CT women making a name for themselves on Etsy - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT women making a name for themselves on Etsy

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CT women make their living on Etsy CT women make their living on Etsy

Many women share the common bond of a popular shopping website called ‘Etsy.'

There are many, however, who are making their living by selling their goods on the site.

Many items found on the site are homemade, along with vintage items.

Three women, Tina Kish, Susan Ashelford, and Jennifer Knapp share the common bond of being vendors.

Kish sells distressed ski signs, of all themes. She has a lot of designs to choose from, and custom orders are welcome.

“Magazine racks, tissue boxes, tags is a big thing,” are how she describes some of her inventory sold through her Etsy shop, “The Unpolished Barn.”

Ashelford's store is called the “Starfish Enterprises,” which is a name that hints at the fact that her products are noticeably nautical.

She has coat racks made with boat cleats, “beachy” signs adorned with fish finessed from fence tops, and her signature starfish.

She said she is proud to say that most of her products are repurposed and made from the wood that sometimes shows up in her backyard, which is near a marsh in Milford, just feet from Long Island Sound.

She said the idea for her products came to her in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

"I stumbled on Etsy unintentionally. After Hurricane Sandy, there was a lot of storm debris in my yard, so there was fencing strewn everywhere,” she said.

She added that she looked at the debris and thought “gosh, there's got to be something I can do with this instead of just adding it to a landfill."

She said that light bulb moment launched her into this part-time labor of love.

Knapp launched her Nutmeg Naturals line of homemade soap products, like felted wool soaps, before she had a baby.

Since the birth of little Emma, she has expanded her line and sells wool laundry balls, a substitute for fabric softeners.

She also sells non-chemical window cleaners and laundry detergents in a series of fresh fragrances, including patchouli which is a favorite among her customers.

"They're die-hards about it, and I know that they come to my shop because they love the product,” Knapp said.

The part-time position that she held prior to Emma's arrival is no longer necessary, she said.

Her Etsy business is booming and she said her income is better than before.

"The great thing about Etsy for me is that I can be a stay-at-home mom and I can still bring in money as well,” Knapp said.

She is able to work around Emma's schedule, and sneak in a sale here and there.

“Having an online shop, I can do my business at 10 p.m. at night or six in the morning when she's asleep and can still provide really good customer service,” Knapp said.

She said she has always been crafty and while she did take soap-making classes, she learned how to make the rest of the items on her own.

The same is true for Kish, who decided to spruce up her house with some homemade signs, while trying to find a job during a divorce.

She ended up basement-bound, covered in sawdust, teaching herself about the art of sanding.

She then found Etsy and her business took off.

"The orders kept coming in and I couldn't get a job. Nobody would give me a chance. So I just kept making more signs,” she said, adding that she focused on rustic and outdoorsy themes “because that's what I like, that's where I want to be.”

She said customers started to enjoy what she had because “they've never seen anything like it.”

Now, she is able to make a good living from this business, and said she makes three times as much as she was making when she had a full-time job.

All three women, who ship their made-in-Connecticut products everywhere, all said it is not about the money.

"It's nice to imagine my pieces out in the world somewhere,” Ashelford said.

“Sometimes I can't believe I make money doing this. I love doing it so much,” Knapp said.

"At the end of the day, you know, it's not about the ringing of the cash register. It's saying ' you know, I'm proud of myself. I made somebody happy today."

To check out The Unpolished Barn on Etsy, click here.

You can find Nutmeg Naturals by clicking here.

For more on Starfish Enterprises, click here.

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