Tuesday, April 15, 2014



"in the depth of winter i finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." | albert camus

Monday, April 14, 2014

Where To Be Happiest

Photo Cred: Meagan Abell

"when spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest." |  ernest hemingway 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How To Be Your Shop's Best Critic

| Follow me on Instagram at @agirlnamedleney | 

Cheyne, works at Etsy on the Seller Education team, and she recently contacted me and asked me if I would share some of my experience with ways I've critiqued my shop as well as a few ways I think fellow sellers can do better at critiquing their own shops. 
She ended up quoting me in one of the most recent articles on the Etsy blog!
You can go check it out here.

I loved being able to contribute and share a little of what I've learned so far in my Etsy expereince. 
I am by no means an expert, but I've definitely learned a few things over the past year or two of selling, and I always want to make sure I share and give back to the artists and makers community when I have the opportunity to. Because there have been so many people who have shared and helped me in my journey and I wouldn't be where I am now without them!

So in light of that, and in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would go ahead and share some more about some of the things Cheyne initially asked me, and some of my more extensive answers, in hopes that maybe they'll help some of you new Etsy shop owners out. 
P.s. Don't worry, I'm still going to do a Q&A post! I've really loved getting all of your questions over the past few weeks. So if you have anymore related to this, or anything else, just let me know!

Have you ever given yourself a shop critique or received one from another seller? If so, what's the biggest thing you've learned from a self critique or a critique from someone else? Any really big lightbulb moments? 

I think the biggest importance in any shop is consistency in your information and overall aesthetic and way of doing things. For instance: I was stating in my shop info that my knits took 3-4 weeks to be made before being shipped, however I didn't have that information in each listing and so a lot of my customers missed seeing that because they didn't necessarily look at my shop info before purchasing! As a result I was having to answer a lot of "when is my order going to be ready??" emails. 
Being consistent and clear about what you're promising each of your customers, in every aspect of their buying experience, will keep them coming back as well as, ultimately, cut down on work for you. I also state that I only answer Etsy Convo's Monday-Friday 8-5pm because those are my work hours for the shop. Because I'm also a photographer, I have a very large work load that I have to manage throughout the week, and so it's very important to have some down time for myself and end my work day at a decent hour so that I can maintain my overall health. This doesn't always happen of course, there are many late nights of editing and knitting, but the more I'm able to stick to a good work routine, the better I can ultimately be for my customers.

Is there one area you feel your fellow sellers always struggle with that needs a lot of attention (in terms of the commonly critiqued shop elements)?

I think there are a lot of shops that have some really amazing products but have poor photos of said products. I know that pretty imagery is what I am most drawn to when I peruse Etsy and what also definitely helps get you into treasuries and on the front page! Granted, not everyone is a photographer, but with how amazing point and shoot cameras are these days, and even our phones, it's really not that hard to get good quality photos of the products you're trying to sell. I think natural lighting is definitely key. But even if you still feel intimidated by trying to get some good photos for your shop, ask a friend or local photographer in your area to help you out! Even if you don't have the budget for it, you can most likely trade skills with them and work out an agreement for them to take some photos for you in exchange for some of your products! 

Any extra sage wisdom you'd like to share about looking at your own shop or giving feedback to someone else?

Do not compare yourself to other Etsy shops.
Or, let me rephrase that, you can compare yourself in a healthy way, by gauging in the ways that you can change to be similarly successful, but once you start thinking "Gosh I wish I had that many sales" or "Man why am I not this popular?" stop it right there!
You can't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. 
Everyone has to start somewhere and all of those Etsy shops that we all love and admire for their great success, started just where you are at one point! They just worked their butts off to get to where they are now. And that's what you have to be willing to do too. Just stick to what you're best at, learn and grow in the areas you aren't as great in, and don't compare yourself to others and their journeys because everyone's is different and comparison is the thief of joy.

