Manic Monday: LamaWorks

Laura Mays of LamaWorks
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What got you started with selling online? What inspired you to put yourself out there?
I started selling online back in 2008.  At the time I was a biomedical engineer and newly married.  I made quite a few things for our wedding that year and found I was pretty bored after the big day - I had nothing left to design!  That summer I decided I wanted to start sewing again.  I made a purse.  Nothing fancy, just a fun batik bag.  Someone at work said "Hey, I bet you could sell those!"  Well, I had received the same comments about the bud vases we used as favors at our wedding.  A friend told me about Etsy and I decided to take the leap!  I think in those first few months I had just 3 purses and the bud vases. Then I started knitting and soon hats and scarves joined in.  Over the years I've ditched the purses completely.  Once I started doing more wedding projects I also had to move the knits over to a new shop. It's been quite the evolution, but that's what I love about being a small independent company - I can do whatever makes me happy!  Since that first year I've quit my day job and am so blessed to be a work at home mom to my little boy.  I can still work and design, but I can do it on my own time ... or my son's time at least!

What is your absolute favorite piece in your shop(s)?
I think one of my favorite pieces will always be the bud vases (http://www.etsy.com/listing/51956728/custom-bud-vases-great-wedding-or-party).  It's where I started and every batch I make reminds me of my own wedding.  In my knitting shop I love the ruffle scarves (http://www.etsy.com/listing/57625479/champaign-romantic-ruffles-proceeds)  and the triangle patchwork scarves (http://www.etsy.com/listing/67367578/roller-skate-triangle-patchwork-hand).

What's the most important thing that you've learned through your experience selling and promoting yourself online?
I'm still learning a lot about promoting myself online.  I've joined teams on Etsy, facebook, twitter, blogs, everything.  I don't know that any one has been very successful, but I find that just being genuine when you're interacting with people is the best way to succeed.  Be honest in who you are and what you sell.  I think I've solidified a few sales just because I'm me.  I go the extra mile to make sure an order is perfect.  I work with a lot of brides, so it's really important to be patient, understanding and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they are comfortable not only with you, but your product.  I also donate a portion of each sale to the American Cancer Society.  It's just something I do to give back to the world, but it's actually been an important sales tool for me.  I've had numerous customers said that they picked my item in the end because of that donation and what it means to them.

What is your favorite quote (funny, inspirational - anything!)?
"You'll never know unless you try!"  It's something that I say time and time again.   You'll never know how successful you'll become unless you put yourself out there and try.  You might fail, but you might also surprise yourself in everything that you can become.