Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ARTISAN OF HANDMADE - Spotlight and Interview - Suzanne Sumrow of PURPOSE4EVERYTHING


My guest Artisan today is Suzanne Sumrow of the Etsy Shop, PURPOSE4EVERYTHING.

I love this shop because it speaks to the little girl in me who still loves the whole fantasy world of dollhouses and the enchanting miniatures that fill them with wonder! And if that's not enough to make you look, take a peak at the Carved Geode Druzy Sterling Silver Pendant, Turquoise Blue Green Organza Ribbon Necklace or the Trimont China Footed Teacup and Saucer Set Vibrant Pink with White Flowers.

But enough of my drooling. Let's meet Suzanne who kindly agreed to do an interview for Between The Pages Artisans of Handmade Feature.


Hello Everyone. 

I'm Suzanne and I'm a nature lover, treasure hunter, vintage glass collector, creative spirit, loving mom of 3 and an avid animal lover. With 4 cats, 2 dogs and an adorable ferret, it is always a fun house! I have always loved creating things-- jewelry, stain glass, mosaics, wood working-- and I have always loved collecting miniatures. Lately I have used my creativity to delve into the world of miniature making...from drapery and furniture to nursery toys, kitchen accessories and home decor items. I have so many ideas for miniature items that I want to make, there is not enough time in the day!

I opened my shop to share my love of vintage items, and have a venue to sell some of my handmade creations.

Lynda: Thank you for introducing yourself, Suzanne. Let's jump right into the interview questions. 

What is the name of your shop and do you have a story behind that name?

The name of my shop is Purpose4Everything.

It is my belief that everything in our lives has a purpose.... whether it be people, places or things. Someone created something to bring pleasure or usefulness. For my vintage items, I just want to help them to find their purpose again! And for my own creations, to bring a bit of joy to someone, and spread the intention of love and peace.

How long have you been selling online?

I actually opened my Etsy shop to customers in September of 2012, altho I created the shop in May, and spent 4 months finding items, creating items, taking photos, researching and actually listing my items... trying to have a full shop right from the start!

Where can we find your products?

I only sell on Etsy, but I have a pinterest board devoted to my miniatures. My vintage finds are also only in my Etsy shop, and they range from vintage jewelry, to kitchen items, to collectibles, to home decor, to tools... it all depends on what I come across in my treasure hunt travels! I make jewelry and stain glass as well, but miniatures have been my passion lately.

Do you have a blog or website where you showcase your work?

Well, I started one for my miniatures... but then I was in a car accident that disrupted everything. I shattered my right wrist and dislocated my right hand (my dominant hand), so I was unable to do much of anything for a long time. I still have problems, and it takes me longer to create things, but I am not going to let it put an end to my creativeness.

So needless to say, I am very behind on updating my website. I have had to deal with a lot of emotions over the loss of my 'perfect' hand, and am learning to accept my imperfectness now...you know, my new normal. Being a bit of a perfectionist, makes it just a little bit harder, lol! But I hope to start it back up soon. 
 
Do you have any tips that might help another shop owner to better present their products?

My biggest tip would be to take good photographs! A picture says a thousand words, and you want them to all be good words, lol! I sometimes take over 30 photos just to get 5 good ones.... I am not the best photographer, but I keep trying! And I do alot of editing on one of the free photo editing websites (PicMonkey is what I use). But that all takes time, which is why I am not able to list as much as some shops do. Almost all of my items are one of a kind, so that requires a new listing for every product, very time consuming.

Do you work part-time or full-time in your business?

Well, I work full time on my business, now, as I was laid off about a year ago. But I also have 3 kids and a household to run, so it seems like I am always working on my shop with any spare time I have! I am the one who creates or finds all of my items, researches and photographs them, packages and ships them, does all the book keeping and all the promoting! It is definitely not as easy having my own shop as I thought it would be when I first started this. I spend a lot of my time trying to promote myself, on my Google+ page, Facebook, Pinterest and by being on Etsy teams.

