Gesine Garz describes how she sells her work on the website Etsy.
Gesine attended the Sir John Cass School of Art and Design throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it was still part of Guildhall University (now Metropolitan University). She studied enamelling there with Sarah Wilson and achieved the craft and advanced City & Guilds Qualification in enamelling. During that time, Gesine won several awards for enamelled pieces in the Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship and Design Awards and British Jeweller’s Association Awards.
In recent years Gesine Garz has sold her work on Etsy, a website where thousands of artists show their work worldwide. It took Gesine a while to get the hang of using Etsy but now that she has the skills, her sales have been good, especially at Christmas.
Gesine often uses heads and faces in her work (cast in silver, enamelled or porcelain) because they always provoke an emotional reaction from people. Often these faces are used in a darker context (with their eyes closed or on a trophy board). Surprisingly Gesine sells her expensive pieces to customers in Australia and Scotland, less expensive pieces in the US and not very many in England.
Initially attracted to Etsy because she wanted to avoid the mark-up charged by galleries, Gesine has set up her own on-line shop, called London Finery on the Etsy website.
The task facing all the exhibitors on Etsy is attracting the many visitors to the site to look at their work. When Gesine started her shop on Etsy sales were slow. Sales improved, however, when she learned how to make her shop look attractive.
One effective move was to put a banner at the top of her page on which she has placed a great deal of information about herself and her work. Potential customers have responded to knowing something about her.
The layout of the images in Gesine’s shop are prescribed by Etsy, relieving her of that task. She is allowed to show several images of one piece of work – front, back, sides, on a mannequin and the hallmark. In addition she gives information about the size of the piece, the materials and a description of what it means. The last page of this article is a copy of the page she created to promote her piece. Although Gesine can have as many pieces as she likes in her shop, she finds all the writing she has to do to set up an entry is time-consuming.
The cost of running an Etsy shop is based on a charge of 20 cents per listing. A listing lasts 4 months but can be renewed as often as the seller wants. Renewing a listing is well worth it as this brings a shop to the notice of the Etsy search engine and therefore the shop is more easily found by potential customers. Renewing is easily done – by just ticking a box by each listing. Etsy takes a 3.5% commission of every completed sale.
Etsy works with PayPal and Gesine already had a PayPal account when she joined Etsy, as she had been using Ebay for years. She finds it annoying that PayPal takes quite high fees at times, which can cut a chunk of the profit, especially on more expensive items, but she finds it an easy and safe method for international transactions.
A further way of attracting attention on Etsy is to get people to write about her work in little lists called ‘Treasuries’.
Fellow Etsy users often compile lists of items they particularly like or which are related in technique, colour or topic. These lists can include several artists. Gesine has found that the traffic to her shop increases significantly every time one of her pieces appears in a treasury.
Sellers and customers can also directly promote items via a link to Facebook, and so tell their friends about pieces they like or want to share. When posting new work on Etsy Gesine announces this on her dedicated jewellery Facebook page and includes a link to her shop.
In the future, Gesine Garz wants to do more teaching of general jewellery skills and enamelling. She is looking for opportunities at adult education colleges and running some of her own private workshops.