vintage

MadeFreshly + Handmade Success: Sweet Threads Interview

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As an online destination for new and vintage children’s clothing collections, Sweet Threads was born out of a love for hand-selected pieces. Getting their online start through Etsy, and now with a brick and mortar location (as well as a MadeFreshly shop!), this company is a unique, one-of-a-kind boutique business that has capitalized on social media and online marketing. With features in Apartment Therapy, Long Beach Business Journal, My Cakies and more, you’ll want to learn more about Sweet Threads below. Sweet Threads is a proud MadeFreshly shop, and one that we’re very excited to share.

Read more as Shella Garcia, an entrepreneur and MadeFreshly store owner, shares her story.

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Tell us about your business and the types of products you sell.

Sweet Threads is an online destination for NEW + VINTAGE Children’s collection of clothing, shoes and accessories. Vintage pieces and brands are carefully hand picked and curated with the idea of offering the market with unique kids fashions we would want to wear ourselves yet still playful.

WHERE WE GET OUR VINTAGE – Our vintage is carefully selected and hand picked from our obsessive thrift trips, estate sale hunting, and yard sale treasures. We are in it for the hunt and we love that we can share our gems with you! Each piece is hand washed or dry cleaned as best we can. Vintage means PreLoved and will have normal wear and slight imperfections which is expected and to be enjoyed.

Why did you start Sweet Threads and what is the story behind it?

Sweet threads was created from the ideas of two friends. While one friend had the idea of children’s fashions, while the other had a love for vintage, collaborated their ideas and developed a Vintage Children’s Fashion business.  As soon as we found our niche, we were obsessed with the idea. We later brought in the “NEW” designer brands as this is a reflection of how we dress. We like to mix it up. I may wear a vintage skirt, but my t shirt is store bought. We couldn’t wait to share our vision to the world.

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How do you get past fears and self doubt to share your awesomeness with the world?

By just doing it. I think it’s fear of not achieving my dreams that drives me and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever completely got rid of all my fears, but I just knew if I wanted to get from point A to point B there was no other way of getting there but by just doing it. So I had took that risk and decided to not look back. Just keep going forward.

What inspires you be an entrepreneur?

I’ve always been a creative person and thought I was good at being a creative but at the same time I had a lot of self doubt or fear of rejection. It was until I introduced our idea to social media that I started to realize I had something special. The positive responses from others sparked something in me. Knowing that our ideas were being enjoyed by other people than myself made me proud. So proud,  I knew I had to share it and the only way to nurture this idea was to become an entrepreneur.

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Where do you sell your products both online and offline?

We sell our products online at http://www.shopsweetthreads.com and offline at our brick + mortar shop in Long Beach, CA.

How do you manage a brick and mortar store, online store, and an Etsy store?

By having a brick + mortar, it allows me to work on the online store, Etsy and Ebay when there is downtime. I am also always on my phone which isn’t necessarily a good thing, but that’s the way I am able to give great customer service by responding in a very quick manner.

The way I manage inventory at the moment is when I list NEW + VINTAGE products on our main website and any vintage items posted that week will also list on Etsy and Ebay. Anytime a product sells in any of these 4 places, I immediately remove it.

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How did you make the transition from part time to full time?

At the time we were working demanding full-time jobs. So we started off small by opening up an Etsy store in December 2011 selling only vintage children’s fashions. About half a year selling there, we decided to continue online to gain an online presence and decided to open up our own official website in April 2012 selling NEW and VINTAGE Children’s fashions.

This was all around the same time when mobile boutiques were gaining momentum and thought it was a great opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with our customers and sell on weekends. Bought a VW bus and pimped out the vehicle with uber cute graphics and colors to resemble an ice cream truck. Took baby steps and decided the Rose Bowl Flea Market in September 2012 would be the best place to debut our new ride and business. It so happened that on our very first flea market experience, we met the customer who we knew could help us. They always say it’s who you know to break into an industry. We met one of the top baby bloggers, Ashley Jenner from http://www.thestorkandthebeanstalk.com. As corny as it sounds, life works in funny ways and I do believe we were destined to meet her that very day.

She wrote about us and featured our vintage children’s fashions on her blog. She was a real supporter from the beginning by using her creative outlet to let others have the opportunity to learn about our business. We continued selling monthly at the flea markets for almost a year before we decided to open a brick + mortar. By this time, we had gained a following on social media and when we found the spot in March 2013 we are in now, we decided it was time. We were ready to leave our day jobs to pursue our dreams. We officially opened our doors in July 2013.

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What made you decide to create your own online store?

We were selling vintage children’s fashions on Etsy and felt it was too competitive. When we decided we wanted to sell NEW Designer brands we felt it was the perfect opportunity to not only open our own online store but to also start gaining an online presence.

Share your experience with using MadeFreshly.

I really enjoy using MadeFreshly as they make it easy to create your own website by choosing pre-designed templates but still having the option to make design changes.

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What is your favorite feature of your MadeFreshly store?

The SEO Keyword feature helps us be found within Google.

What has been your biggest success with Sweet Threads?

The biggest success to date is that we opened up a brick and mortar store in Long Beach, CA. Opening up a brick and mortar gave us an opportunity to meet our customers and interact with them to explore our customers needs.

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What has been the biggest hurdle when you created your business?

Obtaining a following and letting people know that we’re out there. We knew there was a following for vintage children’s clothes but we weren’t sure how find them.

How did you overcome it?

The power of social media. Our favorite social media tool we love to utilize is Instagram. Instagram has helped our business tremendously as it helped us find our customers and obtain a following and maintain communication with our customers from all over the world.

