From A Cat Painting To 7k+ Sales On Etsy Today

Often in life, we look for inspiration in celebrated people, who are commercially successful and have made it big in life. We set that as a benchmark for us and we won’t settle for anything less. But the fact is, inspiration is all around us. It’s in your mailman, your shopkeeper, your house-help, your parents, your teacher and even in the last person you thought you could draw inspiration from.

We introduce a special series of blog posts to you, wherein, we’ll bring examples of people just like you, to you, every week.

We’ll ask them a few questions, whose answers we’ll document for you to read. Their journeys have been nothing short of an inspiration. We support small businesses and anything that’s handmade, and all these people have excelled in their such respective ventures.

Meet Rachel Byler from The Colorful Cat Studio on Etsy, who named her shop after a special painting of her cat she made that later gave her life a new path. She started off in the year 2013 and has come a long way ever since, having over 7k sales.

First of all, congratulations on your success. So, what gave birth to your shop idea? Could you share a bit about that?

Thank you for reaching out and wanting to hear my story! I’m so grateful that I’m able to make a living as an artist and hopefully encourage other creators through your blog. I started my shop in 2013 when I was in the process of looking for a job. I graduated with a degree in Art Education and although I like teaching, what I truly love is painting and the whole process of creating. So, one night I was painting my new kitten and my husband insisted that I share the finished art online. The response was so positive that I decided to open an Etsy shop on the side. So with that first piece in mind, I started “The Colorful Cat Studio”.

Rachel at work, painting one of her pieces
Tell us something about your initial struggle. How did you make your first five sales?

Well, when I first started my shop it was more of a dream and a hobby. I did not think that I would actually be able to be a full-time artist. The first few months were really slow and my first 5 sales were just random people that found me through searching Etsy. Because I wasn’t working, I just decided that if there was ever a time to “just go for it”, it was now. So I started painting like crazy to get more prints on Etsy and putting all my time into my shop and my art. I wish I had a specific answer as to how to start on Etsy, but I think it comes down to hard work and creating something that resonates with others.

What are some specific roadblocks to look out for, that you had to learn the hard way?

I would say I ran into some roadblocks with shipping my art. Figuring out how to pack art for shipping and keeping it undamaged is difficult because you can’t control how it is handled. I found it is important to research and look into good sturdy materials. I tried so many different types of packaging and shipping materials, and I think some of my trial and error could have been avoided if I had looked into it more ahead of time. This can be applied to a lot of aspects of opening a shop. Reading and researching before diving in can keep you from getting overwhelmed. Taking it one day at a time and giving yourself room to learn and make mistakes can make a world of difference.

Usually, people would be at an all-time low during bad times. How do you push yourself through them?

You are always going to have slower months or stressful times running your own shop. What I try to do is think about the positive things I have accomplished and also to take a step back. Sometimes taking a break is so important. You can see things in a new light and just have room to breathe. It is also key to not compare your art or shop to others. There are a lot of incredible artists in the world and if you start negatively comparing yourself to others, it never helps.

..one night I was painting my new kitten and my husband insisted that I share the finished art online. The response was so positive that I decided to open an Etsy shop on the side. So with that first piece in mind, I started “The Colorful Cat Studio”.

So, every successful person has success habits they follow. For you, what are they?

Two habits that have really helped me are sticking to a schedule and keeping myself inspired to paint. My current schedule is alternating printing and painting days. So two days a week are designated to painting only, so I can focus completely on what I am making. Two other days are solely for printing and packaging orders. The fifth day I use for printing or painting, depending on what I need the day for, more. Having a schedule keeps me organized and allows me to fully concentrate on what I am working on. Keeping myself inspired to paint is also really important. I try to travel when I can and to read! If you are excited about what you are working on then it never really feels like “work”.

What is your favorite quote, that always works for you?

I have so many favorite quotes that it is hard to choose! One that is very important to me is from The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. “May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.” This quote is very close to my heart because it reminds me of my childhood. More than that it reminds me that no matter what you should never stop exploring, never stop creating, and never stop being yourself.

Which is your favorite book that really inspired you? Or what inspires you, in general?

I love reading and I love books, so that makes this question really hard! The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, and the Harry Potter books are all my favorites and I can’t choose one over the others! I think fantasy books in general transport you to a whole other world where you can stretch your imagination and find endless inspiration. Being out in nature, and experiencing the earth’s beauty also inspires me daily. I try to take a lot of photos from trips so I can look back and get inspired when I cannot get out a lot.

Some organizational tips for us. How do you organize your time?

Like I mentioned earlier, I organize my time by dividing up my weekdays. But for me, another way I stay organized is by taking some time out each day to pick up around my print shop and studio. I feel, if I keep my work areas cleaner, things don’t get as overwhelming on busy days.

This one is important. What according to you is the biggest reason why people are likely to fail?

I think a lot of people don’t always put in the work that is required to succeed. But, more than that I think that they don’t step back and look at the big picture. I have noticed that a lot of artists only want to paint what they like. I think it is very important for an artist to be true to themselves, but at the same time if you want a successful business you have to consider not only what you like, but, also what others would like to buy, as well. I think you can still stay true to yourself while also making room to consider what your audience wants to see. Being flexible and willing to listen to others can really help you succeed!

Lastly, what’s the one advice you’d like to give to our readers?

That it is ok to make mistakes! I have tried tons of different techniques and approaches that I ended up not using or ditched right away. Most people don’t just hit it big, but they struggled and experimented for a long time to get where they are. Making mistakes helps us learn and be better artists and people.

'The Colorful Cat Studio' workstation

Check out her fabulous Etsy shop “The Colorful Cat Studio” and discover what her art is about. Each and every piece is made by her, solely, and we can’t appreciate her beautiful art enough.

We, at GemMart USA, support small businesses and anything handmade. Are you looking to open your own jewelry store and don’t know where to start from? Are you a jewelry designer and looking for amazing jewelry supplies? You’re at the right place! Contact us for any such concern and we’ll be at your service. Always delighted to help!

Blog Comments

So nice to see great things happening for great people!!! Thank you for the inspiring coverage of another terrific and successful Etsy entrepreneur!

Thank you for reading it, Clemmie! Stay tuned for more such posts, we’ll be bringing a story every week! 🙂

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