A few weeks ago, I ordered a laptop bag from Etsy.com. I’d never bought anything there but had heard some positive comments about it being a friendly eBay for handcrafted goods. The stuff undeniably looked cool, and the general feel of the site was positive. I contacted a seller to find out whether he could customise the bag I liked to be padded and suitable for my MacBook Pro. I was so excited when Stilleto, aka Dave Gratto, agreed to make a bespoke laptop bag for me.
It took a few weeks (due to international shipping), but once the bag, skinny wallet and wrist lanyard for my work dongle arrived, I felt like a kid on Christmas day. Once I got over the initial excitement, I started wondering why Dave was making bags and accessories and why he’d picked Etsy as his online selling market. So I thought I’d ask him a few questions.
First, what inspired you to start making bags and other sewn funky things?
Many many years ago. i was in college taking architectural drafting while my brother was at a prestigious school for fashion design. As much as I loved my career choice I couldnt help but see my brother using very similar skills in building patterns and creating products he loved. Thats when I decided that not only did I want to draft and design, I wanted to build. Knowing that I wasnt about to build a house, I started to dabble in my brothers homework projects.
So to make a long story short; I chose a different direction. with drafting skills in hand, Forced my brother to teach me everything he knew and here I am today.
Where do you find such funky materials?
All my material choices are very random, I try to find fresh, modern, vintage and odd materials. Finding materials is an addiction. I scout the material stores, Internet, Second hand stores, clothing stores, ect.
If I’m in a mall or a clothing store I generally come out with 2 or 3 garments with the intention to cut them up and design wallets or bags out of them. I’ve used bedding, curtains hand painted fabrics, even an ironing board cover.
Everything can be used for something. Open your creative mind and your grandmas ugliest moo moo could become the coolest hat wallet or bag everyone will want.
Did you used to sell your creations locally before you decided to start selling online?
I did sell locally within my city (Vancouver B.C.) I would take my finished products with business cards to stores and work. I have done some craft fairs and was lucky enough to sell a few in some stores. Since I was spending 40-50 hours a week at my office job, I was never able to concentrate fully on my products.
Now that I have reached the ripe age of 30+ I’ve decided to spend more time doing the things that I want to do. Hence Etsy.
What made you choose Etsy as a suitable selling place? Do you also sell elsewhere online?
Etsy: I took in some fabric to a coworker at my office job and she asked me if I’ve ever been to Etsy, “Never” I said. That afternoon when I checked it out for the first time; I was hooked.
Etsy is a great community. The sellers and buyers are always friendly and always willing to lend a hand. I have never had so much exposure from strangers just willing to lend a hand. I have learned to never be greedy as a seller, Always take pride in your work and a little extra sweat and blood goes a long long way.
Since Etsy, my brother of many talents has designed me a website called Oddities
Right now it is very fresh but quickly becoming Hot. Not only will there be items for sale from Stilleto but we have also added a few other cool shops, chat room, cool links and fun things to do as well as cool buys.
Does selling to someone halfway across the world (like to me) feel any different for you than selling to the local passers-by who pop by your shop?
The great thing about the internet is that not only am I selling in B.C. but I am also selling everywhere around the globe. I have sold to England, Denmark, Europe, Philippines, Japan and of course The United States and Canada. Just knowing that I have one of my products on the other side of the globe is truly exciting.
I received an email a couple of months ago from a girl in Oregon, U.S.A. She tells me she was at a club and met someone sporting a Stilleto bag, She then contacted me the next day to place an order, This to me is probably better than sex ??
I can only thank people like yourself for my success. The way I see it; This is only the beginning.