Becky Kennedy is the seamstress behind Becky, Queen of Frocks, running an Etsy shop alongside full-time Ph.D. She is based in Nottingham but she makes women’s fashion to send all over the world, drawing her inspiration from classic vintage silhouettes and the modern prints she finds in fabric shops wherever she travels. Becky fuses the old and the new to create unique items of clothing from her own designs or from vintage patterns she’s adapted to ensure the perfect fit for the modern woman.
Becky is a mentor for Etsy Resolution, Etsy’s free four-week community-led programme created to help makers and designers gain support and skills from top-selling Etsy mentors. Etsy Resolution is a step by step guide to opening an Etsy shop, aiming to give makers all the tools they need to start a thriving creative business on Etsy.
Setting up my Etsy shop and becoming an Etsy Resolution mentor
I love sewing. I really do! But I only have one body, so it became unreasonable to make as many frocks as I fancied and keep them all, so I decided to start selling some! I was living in Brighton when I started selling through Etsy – there’s a really active community of sellers there, so there was loads of support which helped me hit the ground running.
That’s one of the things I love about Etsy – you have the scope to reach an international market because the site is so well-known, but local teams give it a personal, friendly feel. That’s why I’m proud to be a mentor for Etsy Resolution; online selling can seem really daunting at first, but it needn’t be scary when you have a support network of people who know exactly how you feel!
Running my business alongside a full-time Ph.D.
Time management is a constant battle – I think anyone who tells you otherwise might be fibbing! I love my Ph.D., but I also love dressmaking, so making sure I devote enough time to each is really important. Luckily my time is quite flexible so I can, for example, pop into the Post Office on the way to the office and just work a bit later that evening instead.
I do sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by it all though; I love being busy and I’m liable to bite off more than I can chew, so I try to make sure I get enough down-time. I used to call this ‘Netflix and chill’, but I’ve recently been informed that this does NOT mean eating pizza while watching Parks and Rec, so I must stop saying that…
Getting involved with Etsy Resolution
Etsy Resolution is a free four-week programme aimed at people who want to launch their creative business online in 2016. I’ve been selling on Etsy for nearly three years now and I’m the Captain of the Nottingham Etsy Team, so I know how daunting it can be to start an online business. I’ve also probably made every possible mistake along the way (I’m a big believer in trial and error), so there’s no question too silly as far as I’m concerned!
You’ll find me hanging out in the Etsy Resolution Facebook forum every day where I answer questions from brand new sellers and cheer people on as they set up their shops. I’ll also be helping to walk members through the weekly lessons by breaking each step into more manageable chunks.
Key tips for success with an Etsy shop
- Be patient but pro-active: There can be a natural ebb and flow to online sales, so use quieter times to work on your shop, be it taking fresh new photos or revisiting your tags and titles.
- Think about your target market: It might not always be obvious who your main customer base is; I sell women’s clothes but around Christmas I actually make most of my sales to men who are buying for a loved one so I make sure I keep this in mind when I’m naming and describing my items.
- Find a support network: Be it Etsy Resolution, the Etsy Forums, or your local Etsy team, there’s a community out there that’ll be able to support you and help you grow your shop – and remember that everyone has different talents, so you might be able to help another seller with your particular area of expertise!
The importance of social media and becoming part of a broader community of sellers
Social media is really important to my brand because it allows me to interact directly with customers and show people the creative process behind my shop. I think people are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of buying directly from craftspeople, and it’s lovely to interact with like-minded people from across the globe.
Having said this, it’s very easy to lose sight of real life and feel a little inferior when you see how glamorous other peoples’ Instagram feeds are so I like to throw in some shots of me cleaning out the fridge, or buying porridge oats in bulk from time to time. Keeping it real, right?
How Womanthology readers can get involved with the programme
Just head to Etsy Resolution where you can sign up to the programme and receive each lesson via email. You’ll also be able to join the Facebook group, which is where you can get advice and support from me, the other mentors, and other new sellers. And if in doubt, just drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram (@BeckyQoF on both) – I’m really friendly, I promise!
Coming up next for me and Etsy
I have lots of new designs in the works – I like to wear each item myself for a few weeks before I roll it out into the shop to make sure it’s hard-wearing and comfortable. At the moment the new products are all top secret, but watch this space!
Find out more about Etsy Resolution here.