Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sponor Hello: Drew of Kitsch Café's Etsy Reselling Tips

Drew is the guy behind the popular Etsy store Kitsch Café. He's constantly adding colorful new finds to his online shop and his photography is outstanding! I had to ask him some questions about his success as an Etsy reseller. (You can follow Drew's adventures and read inspiring interviews on the Kitsch Café Blog.)

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Drew.

Hi, my name is Drew and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm the face behind Kitsch Café. Along with selling vintage knick-knacks, I am also a freelance graphic designer as well as director of a high school color guard. I also like to sew quilts and knit. I have a HUGE sweet tooth. I am addicted to the internet and espresso. I love Korean food. Oh, and I am the youngest grandchild on both sides of my family.

2. When did you start Kitsch Cafe, and what's the story you're trying to tell with your line of Kitsch goodies?

I started selling on Etsy in the summer of 2008. I love thrifting and would find all sorts of great items that I wouldn't buy for myself, but knew someone out there would love. It became a part-time job in spring of 2009 when I quit my 9-5 graphic design job.

I tend to be attracted to items that are humorous and also vintage illustration. At first, I focused on items that made me smile and sometimes laugh at how unique or ridiculous it was. Being in the Mid- west, it's easy to find kitschy vintage pieces and that's what I was finding the most of.

Since then, I've refined my inventory to be more mod with a bit of kitsch thrown in for fun. I've definitely learned to be more selective when I shop for items.

3. How long have you been collecting vintage, what got you started?

I was shopping for clothing at thrift stores when I was in high school. I really didn't start considering thrift furniture and other items until I was living on my own during college and needed some inexpensive decor.

Because I was a design major in college, I was educated about all the amazing designers like George Nelson and Charles Eames. So, I was looking for mid-century modern furniture before the trend hit. I was able to find some great Danish modern chairs, a great dresser, an awesome credenza and some Eames molded fiberglass chairs before they were considered cool.

Those early successes got me hooked and I have been thrifting ever since.

4. Your finds are incredible, what are your top 3 thrifting tips?

- Go often and to as many thrifts as you can. I usually go once a week to my local thrifts and about every 2 weeks to the suburban locations. When I travel someplace regionally (like Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis) I schedule extra time to thrift shop. Recently, I've been in Los Angeles and New York and found time to go thrifting in those cities, too.

- Take your time and dig. I've looked right past amazing items sitting on a shelf that I've caught after taking a second look. Also, be willing to dig and look beyond what you see on the front of the shelves.

- Edit yourself. Don't buy every vintage thing you find. Only buy the things that truly get you excited or else you'll end up with a bunch of vintage crap in your home. A few great pieces make a better statement than a bunch of mediocre knick knacks.

5. Another talent of yours that stands out is your crazy photography skills. Please, share some hints for taking amazing product photography.

Thanks, Van! I get a lot of compliments on my photography. The truth is I use a cranky digital camera that's 8 years old and only spend about 1-2 minutes photographing each object. You really don't need a lot to take great photos. Here are some thoughts on taking some great photographs...

- Use natural light. I take my photos in the morning since my windows face east. Let the light fall across/from the side of your item instead of from the back or front.

- Use props to show the scale of the item. However, simplicity is key... don't get carried away.

- Photoshop is your friend. Learn how to use it or another photo editing application to touch up your photos and adjust the lighting.

6. Your famous online shop has been featured on Etsy and is loved across the globe, can you share some secrets for success selling on Etsy?

I was fortunate to start selling vintage on Etsy when there were not a lot of vintage shops. I got a lot of exposure early on because of my crazy photo backgrounds I was using at the time which was something different for Etsy.

Here are a few things I have learned:

- List new items daily. At the very least, renew old items.

- Learn about SEO and how to use keywords. There is lots of great info about this in the Etsy forums.

- Learn the trends that shoppers are looking for. Be willing to change and adapt while staying true to your vision and style.

- Become social on Etsy and online in general. It's called "social" media for a reason. You need to create an online persona and be consistent with it. This doesn't mean be fake... just be yourself and have fun interacting with other people. You never know when someone will ask to interview you for their blog or even on Etsy!

