Blog Business

Million Dollar Etsy Seller?

Three Bird Nest was all over the news last week. At least, it was all over the news I pay attention to. If you are not familiar, you must not be a handmaker. Basically, an entrepreneur in California was profiled in Fast Company because of her out of this world Etsy sales. A bunch of handmakers called BS and mayhem ensued. Tara Swiger wrote a great piece on it, as did Abby Glassenberg and IndieUntangled. Here is my take.

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 Handmade by me in my studio


If you are not in the business of making and selling your wares, it might not strike you as shocking to hear about an Etsy seller who grossed close one million dollars in sales last year. But if you have ever made anything and tried to sell it then you probably said “what the hell?” when you heard about Three Bird Nest. Unless she is charging like three grand a scarf, there are some shenanigans happening here.

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Hand made original framed print by Jamsiewaymsie
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Handmade leather bag by OxHare Studios

















My heart went out to all of the knitters and crocheters when this terrible news came out. But, my darlings, I have been feeling your pain for a while. You see, I am a jewelry artist. People have been making money selling their non-handmade jewelry on Etsy for a long time. In fact I used to see these sellers sometimes in the craft store, buying Tori Spelling’s jewelry kits to put together and resell at a generous mark up. One woman was bragging to me about how she couldn’t keep them in her shop. Silly me, spending years honing my craft and hours crafting my pieces. But you go on, lady. I will concentrate on customers who are a little more discerning.


Handmade Necklace by Jewels by Trish
Handmade Necklace by Jewels by Trish





Handsewn by Survival Organs
Handsewn by Survival Organs



















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Handmade by Pretty Much Design















Those gals aren’t even the worst. There are some shops selling jewelry that you can literally buy in gumball machines. Some only cost a dollar. Unfortunately shipping from China will probably quadruple the price but still, handmade jewelry for under $5? How can I compete?



If you buy this gumball jewelry thinking it’s handmade, I feel sorry for you. That was obviously a rhetorical statement since I know none of my super rad readers thinks handmade jewelry can be sustainably made, even in sweatshops, for $1. You guys know what’s up. And I guess technically the Tori Spelling kits are sort of handmade, and if someone is willing to pay $30 for plastic beads, then bless their heart. But Average Jane may not be able to tell hand knit or crochet from machine-made (Unless perhaps, you leave the “Made in China” label attached. According to customers, the million dollar Etsy seller did that). And it’s a lie to pass off machine-made hats as handmade just because you sewed on a button.


Hand printed notecards by oursecrettreehouse
Hand printed notecards by oursecrettreehouse




Hand designed crochet patterns by hijennybrown
Hand designed crochet patterns by hijennybrown














I certainly do not condemn Three Bird Nest for being successful in her business. Because what she is doing takes a lot of hustle. But, let’s get on a level playing field. Don’t sell items as handmade that clearly are not. Many customers do not even realize that machine-made items are allowed to be sold on Etsy. To a lot of people, Etsy means handmade. Sorry guys, but that is not necessarily true. 



Got an opinion? You know you do, so please share.



Attack of the Dreaded Imposter Syndrome

So much to do and so little time. I am polishing up the website this week and getting everything super pro, checking off my New Years Resolutions one by one. Nice. Here is an awesome post about “Imposter Syndrome”, which is the perfect subject this week since I had a little “Who do you think you are” attack. Fleeting, thankfully but still, not cool. [Tweet “We are all awesome and doing our best. Let’s keep reminding ourselves and each other of that important fact. “]


Originally Published August 18, 2014



I am about to do the scariest thing I have ever done. This week, as I may have mentioned once or twice, I will be sitting in the front row at CreativeLive for the fabulous Tara Gentile‘s course, “Market Launch and Sell Your Next Big Thing“. That is not the part that is scaring me. Confession: I am afraid to fly. Like really, really terrified. I am scared of planes, actually, which is yet another strange quirk and just part of my never-ending charm. On top of that, I have never traveled alone before. I have never even gone to a movie or a restaurant alone. What can I say, I met my soul mate when I was 18. But I am so excited to be a part of this experience that I am not going to let a little terror stop me.

creativelive with Tara swiger marketing for crafters class july 2014
CreativeLive, straight ahead!

Yesterday, I got an email from Tara, setting up a pre-show meeting. Fantastic idea! It will be very helpful to get some things worked out before appearing in front of a live audience. Then I see who is cc’d in the email. Two names pop out immediately, Ana of Ana Apple Designs, and Sasha Cagen of Quirky Alone, and I begin to panic. These ladies are real business people. Really for real. What the heck was I doing trying to include myself into this group? Make no mistake, I have complete confidence in my art. My business skills, not so much. I frequently “joke” about what a terrible business person I am, and we all know that comedy is truth in disguise.

creativelive with Tara swiger marketing for crafters class july 2014
Eyes on the Prize!