What is the best/worst, or most amusing interaction you've experienced with a buyer?


The best experience is making custom orders for people! I get to know them, I get to create a one of a kind item for them, and I end up with a great friend!

I would have to say the worst was when I had a customer from Germany purchase one of my vintage items. Not sure what happened, but she refused the package, after opening it, and had it sent back, stating customs denied it... then wanted a full refund. It had cost $35 just to ship this item... Thank goodness PayPal was there to help me thru it, and they actually took care of it. But it was 3 months before I actually got my item returned. Needless to say, I do not ship International unless the customer is willing to pay for International tracking... lesson learned!

Do you accept custom orders?


I actually prefer custom orders! It is impossible to design miniatures that will fit everyones' dollhouse decorating needs... so custom is actually easier! The customer gives me an idea of what they need, and I figure out a way to make that idea into a miniature item. Some of my miniatures take days, or even a couple weeks, to finish. From finding the right items needed to create a piece, to actually making it into that piece. I ask my customers for input along the way, to make sure I am designing something that looks like what they have already created in their mind... so I ask alot of questions! I will try to create almost anything in miniature that a customer asks for, I love a good challenge!

Can you remember what your first sell felt like? How did you celebrate?

My very first sale was of a vintage pottery piece that I picked up, and it sold within the first week of my shop being opened... needless to say I was thrilled, and I was hooked! It made me feel that opening my shop was the right decision for me, because it took me quite awhile to take that plunge and actually open my shop. I have been happy with it since, I have grown alot from it, and I have found many a good person who have become good friends from this!

How valuable is patience for a new seller?


Patience is so important! As is perseverance! You have to work on something relating to your shop nearly every day, if you want it to work. It takes time to get found... it takes good pictures, good search words, promoting your shop or items every day, having the things that people are looking for... I am always working on that! I keep unique and interesting vintage items in my shop just to help me get found for my handmade items.... Learning from other sellers is always important, especially if you are just starting out. After 4 years, I am still trying to learn new things to help my shop make sales. There is a lot of competition out there, so great customer service is one of the most important things you can offer to a customer, too.



5 comments:

  1. Very nice interview. I can relate with her on loosing your normal life and having to relearn now to function again with a 'new normal' as she put it. I lost my health to Lyme disease 12 years ago and can barely leave my house. It has gotten a whole lot better than it first was.
    I love her shop name too. I feel the same way about what is around us should be useful.
    I too feel like I spend so much time on Etsy and I too do all the things for my business. I run 3 shops and at times wonder is it all worth it.
    Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marsha,
      With an ongoing heart problem, on many days I too have to be content with a 'new normal'. At those times, sitting in front of my computer writing my books or working with my Etsy Shop keeps me busy and goal oriented.

      Suzanne, I'd love to visit you on one of the days your creating your miniatures. They absolutely fascinate me and yours are so well done. Thanks so much for being my guest today.

      Delete
    2. Hi Lynda!
      Thank you so much for allowing me to grace your blog page here, I am truly grateful for this opportunity to show off my Etsy shop!
      I enjoyed doing the interview, and you put it together so beautifully!
      I would love to have you visit while I work, anytime! I am actually working on a miniature mosaic table, which will take me a couple of weeks to complete....but I will be happy to show you the end result! Miniature mosaics is one of my most fun things to make, but so very time consuming! but the result is worth it, at least I think so, lol!

      Marsha,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story, I really do appreciate it! I am so sorry to hear about your lyme disease... I have a friend whose sister has it too, and it is a very debilitating disease, and with no cure. So sorry...sending you prayers, blessings
      and love!

      Delete
    3. This was so well done and informative - and fun! Helps to show others they are not alone in what it takes to get or keep a shop going - and why we do it!! Love your things Suzanne and your outlook!

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much Kristy!
    I really appreciate your comments...and I know you understand, being an Etsy shop owner as well! happy sales to you!

    ReplyDelete