Ask Daniellexo: A Tale of Two Etsy Shops

This is the very first advice column, and I wanted to kick it off with a common issue for creative workaholics (like you and me). The first person to reach out and ask for my advice was Lana Manis, who is clearly creative, and clearly working too hard! Lana runs two really dreamy Etsy Shops, and is pulling her hair out trying to to get focused.

Hi Danielle!

I have a question. I have two Etsy shops, Simple Joys Paperie and Honeysuckle Lane. Simple Joys Paperie was started in 2008. My main products are the vintage book wreaths, heart in hand love tokens, and jewelry with paper designs in soldered charms. Honeysuckle Lane was started years and years ago and later was added to Etsy as well. I do all sorts of folk art from watercolors to block printing to dolls to pincushions to wool applique to recycled wool flower pins to silk ribbon embroidery… whew!

Here’s the problem, if you haven’t already guessed. I have to narrow down what I do! I want to concentrate on only a few things and be recognized for those creations. As it is now, many of my customers have no idea I am Honeysuckle Lane AND Simple Joys Paperie because my work is so different. I also don’t have the time or the space to do everything.

Should I keep both business names and have separate shops and separate websites? Should I have one website and link to a page for the other business? Or should I drop both names and go with something like Lana Manis Designs or Lana Manis Folk Art and have everything under that single name?

If you can at least give me some things to think about to help me decide, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Take care and best wishes,
Lana

So Lana, first I’m going to give you a bit of work to do. Get out a pen and paper. Create a chart with 4 columns. In column 1 write down each type of item you sell (eg. paperweight, paper wreath, necklace, pin cushions…).

In the next column, I want you to jot down how much you would love to spend 4 hours working to create this type of item, on a scale from 1 (meh) to 10 (my favorite!).

The next column will help us understand what these products are worth to your business. Mark down the number of items you would have to make and sell to reach a $100 profit.

Final column: mark down how long it takes to make one of these items.

Have you ever sat down and really looked at each of these items in relation to each other this way? What is standing out to you? Is there an obvious “winner”?

My ex-Etsy coworker, HeyMichelle, used to say, “You have to prune some branches that aren’t as fruitful so the others can grow stronger.” Too true!

In addition, I think scaling back and limiting yourself  by creating work that is the most exciting and most profitable will put interesting boundaries in place for you. These new restrictions will make the design process more challenging, and I believe that is when the best, most innovative work is created. What if  long distance runners never set a stopwatch? A little bit of fight helps us move forward quicker!

One more idea popped into my mind: have you thought about melding some of these techniques and materials into a single product line? Think about it!

On the topic of two Etsy shops: I have answered the question, “Should I open up a second shop?”, many times and the answer is almost always,”No way!” Find a way to merge the work and put everything in one shop. I actually think most of the work you do can live well together. Consider photographing your items all the same way, with the same background. Use your shop sections wisely and link to searches within your shop in your item listings. For example, “See all my handmade paperweights here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SimpleJoysPaperie/search?search_query=paperweights.”

Two shops = twice the work. You’re diluting two brands by running two shops. You are only showing your buyers half of your talents! How interesting is it that you work with a range of materials and have mastered many techniques – that is who you are and what makes you special. Your buyers should not only understand this, but they should eat this up! Help them understand your point of view by making sure there is something that ties the work together. That “thing” can be photography, packaging, a common motif, a unique style.

So what should this single business be called? First, I love both of your current business names, but I’m going to nix “Lana Manis Designs”,”Lana Manis Folk Art” is much stronger. Let’s ask the Oh My! Handmade Goodness community to help. Leave a comment below to vote on your favorite name for Lana’s business:

  1. Simple Joys Paperie
  2. Honeysuckle Lane
  3. Lana Manis Folk Art

I can’t wait to see how the voting goes!

Now, I feel awful that I only have time to answer one question here, so I’m going to answer another on this week’s Creative Little Beasts podcast. Sound good? And if you have a question for me, send me an email and it may appear in next week’s column!

