Featured Artist: Connie from Bungalow42

Featured Artist: Connie from Bungalow42
 

Featured Artist: Connie from Bungalow42

 
Meet Connie from Bungalow42 on Etsy. You'll love her seriously whimsical adornments!

Today, I'd like to introduce you to Connie from bungalow42 on Etsy. I feel pretty lucky because I have actually won two of Connie's jewelry creations (and I adore them!!) through giveaways hosted on two different websites. What are the odds?
 
Connie's shop features what she calls "seriously whimsical adornments" and I can't think of a better way to describe her work.
 
When did you open your shop and what made you decide to do so?

May 22, 2014. As is probably true for many Etsy shop owners, I started making “adornments” for the women in my family: relatives and what my friend Kathy calls the “family you choose”.
My friend Audrey christened my work as adornments which sounded perfect to my ears. I also owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Hilary in NYC who has her pulse on the nuance of what’s kitsch and what’s “krap.” And an “oh wow” to my cousin Kelleigh who was delighted to report that my shell earrings were a hit at her local LA coffee shop.

This family of women has been my inspiration, guinea pigs, unfaltering fan club and enthusiastic supporters of this endeavor.

Also, like many others, no doubt, I decided to open my Etsy shop because of their encouragement and belief in me. I can only imagine how many Etsy folks first heard the words “…you could sell these!” from a member of their family. I personally found these words to be humbling, inspiring, exciting and frightening.
 
Tell us about yourself.

One of the most challenging aspects of opening my Etsy shop has been the need to overcome my propensity for privacy.

Also I just don't see myself as that interesting. Not great fodder for an engaging bio question - right?
If I pretend that I am chatting with a new friend who has expressed interest in my life story I would probably talk about my professional career in the music business. Not the glamorous side mind you… predominantly tech related and project management roles. Next I would imaginably describe my creative endeavors which spanned years but intensified significantly after my mother passed unexpectedly. I found some vintage African white heart beads that I subsequently learned were very old while cleaning out her studio. This was surprising as my mother was a potter but she was always squirreling away odd bits and pieces with the firm belief that she would eventually find a way to use them.

It was shortly after my mother passed that I had an opportunity to seriously focus on jewelry design. My first formal design included those vintage white hearts. Heartened by the support of friends and family and the pure joy derived from this creative process, I decided to seek instruction, research tools and techniques all while working to improve my skills.

I am grateful to my aunt Dianne for constantly reminding me that my mother would be proud of her daughter’s endeavor.
 
Tell us a bit about your products.

My "seriously whimsical adornments" pair sterling silver findings, gemstones, seashells, pearls, vintage and handcrafted beads from around the world with delicate but sturdy plastic chain, silk thread or cord and waxed linen thread.
 
I have always been drawn to fun, whimsical pieces but the quality of the findings and the workmanship was always important.
 
Weight and humor is a major focus in my work. I strive to create lightweight pieces that won't weigh you down but will hopefully make you smile.

An instructor who was reviewing my work summed it up stunningly. She said that the pairing of sterling silver findings with vintage beads, shells, freshwater pearls and plastic chain or linen thread conveyed a “take me seriously” element. I was struck by how easily she succinctly described what I was trying, albeit unknowingly, to achieve.
 
Where do you live and how does where you live influence your creativity?

Austin, Texas. I have to admit this is not something to which I have given much thought... but I think that people are a primary source of inspiration and endless fascination in my work and in my life. Austin, whose motto is “Keep Austin Weird”, is truly a treasure trove of talented, creative, fun and weird (in a good way) people.
Also known as the “Music Capital of the World”, Austin has a seemingly endless well of gifted musicians whose music ranges widely and delivers daily inspiration. When I am lucky enough to carve out some bench time in my day, music is always playing and much of that soundtrack is peppered with Texas flavor.
 
What are your future goals and dreams for your shop?

My goals for the business are modest. My pieces are mostly made from vintage and/or limited stock. I have no desire to create the same piece over and over again. My work is not going to appeal to a massive audience. Not everybody is going to intuit plastic or bookbinding thread as serious jewelry components. My goal is to find that niche group of people with similar sensibilities.
Not (previously) a social media maven, I am working to cast a bigger net for that niche group with the aid of social media. Improving my grasp on social media tools is a goal for this and future years.

My dream? Getting the shop open and having total strangers purchase and appreciate my work... well that is pretty much a dream come true already.
 
What makes your business stand out?

My hope is that my business stands out because my pieces are fun, unusual and well made. I strive to describe the pieces as if I were chatting with a friend including nerdy history or factoids.
Customer satisfaction is enormously important... being responsive to customer queries and shipping promptly are just as vital as creating well-crafted pieces from quality materials.

My first five star review was such a rush. I can only hope that every purchase will be similarly prized.
 
What is your greatest business achievement?

Opening my Etsy shop. While that may seem a bit low on the “GREAT” meter, it was a huge achievement to me. I spent well over a year researching successful Etsy shops, working on my photography skills and copy writing techniques before launching the shop.
Getting the shop open and having total strangers purchase and appreciate my work is my greatest achievement thus far.
 
Where do you do most of your crafting?

Not a particularly novel start, like many others my initial work space was also our dining room table. Most of my tools and materials were stored a flight down from the dining room and many of my initial photos were taken a flight up on the balcony.
After years of stair climbing we moved to a larger space where I was able to carve out a comfortable work area in our shared office and studio.

Having a dedicated work bench, room for photography equipment and ample (for the moment) storage for tools and materials all in the same room on the same floor feels positively lavish by comparison.
 

Why do you believe people should buy handmade, such as your products, vs. buying mass-produced products from box stores?

Not everyone can afford nor are they drawn to handmade products.

Affordability is always a consideration in my work. I realize how relative the term "affordable" can be but with that goal in mind I vowed to work within a retail price ceiling of $75. Most of my pieces are well below that price point.

For those who are drawn to and fortunate enough to be able to purchase handmade items, I hope that they are swayed by the unique and well-crafted elements of my work.
 
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?

Do the homework/research. Read the Etsy Success emails and other related documentation. Join an Etsy Team. The opportunity to meet other similarly inclined folks, the exchange of ideas and generous offers of support and encouragement are awe-inspiring.
If photography is a new skill, give yourself plenty of time to work on your photos before opening your shop. In the first year my skills improved dramatically but of course that meant that I wanted to reshoot my entire inventory - several times. Had I just focused on a few pieces until my skills improved I could have saved myself a lot of time.

Etsy sellers are frequently also Etsy buyers. Look at your favorite shops and think about why you are drawn to those shops. In addition to the products sold, consider the different components of these shop that you find appealing. If you focus on these components when you plan and build your Etsy shop, chances are that you will be pleased with the results.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?

Spending time with my husband who is also my best friend is my favorite way to unwind.

We love sharing movies, good food and wine, books, politics and time with friends. He's also one of the funniest and kindest people on the planet.

I am a very lucky girl.
 
Meet Connie from Bungalow42 on Etsy. You'll love her seriously whimsical adornments!
Stay Connected with Connie

bungalow42 on Etsy
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