Small Business Saturday with Tea Stained Madness

Owner Name: Elliott Addesso
Business Name: Tea Stained Madness
Business Based inVirginia
Social Media Accounts: @teastainedmadness
Hash Tages Used:  #teastainedmadness

What products or services do you offer?
Whimsical tea-stained prints created using antique scientific illustrations and collaged imagery.

How long have you been in business?
Since 2013

What inspired you to start your own company? 
As a person with a visual arts background, I heard about Etsy as a platform for selling art, but I never produced much artwork post-college so I always put off the idea of starting a shop. And in general, with each new drawing or painting I deemed a success, I would write off/ hate the work I had made previously- so curating a shop with 10-20 required pieces was daunting. Then I actually went to the Etsy site and looked at what some successful shops were doing; a few shops were printing found imagery over antique dictionary pages – things like medical anatomy or hot air balloons.  I knew I could do something like that, but with my own twist.

At this moment, my perception of what Etsy was /could be shifted from a site where I could sell some of my art to a platform for a new business opportunity.  In the following weeks, I spent a lot of time building my shop and creating products before finally going live with my Etsy shop.  I thought I was going to be really busy initially, but I was wrong.  Partly because it was the summer (generally a slow season) and partly because I hadn’t honed in on the right subject matter, I didn’t get my first sale until almost two weeks in and only three sales total in that first month.  It wasn’t what I expected, but I followed the pattern of what was selling and listened to buyer’s requests. After my first holiday season with about 30 product listings, I was encouraged and had a real sense of what I needed to do to make the shop more successful, and two years later, I had my most successful month to date with over 300 product listings and more than 650 orders in December 2015.

Favorite part of owning your own company?
Creating new products and feedback from customers.

What is an obstacle that you found you were unprepared for?  
Initially shipping and more specifically packaging was something I hadn’t had a lot of experience with; however, over time I’ve figured out the best materials to ship my products.

How do you put your business out there?
Instagram, Craft fairs

What mobile apps/online resources help your business the most?
Etsy, Square

What are your favorite tools to help with workflow and organization?
Quickbooks Self-Employed, a DYMO label writer for quick and easy label printing for shipping

How do you maintain balance in life?
I’m not sure that I do.  Honestly, I think maintaining balance is a bit of a myth.  If you are committed and passionate about what you are doing you are probably devoting a majority of your free time to it.

Any words of wisdom for people looking to launch a business of their own?
I try to do a few art fairs/shows a year.  It’s fun to see how people react and what sells in person vs. online.  I don’t want to limit myself to only Etsy and I think sellers should try to find as many ways to get their work out including online, wholesale, shows, and consignments.

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