With a little help from Etsy

1 Mar

Lately we’ve been reading many stories about people turning to their crafty sides to add spending money to their income during the recession.

Buying gifts on Etsy.com has been great fun for me, especially when they’re made by a local crafter — which is how I found the talented Caroline Wolfe, who has graciously agreed to tell us about her wares — and, as a bonus, spill about her favorite spots over the decade she’s lived in Brooklyn!

Caroline Wolfe Papocchia

What advice would you give someone looking to earn extra income by launching a creative venture on Etsy?
Realize that starting and maintaining an Etsy shop requires work and commitment. Pricing will likely be your greatest challenge. Be honest with yourself about the cost of your materials and shipping, and — most importantly — the value of your time and talent. Remember, you are saving so much by selling it yourself and selling it online.

How have you promoted yourself?
Most of my promotion has been word-of-mouth; I was also featured in an Etsy e-mail blast that brought a lot of attention to my Cities plates. I have had some press on design blogs, and in a couple of magazines, for which I am very grateful. Next year I plan to participate in some craft fairs.

Do you have a day job? What are your goals for your Etsy side business?
I am an event planner and designer; I also write about the industry for a handful online publications, and I work part-time at a school that teaches a course on wedding and event planning. I would like to expand the offerings at my Etsy shop. I am planing to include other crafts, and I am also planning big changes on the types of glassware and styles on offer.

Look, it's Iowa! Caroline's "Cities" plates were a hit for holiday.

As you mentioned, your Cities plates have been a big hit. If you were to make six of your own plates for your favorite cities, what would those be?
Great question! New York (of course); Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; London; Wellfleet, MA; and Washington, DC.

You’ve lived in Brooklyn since 2000. What neighborhood are you in, how has it changed in the past decade and what are you favorite spots?
Since 2008, [my husband and I] have lived in Greenwood Heights. Favorite places? Definitely the cemetery. It is historic and so beautiful. Other favorite spots include Sidecar, Buttermilk Bar, Korzo restaurant, Monk Vintage Shop, Eagle Provisions, Adam’s Wines (amazing place), Tacos Xochimilco and Rossmans.

In Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens: Frankie’s Spuntino, D’Amico coffee roasters, Winn Discount for basics (although it has gotten pricier), Stinky Cheeses (totally irresistible), Alma Restaurant, Pizzazz (for baby and kid gifts), Downtown Bar & Grill (for burgers), Seoul Custom Tailor, and BookCourt.

What can you recall about moving to NYC back then?
I have never felt so liberated as I did as a 21-year-old in this city, and as I continue to feel living here. There is so much energy and so much to do. The trick is to get your bearings and establish a basic routine (this is where I get my groceries, this is where I do my laundry, this is my favorite restaurant or bar, this is how I get to and from work), a consistent path that you can jump off and back on whenever you need or want to.

When I first arrived I wanted to experience everything I could. I went out a lot and managed to accrue a bit of debt. Living outside of my means was my biggest error — and luckily behind me.

Visit Caroline on Etsy hereMention NewNewYorkers when you order four or more plates and get a 10% dicsount!

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