Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Sushi Pot Art Studio + Tips for Being Successful on Etsy as an Artist/Vintage Seller

When I fond the Sushi Pot (best name ever) collage, and assemblage Etsy shop I was struck by the dedication to quality, consistency and beauty of the perfectly patinaed shop. Suzanna has sold over 10,333 vintage originals and creations unique creations since 2006 (selling over 830 items her first year!) and considers Etsy and making art her full time job. The bulk of her shopping for decorating her home and making her creations happens at junk yards, flea markets, and thrift stores. Today we get peek glimpse around her studio and pick her brain on success, productivity and inspiration!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, Suzanna

I'm Suzanna Scott, a thirty-something artist living and working from my home studio in Springfield, Missouri, USA. In addition to being an artist I'm a home-schooling mama to my 8-year-old daughter Lizzie and wife to Patrick, a professor of economics (seriously…opposites attract!). When my daughter Elizabeth was born I began creating small scale assemblage and collage, thus Sushipot was born. I currently reside in a small but cozy home full of art with my husband Patrick and my daughter.

2. Do you have any formal training as an artist? Your work shows it.
I attended Asbury College (located right outside of Lexington, Kentucky) and earned a BA in Art with an emphasis in sculpture. Until about 2 years ago I was primarily labeled as a stone sculptor. 
3. What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I remember two images that I would draw repetitively as a young child–houses and bridges. The houses were always tall and grid-like with dozens of rooms. I would draw elaborate details inside each room and each would be labeled for a specific use. The symbolism behind the house form still fascinates me today. As for the bridges–Idon’t know what was up with that!
4. What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
The majority of my childhood was spent living overseas in the Philippines. This experience built an invaluable repertoire of memories and images that I constantly glean from in my work.
My inspirations come from so many weird places/things/people at the oddest times. Some days I wish I could just switch off my brain as some ideas have almost made me drive off the road or want to jump out of bed at 3 in the morning and start working. I sketch and doodle constantly so as not to lose a precious idea! Here’s a list of things that switch me on….all things old, chipped, cracked, worn, dusty, used, found, buried, designed, loved, pieced, intricate, aged and transfigured. That about covers it!

5. What are your favorite materials?
Old books & paper, junk, anything that’s rusted and I must mention stone as I’ve been carving for about 10 years now. You can see examples of my stone work at
6. What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
I have learned (and am learning) an invaluable life lesson from my good friend Suzanne at (ravenwolf.etsy.com) who has recently joined Etsy. Beauty can also come from the darkest points of life and the creation of beauty does not stop during tragedy–it becomes transfigured. 
7. Why should people buy handmade?
Handmade objects come with a story and background. They add interest to the everyday and the mundane. Life is too short to be ordinary. You must fill it with objects of beauty! [Van's Note: Agreed!]
A clown collection in Suzanna's studio.
8. How did you first hear about Etsy, and what made you decide to open a shop on the site?
I stumbled across Etsy one day while I was surfing the web and looking for possible sites on which to sell my artwork. I had never heard of it before but I’d like to believe that fate intervened. I joined Etsy the next day after comparing it to other possibilities and reading all the press I could find. It looked like my best option with little financial commitment as I had no “wiggle-room” in my budget at the time. I figured I didn’t have too much to lose.
9. What do you think your key to successful selling on Etsy has been?
My personal goal from the start was to create one new piece a day. I keep a journal/sketchbook of sorts that logs new ideas that I want to try. Some of these ideas end up in my shop as successful pieces; others never make it out my studio door. I list new items frequently and also renew items at peak traffic times during the day.
I do my best to offer excellent customer service. My husband has dubbed it ”the Sushipot experience!” I notify each customer as soon as possible that I’ve received their order and give them a ship date. Each order is packaged with great care and detail. I always include a handwritten thank-you along with a little something extra. With each package that I send out, I hope to add a bright spot in my customer’s day.
10. How do you promote your shop?
I currently do not promote Sushipot outside of Etsy. The customers here do more than keep me busy. As long as I stay visible by listing often, I entice new shoppers into my store. Outside of Etsy, I also exhibit and sell work in several galleries and boutiques.
11. How do you handle such a large volume of sales in your shop? What systems have you created to manage the orders?
Some days can be quite stressful with a sick kid, orders piling up, unanswered convos, etc. I’ve recently given up trying to mail everything out the next day. I designate 2 or 3 days a week as shipping days depending on the amount of orders. My week goes something like this: studio day, posting day, stuff sells, packing/shipping day and then back to the studio. I always enlist the help of my husband when I have piles of orders to package. It is much more fun when someone helps!
12. What do you do to gain repeat buyers?
The majority of my new buyers become repeat buyers. I realize that buyers have a wide array of choices on Etsy. If they are not pleased with their choice, they will not come back. There is constant incentive to provide a better experience, not just globally on the site, but also to out perform my own standards.

