A: Well, I used to have a shop name that I loved, DiscoBeach, because I am an absolute disco freak, and I love the beach way of life. It was fun, energetic, and you knew right away that a party was going on. Like the beachy, casual stuff that I design, it didn’t take itself too seriously. Upon calling my state’s helpline about taxes, however, I learned that I could get into a wee bit of trouble without filling out a DBA. Since it was the very end of the year, and I was completely freaking out, I just changed it to my name, CatherinePicone. Boring, but legal. I could jump through the state and county hoops now, but my shop is just getting recognized with my name on it. Plus, when it comes to paperwork, I really am pathetically lazy. It’s an ongoing challenge.
Q: Do you only sell on Etsy?
A: For the moment, Etsy is my main selling vehicle, but not my only venue. I do a few local craft shows a year, and I dabble in wholesale. My goal for 2013 is to participate in larger shows and to increase my wholesale business. I’ve really spent the last year finding my voice and committing to how I want to represent myself and my work. It’s been a bigger challenge than I had imagined!
Q: What inspires you?
A: My inspiration is the sea, the islands, and every single coastline on the planet. I’m completely in love with all things Caribbean, but the waters and beaches of my home state (North Carolina!) inspire me, too. Old seafaring tales and mermaid lore have always been intriguing to me, and there’s nothing like hearing real fish tales from guys on the pier or in dive bars at the end of the day.
Q: What is the hardest part of what you do?
A: I hate to admit it, but discipline is really hard to come by some days. Keeping the focus on the current project instead of jumping all over creation can be the hardest thing I do all day.
Q: What is one of your favorite items from your shop?
A: You know that’s like asking which child is your favorite, right?? Seriously, my mermaids are my loves because I put so much time and care into making each one. My absolute favorite mermaid just sold, and she was kind of punk folk art. I love that the person who purchased her appreciated her and understood what I was going for.
A: Etsy was the site that everyone kept telling me about, so I thought it was the obvious choice for me and for what I make. I had considered Artfire, but Etsy just felt like a better fit. As far as an online presence, Etsy is it for me for now.
Q: Is Etsy your only "job", or is it something you do on the side?
A: At the moment, my Etsy shop is my full-time job. My husband was kind enough to give me the opportunity to take a year off and see how things went. Well, the year was up about six months ago, so I’m looking for part-time employment or full-time if it’s interesting. Honestly, I’ll probably get just as much done for my Etsy shop when I’m working again. As wonderful as this last year and a half has been, sitting at the sewing machine alone seven days a week has grown very, very old. I really miss people! And, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I do kind of miss the structure of a job outside my home. Working in pj’s is great, but I actually am craving a little discipline and a real schedule! Nuts, right?
Q: Are you attending any art shows in the future?
A: There’s a craft show I’ll probably do in November, because what I do is mostly craft rather than art. I’ve been sketching and making some early patterns for some art dolls, though, and if I can complete some that I consider worthy, I’d love to participate in some juried shows in early 2013. We’ll see!
Q: Any future projects?
A: In addition to the art dolls, I do want to revisit patchwork and art quilts. Now, I’m kicking myself for selling my nine foot cutting/crafting table. (d@#@!!)
Word of Advice: It really is SO much harder than you think it’s going to be. You are going to HAVE to treat it as a business if you want to succeed. Learn all you can about your market, then market you and your product to your target audience (who may be a different segment of the population than you thought). And, learn all you can about the business side of your art—especially local, state, and federal laws and TAXES. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be a CPA or know one intimately, as a newbie, you are going to have to do this yourself unless you have pockets bulging with money. There are so many FREE sources of information—even on Etsy—that you can turn to for guidance. There’s so much more, but to keep it short, I’ll share this last tip—the most important one: don’t undervalue your time and your talent. This was a huge mistake I made, and in some cases, continue to make. If you don’t respect your work, no one else will. You might get some sales with your ten dollar price (that should be thirty), but you really will have gained very little. You will be working harder rather than smarter, and you won’t have the respect of your customers or your fellow artists. - Cathy