25 comments

  1. This is such a greaat column. I myself is having the same problem. Should i have 1 or 2 stores? The work plan to make columns is a clever idea. I should really learn how to make more lists to know my priorities. However, im still confuse in terms of the focus of the shop. Both shops are different, just like Lana’s. mine was paper goods and the other is jewelry. Would it be okay to combine the two in one shop?

    As for the name for Lana. I really like the Simple Joys. However paperie may limit the name of your store. I think one helpful question would be: do i like my shop to be known as a company name like simple joy or a shop name that my name is on it?

  2. I personally like (or should I even say love?) the name Honeysuckle Lane. The name doesn’t give away anything about what’s in your shop, but to me that’s more intruiging. I find it charming. It also doesn’t define your shop as a ‘paper’ or ‘folk art’ shop but leaves room for many things. Just my two cents…
    Tania

  3. Karen says:

    Great article about a very common & relevant problem. My main question is why does she have to rename her business? My guess is that if she’s been in business for so long, she has many strong, loyal followers/fans/customers. I question the amount of work/effort it will take to re-brand when she could simply merge. The name of a business doesn’t necessarily need to describe the business, as everyone else has pointed out….honeysuckle lane is a great name, but it offers no clue as to what the business is about, trying to sell, etc. I’m in the middle of rebranding my business, and it is no easy or inexpensive task. Instead of having to lose out on your labels/marketing materials for two businesses, you could potentially only have to lose out on one set.
    Good luck!

  4. Lana says:

    Danielle,
    Thank you so much for choosing my dilemma as your first advice column subject! How did you know I was a pen and paper girl? I am excited to start those columns and see what adds up and what doesn’t. That will surely put things into perspective! I don’t know why I thought I couldn’t combine the two. Once I narrow down my designs, I think one shop (website) will be so much easier — and cheaper!

    Thank you, everyone, for giving your opinions. It helps me to reason things out more. Although I think you are are mixed as I am on the name decision! 🙂 I’m not necessarily concerned about having my own name up in lights… so maybe even something like Honeysuckle Lane Folk Art & Paperie would be a consideration. How does that sound or is it too long?

    I’m gearing up for the holiday season, so I’ll most likely make changes at the first of 2013. Stay tuned….

    Again, thank you Danielle, Oh My! Handmade Goodness and readers!

  5. Lana says:

    Karen, you mentioned something that’s been a concern for me: that I might lose part of my customer base. One thing I thought of was to keep the domain names of both businesses (if I choose to use a totally new one) and have them point to the new website for a year or so. I’d do this for all those that are searching for me using the old names. Also, I may keep both Etsy shops open with just a few items and have a note in each listing and in the announcement that I am merging into a new shop (with the link provided).
    I do have to do something soon. The Frontpage program I was using to maintain my websites bit the dust and I had to shut down those sites. I have to find someone to help me design another website and I think this will be the perfect time to transition into something new or merge the two.
    Thanks again!

  6. Marcy says:

    I like Honeysuckle Lane and that is your oldest name so it probably has the most recognition. You could make it longer by adding Folk Art. I use Backyard Patch but added Herbal Creations after some time because it spelled out what I did. Paper is a folk art so I am not sure you need that too, which would make the name rather long.

  7. Clare says:

    Great advice! Very clear and helpful. I personally love Honeysuckle Lane! I don’t think it’s necessary to make your name suggest what you do.
    Lana, I do think Honeysuckle Lane Folk Art and Paperie sounds a little long and clunky. Imagine trying to make labels and tags with all that on it! Perhaps if you kept it at Honeysuckle Lane, you could use Folk Art and Paperie as your Etsy subheading? Do you know the section I mean?

  8. Aimee says:

    These are such helpful tips. Thank you for addressing them.

    I agree that having more than one shop is difficult to maintain. I started my Etsy life with a handmade stained glass shop and then a year and a half ago I opened a Vintage shop. I’ve wondered about possibly merging them as it’s difficult to maintain and promote both but wonder if it makes sense from a branding point of view. What do people think about combination vintage/handmade shops?

  9. I’ve been thinking about splitting my shop into two, but after reading your advice, I probably won’t… I looked it over, and I realised that with a little tweaking of photography it could all fit better together, and what ties it in is that each piece is hand painted and one-off. Thank you!

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