexible as I need them to be,” she said. “It’s nice. Through the summer, I’ll work early mornings (and) we’ll take off and go to the pool for the afternoon. I’ll work late at night once the kids are in bed. … Having that flexibility is huge, especially with two little kids.”
She keeps teaching because she enjoys it and receives benefits, she said, but Etsy “is primarily what supports us now.”
“I’ve told a few people what I’ve made in a year, and you’d never think or dream that’s what I could do in that one little room,” Ms. Miller said. “But it works.”
Since Ms. Powers founded ScrantonMade a few years ago, it now offers an online market for local artists at www.scrantonmade.com, features them on its blog and promotes their work to the community.
“I think artists were looking for a space to come together to be found and also to do events together,” she said.
ScrantonMade’s database boasts more than 300 artists, Ms. Powers said. Last year, it hosted two marketplaces in downtown Scranton, Arts on the Square and Holiday on the Square, where artists set up shop and met customers face-to-face. Ms. Powers said some local businesses that connected with ScrantonMade artists now sell their products.
Mrs. McClintock participated in the shows and thinks the area “really needed something like (ScrantonMade) to lend some clout to the handmade community.” “A lot of times I feel like Scranton has a lot to offer that people just don’t know, and you need something like ScrantonMade to be really providing a focus and getting people out on the radar,” she said.
Running a successful online business takes time and dedication, the sellers said, and they keep on top of their product listings to make sure they show up higher in searches so potential shoppers spot them more easily.
Communication with customers also remains key to succeeding, Mrs. McClintock noted.
“I always send a handwritten note with my purchases and usually a little goodie of some sort, because you’re building relationships,” she said. “I think that’s one of the biggest differences between buying handmade and buying from a big-box store (or) whatever, is there’s a person there, and in my case I am the face of my brand.”
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