Get Real: Montana Woman Moves Confidently away from Etsy.com in Business Website Launch

When I first contacted Julie Burns from Missoula, Montana’s Gypsy Moon Designs, she was about to take a dramatic leap.  Launching a standalone website (powered by BigCartel) and a marketing campaign would permanently establish herself and her company as a legitimate online business, and cut the cord from her pre-fabricated storefront on popular shopping site, Etsy.com.  I was pleased to catch her at the crest of this transition, one that many of us are likely to make as we educate ourselves in marketing techniques, business fundamentals, and gain much-needed confidence.


 Julie has always taken her business seriously. Her very first day in Missoula, she approached a jewelry street vendor and started asking questions... And the answers she received, coupled with a high motivational drive and sense of self, empowered her to begin her own venture. Soon, Julie was selling her wares in front of Sterling Savings Bank at the intersection of Higgins and Main Street, giving herself an instant job.  “[But] hot summer days and cold Decembers can be exhausting as a street vendor,” she explains, “So many of the tourists were asking if I was online.” So when she found Etsy, she left street vending for good in favor of the comfort of her home and  embarked on an exciting world marketplace.  And with over 1,800 positive feedback ratings on her shop, one would agree Etsy + Gypsy Moon Designs = a match made in heaven.

Julie attributes the bulk of her success to a growing customer base due to her efforts to self-educate (through online research).  “I have learned so much about marketing and sales from the Etsy forums. Even if you do not have a Etsy shop I recommend searching the forums for valuable information. A major factor for any online business is being found. Search engine optimization (SEO) is something you will spend most of your time on. It's all about creating keywords for your site and back links,” she says.
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Also, her confidence didn’t come overnight. “When I lived in Taos, New Mexico, I starting making jewelry and selling it at local markets. I also owned a gift shop in Taos. Taos is an artist community full of wonderful galleries and boutiques. I worked in a few fun galleries prior to taking the leap into store owner.” These experiences have given Julie an entrepreneurial edge. What experiences can you draw from that will give you 
an edge, too?

Gypsy Moon Designs will begin its online advertising campaign through Facebook and ads placed on high-traffic blogs. We look forward to hearing how these venues are working!

Other than marketing through her Gypsy Moon Designs Facebook page, Julie relies on face-to-face networking. “Most of my networking is done locally at Missoula Saturday Market. Friends will tell you about upcoming shows…  I generally hand out 1000 business cards during the Summer. This past holiday season I had a huge order of necklaces from someone back east who I gave my card to while she was at the Missoula Saturday Market.”

Why Julie loves her job:

"I love creating. Color and texture are so fun to play with. I could stay up all night making jewelry. Also, when a customer emails you and tells you how much they love the piece. Complements are very encouraging and rev you up for more creating." 

"I must admit I love working for myself too. It takes discipline, you work many more hours than you would working for someone else, but it is so rewarding.

Julie’s advice to an aspiring businesswoman:

"Often people think you open a store and money just comes pouring in. Nope. A business is built one small step at a time. Stay focused, disciplined; determine who your target market is. 

This to me is the most valuable advice, open a savings account. Retail sales are always up and down. If you have money saved for the lean times you are less stressed. I think customers pick up on desperation. Lastly, do not undervalue your work. 

When it comes to pricing I usually set the price and then raise it by 20% more. I learned that trick from financial advisor, Suze Orman. She said that most woman undervalue their work by 20%. If it is a well crafted piece there is a customer for it."
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This is the second installment in my latest series: "I Love My Job: Stories of Real Missoula Business Owners" Read more about this series and how to be featured here. Thanks for reading! It's easy to get Songbird's Branch delivered to your inbox. Just see the "follow by email" button on the sidebar! Never stop learning, growing, and reaching. 

Content by Laura Gabriele