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Saturday, June 14, 2014

shop & support moms - Andrea Boyko - Bula Jeans Boutique

I started this series last fall/winter in time for the holiday season, thinking it was WAY cooler to buy gifts for others from hard working moms who support their families by making adorable items for your kiddos. So I'm always on the lookout for moms who have Etsy shops or cool things to share with you all in hopes that you will shop and support this mama's craft! 

THANKS to my friend Beth Wallace for connecting me to this super cool and hard working Etsy-shop owner mama, Andrea Boyko, owner of Bula Jeans Boutique! Great items! PLEASE shop and support this mama's business- great birthday, baby shower or Christmas gifts!

Keep reading for a free giveaway at the bottom :) 

1. How did you start your business? Why did you want your own Etsy business? 
I started my business on New Year's Eve when my first baby was 4 months old. My husband and I finally had a good excuse to stay in that year and as we sat watching the ball drop on TV and snuggling our newborn I was on the computer opening up my shop.

2. What does the title mean? How did you come up with the title? 
The title comes from a nickname “Bula” that my husband used to call me and Jean, which is my middle name.

3. What does your shop specialize in? What is your favorite item to make? 
My shop specializes in baby and children’s clothing made from a mix of natural, new and repurposed materials.

4. How do you get inspiration and ideas for items to make?  
My girls are my muses. Their rambunctious spirits inspire me every day to create.

5. How long does it take you to make items? When do you make your items mostly , what time of day? What do you do while making things - tv on? music on? 
Each item is so different, newsboy caps now take me only 15 minutes to sew, but a custom pair of wooly boots may take me 45 minutes.  

I work 3 mornings a week and most evenings.  Ha! I can’t even imagine watching TV while working. There is a buzz of activity in my workshop while I work. 

I have one shop worker that helps cut all the items, and my 3 girls are also in and out trying to “help”.  I usually have a baby on my lap or in a backpack carrier as I work.

6. Take me step by step through sending someone's package to them.. what speCial things do you include in there ? How do you wrap them up? Why do you take care into wrapping them nicely? Do you get nervous when you send packages to people?
When I have 10 or so orders ready I lay them out to begin packaging them.  

My packaging is made of 100% repurposed materials including empty chip bags, the bags that line cereal boxes, baby wipes containers, etc.  I clean all the wrappers first, then fold and tape them in a way to make envelopes where my products never touch where the food from the package was. These “envelopes” are waterproof and durable and have successfully shipped items across the globe without ever having an issue.  There is a TON of waste that happens in shipping. I do not want to contribute to that waste. Besides, customers think it is fun to receive a bag of Doritos in the mail only to open it to find a cute item from my shop!  

I don’t get nervous about sending them out, I usually feel relieved – that I completed the order and it is on its way.

7. What is your success rate? What do people tell you they like about your shop? 
I currently have a 100% positive feedback rating, which is pretty amazing now that I have well over 2,000 sales.  I love hearing reviews like “everyone compliments our hat wherever we go” or “this is the only hat or shoes that my little one will wear”.

8. Why do you think people should buy on Etsy, homemade items? 
I think people should buy on Etsy and other homemade marketplaces as opposed to big box stores whenever possible because instead of making some guys in a corporate office wealthy, it helps people like me be able to afford music classes, groceries and new snow boots for my children.

9. What are your favorite Etsy shops you buy from? 
I got my favorite t shirt from Caustic Threads, I buy gorgeous little crocheted appliqu├ęs from Eden Garden and I am a sucker for non toxic wooden toys from various shops, and I have my eye on a wooden rocker board from Elephant Play Things.

10. How does your business allow you to be a great mother? (How many kids? names ages?) 
This business has made my dream of staying home with my children a reality.  Though I work a lot, I am home with my girls and can make my schedule work around their activities and daily rhythm.  I have 2 two year olds Eliza and Josephine and a three year old Lillian. 

11. What is your advice to any moms who want to make some money selling their items on Etsy? How was it getting started? What are your tips for successful selling on Etsy?
I think moms have a great opportunity since the start of Etsy.  I often think about the fact that if I was a mom just a decade or two ago, I would not have had this opportunity.  I may have been back teaching full time while my girls were in daycare.  

I feel blessed every day to be able to do what I love while being present in my children’s lives every day.  

My advice is if you are fortunate enough to be a mom home with your baby, take it as an opportunity to try your hand at a shop. However, be realistic.  I have had many people see my success and start their own shop in hopes of the same, but have been very disappointed with the lack of ‘overnight success’.  

There is so much already on Etsy, you really need to find a niche, something just unique enough to have you stand out from other shops.  You also need to spend a lot of time researching your product, similar products and pricing, tweeking listing tags, etc.   

I would like the giveaway to be a free download of the pattern and tutorial for making play fairies and gnomes using things most people already have at hand. 

Follow my Facebook page to see I do a weekly post on activities to do with children using repurposed materials. This goes along with the theme of my shop as I use a lot of repurposed materials in my products.

Find us on facebook too!

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