Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Etsy Around the World: Bethbee

This week's featured Etsy seller is from Oregon, and she makes some of the neatest books--think gifts people will love!

Who are you ?
My name is Beth Barnett and my shop is Bethbee aka Beth Bee Books

Where are you located?
I’m in Portland, Oregon although I split my time between Portland and Corvallis, OR (a smaller college town/city) which is about 90 miles to the south.
What do you create?
I make little books, which are a result of a combination of my own art and hand screen- and block printing and printing/trimming I have done by local printers. Outside of etsy I am an oil painter and I do occasional freelance illustration work. I’m generally a DIY-er and create things for myself all the time.

What do you do when you are not creating?
I have a job for the more reliable income working in Personnel in a hospital. I also do a lot of ordinary miscellaneous things like biking around, running, cooking, watching DVDs, and eating out with friends.

What is your favorite place to visit in your hometown?
Portland… I love going out to eat at Vita CafĂ©, shopping at the SE Grand Goodwill, and the enormous Fabric Depot on the east side and riding along the Willamette River along the Springwater trail. In Corvallis my favorite thing is the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

What inspires you?
I get inspired by other crafters and artists, by the beauty of the natural world, and by problems I find that need a solution. If I can’t find a product I can buy to organize things how I want or to accomplish what I want to, or that has the aesthetic I want, I will often try to make something myself. I also gain a lot of inspiration from the positive responses and encouragement I receive from friends and customers. It’s really nice to do work that people respond to positively and that makes my life better, whether or not there’s a financial element.

What is the most time consuming part of your craft/art?
Everything is time consuming! I have improved on the time/cost equation by making more of the same thing at once and silk-screening in batches, ordering printing on more copies/prints at once with some finishing done by the printers, but regardless, it takes a lot of time to research print services & materials, prep and set up for screen printing, for assembling, marketing and maintaining my web presence… Finding efficiencies without sacrificing quality is definitely a constant goal.

What is your favorite place to sell your items?
I really enjoy selling on etsy because I get customers from all over the world and I enjoy seeing where around the US and world my books are going. I also enjoy craft fairs because I always meet other crafters and have great conversations with customers, though I rarely do them in the interest of time and the cost of booth/space fees.

How do you acquire new clients?
I definitely don’t force my goods on people, but if an opportunity comes up to mention what I create, I definitely tell people and always have my business cards with me. I know I could do more to get exposure but I have mostly used word of mouth. I make less per book when I sell to retailers (vs. on etsy), but they have definitely helped me get more exposure that I couldn’t get all on my own, so retail stores that sell my stuff have really been helpful. Also, sometimes I meet people through my fine art who then are interested in my books and visa versa.

What are your goals?
I would like to grow my product line and create new books from ideas I have but haven’t had time to follow up on. I would also like to introduce prints of some of my paintings to my etsy shop.

--If you'd like to see more of Beth's work check our her personal website too.

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