Podcast: A Top Etsy Seller Downsizes, with Ryan McAbery

02 Aug 2009


A set of Ryan's new photo blocks

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In this show:

- And interview with Ryan McAbery , who was a top seller on Etsy, and then decided to walk away from it.

- Learn what drove Ryan to leave her business behind, and what's bringing her fresh inspiration now.

- Gain some perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of having a very busy handmade business.

Links:

- Visit Ryan's new Etsy shop, and see her photography blocks and pendants.

- In Ryan's blog, All Things Littleput, she shares new designs, snippets of her now-balanced life, and some musings on starting over in business.

- Check out Ryan's current home - Portland Saturday Market.

- This "Quit Your Day-Job" article on The Storque about Ryan's top-seller business was published in September 2007.

Comments

This was a great interview, thank you. I often struggle with the what-ifs of pushing my business to the next level, and come back to what Ryan discovered--being a top seller means making huge sacrifices, and maybe it's not the best goal for every maker/artist. Thanks so much for this, great food for thought. Thanks to Ryan for being so forthcoming about her experience!


This is a really cool episode. I will always think of Ryan fondly as one of the first sellers I ever purchased from and someone I admire so much for allowing us the tutorial to her scrabble tile pendants. I have gifted several of her little accordion journals, which I am now going to have to figure out how to make myself (!?), and a couple of her pendants, and I admire her willingness to be humble and accept when she's only one woman.

She sent me some washi papers that I am rationing out like gold! Buying more just doesn't seem genuine!!

oh, I must go now, because I'm getting emotional.

Chris

p.s. Can I have Ryan's number?


Fantastic interview! Thank you so much for following up with Ryan. It really made a lot of sense, and I think that you both touched on some very important, often not-talked about aspects of working for yourself and living by your own creativity.

Loved it, thanks!


Great interview! I have always been a big fan of Ryans. I don't have her sales numbers but I can really relate to her comments.

Etsy can consume your life- I have struggled with this myself. My friend Bonnie ( Hello Crafty) helped me take a look around and step back.

I don't think some sellers understand what happens when you have Ryans success. It is all consuming and leaves no time for anything else. Noticing some comments on the Etsy thread, I see sellers saying they want the sales not realizing that everything else suffers. I know my husband has commented that my business is #1 in my life which I know I need to change. I think an online business is a 24/7 thing, always there, never going away, or having 9-5 hours.

I really can appreciate Ryans comments about no socialization running an online shop as well. I have recently considered doing some live shows just to get out of the house and see other humans. I am so glad I listened to this podcast. Best wished Ryan!!


Thank you both for doing this interview. You've really brought to light the same sort of process I've gone through. While I wasn't a top seller, I did come to the conclusion that fear of my designs being stolen was keeping me from creating anew and creating merely for the sake of creating. I was so caught on protecting one single idea that I couldn't let go to create anything new. There was no space in my heart and mind for new ideas to flow - and I'm an idea woman!

The stuff for my store just sat around in my cabinet for months and selling had become quite disheartening. I have done festivals, but theft & rude people really put me too much on my guard. Plus, mentally, those things were dragging me down. I felt I had to sell them because I made them. When actually, I didn't. They're lovely & I've donated them to someone who will love them. Best part? I've been able to begin creating again.

I don't sell anything in my stores anymore. It's quite liberating. In fact, it's given me more time to write/blog. Which I'd rather do. I don't care to make duplicates of anything. In fact, I've even stopped making clothes for friends because it too felt like a job that if I didn't finish by X time, then they'd be disappointed. It's much better for me, at the moment, to be spontaneous & allow myself the freedom to create and make as many mistakes as I want without someone being disappointed in my art.

We should all free our minds a bit more. Create, share, dream, love, pour your emotions into your creations - let them live and breathe as they will.

Thanks SisterDiane. I've been thinking on this one quite a lot!


I understand what she is saying. I sold collectibles on eBay for three years and just got burnt out. Although I was doing really well, it got to the point where I as looking for items for eBay every where. I no longer enjoyed garage sales, or thrift stores. At antique shops I was looking, always looking for items to sell on eBay. I lot the fun of just shopping for my own home.
I finally just gave away boxes of things and cleared my house of mailing boxes. It was such a relief. Now life is fun again.
I will always love collectibles but now I shop for fun and when I make money off the crafts I do now, it's all good.


Thanks, Kirsty! I agree - Ryan's story is a beautiful example of how
important it is to step away and enjoy life.


Great interview and good food for thought. It was so nice to get to know Ryan a bit. Thanks to you both and best of luck to Ryan in her new venture(s).

It's funny. I have gone just the reverse direction. I used to do all the craft fairs and trade shows but got physically exhausted by all the packing, unpacking, setting up and then standing all day to try and attract/welcome people to my booth.

Now I have a craft website and am just loving setting my own hours, working from home, etc.

I guess anything gets stale after a while and, as Ryan said, you need to get the balance right - for you.

The interview is really making me think more carefully about next steps (expand, stay where I am ...).


AnneClarke
AnneClarke says:
Littleput,
That was a great interview. It is nice to hear someone talk about getting life into balance. It's too easy to get sucked into the 24/7 world of the internet. I've recently decided that instead of trying to become tech savvy (googlebase, blogging, etc. etc.) I am going to focus on selling locally. It feels like a relief in many ways.
Best of luck to you!


That was an enlightening and very human interview. It made me feel good about my own personal choices, decisions and work ethic. It was nice to hear your voice Ryan :)

Balance, health and happiness in life is really, all that matters.

I wish you the best in your present and future endeavors!


Ryan continues to be an insipration to me both with her previous success on Etsy & her determination to keep her craft true to herself & remembering what is truely important for your own personal meaning of success.
I continue to learn from her example.


What a good reminder that we all need a life balance and that the best creativity comes from the heart.


How funny, just last night I was listening to Ryan's earlier podcast again. Now I shall sit down with a cup of tea and my sewing and listen to this one.


Great podcast again, really makes you think about the idea of making sure you want what you wish for! I don't know if I would be as brave as Ryan, though, walking away from such a successful business.


Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, Amber! It's amazing how much labor a successful finished-handmade-product business requires. Burnout can happen so easily.

I wish you all the best as you start down this path again with a fresh outlook!


This is an older podcast, but I'm just catching up and I really appreciate this one. I relate so much. While I certainly didn't sell at the level Ryan did, I was a featured seller and had my fair share of busy in the short year I was active. I got burnt out, stepped back and took a full year off. I'm just about to start again, but plan to do so on a more relaxed scale - very similar to what she has done. Such a great reminder for me that is isn't success I'm after, just a community and a creative outlet.


I understand what she is saying. I sold collectibles on eBay for three years and just got burnt out. Although I was doing really well, it got to the point where I as looking for items for eBay every where. I no longer enjoyed garage sales, or thrift stores. At antique shops I was looking, always looking for items to sell on eBay. I lot the fun of just shopping for my own home.
I finally just gave away boxes of things and cleared my house of mailing boxes. It was such a relief. Now life is fun again.
I will always love collectibles but now I shop for fun and when I make money off the crafts I do now, it's all good.


it was slow this weekend because of the heat girl ;)


Thanks for another great podcast!