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A Technology Cover Up

Selling on Etsy, seamstress sews up handmade smart cover niche.

Cathy Moore has been sewing since she was 10, when her mother taught her how. Her grandmothers showed her how to knit and crochet, and eventually she stitched together her own clothes.

“I loved having unique clothes, in unique fabrics,” says Moore, who began been selling on Etsy in 2007 as Fernfiddlehead. She admits that her affinity for the craft was partly born of necessity—her short stature made it hard to find clothes that fit well.

“I was able to get things to fit me better if I made them myself,” she tells us.

Today, Moore uses her needleworking skills to make “smart cases for smart devices,” as her shop’s tagline states. How did she go from outfitting herself to outfitting electronic gadgets? It started with a need she saw at home.

‘A DIYer’s heaven’

Moore’s story of selling on Etsy began when she showed a friend a few skirts she had created. The friend told her she should sell the skirts on Etsy, Moore recalls. At that time, the seamstress had not heard of Etsy. But after browsing around the artisan marketplace, she “thought it was the coolest place on earth,” full of fellow crafters like her.

It was a “DIYer’s heaven at the time,” she notes.

“I was trying to think of cool things to make and thought my iPod needed a cover”

Moore opened her Etsy store in January 2007. Though she decided to sell the skirts she showed her friend at a local craft fair, instead of on Etsy, she did list a few other items she had made, including bags, hats and iPod covers.

What was the inspiration for the iPod covers? “I was trying to think of cool things to make and thought my iPod needed a cover,” she responds.

That was her first venture into covers for smart devices. A year later, her daughter bought a MacBook, and that sparked a permanent change in inventory, as the MacBook also needed a cover.

“At that time, I perfected my MacBook Envelope pattern, which quickly became a bestseller,” she says. “Since then, I’ve expanded the line to other styles because it’s what my customers want.”

Fernfiddlehead is now full of covers for laptops, iPads, e-readers, smartphones and other devices. When Moore creates these, she thinks of her customers and tries to give them the styles and features they want. For instance, as a designer, she’s not fond of Velcro, but when customers asked for it, she incorporated it into her designs.

Crafting quality covers

Moore’s covers come in a range of colorful fabrics. Some are solid gray, others feature teal and green guitars, others colorful apples on a yellow-green backdrop, and still others have vibrant floral designs.

All of them evoke a sense of happiness with their charm. But the designs aren’t just pretty. They’re well made, too. The seller says she fusses over technique.

“I take the extra time to make things line up, and to look good,” she continues. “I believe the word ‘craft’ implies good quality, or at least it should.”

Creating a design can be a lengthy process, Moore admits. Her Rugged iPad Case, which features outer pockets and a padded sleeve, took months to perfect in her mind.

“There are a lot of beautiful cases on Etsy,” she explains. “But most of them are all the same when you really look at the design elements, so I thought long and hard about design, and what I wanted the case to offer: pockets, easy access, durability and a unisex design.”

Then she had to find the right fabrics. But once she perfects a design, creating a prototype and pattern is a quick process.

“I’m fast at the sewing machine,” she adds.

“The whole online experience has been my biggest hurdle in selling. The crafting part is easy”

Settling into online selling

Selling on Etsy has been a learning process. Moore never thought she’d be in online sales and have to learn about search engine optimization, marketing, listing best practices, site design and more. It’s been that technical side of her business she’s struggled with most.

“I am not a spring chicken,” she continues. “The whole online experience has been my biggest hurdle in selling. The crafting part is easy.”

That seems natural for someone who has been sewing since a young age and has a bachelor’s degree in textiles. However, that’s not to say that Moore only devoted herself to crafting. She also has a bachelor’s and a master’s in nursing, and worked “a bunch of different jobs” related to her fields of study throughout her professional career, she adds.

Moore loves focusing on her store now, working from a small room on the top floor of her brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. Most of her items she sells out of her Etsy shop, but from time to time, brick-and-mortar boutiques ask if they can carry her covers as well.

It seems shoppers can’t get enough of her designs.

Her dedication and quick response to customers’ questions have helped her maintain a 100-percent feedback rating. In fact, if you take a look at customers comments, you’ll only see comments like, “I love, Cathy! She is so responsive, and her fabrics and handiwork are outstanding.”

One buyer notes that she liked the iPad case she bought from Moore so much that she got one for her and one for her mom. “We both love it,” the buyer says.

Moore’s advice to others who are considering selling on Etsy: “Don’t take things personally. Keep plodding along, and work on your photography skills, as pictures are the things that sell your product.”

Visit Fernfiddlehead, on Etsy.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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