After receiving kudos on her sewing abilities from friends and family, Feyza Demirtas decided to open an Etsy shop selling handbags. The success of her line and her husband’s heavy travel schedule allowed her to take the plunge into making her Etsy shop a full-time venture. She’s now managing a whopping four Etsy accounts and splitting her creative line into casual bags (ikabags), luxury bags (Arva), embroidered coasters (madamehoux) and custom labels (hobbytime).
Tell us about your previous working situation.
I worked as an an office director and production planning manager at Koleksiyon Furniture Company. I was working with fabrics, as well as wood and leather. After I was introduced to the SAP system and received the training required for it, we started working abroad as expats for the SAP. Because of my husband’s frequent business trips and the positive value of returns with my new Etsy shop, I decided to resign from the job in order to establish the bag company.
How did you originally get into making bags and embellishments?
What started as a mere hobby (the embroidery, wood and glass painting works) moved to a new level after the year 2000. After the birth of my second son, I began to spend more time at home and had more opportunities to develop new artistic insights. The positive feedback I received from my friends and the discovery of Etsy motivated me to move on to a professional level. Purchasing a Pfaff sewing machine enabled me to make embroidered linen coasters and bags. In time, this has turned into the production of more versatile, sporty, colorful and eco-friendly bags.
What are your best marketing tips?
- The most important thing is to stick to your own style. This allows you to get the attention of more potential customers.
- The best way to market your products is to provide clear details and photographs that present them as best as possible.
- You have to complement these efforts with marketing on Twitter, Facebook, Kaboodle, Flickr and other social media outlets.
- Make sure to check out the updates from Etsy.
- You can improve your sales and presentation through friendships made via the Forums and Teams.
Walk us through your typical workday.
- My day begins at 6:30 in the morning with getting my kids ready for school.
- After taking them to school I take the packages I prepared the previous night to the post office.
- After I get home I check my email.
- I take a short coffee break, walk in my garden and then check the bags to be made that day in my Excel file. Then I start making them.
- I do this until I pick up the kids from the school. Then I make new items to list. In the meantime, dinner is prepared.
- After dinner I talk to my kids about what they did at school and help them with their schoolwork.
- During breaks I chat with my friends and share new ideas. I continue writing our family diary, which I started after the birth of my first son.
- After the kids go to sleep, I continue sewing and prepare the packages to be posted the next day, as well as respond to emails.
- I become a very happy mother on weekends since I get to spend more time with my kids. We usually take walks in the woods, play tennis, swim and bike. We enjoy visiting brocantes near our town. We read together and do hobby-works, which my sons love. We go downtown to Paris as a family two times a month to look for new fabrics. I also shop at the organic market twice a week.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
Not having a day job allows more time for my creative ideas. On the other hand, I miss my friends in the office, as I sew alone in my home atelier.
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
The hardest part of the business has to be looking for and testing the fabrics and supplies I use. I spend a lot of time finding the best quality materials.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself or someone considering a similar route?
Nothing is too late in life, but I wish I would have set up my Etsy business sooner, because my creative ideas do not fit into a 24-hour day. I advise others not to be afraid to leave a day job, because everyone has creative ideas to sell. The most important thing is to be yourself and discover what you can do.
Have any favorite Etsy shops we should know about?
- Blueterracotta: I love Laura’s natural handmade work.
- HeartshapedCreations: I love Maria’s happy collection and her Treasuries.
- OneClayBead: Lee is a wonderfully talented mother.
- Ayca: Ayca has 25 years experience crocheting and makes custom designs.
Thanks to Feyza for sharing her story. You can see some of her work in the Seller’s Items below.
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