So often we think that in order to make a living from your creative work, we have to make something extremely fancy and expensive.  However, Cathy of Catshy Crafts proves how wrong that idea is.  Her yarn-wrapped wreaths and handmade felt flowers are made from simple supplies and yet she’s made and photographed them so beautifully that they entice just about everyone to buy one.  You’re going to love this interview with her today because she shares some great advice on photography and marketing a niche brand.  Happy reading!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

Hello! My name is Cathy Pascual and I am the maker behind Catshy Crafts.

Using touchable and cozy materials of felt and yarn, I make heartfelt decor for the home including yarn-wrapped wreath with handmade felt flowers and embroidery hoop art with felt applique and hand embroidery. I gravitate towards colorful and happy designs with a few rain clouds thrown in for good measure.
I live in Bellevue, WA by way of Long Island, NY, Boston and Los Angeles. I have two daughters and an indie-video-game-developer husband. When I’m not working on my business, I love taking photos of my kids, thrifting and binging on Netflix (and Hulu).

What has been your most successful marketing strategy or trick?

My most successful marketing strategy has been to be active on Facebook and post in-progress and finished photos of my handmade items.

I find that it keeps my fans interested in my work and even gets a few sales! I love Facebook because you can gather people who love your work and get immediate feedback. But don’t just use Facebook to promote your work. Share a bit of your process, your home life, your struggles, your funny moments. Share other artist’s work you love. That way they get to know more of the artist behind the product and you make genuine connections with your fans.

You completely embrace the charm of handmade crafts. How did you find your niche when you first started your business?

Thank you so much! Before starting my business, I was an avid scrapbooker and photographer. I started as a paper scrapbooker and then discovered Photoshop and digital scrapbooking. I also love to make party decorations for my daughters’ birthdays. For a long time, I had wanted to start my own creative business, but didn’t know what to sell. It wasn’t until a good friend gave me a unique opportunity that I took the plunge. She curated art shows at the cupcake shop where she worked. She asked me to be a featured artist. She gave me carte blanche to fill the shop (a renovated IHOP building) with anything I wanted. I  made paper tissue flowers, garlands out of  felt and paper and embroidery hoop art. I even displayed some of my favorite scrapbook pages. After this public showing of my work and lots of positive feedback, I opened my online shop, putting many of the handmade items I made for the show in the shop. Based on what I sold, and what I enjoyed creating, I started to find my niche. I found that I loved working with soft materials like felt (and later yarn) because of their touchable quality and range of beautiful colors.

il_570xN.354234912_atcqEmbroidery Hoop Art

Do you have one big tip for other Etsy sellers hoping to be as successful as you one day?

I have so many tips for Etsy sellers it’s hard to narrow it down! You’ve probably heard this one before, but it bears repeating. Because Etsy is an online shopping experience, your photographs are so important. It’s what draws you in and gets you to click on an item. Take a class, read online about photography and then practice, practice, practice. For my own photographs, I always use natural light, place on an uncluttered background and get close. I take from lots of angles and choose the best. If you’re only taking one or two photos and settling for those, you’re not doing yourself any favors. If you are new to photography, practice on something (or someone) you really love. You’ll be motivated to capture your subject in the best possible light and there’s less pressure on you! For me, I love taking photographs of my family. I am a scrapbooker after all! For you, it might be your cat, landscapes or places you travel. Your photography can only improve the more you shoot.

The new year is coming up fast and that means new beginnings and big ideas. Do you have anything terribly exciting planned for 2014?

For 2014, I have so many plans! For example, I hope to introduce DIY kits of my wreaths and hoop art so that my crafty customers can make their own items and customize them to their hearts’ content! I am excited about designing the kits, especially the packaging. They would make great gifts too!

Be sure to check out Cathy’s shop for more photographic inspiration as well as to get an early start on your holiday shopping.