The Dorothy Days
By Kate Marsden
A regular in our Twitter chats, and a great supporter of our Just A Card Day, Rachel of the Dorothy Days is a multi-talented maker! A seasoned (and very successful) Etsy seller, she knows a thing or two about selling your work. Read on for her top tips, and her favourite Etsy shops to make a little purchase from…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I am Rachel from The Dorothy Days and I make and sell everything from pure wool knitted hats to candles, and from vintage homewares to jewellery.
At the moment my main focus is my handmade knitted hats which are made from pure wool. I work with both Shetland and Merino wool (chosen because they are so soft and warm) and in a range of 50 different colours. I started by selling adults’ hats but have recently launched baby and childrens’ hats too.
What does a typical day involve?
No two days are exactly the same, which is what I love about what I do. I have a loose routine but also try to keep things interesting by doing something different each day. Most days feature quite a lot of admin, time on the computer and social media, as well as making. If I am knitting, I like to watch or listen to something as I work, so I get through a crazy amount of TV programmes and my Spotify subscription certainly comes in handy! I try to keep my social media updated with what I am doing each day, and show what I have been working on.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
It keeps changing, but currently it is a small space next to our dining room table where we have been able to squeeze my desk! I love it though as it looks out onto the garden and is a really bright lovely room.
We live quite near to the coast, so I try to get out into the fresh air and down to the beach as often as possible; it is my way to relax, refresh and get re-inspired. Summer at the beach is beautiful, but my favourite time of the year is the Winter when it is cold and fresh.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
Time and time management! I think it is really hard as a designer maker to balance everything as you don’t have just one set role, but are instead juggling so many. I think it is something that lots of makers have in common. It is hard to balance things like fulfilling orders with having time to come up with new ideas and products, and also to get a balance between working on the shop and time off. It is certainly something I hope to work on this year.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I hope to expand my range of products and to add lots of new things to the shop in 2018, including expanding my range of candles and knitwear. I am also hoping to run more workshops and online courses for fellow makers to help them improve their shops, as this is something that I really enjoyed dipping my toe into last year with the Etsy Educators course that I ran.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Keep at it, be adaptable to keep up with new trends, but also stay true to yourself and your shop, and most of all just have fun and enjoy what you do.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
I was so excited to see that you recently featured The Hambledon Gallery as this is one of my favourite shops, and has been one that I have been visiting for years. I remember going as a little girl and still pinch some of the clothes that my mum bought from there!
I also do a lot of my shopping online from fellow Etsy sellers or at local markets and fairs. Most recently I have bought some beautiful earrings from Studio Pickles, some abstract prints from Bronagh Kennedy Prints and some amazing face cream from Ginger Stone Skincare. I love shopping for independent makers as you always get something really unique and beautiful.
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes! The little regular purchases in my shop are so important, and it has been great to see lots of people finding my shop through the Just A Card hour in particular, and making purchases. This Christmas exceeded my expectations, and it’s great to see so many people supporting small shops, makers and designers. I am really excited to see what is to come for the Just A Card campaign in 2018.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
So important. It is tough out there but wonderful to see so many people opting to shop from independent sellers, and I think the Just A Card campaign has really helped with spreading the message.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I think it must have been on Twitter as this is the social media platform that I use the most, and I frequently join in with the Just A Card Twitter Hour.
If you are a maker or designer or independent shop, do check out the information about the Just A Card campaign and join in with the fantastic opportunities they have. I would particularly recommend the Twitter Hour which happens every Thursday night (8-9pm UK time). It is not only a great way to promote what you do, but also to connect with other makers and shops and there is a really lovely sense of community. I have got to know some amazing people through that. I hope to continue to support the campaign by buying from small independent shops myself, getting involved in the Just A Card campaigns, and spreading the word about it!