What you are actually selling may surprise you

Editor’s note: A big welcome to the oh-so-lovely and biz smart Jenna Herbut of Make It! University  & Make It! Productions to our team of OMHG contributors. I was lucky to meet Jenna in June at our Etsy Educator training and am thrilled she is sharing her awesome with us!

Live with Passion print by Sweet Harvey

Image credit: Live with Passion print by Sweet Harvey 

It may sound weird to think that selling goes way beyond the product itself. I mean isn’t someone buying something because of how it looks, feels and functions? As I learned first hand that there is whole lot more going on when a customer pulls out her wallet.

My greatest lesson on selling psychology came from my first business, Booty Beltz. In 2002 I was required to write a marketing plan for a university class, and when the idea to design and manufacture fabric sash belts popped into my head I knew it was it! I became so fervent with my hypothetical belt empire that I started sewing prototypes in my parent’s basement after submitting my assignment. I also decided to forget looking for ‘real jobs’ post graduation and focus all my time and energy on growing Booty Beltz.

Jumping forward a few years (and making a long story much shorter), my whole world became my business and it was all I wanted to do. To say I was obsessed with Booty Beltz would have been a huge understatement! It was all I could think about and I could barely sleep I was so excited. At the highest point I was selling in over 120 stores across Canada, USA and Japan and grossing over six figures. I was only 24 years old but felt like there was nothing standing in my way. It all felt amazing until a strange thing happened.

Over the span of a year or so the intense love for my product and brand started to fade slowly. Now don’t get me wrong, I still thought the belts were cool and would wear them from time to time but being known as the “booty girl” was starting to get old. And guess what happened to my sales? Sad but true, store buyers called less and less frequently and I struggled to sell all the stock sitting in my basement. At the time it was devastating, but looking back it taught me one of the most valuable business lessons possible.

Passion cannot be faked. You have to love and believe in what you are selling with every fiber of your heart because if you don’t, others won’t. I was able to have such quick success with Booty Beltz because my excitement radiated from them. It was woven in the fabric, the branding, my website and everything that surrounded my business. Those belts were extensions of my heart and people could feel it. I know this might sound strange; I mean how could an inanimate object produce this type of reaction? That’s like asking, ‘how does electricity work?’ I am not sure but it does and I use it everyday.

Another surprising fact, there was nothing that revolutionary about my Booty Beltz. In fact the first ones were a bit dodgy because I am not a very good sewer and used a glue gun more than I should of. Looking back, I am still amazed so many high-end boutiques even bought them. This goes back to my point; it is not what you sell that has the most impact on success. Not to say you can sell complete crap as long as you are passionate about it…but then again how could you authentically be passionate about crap?!

My current business is organizing Make It, which is one of the largest craft sales in Canada with biannual shows in Vancouver and Edmonton. I am surrounded by hundreds of incredible artists and designers from all over the country, and this same phenomenon repeats itself over and over again at every event. Although having great product and booth set up is important, what really sells product is passion and love. I can usually walk around the show and quickly tell who is killing it just from their energy. They have a huge smile on their face, they are chatting up customers and look like they are having the time of their life! It becomes so much less of what they are selling and much more about the experience they are giving. There is a magnetic energy given off and it is impossible not to feel it.

My best advice is to only sell what you absolutely love and let that feeling pour out of you. Customers and buyers will be attracted to you like moths to a flame and everything else will fall into place. I know it sounds simple, but then again so is turning on a light.

Are you passionate about your business and product? Have you fallen out of love with it or into love with a new idea? Share below in the comments, we would love to hear your stories! 


  1. Sarah says:

    Great post! I hope I appear as passionate as I am about my product! I love it & it’s all I can think about, but I can be shy in person, so I must remember to show everyone my excitement!

  2. Jenn says:

    This is great to hear! Passion is something I have in abundance.. At the shows, it is so amazing to make those connections with people. I admit to having to fight my introverted nature at times, but this is timely advice to focus on the purpose and just let it flow!!

  3. Gail Sweeny- Greensheep Fibres says:

    I love making my product, selling my product and love to know where it is going, who will wear or display it . I have found that the reason people buy my work is as much the story behind it as the product itself.People love to know how you started, where you learned, where your ideas come from,( that’s sometimes hard to answer ) and truly love to see you enjoy your work !!!!

  4. ap says:

    it makes a BIG difference b/c i think i have ADD and get bored very easily and even tho i know you need sticktoitiveness if you dont have the passion for your products or they are because you think you OUGHT to sell it or its something that demographics reports say will make money you will utimately fail because deep in your heart you always go back to what you WANT not what you must, even both are important at times.

    i LOVE clutches and unique fabric designs, i do, i know people love jewerly and they say theirs a million bag companies its what i do, and even when i sold shoddy bags i was trying out the other day i LOVE the product and people did look, so i think that is a testiment to what you said. sometimes its the heart in the thing and not necessarily the thing. But if you DONT have the thing (quality etc) it still cant work. the key is to have both. if this advice was followed by politicians id think wed all have a better life indeed. Think why you want this job before you take it.

  5. Andreea says:

    What a great article, Jenna! I totally agree with you and such a great reminder. Over the last year I’ve been reevaluating what I’m selling and only kept the products that got me super excited and my sales increased!

  6. Rebecca says:

    Passion is sooo important Jenna, so thanks for this article! I, also, think it’s important to realize that your passion for one thing may wane and to create a business that’s open enough that it can grow with you. I think that’s how creative businesses will really succeed in the long run.
    Great post!

  7. Geri says:

    Welcome, Jenna! What a passionate post to introduce us to you 😉 You are absolutely right about not faking passion; it’s heartfelt, can’t be politicked and the universe knows it… well done!

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