Mollie Flately is the founder of Nora Jane. Nora Jane is a handmade rubber stamp company that Mollie operates from her home. According to handmadeology.com, Mollie is the 8th highest gross selling handmade artisan on Etsy. That’s quite an accomplishment. In the six years since she’s been selling her handmade rubber stamps on Etsy, Mollie has made over 60,000 sales.
Here is her story:
Q: What’s the meaning behind your brand name Nora Jane?
A: When I was pregnant with my first child, I had picked out the name Nora Jane if the baby turned out to be a girl. I had a son instead, but I guess I still ended up using the name, just not as expected.
Q: What inspired you to make and sell your products on Etsy and what inspired the particular type of product you create and sell?
A: My parents are full-time ceramic artists, and have been for over thirty years, so I grew up knowing that you could build a life off of creative endeavors if you put enough work into it. My mom was the one who started making stamps, originally making them to use on clay pieces. I caught the rubber stamp bug and we have been making them since 2002.
Q: Why did you decide to sell your products on Etsy as opposed to selling them on your own website?
A: Our stamps were a natural fit for Etsy’s approach to marketing handmade crafts. Importantly, they also appeal to younger buyers, comfortable shopping online, that normally wouldn't specifically seek out rubber stamps.
Q: When you initially launched your Etsy account, did you ever think that you'd be able to make a living selling your products?
A: Absolutely not. I had no idea what I was about to step into. When I first began Etsy I had no expectations for how much I would sell. I started my shop only selling pillows, but later added stamps. After that things got busy.
Q: How many months or years did it take before your business on Etsy became profitable?
A: I would say probably about two. I learned a lot by trial and error, figuring out what things worked in listings as opposed to what did not.
Q: When you first established your business on Etsy did you have a job? If so, how did you balance a job while also building a business?
A: I was, and still am, a stay at home mom. That being said, I kind of work around my kids and what they happen to be doing. This has gotten easier since they are all out of diapers now, but there are days when Etsy is not as big of a priority.
Q: With over 60,000 sales in 6 years, you've become one of Etsy's top sellers. What do you attribute the success of your business to?
A: I sell an affordable, multi-purpose product. The product photos are also key. Your listing picture is the biggest chance of getting a customer into your shop, so it has to stand out and can’t be sloppy. Customer service is also really important to me, and I try my hardest to keep people happy.
Q: Many artisans struggle with calling their work a business? Do you feel this way or are you conscious of the fact that you're building a business and a brand?
A: It is definitely a business for me, but the brand creates itself. We simply want to sell quality products and have satisfied customers. i work hard to do accomplish those two things and believe they’re the foundation of the shop’s success.
Q: Do you ever fear that Etsy will decline or eventually face obscurity as many other online shopping platforms have? If so, do you have a plan to transition your business to a platform of your own or does this issue not concern you?
A: I think that if Etsy were to ever burn out, you would know what it would be replaced with well before that time came.
Q: Do you currently or have you ever spent money marketing or advertising your products on Etsy? If so, has this been successful or worthwhile?
A: Yes. You have to actively promote yourself, but you have to do it intelligently. There used to be ad slots you could purchase on Etsy called ‘the showcase’, and I did that a bit. I do still pay for search ads on Etsy, which displays one of my shop listings on Etsy when certain search words are entered in by a customer. Both have been worth it for me.
Q: If Etsy or a platform like it didn't exist, how would this have impacted your ability to pursue your passion?
A: I would still be making, but I have no idea where it would be going. Maybe I would be on Hoarders and surrounded by mountains of stamps and sewn pieces.
Q: How has the freedom of building your own business impacted your lifestyle and your outlook on life?
A: What I like best is that I don’t have to work for someone else, and I don’t have to leave my kids.