Definitely be sure to check out Cheyne's article though. 
I learned a lot from reading it myself, especially since I'm in the process of renovating my shop and designs a bit, I have lots of new things I need to make sure I update and adjust!

P.s. Not sure I ever blogged about this one, but hey look who's also in this other article on the Etsy blog. ;) 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Goals | April

Photo Cred: Alex Leedy

So April is like, half gone... oops.
I definitely meant to post these sooner but it totally slipped my mind...
In my defense though, I've been so busy acting out this months goals that I just haven't had time to share them!

To review, in relation to my March goals I was able to finally finalize and share my core values, which I'm pretty stoked about! As I mentioned on my Facebook page, I think it's super important to have core values so it feels really great having those all written up.
As for a few of my other specific goals, I've started the process of redesigning some pieces for the shop for spring/summer as well as fall/winter and will hopefully have some of those up by the end of the spring.
I also feel pretty good about my ability to maintain a good work routine, but still make time for fun and doing things I love that in turn motivate me to work.
I also feel like I had a lot of realizations as to what some good and not so good environments are for me that I have been trying to work in but haven't been working or have been working in that I need to work in more. (Can I say the word "work" more times in a sentence...?)
 And I've been waking up early again! Hurray!
So all in all I'd say March was pretty great.

My goals for April, as a whole, are actually really simple in and of themselves.
In fact, I'm having the overall theme be: Simplify.
Essentially I'm cleaning out/purging/getting rid of/throwing out a ton.
I could be super specific and detail oriented, in fact I have been, I've made very very detailed lists of how I want to do this and what I want to get rid of. However, I feel that sharing the fine details with you here isn't super neccessary. Not to mention I don't really think it'd be that interesting for you guys to read how exactly I'm dissecting my space up and cleansing it of junk and unneccessary things. 
Although to give you an idea, I'm known as somewhat of a pack rat.
Although I've gotten significantly better over the last few years, I have a lot of previous years of hoarding things that have rather done me in.
 I just have heaps and heaps of stuff that I just really need to part with.
It's honestly just gotten to the point where I'm like "Wait, why do I have this....?" And the answer is so often something to the effect of, "Well... because I've just had it for so long... I never felt like I could get rid of it".
It's a little ridiculous actually. And my overly sentimentality and nostalgia for things doesn't really help.
So overall, I'm just doing a bit a lot of spring cleaning this month.
The goal is to participate in a yard sale at the end of the month, after I try to consign/sell some of the nicer things, so that I can at least hopefully make some money off of some of the stuff I no longer need!
So, while I'm not sharing an itemized list of how exactly I'm cleaning out my space, I will share some inspiration and quotes that are helping me stay motivated in this process!
If you have any to share, I'd love to read them.

April | Simplify



  • Collect moments, not things.
  • "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." -Confucius
  • "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -Leonardo da Vinci
  • "As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." -Henry David Thoreau
  • "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful." -John Maeda

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jon & Sarah | Engaged

Meet Jon and Sarah.

These two have the sweetest story.
I absolutely loved traveling up to Harrisonburg to shoot their engagement and get to know them better before their wedding in the fall!
It was a little touch and go with the weather all afternoon, but as it turns out the overcast lighting was perfect and it only rained when we were walking from spot to spot. As soon as we stopped to snap photos it stopped! So we definitely were super thankful for that.
These two cuties met at James Madison University, where they are both finishing up school. They even got engaged on JMU's legendary, "Kissing Rock" which you can see in the last few photos.
They definitely got hollered at (people still say "hollered" right...?) by a few students on the quad, which obviously added to the all around fun of the day.
Walking around and having Sarah and Jon point out some favorite spots of theirs around town was definitely my favorite though.
Harrisonburg is a super cute town that I've only visited a handful of times but I always enjoy it when I do.
Could not have asked for a better day or a cuter couple.
But, of course, you can just see for yourself...


Check out more here.
Interested in getting some portraits of your own done?
Email me for more info: by.leney@gmail.com