If you’ve ever thought about becoming an Etsy Seller, offering your own handmade goods, vintage pieces, craft supplies or unique items online, Cath Young, local Bellingen Shire resident and Etsy Seller & Advisor is a great example of how it’s done. Cath makes all her products locally and sells her range from her Etsy store, My Bearded Pigeon, but she’s also an Etsy-dynamo (our words, not hers), social worker and passionate fundraiser. Cath lives in the Bellingen Shire with her hubby and two gorgeous girls.
Firstly, you may recall in one of our recent newsletters we highlighted Cath’s ‘quick-off-the-blocks’ work – making and selling Rainbow ‘Love-Is-Love’ pins to raise funds for 2010–an organisation supporting LGBTQI youth. It was through her social work that she learned of 2010’s existence. At the same time she was checking in with her close friends & same-sex couple about the Same Sex Marriage debate. That conversation left her profoundly affected by how violated people in their community were feeling, and it compelled her to help. In just a few short weeks she raised thousands of dollars from the sale of her pins.
But as we learned, there are many sides to Cath Young.
It was 2008 when Cath first dipped her toe into the Etsy world of selling. With the arrival of her first child and her decision to be a stay-at-home mum, she found herself craving stimulation. As she also struggled to find gender-neutral clothes and soft toys (that weren’t blue with trains or pink with princesses), Cath bought herself a sewing machine at her mother’s suggestion and learnt how to sew childrens’ & babies’ clothes & toys. This soon grew into a boutique online business and included homewares such as cushions and wall hangings. And Cath’s Etsy store, My Bearded Pigeon was born.
While Cath wasn’t an instant ‘Etsy-Expert’, she knew enough to get set up, including how to routinely turn up in shopper’s search results, and get noticed. But when she uploaded her World-Map Cushion one evening just before bedtime, she had no idea this was about to trigger her moment of ‘overnight success’.
“When I put my World Map Cushion into my online store, it was picked up and critiqued by a respected Homewares blogger in the USA who had a huge social media following. I woke the next morning to find orders for this item that my current stock levels couldn’t cover! It was an exciting and pretty surreal moment.”
Over time Cath adapted her business to meet the increased demand, and continues as a dedicated Etsy seller to this day.
She also shares what she has learnt along her journey with the same generosity of spirit, compassion and energy that she throws at everything she takes on.
As she explains, “Last year was a big year for me. I conducted half a dozen workshops around the Coffs, Nambucca and Bellingen regions on How to Set Up an Etsy Store through ETC’s (Enterprise & Training Company) Creative Industries Network Forum. Apparently the feedback was pretty good and resulted in many people wanting to set up their own Etsy business… Maybe I made it sound too easy!”
She is also on the Etsy Advisory Board and captains an Etsy-Online team.
“We make ourselves available to mentor and advise on issues within the Etsy community. We also organise webinars and Live Q&A’s – such product presentation styling tips with a guest Stylist – and these tips and demos are particularly relevant now in the lead-up to the Christmas season – which is a crazy-busy time for our sellers. We try to give them plenty of tools and assistance along the way to help them with their business.”
Last year her Advisory work took her to New York with a small group. She was there to present feedback that she’d gleaned from her online forums to the company’s engineers in the US.
“But one of my favourite things about the advisory work is going on the journey with new sellers”, she enthuses. “I’ve been so fortunate to discover new, amazingly creative and talented individuals. It’s a joy to nurture them through their growth and success.”
What advice does Cath have to anyone thinking about becoming an Etsy seller?
“If you know how to upload images and use privacy settings, with all the help available on the Etsy website you shouldn’t have any problems setting up your own Etsy store. Beyond the online courses, there’s a lot of generosity of information shared in that community, but it’s also incumbent upon all sellers to do their own research and learn about what works for them. Remember also… Google is your friend.”
We wondered how the Bellingen Shire may one day be represented in one of Cath’s creations.
“I think the river would have to feature. Have you flown over the valley or seen it from the lookout? It looks like this amazing place – which it is, of course.”
And her favourite Bellingen Shire Bit?
“At the moment, Popla Restaurant. I might be biased* but I’m so excited that we have the opportunity to enjoy the imaginative and unique dishes these chefs are serving up!”
And finally, Cath still has a few Love Is Love pins left from her 4th re-order (!), but they’re going fast. You can get yours here.