I was lucky enough to find the company, Claytopia, on Etsy (a site that I love for handmade gifts) and thankfully, the owner, Gretchen Wheeler, was nice enough to answer some questions for us and even offer you a giveaway that is open to International entries. I'm eyeing these Cookie Mugs myself; I might need to order one soon!
1.Since your business is an actual store, what made you decide to bring some of your products to Etsy for those around the world?
My sister and I have owned Claytopia in Erie, Pa for the last 8 years. It's a "paint your own pottery studio" meaning we supply the bisque ( unfinished pottery) and you get to come in and paint it (using underglazes). You leave it with us and we glaze it and fire it. Painting pottery is incredibly addictive! I'm always working on new projects or samples for the studio. I also teach technique classes, so we have a lot of samples from those classes. Customers love to see new ideas, but they don't necessarily want to BUY the pieces, they want to re-create the ideas on their own pieces. We only have so much room for samples, so that's when I started thinking about creating a store on Etsy.
I opened my Etsy store on Feb. 26, 2012, and it just kind of took off! I've had 161 sales in 5 months which is waaaaaay more than I ever would have guessed! I love interacting with people from all over the world, and I have really enjoyed doing some fun custom orders. I just completed 25 vases for a girl in CA to give as gifts to people in her wedding. I also recently made a "patriotic" Monster Cookie Mug for the 4th of July, and a purple Zombie mug for a girl in Australia who has purple hair! I started a Facebook page for the Monster Cookie Mugs and I've had customers post pictures of themselves with the mugs- it's so fun!
2. How did the idea of cookie mugs come about, and what are some of the more unique "faces" you've made?
We've had the cookie mugs available to paint at Claytopia for a few years now. Our customers have come up with some great ideas on their own. I've seen the mug painted to look like Sponge Bob and Perry the Platypus! Because of trademarks and licensing, I've come up with my own cast of characters for the mugs. My very first order before I even started my store on Etsy was from a wonderful woman in Hawaii who called me at the studio and said that I HAD to paint one of my Monster Mugs for her son! Who could say no?! Upcoming cookie mugs that I'm thinking about are a Jack o' Lantern and Santa Claus!
3. What other types of items do you offer on Etsy besides the cookie mugs? Is there anything you hope to add in the future?
I have a variety of things in my Etsy store. I tend to go with trendy things that are popular in the studio: cupcakes, owls, cookie jars, but the Monster Cookie Mugs are definitely my biggest sellers. I have SOOO many ideas and fun things that I want to paint, but I don't always have the time to sit down and paint! Along with working at Claytopia, I also do interior decorating, so I am often shopping or pushing furniture around at clients' homes on my "days off"! I recently was a design assistant on Food Network's Restaurant:Impossible and was fortunate enough to have the whole cast sign a plate from Claytopia!
4. Through Etsy, are you the only one that makes these items or do you have a team?
As of right now, I am the only one that does the painting for my Etsy store. As we get closer to Christmas, I think I may have some of the employees help out. We have a really talented group of girls working for us, and they've all offered to help. The great thing about Etsy is that a lot of my pieces are "made to order" so when people purchase them they already know that it will take 5-10 days for me to get it painted and fired. The only ones I keep a number of already painted and ready to ship are the blue Monster Cookie Mugs because they are the most popular!
5. What other Etsy shops or online stores are you a personal fan of and why?
There are so many talented and creative people on Etsy! I have really tried to plan ahead for gifts and purchase things from Etsy stores rather than just running out and getting a "generic" gift for someone.
Some of my favorites are:
Now Enter the Giveaway...this is my first time using Rafflecopter, so if you have problems, let me know!
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