Artist Corinne McHie needed a creative outlet and a business she could work on during naptime.
The mother of two had to put her children first, she explains. Selling on Etsy allowed her to do just that, while also fulfilling her artistic nature. Her shop, SeptemberHouse, is filled with fun and modern embroidery patterns, and products that put a modern twist on an old-time hobby.
“Having the option of starting out so very small, and letting my business grow as my children did, was perfect for me,” she continues.
McHie opened her store in October 2008, a time when the old tradition of embroidery was making a comeback. McHie had recently rediscovered her love for the craft, one that her mother taught her as a child. But she, like other needle workers of today, didn’t want to stitch the same designs mothers and grandmothers had sewn years before. She wanted something new.
“I loved the idea of taking on this challenge, and had been so inspired by people like Jenny Hart and Aimee Ray. They both have a way of putting a modern twist on a traditional craft, and I was excited to be a part of that,” McHie notes.
‘An amazing feeling’“Using different stitches, colors and fabrics can completely change the look of a design”
McHie loves seeing embroidery designs transform as they’re stitched on to fabrics and the creative options cross-stitching offers.
“Using different stitches, colors and fabrics can completely change the look of a design,” she explains.
McHie makes all of the embroidery patterns in her store, drawing on her graphic design and illustration skills. Her inspiration comes from nature, vintage graphics and motifs from around the world. The designs have caught the eye of many shoppers, and a few magazine editors, too.
Magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping and Simply Homemade have featured McHie’s patterns. Good Housekeeping was the first publication to come calling. Its staff was looking for crafters to create updated versions of projects published in the magazine over the past 50 years, she tells us.
“I was asked to design an updated version of an embellished blanket. Without a doubt, I was very excited and did not hesitate for a second about participating!” she reports. Being featured was an “amazing feeling.”
“Working from home can be a little isolating, and without daily feedback it can be hard to tell if you are heading in the right direction,” McHie continues. “Being featured in print or online always gives a boost of reassurance and inspiration to create more.”
Welcoming stitch work
The seller named her store SeptemberHouse, wanting a comforting name that conjured up good feelings among shoppers. Including the word “house” or “home” would help achieve that, McHie thought.
“I added September because, to me, it seems like a perfect month,” she adds. “September is a month of change and renewal. For many people, I think it’s a month that brings both comfort and anticipation. I’m really happy with the name ‘SeptemberHouse,’ and I think it has been a good fit for this business.”
Holiday sales are already booming in SeptemberHouse. The seller tells us this is the only time of the year when she offers her hand-embroidered ornaments, which are very popular. That and the fact that many shoppers are scouring for ideas and products for making handmade Christmas gifts is giving SeptemberHouse a sales boost.
To give shoppers what they want, McHie takes clear, detailed photos. She’s also quick to answer customers’ questions.
“I try to always put myself in my customers’ shoes and think not just of what I would expect, but what would go beyond my expectations,” she notes. “Good customer service and enthusiasm for your work come naturally when you are doing something you love to do.”
She says being an Etsy buyer, as well selling on Etsy, has shaped her customer service approach.
“I have made purchases from shops that have amazed me with their great customer service,” McHie reports. “That can be very inspiring. Once you have that great experience, you know you want others to feel that same way about shopping with you.”
A dream come true“What worked a year ago might not work anymore, and you have to always be thinking about creative ways to promote your work and run your business”
McHie, who describes herself as a shy person, this year took the step of opening her own Web store, also called SeptemberHouse. That’s been her “biggest challenge,” but she improves the online store every day by learning more about search engine optimization and social media marketing to draw in buyers. She joined an SEO team on Etsy and regularly visits her local library to keep up on e-commerce trends.
The seller also uses her blog, So September, to spread the word about her business. In the blog, McHie tells readers what’s going on in her life and about the challenges and victories she’s had on selling on Etsy and on her own Web store.
“When I first began, it felt like I was just talking to myself online. Over time, though, as relationships with readers grow, it takes on more of a water cooler feel, and I love that,” she explains. “For people who work from home, that can be really valuable.”
She tells us that most creative people say they have always been driven to create, and she is no different.
“What you actually do with that is sometimes a real dilemma for artists and craftspeople,” she says. “The great news is that so many more possibilities are out there now thanks to the Internet and e-commerce. Those possibilities are changing the lives of many artists, and, for me, it has been a dream come true.”
Others who want to become online sellers can also have their dreams come true by selling what they love, McHie says.
“You are going to need that passion for your product to keep you going,” she explains. She also suggests sellers be patient when they start off, and be ready for change as their business evolves.
“It takes time to get your name and your products out there in the public eye,” McHie continues. “One thing I wish I had known from the beginning would be to always expect and be prepared for changes. It would have been great if there was one sure-fire method to promote my business, something I could master and then use over and over again. But, the truth is, there isn’t. What worked a year ago might not work anymore, and you have to always be thinking about creative ways to promote your work and run your business.”
Visit SeptemberHouse on Etsy.