Thursday, December 8, 2011

Interview: Dandyrions

With Christamas approaching, I've been spending more time than usual on Etsy and I've been discovering some really wonderful shops. One of them is Dandyrions; I hope you'll enjoy getting to know its owner, Lisa.

Introduce yourself: tell us something about where you live, your origins, hobbies, etc. 
My name is Lisa Higuchi and I run a small shop on Etsy called "Dandyrions". I currently reside in Orange County, California and I am 28 years old. I've always been sewing, drawing or making things with my hands. I would go shopping with my mother and see something that I really liked but couldn't afford so I'd go home and try to replicate it. Needless to say, I've always had a love of every kind of art and have realized after holding a 9-5 job for a few years, that I would be happiest pursing a career in fashion design.

How did you start your shop, Dandyrions ?
I started Dandyrions when a good friend introduced me to the Etsy site and at that time, it was just a hobby of mine to make dresses for myself.  When I first started, I was discouraged to see that I wasn't getting any sales for a few months, but once I learned more about the site and how to get exposure, my sales slowly increased, as did my product line.
"Dandyrions" is a derived word from the flower (or weed) name, 'Dandelion'. I chose this name because my mom used to always refer to herself as a dandelion: they aren't the prettiest flower but they are the ones that always thrive. She's originally from Japan so with her slight accent, she phonetically pronounces it, "dandyrions" . I personally think she is the prettiest flower though (you reading this, mom?!).

Do you have formal training (art, design, sewing, etc.)?
I have no formal training or degrees in any areas of art, except if you count high school extra- curricular classes. So other than that, I'm self-taught and have learned through my many, many mistakes. This may sound crazy, but I've also learned a lot from the reality TV series called Project Runway. They would show clips of how the designers draft patterns by draping muslin over their dress forms and after I saw this, I went out and bought a bolt of muslin and realized I could do the same and create my own patterns! Now I can actually comfortably wear the dresses I make and would eventually like to start selling them.

What are your main sources of inspiration?
What I look to for inspiration is mainly people around me. I'm constantly amazed at how people wear their clothes and what possessed them to match those items of clothing together. Seeing some individuals not care about how others perceive them is especially the best inspiration because encourages you to also free yourself from judgment and allows you to explore your own ideas.

What are the main satisfactions you get from your shop?
The mere fact that someone out there is willing to purchase something that I made is incredible! Running this small online shop has been such a fulfilling endeavor and has really made me realize that this is one of the things that makes me the happiest. Recently a good friend of mine went on vacation to Chicago and randomly ran into a girl who was wearing my fox shirt. My friend secretly took a picture of her and sent it to me and I just instantly cried, of out joy!

How and where do you advertise your business?
I don't do much advertising, but I realized in order to grow, you must do so. I do get some exposure through independent blogs, (such as this lovely one) and mainly by constantly posting new items in the etsy shop. Etsy itself has grown so widely, even internationally so having a shop there means a chance at getting some of their traffic. I have been told that online social networking, like Facebook, is something every business should engage in, but otherwise everything is done by word of mouth or through larger sites like Etsy.
Do you have any advice for who wants to sell or already sells online?
It's easy to expect something to happen but there's a lot of work and patience that goes into initially selling items online. If no sells are coming through, it's not necessarily because people don't like your items but that the right people are not finding your items. So really, it is the exposure that permits sales. I can go one week without any sales and then the next week, have 20 because my item was featured on the main page of Etsy so it's very fickle and very much dependent on exposure. Also, I can be very shy so it's been difficult to get the courage to pass out business cards or to even wear my own items and be my own walking billboard. Ultimately though, the best representative of your business is you, so don't be afraid (I have to say this to myself everyday!).