Etsy Shop Owner Interview- Thana Fauteux of JitterBug Clothing and Retro Realty

This is the second interview in the Etsy Shop Owner Series. I know Thana personally and she’s a great friend of mine. She’s just a retro girl selling homes in Washington state with her business partner, Toki the tripawd Great Dane. When she’s not searching for someone’s dream home she’s crafting one-of-a-kind vintage outfits for kids, creating big style for tiny people.

Nannette: Tell me about yourself and your shop- how long have you been in business

Thana: My shop has been in business since 2013. I was having trouble finding clothing that I liked for myself, I have a thing for mid century fashion and I obviously wasn’t going to find much of it in stores, so I decided I was just going to make my own. As I was searching online for patterns I noticed so many of them were for kids. I did a quick Etsy search and found there were a lot of rockabilly style dresses for adults, but not a lot for kids. I really started the shop as an experiment/hobby, I was curious to find out if there was a market for vintage children’s clothing.

N: What E-commerce platform do you use?

T: Right now I only use Etsy and I do my marketing on Pinterest. I really love Pinterest, I think it’s a great tool that more people should be taking advantage of.

N: What was the thing that made you decide to start your business?

T: Honestly, I started it out of boredom and because I didn’t see my product being offered anywhere else. Generally, if you search for retro style clothing you will get a lot of rockabilly fashion, which is great! But I really wanted to go for a more authentic look, and I couldn’t find much of that.
I also love vintage picking, and I accumulate a lot of vintage items that I think I need at the time, but realize later that I don’t, so my shop has been a great way for me to pass my treasures on to others who appreciate them

N: Do you sell things in person as well? Craft fairs?

T: I have not yet sold things in person, but I have thought about it. Most of my clothing is made to order because it’s made from vintage fabric. I like to know I have a buyer before I cut into material I can’t replace, but craft fairs are something I want to get into in the future.

N: What was the biggest challenge you faced at the beginning?

T: My biggest challenge was probably a lack of confidence, thinking people were expecting more than I could give, so I would under price my items. I would also pander to people by taking ridiculous custom orders that should have cost hundreds of dollars, but since I was afraid of losing the sale I would give them a really low quote. During a really busy holiday season a customer asked me to make her 3 vintage nightshirts for her son out of flannel, but she wanted them lined in fleece. She also wanted pants to go with them, lined in the same way. I had to buy a lot of fabric for this order and since they were lined I was basically making 6 pairs of pajamas then sewing them together.

I also didn’t take into consideration the cost of shipping, since they were going to be rather heavy. I think I charged her $45 for each set, and in the end they cost me about $60 each to make, not including the time I spent on them. The shipping was about $30 more than I asked her for, but I was worried about upping the price and making her mad. Once the items had been delivered I sent her an email asking if she liked them, and requesting she leave me some feedback. She didn’t respond and I never got the feedback, and I think that felt worse than losing the money. If you don’t appreciate yourself and the work you do, no one else will either.

N: How did you deal with friends asking for discounts?

T: Poorly, lol! I would honestly just make them outfits for free, and I still do, but I keep it within reason. My gingerbread pajamas are usually a big seller around the holidays, so I will make free pairs for any new babies my friend’s may have had, but that’s about it.

N: If you had to start your shop over from scratch right now, knowing all that you know, what would you do differently?

T: I think I would plan my marketing strategy better, actually have a plan. In the beginning I relied solely on Etsy searches and it didn’t work out so well for me. My business has been slow to pick up and I know that’s why.

N: Lots of people think they shouldn’t sell their crafts because someone is already doing something similar- what do you have to say about that?

T: Never be discouraged by what other people are doing. Individual creativity can never be duplicated, the products you create are unique to you so no one can ever really be doing the same thing. If you’re still apprehensive about it try coming up with a way to make your product a little different from the rest. Look at other shops selling similar crafts and read the comments, look for anyone saying “I wish it were like this..” Or “Could you make it like that?” Write down all the suggestions and then implement them into your own design. Competition is a part of any lucrative business, don’t let it deter you.

N: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to turn their craft or hobby into a business? 

T: I think with a little planning, anyone can do it. We all have that voice in our head telling us “This will never work, you need to get a REAL job.” But honestly, how can it hurt you to try? Selling online is super affordable and you’re in charge so if you want to start with one item, you can do that.

Go at your own pace, learn from others, and never be afraid of failure because it’s simply a step towards success.

N: Where can we find your shop and do you have any cool promotions we should know about?

T: My shop can be found at HERE! I will have promotions posted in my shop info closer to the holidays.
Thank you all for reading! Do you want a chance to be interviewed here? Subscribe below and I’ll reach out to you soon!

 

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