One of the things that Etsy HQ really drives home is to make your shop personal, to always tell your story; whether that be in your designs, in your profile or in your packaging materials. Of all the things I've learned on Etsy, this is probably the piece of advice I've most taken to heart. See one of the things I love best about vintage, what really drew me to wanting to be a purveyor of vintage jewelry and clothing, was the story. Each piece of vintage has a history, it has a past and I like seeking it out and discovering something about each item I sell. Every time I get a new piece I research the maker, the style, where it was made and I try to pass that little piece of history along to the next owner of the piece.
When I really started selling items on a regular basis, a few months into my Etsy experience, I came to the conclusion that I wanted each of my buyers to feel the personal touch of my shop, to know that I'm a real person who sought out their new prize, saved it, cleaned it and made it ready for them. To do this I designed a thank you notecard to be mailed with each of my orders. On the back of that notecard I tell my personal story, how and why I started collecting and then selling vintage.
Here's what my notecards say:
Vintage Baubles & Bits started from a hobby that has slowly grown into a business. I grew up in rural Ohio in a very poor community and my family always struggled to make ends meet. When I was a teenager, my grandfather gave me a collection of Fenton glassware slippers that he had been amassing for years because every time I visited the colors and designs amazed me. For those of you who know the Fenton brand, you'll know that the slippers were the least expensive pieces that were made; but for us, it was collecting something nice, worth treasuring. Since I received the collection I've been adding to it, which started my love of visiting thrift stores, antique malls and resale shops.
While perusing these shops I found more things I liked and never knew existed! My personal collections, which include West Virginia Glass Co. Blendo sets and vintage and antique purses, in addition to the Fenton slippers, started to grow. I realized how happy I was when I found these treasures and the wonder that came over me when I researched more about pieces that intrigued me. It was this wonder that lead me to wanting to provide this same feeling for others.
Thus, the birth of Vintage Baubles & Bits, a business focused on bringing all the pretty, girlie, beautiful things of the past a new life.
During my reflection on the past year and due to some recent family news I also realize something else. You see, I've been sharing this personal story for nearly a year now with complete strangers, letting them know my history and see my passion, but I hadn't shared this story with the very person who inspired it, my grandpa.
I'm a very lucky girl, with a very large and blended family. I've had the privilege of knowing eight of my great-grandparents and 10 grandparents. While some of these fabulous people may not be my actual blood, they all helped raise me, they all care for me and they all have inspired me.
My grandpa that I mention in my personal story was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. I only have a few months left to let him know what he means to me and in all the craziness of having a day job and a small business I had forgotten to let him know how he inspired me. My grandpa is a quiet man, he's always been a bit reserved. In my childhood I was used to seeing him pop in for a half hour or an hour on our birthdays and holidays, but we never spent a lot of one-on-one time together. The story I share on my notecard is about the one night I remember sleeping over at his house, just me, none of my other siblings, and that one night was enough to spark a passion that I've had for over 15 years now.
If I do nothing else from my reflection on how a year on Etsy has impacted me, it will be to let my grandpa know what that single event meant to me and how I will continue to share his inspiration, my story, with everyone who shops with me.