When you think about wreaths, you often think holidays, pine and twigs. You don’t usually think yarn.
That is until you take a tour of Nancy Andrews’ Etsy store, The Baker’s Daughter, and see the lively wreaths that decorate her storefront. Some feature friendly white ghosts donning orange bowties, others feature birds wrapped in cozy red hats and white scarves, and still others have plush turkeys sporting bright red, brown and orange feathers. Andrews makes all of them.
“I love color, and using yarn and felt [for my wreaths] allows for an unlimited palette of colors and design possibilities,” she says.
The seller, who is the daughter of a baker—as her store name suggests—also has a second store, The Baker’s Daughter, Too. That store houses another love of hers, vintage products. However, it is currently closed to allow Andrews to focus on her wreaths.
Homemade gift sparks passion
Andrews has been making yarn wreaths for years. Her first one was a gift she made for her mother’s birthday. The green wreath featured pastel felt flowers and a “cheery” ladybug. She admits that there was a bit of trial and error involved in teaching herself how to make that wreath, but her mom loved the present.Andrews sometimes finds inspiration from fabrics that have great color combinations, other times from Neapolitan fudge
“She still has the wreath and displays it every spring,” she tells us.
Andrews enjoyed the process so much that she made a few more decorative pieces, and listed them on Etsy on a whim, having seen ads for the site in magazines.
“People bought them, and here I am today,” she says.
Most of Andrew’s wreaths are holiday themed, so her busiest months are August through March. During that time, she gets four or five more orders a day than during other parts of the year. April through July are usually quiet, so she uses that time to work ahead on new designs for her busy selling times, she reports.
The graphic designer finds inspiration for her wreaths from several places, she says. Sometimes it’s from fabrics that have great color combinations; other times it’s from Neapolitan fudge other Etsy sellers offer. Each wreath can take up to two hours to make, depending on the decorations and size, but they all turn out just as she pictures them in her head.
Crisp images make wreaths stand out
Andrews says she attracts buyers through her crisp, colorful images.
“Just by happenstance, all the doors in my house are painted white, so I have a nice clean backdrop to hang wreaths for taking photos,” she adds.
She reports that she continuously works to add new designs, pushing herself to see if she can “manipulate felt into different shapes and textures, like on my nautical wreaths and my abstract turkey wreath.”
Andrews has tried offering her items on a few other venues besides Etsy, but none of them had the buyer traffic that Etsy provides, she admits. However, she dreams of one day opening her own website.
Quality items, fast shipping keep buyers happy
In Andrews’ four years of selling, she has been able to maintain a 100-percent positive feedback score through good communication and having high-quality items.“Read everything you can in the forums and on Google. There isn’t a question you have that hasn’t been asked by someone else”
“Etsy automatically sends out an auto convo for every purchase, in which I thank the buyer for choosing to buy handmade,” she says. “After I receive the order, I like to send an additional note thanking the buyer personally for their order, and let them know when I’ll be shipping their item.”
She ships items via Priority Mail within two to three days of receiving orders, so buyers often have their wreaths within a week.
Andrews says the best thing about selling online is meeting people from around the world and knowing that the wreaths she’s created are decorating their homes. “Stop and think about it; one of my wreaths is hanging on a door or a wall in Australia, France and England! I always joke that I’d like to tuck myself into those boxes!” she adds.
The seller notes that the challenges of selling online aren’t much different than those that brick-and-mortar storeowners face.
“Selling is selling, no matter if it’s done online or in person,” she adds.
Education is the key to success
However, like with any business, to succeed in online sales, it’s important to educate yourself, Andrews continues.
“Read everything you can about taking good photos, writing good descriptions, SEO, etc., in the forums and on Google,” she advises. “There isn’t a question you have that hasn’t been asked by someone else.”
And when you ask a question yourself, take the time to thank those who stopped by to help you out, she notes. Sellers should also have the tools they need like a postal scale to help them calculate their shipping expenses before they list a product.
What’s her top piece of advice for new sellers?
“Don’t panic if you hit a dry spell!” she notes. “A lot of sellers don’t understand that there is a natural ebb and flow to retail sales, both online and in person.”
Instead, take advantage of the slower times to add inventory and experiment with new items that will keep your shop “fresh,” she adds.
Visit The Baker’s Daughter on Etsy.