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What do you love most about working on your business?

Best part is being able to bring happiness to our customers when they come into our store or see something on social media that triggers a memory. It’s very nostalgic for them to be able to bring happy childhood memories which is priceless to us. What also makes us happy is that we become friends with some of our customers based on their experience.

What success tips can you give to someone wanting to start their own online store with MadeFreshly?

Patience. It takes time to build anything and it can’t be done overnight.  The main thing that helped us out was creating that following to let people know who we are and where we can be found. Your biggest free resource is social media which is something anyone can build as long as you put passion into it.

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As with any business, Sweet Threads has had it’s share of successes and challenges. Learning patience, capitalizing on resources available and using online and offline business solutions has helped Sweet Threads become the success story that it is today. Are you interested in launching your online store, just like Sweet Threads? Creating your business with MadeFreshly is easy. Start by downloading our planner and get selling in as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Editor’s note: Thank you MadeFreshly for this fab interview and thank you Sweet Threads for being a part of our Shop Local Directory! Remember, if you decide to upgrade from the Starter Free Plan be sure to use the discount code “handmadesuccess” to receive 25% of your first 3 months!!!

Thrift Core’s Starter’s Guide to Selling Vintage, and More, on Etsy

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I began my Etsy adventure (shop here) December 2012 and have been addicted ever since! It’s become a big income source for me and I highly recommend it for vintage sellers, artists, and crafters alike. Looking to get started but don’t know where to begin? Here’s my quick Etsy starter’s guide and supply list:

1. Completed Line:

Before you start you need your art/crafts line or ample quantities of vintage cleaned, finished, organized, and ready to go.

2. Numbers Game:

Each item listed is like an ad pointing shoppers to your shop. The more items you have, the more sales you’ll have. If you’re selling vintage, make sure you have a big stock-pile to photograph before you start.

3. Camera and Patience:

You don’t need high tech equipment to take good photos, even a point-and-shoot will do. Just be sure to keep your camera completely still with a tripod and shoot in bright, natural light. Strive to take a best quality photos possible, I have a guide for merchandise photography here if you need help.

4. Etsy Resources:

Etsy has detailed starter’s guides and helpful videos for newbies. Watch and read it all before you begin, they’re a big help! Join their forums and really interact!

5. Packing Materials:

Have ample packing materials like boxes, bubble wrap, and bubble mailers ready to go before you start or you’ll run around like a frantic beheaded chicken once the orders start! You can order them or use this guide for ideas on getting materials for free!

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6. Marketing Plan:

A marketing plan is especially essential if you have a small line of handmade items, art, or vintage items to sell. There will be less avenues for buyers to see your work so it’s up to you to get eyes on your shop! Think of blogs you’d like to be featured on and devise pitches, try to buy advertising on Etsy or other websites.

7. Brick and Mortar:

It helps to think of your Etsy shop as a real brick and mortar store. Imagine the experience you want to create for your shoppers and reproduce it online with your banner, merchandise selection, photography, descriptions, packaging and customer service.

8. Names Matter:

Good SEO will get more eyes on your shop and items. Be very descriptive, really research your vintage items and include as much information as possible in the title and description of your items.

9. Highest Quality:

Strive to provide the highest quality in every aspect of your business, from merchandise, to photos to customer service. Etsy is a big marketplace and providing high quality will help you stand out and get repeat customers.

10. Stand Out:

Etsy is a very visual marketplace, standing out from the crowd and doing something different wil get you FAR and work as free PR! You’ll be featured in more treasuries and websites when you do something different. Incorporate your personality and humor, and have fun with it!

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Selling online and being successful isn’t easy. Gathering and/or making merchandise, cleaning and organizing, designing banners and packaging, shipping items, following up with customers, taking quality photos- it’s all very time consuming. But it’s worth it! Etsy is a user-friendly system with nice buyers and it’s definitely worth the fuss.

If you have any questions in particular, feel free to ask me in the comments or via Twitter! I’ll respond quickly 😉

Vanessa Alvarado — ThriftCore

Vanessa Alvarado is a freelance copywriter and webmarketer with a passion for art, creativity, and thrift. She writes about thrifting, creating, and saving money every weekday on her blog, Thrift Core. She’s plotting with artist friends to open a combination Cafe and Vintage Shop in Jacksonville, Florida. Robots, dinosaurs, and kitsch send her into a sublime vintage seizure of joy. (A vintage-gasm.)

Organization: Vintage-Style

As artists and creatives we work better when surrounded by unqiue items, we thrive off it! That’s why I love to use vintage finds to keep organized. Get creative with your vintage finds and get yourself together this year.

Here’s a few vintage examples from Etsy:

1. Industrial Cage Organizer via Nells Vintage House

2. Mod Gooseneck Lamp via A La Modern

3. Perpetual Desk Calendar via Swing Modern

4. Letter Holder via Love Butler Vintage

5. Vintage Porta-Files via Kitsch Café

6. Mod Designer “Wall All” via Swing Modern

7. Maroon Desk Organizer via Kitsch Café

8. Brass Snail Paperweight via Itch for Kitsch

9. Mod Plastic Supply Organizers via Pardon my Vintage

What do you use to get organized?

Vanessa Alvarado is a freelance copywriter and webmarketer with a passion for art, creativity, and thrift. She writes about thrifting, creating, and saving money every weekday on her blog, Thrift Core. She’s plotting with artist friends to open a combination Cafe and Vintage Shop in Jacksonville, Florida. Robots, dinosaurs, and kitsch send her into a sublime vintage seizure of joy. (A vintage-gasm.)

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