This month for our seller spotlight, we focus on Ren Ellery of Ren & Thread. Ren lives in Wigan in the North West with her husband and three sons and runs her business by herself from her home, she has been selling on Etsy since 2012 and is a team leader for the Merseyside Etsy team in charge of running the Instagram page. Ren was our guest speaker at our daytime meetup for February.
Ren has a strong background in textiles and found herself gravitating towards this medium of making art throughout university and beyond with her side projects involving making wedding invitations to doggy accessories which developed into the business she runs today selling pet art and pet portraits. This is a true passion as Ren and her family are proud owners of a Beagle and today the business thrives off the love we all have for our furry animal friends.
Ren has a distinct style to her art that really sets her apart from other sellers of pet related items. By hand, she cuts out different coloured fabrics to layer up (including a little fabric red heart) she then embroiders over this using the needle of her sewing machine like a pencil, stitching the details and characteristics into the fabric. The result is the fabric pets have a sense of personality and liveliness to them. One of her top sellers are the hanging Christmas decorations that feature different breeds of dogs (and occasionally cats) wearing sweet little santa hats, making them the perfect personal Christmas decoration. Ren & Thread also sell prints, coasters, wooden Christmas decorations, other sewn accessories and wrapping paper.
I had a chat with Ren to find out why she uses Etsy to sell her products and what inspires her to come up with new product lines.
What is your favourite time of year to sell on Etsy?
It has to be Christmas. Although I really struggle with the pressure of the big day myself; I love creating gifts for others. The response from happy customers when they receive their items gives me a real buzz and drives me to create more.
How do you organise your day and manage your time effectively?
I don’t!! I have to go with the flow. I do little bits of what I can when I can. If I need to be creative I usually do this during the boys nap times or in the evening when the boys are in bed so that I don’t have any distractions.
How do you get inspired to start a new product line?
Usually by being prompted by customers. I love being asked if I make a certain breed or item as it drives my creativity. Sometimes I can feel a little lost as to what to make now, mostly through there being to many options and I don’t know which to start with.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your Etsy shop:
Managing my time effectively, especially around the boys. I also find it hard to keep on top of my stock, making sure everything is listed with up to date photos. It seems to take so long to do each one.
What is your favourite form of social media to help promote your business?
It has to be Instagram. I love the grid and the ease of showing your work. I do find Twitter is good for driving traffic to my Etsy shop though and need to spend more time there this year. I do feel Instagram is very female friendly and Twitter is more popular with men in general. Instagram being about pretty pictures and Twitter more of a newspaper column.
What do you like about Etsy over other selling platforms?
I love how easy Etsy is to use. It’s really accessible to the customers too. It does everything I need it to without it taking a long time to learn or understand.
What advice would you give to new Etsy sellers?
Work hard at getting the best photo’s you can, learn about SEO to keep your shop buzzing and use social media as much as you can to drive traffic to your shop. You have to put in the hard work to get returns.
You can also find Ren via social media on:
and featured in the pet grooming store, 'The Dog Barn' in St Helens
The best way to get in touch with Ren is via Etsy at www.renandthread.etsy.com
If you have any comments or thoughts please leave in the box below.
On 13th October 2017 some of our brave Team Members are sleeping outside overnight again to raise money for the Whitechapel Centre - a local homeless charity.
This is the second year we have taken part as a team, and last year we decided to add a crafty element to our sleepout experience, making pompoms with our fellow sleepouters. The pompoms were later donated to the Whitechapel charity shop, Open Door.
This year we decided to go one step further, and we are inviting all team members - even those who don't want to sleep out - to get involved with our plan. We are making crochet and knitted "paper chains" which will be donated to the Whitechapel Centre and used as Christmas decorations in the centre itself. We will be making some of these on the night, but we are appealing to all team members to join in and donate some links to create a big chain garland.
One of this year's Sleepouters, Team Member Gemma Scattergood, of Girl on Purl Action, has tested out the idea and also come up with a really handy pattern sheet, complete with helpful photo instructions, which you can download here. We'll have copies of this available at September and October meetups too.
Each link should only take a short time to create, so if you have any scrap wool then please do give it a go. Any colour is fine - and you can hand over your unsewn links to us at a meetup, or get in touch and we can give you an address to post them to.
Once we have an idea of how many links we have, we will probably need some volunteers to sew it all together too, we will arrange an afternoon where volunteers can get together and do this over coffee and cake.
During June, we're running a month-long Instagram Challenge, inviting local makers to get involved with our daily prompts. You don't have to be a Team Member to participate, we'd love to see all sorts of creativity going on all over Merseyside.
To get involved, simply post on Instagram on the relevant day - your response to the daily word/phrase. Make sure you include the hashtag #merseysidemakers, and have a look at everyone else's posts too!
We've even made a handy downloadable planner for you to plan your month: