Portland-based Etsy shop Ashley G and Drew made $100K in revenues in 2009 by selling and licensing their illustrations. With minimal overhead, desirable product, and great media coverage, this duo is doing something right. They've been reviewed 6,429 times by Etsy buyers and maintain a 100% positive rating. They also signed licensing deals with Urban Outfitters in 2008 and 2009. Read on for how Ashely G and Drew have crafted their success and what advice they have for nascent "artpreneurs."
Ashley G and Drew were profiled in the October Inc. magazine article Start-Ups 2010: Building the Market for Art, which is where I first learned of their handmade business. Describing the benefits of Etsy and customer service, Inc. magazine writes:
"Selling on Etsy has built-in efficiencies: low overhead and, in some cases, no inventory. Goldberg and Bell print her drawings only after they are purchased. On the other hand, even after some 20,000 sales, the couple still print, quality-check, sign, and ship each purchase by hand. And Goldberg...still e-mails each buyer a few words of thanks and a ship date."
Intrigued and wanting to know what aspiring makers of the handmade home could do to pursue success, I checked-in with Ashley Goldberg of Ashley G and Drew for her advice.
Valuing great customer service herself, Goldberg told Re-Nest "artpreneurs" should "treat every person...with respect and send items timely and well packaged and respond to questions or concerns promptly. Let customers know you value them no matter how many sales you get." She goes on to assure sellers that, even if they are not moving their merchandise, their Etsy store is a portfolio that shows their work to potential retailers as well as buyers.
Ashley emphasizes the importance of quality, especially with handmade product. She also advises sellers to always treat the venture "as a real business from the beginning," and when the time is right, "do things like file as a business with your state, keep records and receipts, and start a separate business account with a bank."
When marketing artwork, Ashley says, "blogs are a powerful tool. Don't assume they will post about your work but do assume they are very busy and get tons of submissions. Don't send huge images that take a long time to load. Keep submission emails short, sweet, and informative. Provide links so they don't have to hunt for your work or shop."
Ashley's last piece of advice: "Say thank you to everyone."
And with that, we say a warm thank you to Ashley for her words of advice and her timely response. Great work! Thank you!
Prints, from left to right.
1 Botanic (8.5" by 11"), $20
2 Keep Your Friends Close (9.5" by 13" limited edition print), $80
3 Give and Take (10" by 6" limited edition print), $42
4 Nothing to Hide (5" by 7" limited edition print), $38
5 Wee Cactus (5" by 7"), $20