So I had myself a little pity party. I am usually insanely optimistic, so this is not at all the kind of party I like to throw. My saint of a husband said all of the right things and asked, “Do you want to talk about it?” “No, I’m good,” I assured him. Because I knew it would pass. It’s called “impostor syndrome” and it’s a real thing, but I had to get over it. So what if these ladies are more successful than I am? I am not in competition with them. I want us all to do well. I am just not as far along in the journey, and that is ok because I already knew that I was built for comfort, not for speed.

The bracelet I made especially for the trip
Seriously though, you better order one before I get famous.

Whenever I get worried about my slow progress, I just have to remind myself that some things take time. Just keep moving forward and you will get when you are going.


I will leave you with that sentiment, and also a picture of my Sulcata tortoise, Frank. He never gives up, he always soldiers on, even if he is stuck under the fire pit and has to drag it 20 feet across the yard before it frees itself.

Showgirl chicken Liza and Sulcata tortoise Frank
Frank takes what he wants. Sorry Liza.



Blog Goals

What To Do When it All Falls Apart

First of all, let’s take a step back and acknowledge that it rarely ever all falls apart. It feels that way sometimes, but usually it’s just a tiny part that falls apart.


Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
super secret project



I have been working on an amazing secret project that involves a lot of stuff I am not super pro at, so major fails are a daily occurrence. Confession: I fail at stuff I am really good at all the time. So, you know, failing at stuff I have less experience with is actually a little easier to take.


filming some stuff
more secrets



But the sheer volume of setbacks is bogging me down. My enthusiasm has not diminished, thank goodness. Even though every night I collapse into bed quite spent, sometimes with very little to show for my entire day’s work, by the morning I am anxious to get into the studio and start back at it. The time I have wasted is annoying the hell out of me though. I have already missed one self-imposed and ridiculously ambitious deadline.

A little hint: it involves video. I know nothing about making videos. It’s harder than you might think.



Red Scorpio creates bold unique statement jewelry. 100% Handmade by richelle shadoan. Beaded bracelets and necklaces make perfect gifts for the woman in your life who has everything. How to be awesome. Step out of your comfort zone. Live an artful life. Dare to be awesome.
mostly successful!


For example, here is a short video of glass cutting that I shot, only I had accidentally hit “time-lapse” instead of “video”. I was pretty irritated when I realized that. I was so nailing the glass cutting! Grrr. I did eventually get over it. Kind of. Thinking about it right now is pissing me off all over again, but it is what it is. It is not at all what I wanted, but it’s actually kind of cool.




[Tweet “When it all falls apart, try to remember that it is mostly together and press on.”] Usually, just a slight adjustment will get everything back on track.





When The Shine of the New Year’s Eve Ball Fades…

That is the official name BTW. The “New Year’s Eve Ball”. That seems sort of underwhelming. But I digress. It’s February and Puxatawny Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of Winter. How do you stay on point when your spirit starts flagging? Pull out all the stops.




Wood Burning
Wood Burning


Do something fun

Last week I finally felt like I was hitting that wall. I had maintained my momentum pretty well, but then I started to drag. I was working more and getting less done because I was burning out. Administrative work is an undeniable component to owning your own business. It’s like pretty much all of it to be honest. And then there are those days when you get to do something creative. Thankfully, that day came for me last week. In fact, it was several days in a row of nothing but making stuff. It was amazing.




I made a basket
I made a basket


Try something different

So, I have a super secret project going on. It involves a lot of making. And, lucky for me, it involves learning some new skills. When you feel tired of doing the same old thing, a tiny shake up can do a world of good. I tried a new craft. Maybe you could try a new restaurant. Or take a different route to and from work. Anything to make it seem like you are not in a rut.





Go outside

My go to when I am feeling wrung out is a trip to nature. I was seriously frazzled last weekend, working non-stop to meet a deadline. Saturday, Greg and I took a day trip to the mountains. I brought my planner, so I was still working, it’s true, but I do some of my best planning at picnic benches.



Or go drinking. Who am I to judge?
Or go drinking. Who am I to judge?


Have a pity party

If all else fails, throw a tantrum and move on. Indulge in an ugly cry, pig out on something horrible, sleep in, and reset. But don’t fall into a pattern. The next day, go back to hitting it hard.


I am pumped, you guys. I am excited to be working on something new and I can’t wait to share it with you very soon.


What is your favorite way to bounce back from

burn-out? Share in the comments!