Today we are talking with Lily Dawn Bilsland of the Etsy shop Sailor Studio. Lily makes beautiful bohemian jewelry and also happens to be from my home state of Georgia! Her success selling on Etsy and at craft fairs has led to owning her own brick and mortar shop in downtown Monroe, GA. Lily's story is truly inspiring and we are thrilled to introduce you to her and to showcase her handmade jewelry today on the blog. We hope you enjoy!
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Lily Dawn Bilsland and I am an enamelist who makes colorful, bohemian bracelets and penny jewelry. I live in Monroe, Georgia with my husband, Goose, and our 5 sons.
Could you please describe how you got started making and selling your jewelry?
I grew up in a studio watching my mom enamel large copper plates, but I didn’t learn enameling myself until I was 24. I loved the process and started experimenting with jewelry designs and opened an Etsy shop. Soon after, I created the Boho Wrap silk bracelets and the business really took off!
How have you managed your jewelry business over time? For your Etsy listing photos, what are the most important qualities of your work that you want to capture in your photos?
For the first few years, my husband and I would spend many nights after the kids went to bed sitting in the living room assembling and packing orders. Now that we have opened a brick and mortar location along with Etsy, we have 3 part time employees that help with everything from photographing to assembling and shipping. Our jewelry is tricky to photograph because we use silk and enameled copper so there is a lot of reflection and the true colors are hard to capture. Natural light and playing with angles helps us get the most accurate shot.
What are some key things you've learned since starting your Etsy shop that might be helpful to new Etsy sellers?
When I first opened the shop, everything I made was one of a kind so I spent a lot of time taking photos and uploading every single item. After I realized certain designs were popular and I could recreate them using the same photos, it made things so much easier! All I had to do was renew the bracelets instead of creating a new listing every time. I still make one of a kind pieces but the majority of our Etsy listings can be renewed with the same photos.
What are some different ways that you promote your Etsy shop? Are there certain marketing/social media strategies you've tried that have worked better than others for your shop?
Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are all helpful for driving traffic to our shop. Using Facebook’s “promoted posts” has worked well and is affordable for small businesses. We realized recently that we get a lot of traffic from Pinterest so we are hoping to use that platform more in the future! We get a ton of traffic during craft show season when we are meeting customers face to face. Always make sure to have plenty of business cards to pass out and make sure your Etsy shop is stocked and ready for customers.
What is the most difficult thing and the most rewarding thing about selling your handmade items online?
I love reading the reviews on our Etsy page. It’s very rewarding when customers take the time to let us know that they love their handmade purchases! Although copycats are definitely a problem online, it motivates me to come up with new ways to make my jewelry stand out.
Do you have any specific shop goals for this year?
We have several new designs that have been selling well in our brick and mortar store, I am hoping to get them photographed and listed soon!