I first noticed The Trendy Sparrow on Instagram. Her beautiful items were all over my feed, and I just had to check out her shop. Lindzi has created her own brand that truly reflects her style. You will learn that not only is Lindzi creative and stylish, she is a savvy entrepreneur who knows how to stand up for herself. If you have an Etsy shop of your own, you will not want to miss this interview! Lindzi shares her story as well as some great advice to other handmade sellers. Enjoy!
Why did you decide to open a shop on Etsy?
I opened my Etsy store in 2010 when I was a sophomore in collage. At that time, I was working over 50 hours a week in addition to going to school. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything but working and studying. I had very little time for “me”, and I know that if I didn’t carve out some time for me to do something fun I was going down a rough path of nonstop stress. I decided to mark out some time each day to craft and do something creative. I started out making wooden boxes. I ended up making so many that I open an Etsy store to see if anyone wanted to buy them. They did! I was able to start quitting one job, then another, then another until eventually I was only selling my boxes on Etsy and going to school. It was so wonderful to be able to earn money doing something that made me happy and was relaxing. My shop has continued to evolve over time. I no longer sell those wooden boxes, but rather am making something that I love even more (girly and chic coffee mugs, art prints, and apparel). I now sell on Etsy as my full time job, and I couldn’t be happier!
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my own personal style, the ladies who I strive to be like, and a few brands that I really admire. I love Audrey Hepburn, Kate Spade, Blair Waldorf, and other chic, girly ladies. Honestly, I would ask myself “What Would Blair Waldorf Do?” TM all the time when trying to come up with new products. So much so that I turned that phrase into it’s own product. It has become my number 1 selling item…proving that my customers are so similar to myself. I really enjoy sipping champagne, eating macarons, watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Gossip Girl, Paris in the 1920s, anything with polka dots, everything that Kate Spade sells, etc. I try to keep things that remind me of all of the things I love near me to constantly inspire me.
I also like to keep my office looking very “me” since I am my brand. This way, when I am at my desk, I am in a work environment that reflects my brand, makes me happy, and is a constant source of inspiration.
How does your personal style influence your business?
My personal style heavily influences my business. When people ask me who my customer is, the answer is really simple: me. I won’t make anything that I wouldn’t own myself. The colors of my brand (pink, gold, & mint) are the same colors of my apartment. I often describe my style as girly, chic, and fun! And those are the same words I would use to describe The Trendy Sparrow. I consider my Etsy store to have an over all brand and style, and that is mirrored in my personal style.
What has been you biggest accomplishment so far?
In December of last year, I had the opportunity to sell at a huge craft show. It had over 100,000 attendees! I had never done a craft show before so starting with such a large one was pretty scary! We ended up doing really well. We almost completely sold out of all of our products, and we got 6 wholesale orders. I ended up getting to do such a large craft show (successfully) and started selling our products in other stores all in the same weekend! Since that show, our business has just continued to grow rapidly. It was definitely the right move for our store, and has continued to send us more business.
What are your toughest challenges selling on Etsy?
My toughest challenge has always been intellectual property theft. Since opening my store, I’ve had to trademark several of our sayings because other Etsy sellers have attempted to make a product almost exactly (sometimes 100% copied) like mine. It’s tough to enjoy making things when you have to constantly battle the legality and red tape of copycats and thieves. I have to report about 3 shops a week for trademark infringement because they see one of our products doing well and attempt to replicate it rather than create their own product. As Etsy sellers, what we create and do is very personal. It’s something we’ve been hours and days mulling over and trying to create. So it’s really hard not to take thievery personal.
What tool or app do you think helps your Etsy shop the most?
Honestly, the app I use the most is the Etsy seller app. I am able to do so much for my store quickly using that app, including answering conversations and updating my listings. If you’re an Etsy seller and you do not have the Etsy seller app…stop what you are doing and download it immediately. Other than that, I often use the USPS app. It allows me to schedule product pick ups. I never have to spend time taking all of my orders to the post office because the postal worker comes to my home and picks them up for me. It saves so much time! I also order shipping boxes/envelopes from the app as well because so many of the boxes are FREE. Yes, FREE. This helps me save so much money in shipping.
What words of advice would you give to new Etsy sellers?
Personally I think there are 4 pieces of advice that will really help future Etsy sellers: take excellent photos, be original, make your brand cohesive, and don’t be afraid to fight for you work. When buyers purchase something from your store, the first things they see are your photos. Sometimes buyers don’t even bother to read the text and purchase strictly of the visual that is your photography. Read some books and Etsy seller articles on how to take better photos. You don’t have to have a great camera to do this. Some of my product photos were taken with my iPhone, but I still get compliments on them all the time.
Please be original. Don’t copy someone else’s work just because you see it is successful. If you are only copying someone else’s work, it will show in the quality of your store/listing. Take the time to sit down and come up with something all your own. The more of “you” that you put into it, the prouder you will be. Buyers will be able to “see you” in your items, and selling them/describing them/loving them will come much easier when you make something original that you love.
It’s so important to make your branding cohesive when trying to build your Etsy store. Think about every item that you have for branding purposes: business cards, product packaging, logos, product photography, and social media. All of these things should go together and look like they came from the same store. People should be able to see something and know that it’s your store from all of the cohesive branding. I suggest starting with a color story that really speaks to you and defines your brand. Mine are blush pink, metallic gold, white, and mint. Everything branding item I have is in those colors. Another idea is to dream up your “ideal customer”. Who is she/he? What do they do? What do they like? Then design everything around that person. For me, it was easy. My customer is me, and I design everything I sell/brand around my personal style and taste.
Do. Not. Be. Afraid. To. Fight. For. Your. Work. So many Etsy sellers think they can’t secure their product because they are a one person operation. That’s not true. If you do well, people are going to try to copy you because they want an easy way to make money. But if you know that you created an item that is 100% yours, don’t be afraid to fight for your product. Study up on trademark, copyright, and intellectual property law. Seek out probono lawyers. In Chicago, we have a law firm that does free work for people “in the arts” that have been really helpful in terms of intellectual property theft. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask Etsy’s legal team on how to solve it.
What are your plans for the future?
We are in the process of creating new product lines to be able to offer more items in the store. We have also opened up an additional website outside of Etsy to help draw in more traffic to our product (www.thetrendysparrow.com). In the next year, we are trying to facilitate more wholesale partnerships to get our products in physical stores beyond our online store.
In the very long-term future, I would really like to open my own storefront boutique where we sell not only our products, but more clothes, office accessories, and other handmade goodies from future Etsy sellers.
Be sure to check out The Trendy Sparrow: