The Lady Eclectic: a local artist launches an online store
The development of online craft marketplaces like Etsy has played a unique role in establishing entrepreneurs, small businesses and up-and-coming artisans who otherwise would not have the means or the opportunity to sell their creations. unique.
Especially for people like Eryn Kelly who live in rural western Montana.
Kelly’s virtual storefront might not be on the main thoroughfare of Alberton’s Railroad Avenue, but if it was, you’d know it was hers because she’d have a bit of everything.
She said, “My name is The Lady Eclectic because I sell different beautiful things. During my journey to become a professional artist, I tried to sell many different things.
The Great Falls native, who holds a degree in media arts, once worked at a bakery, is married and has a daughter at home. This is where the flexibility and prospect of owning an online business really benefits Kelly as a working mom.
“Etsy is a dream come true for introverted artists,” she remarked. “And having an online store where I can work from home and not put it in daycare is much better for me.”
This soulful artist started out selling henna jewelry and body art at the Missoula Peoples Market. Kelly said: “I did this for four summers until I had my daughter. I still do henna locally. I hosted a henna body art class last summer at Crescent Ridge Farm here in Alberton.
Today, Lady Eclectic’s main focus is to carefully design dried flower creations for gifts, home decor and weddings.
Kelly explained, “I learned the trade from someone in Missoula who had a very successful Etsy dried flower store. I worked for her for about a year and then moved on.
When the pandemic started, Kelly was fired from her job at Petit Outré in Missoula. She confessed: “I had toyed with the idea of starting my own dried flower shop, but never had the start-up money or the security to do so. I used some of the government stimulus money to invest in my own shop.
Her business is not like traditional flower shops, filled with vibrant greenery and vibrant flower arrangements. Its bouquets and beautiful buds are intricately dried and fused together in various patterns. Kelly shared, “I sell a lot of small bouquets for gifts. Valentine’s Day is my biggest holiday. Weddings, however, bring in the most money. If a bride wants a large number of flowers, she should order in advance.
In this case, Kelly must put aside the flowers she already has or acquire them in the summer and store them until the time to arrange them. She clarified: “Dried flowers should be stored away from light and moisture. But you also don’t want them to get too dry and brittle. Airtight plastic bins are perfect for this.
Kelly obtains many of her flowers locally and grows them then dries them herself. She laughed, “Come August, there are flowers hanging all over my house. I work from home at the moment. The next step is to get one of these fabulous She Sheds and set up my workshop there.
She also buys flowers, wheat and oats from a farm in Washington, which specializes in selling dried flowers in bulk. Pieces sold in the Lady Eclectic shop
feature straw flowers. Kelly detailed: “These are probably the hardiest and most colorful dried flowers. The whole family of immortal flowers are the best to work with. I usually use wheat as the main structure and oats to add movement.
Ironically, she noted, “Some of the flowers I use, I’ll steam them before I work them. The steam adds moisture to them, keeps them from falling apart, without causing them to wilt or brown.
When shipping her amazing, desiccated flora, Kelly must be especially careful. She said: “Dried flowers are fragile so I use a lot of tissue paper to keep them from moving around in the box. I rarely have packages destroyed. And another asset that small businesses rely heavily on in rural areas is the email system. Kelly said: “I use the Alberton post office. I’m still worried that it’s being canceled here with talks about withdrawing USPS services. If this happened, it would really affect my business.
His shop has been open for a little over two years now. Every summer, Kelly has to stock flowers and other plants to make sure she has enough produce for her orders. Some of its most common buyers are wedding planners.
“I make bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages and flower crowns. I also dabbled in altar decoration,” Kelly said.
One of the most memorable designs Kelly worked on was also for a wedding. She recalled: “I had a bride who asked for an engagement ring with flowers. At first I thought she was crazy because they are just too flimsy.
She continued, “After doing it, I was pleasantly surprised at how durable it was. The ring itself is made from a small willow branch. Of course, they’re meant to be worn for photos or a special event and then locked up for safekeeping.
Kelly has a small collection of flower rings in her shop, but added: “These haven’t really caught on yet. I think it’s because people aren’t looking for them. They are quite niche. So it’s my job to get them seen. She also makes handmade paper cards with flower petals. Customers can get a card and a mini bouquet, perfect for a small, meaningful gift.
“I also experiment with painted wheat and flowers in my designs. I get the most pleasure from creating new designs. And it hasn’t slowed down at all. There are so many combinations to put together,” beamed Kelly.
Kelly learned invaluable lessons along the way. She said, “Having a successful Etsy shop means you have to be good at things like communication, photography, presenting, multitasking, shipping, and of course your craft. If you have a great product but don’t communicate well and quickly, your store will suffer. Kelly added, “You also need to know how to properly package your product. If it doesn’t get to your customer in one piece and in a timely manner, your store will suffer. »
In addition to selling online, Kelly tried to promote her wares at nearby craft fairs. She said: “I sold my flowers locally at Christmas markets and at a store in St. Regis. But people usually pick them up and break them. So it’s not ideal for me. With an online store, the wh
ole world has access to my products.
The Lady Eclectic boutique is doing well and continues to grow. Regarding future plans, Kelly noted, “When I’m done building my family and can work more, I’ll expand and have an employee or two.”
In the meantime, you can find his unique creations through his shop on www.etsy.com/shop/theladyeclectic. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.