Out on the hunt with the family.
13. How do you stay motivated? Does it come naturally?
The Etsy community motivates me in so many ways. Knowing that my customers and other Etsians view my shop regularly motivates me to give them something new to look at. I even packed up our TV and put it in the garage so I wouldn’t have the distraction. That may seem extreme but it has put more time into my day!

14. Were you able to quit your day job due to your success selling on Etsy?
I was not employed at the time I joined Etsy but I was actively looking for a job. After the 2006 holiday season I quit applying for jobs. I was convinced I could turn my Etsy shop into a reliable income.
15. What features do you use most on Etsy?
Since its recent debut, I read The Storque religiously and check the forums at least once a day. I am one of those silent forum stalkers because I don’t post much. When browsing and shopping, I love to use the Time Machine 2.
16. In ten years I’d like to be…
Still creating. Still married to Patrick. Traveling a bit more. Discovering Etsy is one of the best things that has ever happened to me–I’d love to still be convo-ing and heart-ing in 2017!
17. Anything else you want to add? 
A few extra words of advice: Never stop perfecting your product and your shop. There is always something that can be improved. Be your own worst critic. When it’s slow — hit the “drawing board,” come up with new ideas or improve on old ones. Invest in a good digital camera with a macro function. It will become invaluable. You’ll never sell a thing with a dark or fuzzy photo. Be patient. It took 20 long days for my first item to sell. Lastly, there is no magic formula for becoming successful on Etsy. If there was, it would be sold in a little capsule marked “hard work,” and it would be the most coveted item on Etsy because, after all, hard work is handmade!
Thanks for sharing your beautiful studio and amazingly helpful tips for vintage sellers (Suzanna ran a successful vintage shop, now closed so she can focus on selling her assemblage pieces)! Your work is inspiring and I feel even more motivated to make pieces of my own again and improve the "Experience" of shopping with my Etsy shop! I have a couple of boxes of bits and pieces I've saved from thrifting I want to turn into assemblage pieces, too.

Check out Suzanna's shop and blog. If you have any more questions feel free to ask in the comments. Let's work to improve indie businesses together!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Fantastic shop, artist and article!

    I have followed your blog. really great.

    1. Thanks for following :) Her work AND work ethic are admirable!

  2. I love her work. I've dabbled in collage and assemblage. I'll be heading over to her shop to view more of her pieces as I can tell I will like them from seeing these in your post. Great post.

    1. I adore collage/assemblage and I have a couple of boxes full of things to make creations out of. Can't wait, those pieces always got a great response.

  3. Thank you so much for featuring my work/studio/life on your blog Van! Happy creating to you and all your readers. xo, Suzanna

    1. Glad you liked it Suzanna, thanks for sharing your tips :)

  4. I love reading stories about successful Etsy vendors. I have been toying with opening a print shot for awhile - I mean, I want SOMETHING to happen to all the pictures I take, and I hope someday I can call myself a working fine art photographer. It'll be a big leap for me to actually do it though! Till then I motivate myself in the form of living/working/selling vicariously through people on the internet.

    1. Do it, Kelly! :D I may have to pick your brain on photography if you'll let me, you take gorgeous photos.

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

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