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Rock, Paper, Scissors Not a Hard Gamble Selling on Etsy

Sometimes a business can start with something as simple as a rock.

As a young girl, Sarah Sewell loved to collect different kinds of stones. Today, she has three children of her own and is still playing with rocks, thanks to her Etsy shop, The Papery Nook.

Two years ago, Sewell was planning a wedding and wanted to use natural, eco-friendly favors and décor, but she couldn’t find a shop that offered what she was looking for, she says.

“There are so many websites out there offering cheap plastic wedding favors and décor,” Sewell adds. “It’s hard to find a place that sells authentic, good quality, beautiful décor and favors that are unique and yet still affordable.”

It’s hard to find a place that sells authentic, good quality, beautiful décor and favors that are unique and yet still affordable

She decided to make for herself exactly what she wanted. Sewell collected enough stones to decorate each one of the guests’ names to use as place settings. They were such a hit that she thought it would be a good idea to offer her creations on Etsy for other people who want a natural, rustic touch for their weddings or other events.

It happened so naturally and beautifully, she says, that she knows it was truly meant to be.

Using nature’s own designs

So began The Papery Nook, where Sewell also sells personalized, earthy guest books, candles, party favors, flower girl baskets, ring bearer pillows and more.

“I would say we have a main theme of natural elegance with a kiss of rustic charm,” Sewell says of her items selling on Etsy.

She tries to incorporate that sense of elegance and rustic charm by using nature’s own designs. Flower girl baskets are made from grapevines, and ring bearer pillows are designed as a bird’s nest made from twigs and moss. Table settings include personalized candles and, of course, personalized stones.

“There’s something appealing about bringing the elements of nature into your table design,” Sewell says. “Not only does it add a comfortably rustic look, but it’s also a nice way to ‘green’ your décor.”

Flower girl baskets are made from grapevines, and ring bearer pillows are designed as a bird’s nest made from twigs and moss

When trying to decide how to name her shop, Sewell knew she wanted something that conveyed “warm and cozy.”

“I pictured if I had a storefront, my business would be in a little cottage on a cobblestone street with an old-style street lamp and a hanging sign, a little hidden, off-the-beaten-path shop where you could find unique and extraordinary baubles and décor,” she says.

The word “nook” came to mind, and so she called her virtual shop “The Papery Nook” to indicate her offerings of unique paper goods.

‘It doesn’t feel like work’

Six days out of the week, Sewell starts her day by having breakfast with the family. Then her fiance takes rein of the kids while she works in her studio.

Wedding season is by far the busiest time of year for the merchant selling on Etsy. She has to organize wedding deadline dates with her orders, making sure each personalized keepsake is ready in advance of each wedding.

It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding, Sewell says.

“I love what I do,” she adds. “I am passionate about creating and providing beautiful things for my brides and clients, so it doesn’t feel too much like work; more like, enjoying life.”

When her orders are packed and ready for shipment, Sewell’s fiance makes the trip to the post office so she can spend time with her children and get dinner started. She adds that while she is not a big fan of using USPS for shipping, it is the most affordable option for her clients.

Selling on Etsy has been very rewarding for Sewell because it affords her the opportunity not only to spend time with her family, but also spend time with the natural elements, one of her favorite pastimes since childhood. Plus, operating an online business has allowed her to reach a worldwide audience, as opposed to the limited clientele she would reach with a brick-and-mortar shop.

I am passionate about creating and providing beautiful things for my brides and clients, so it doesn’t feel too much like work; more like, enjoying life

“Being able to reach so many people all over the globe, at any given time, is the best thing about selling online,” she says. “Over 30 percent of my sales are to people in Australia, and I have sold items in almost every country.”

Selling on Etsy and beyond

As much as 95 percent of The Papery Nook’s shoppers come through searches on Etsy, thanks in part to its specialized sections for weddings and special events. A lot of customers also come through word-of-mouth.

More recently, Sewell opened The Papery Nook on her own website and uses search engine optimization, social networking, blogs and other, smaller marketplaces to expand her reach. Marketing is not completely foreign to her, as she has 20 years of retail and online marketing experience to draw from.

The Papery Nook stays busy year-round now, thanks to a growing need for unique special-event supplies. Sewell’s products have been part of every kind of event, from birthday parties and baby showers to bar mitzvahs, seminars, charity events and even memorial services.

With the holidays now upon us, The Papery Nook is offering its popular keepsake ornaments and stocking stuffers

With the holidays now upon us, The Papery Nook is offering its popular keepsake ornaments and stocking stuffers. Parents can also order personalized letters from Santa for their children, or purchase rustic-style favor bags and gift tags.

Perhaps all of Sewell’s designs are tinged with the innocence of her own childhood, of a little girl with a rock collection. She has always been drawn to the earth’s natural elements and wants to keep that warm innocence woven into our most special occasions. The Papery Nook is founded on something that was picked from the soil and personalized.

“That is how it all started, a rock with a name on it,” she says.

Visit The Papery Nook.


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About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Beautifully Written, Thanks So Much – Sarah (The Papery Nook)

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Quite a detailed insight into the art of natural, rustic authentic, good quality, beautiful décor and favors.



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