- There will always be another shop that has more sales than you and has better stuff than yours. Learn what you can from that shop instead of comparing your shop to theirs.

- Hard work. Plain and simple.

7. How do you keep your ample stock organized, any tips? (We resellers all need all the help we can get. Boxes! Boxes everywhere!)

- I'm fortunate to have a two bedroom apartment. I keep my inventory in my spare bedroom on three giant shelves that I have recently made curtains for to hide the chaos. My apartment does look like an episode of "Hoarders" at times, but every 1-2 months I frantically have what I call a "feng shui attack" and get everything cleaned up and organized again.

- When you go shopping and have new items, put it away when you get home. Don't set it down in your living room with the intention of putting it away later... it will sit there for 2 weeks until you get the time to photograph it.

- Periodically go through and clean out any "old" unlisted items and send them back to Goodwill. I will also remove items from the shop if they haven't sold or I think to myself, "why did I put THAT ugly thing in the shop?!"

8. What is your favorite thing to collect?

I have a few collections...

- White pottery. It's not necessarily vintage or made from clay. I have some glass pieces and some are new.

- Mid-Century modern wooden candle holders. This is a new collection I have started. I love finding them while thrifting. I love their "less is more" characteristics.

- Vintage orange and red European pottery. I have found some great Scandinavian and German pieces over the years. I love their heaviness and ugliness.

- Vintage painted portraits. I love wondering who these people are, seeing their dated/period clothing and the amateurish qualities of the painting.

I love Drew's tips, and I can't wait to apply them to my own reselling efforts! Drew is offering ThriftCore readers 20% off their purchase at Kitsch Café using coupon code THRIFTCORE. If you haven't been to his shop before, check it out. There's so much selection that there's literally something for everyone.
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  1. Great interview. Really interesting to hear his tips and processes. Thanks Van.

  2. Miss P: Glad you liked it! It was nice to hear from another reseller than there are cycles of disarray. It's hard to keep it all under control, we have to edit, edit, edit!

  3. thanks again! so happy to share my thoughts about reselling.

  4. Drew: And thank you for selling the helpful tips. I think I've read this post 3 times to let the lessons soak in!

  5. Loved reading this. So true about being selective when buying vintage. I'm getting better, but it is still hard. One criteria I sorta go by now is the price the resale price and the weight. If it is not going to resale for much and it weighs a lot (increased shipping cost) I'll pass it by, unless of course I'm collecting it for myself!

  6. Very nice interview and tips! And I hear you on the "hoarders" dangers, we tend to wrestle with that quite a bit. =)

  7. Eartha Kitsch: Glad it was helpful!

    Victoria: I'm definitely more selective than when I started. I follow Brian's rule now (www.coolandcollected.com) and try to triple the cost if I'm buying something to resell!

    A La Modern: I'll get it all 100% balanced one day, dammit! One day. I've gotten better, but I'm not where I want to be yet...

  8. @victoria... those are the rules i use too. if it's too heavy, too expensive/can't resell it for at least 3 times the price i will pass.

  9. Ahh I <3 Drew! Very helpful tips indeed. Love his photography!

    _Jackie @ Let's Go Thrifting!

  10. excellent interview. For some reason, I didnt think you were a guy :)

    PS: I only buy if I can sell for more 4x my cost price.

  11. Just in case there's confusion: Drew, the one interviewed in this post is a guy. I'm Vanessa ("Van"), I write this website and I am a -girl-.

    People still think I'm a Guy online occasionally. :)

  12. @van... i thought you were a guy at first, too. sometimes people think i am a girl named drew. like drew barrymore. haha.

  13. Van I knew that. I was talking abt kitsch cafe Drew!

    Drew exactly drew Barrymore popped into my head. Blame her!

  14. Sraikh: Figured you knew, but I didn't want to confuse everyone else reading ;)

  15. Thanks for this awesome interview! i especially enjoyed reading about another cincinnati thrifter. as jackie said, great thrifting tips :)


  16. I enjoyed this article and especially like the "edit yourself" advice. It can be easy to get carried away and end up with things that you don't need! Thanks


I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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