Interview with Deborah Julian of DeborahJulian Etsy Shop
Deborah Julian has been a photographer for over twenty-five years. She holds degrees in photography and art history. Her photographs have been exhibited and sold in galleries in New York and New Jersey. Along with her more serious photographs, she delights in creating unique and colorful note cards and prints using her three cats as subjects.
Etsy Shop: DeborahJulian
All answers are copyright of Deborah Julian.
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
I have always been an animal lover but I did not have any experience with cats. I foolishly thought they were aloof and distant creatures. Many years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted a pet. We had both grown up with dogs but they were not allowed in our apartment building. A friend convinced us that we would love having a cat. The timing was perfect as I had the good fortune to walk into the Humane Society of New York when my first cat, George, was up for adoption. It was truly love at first sight, as his attention stealing antics made me laugh from the moment I saw him. The volunteers at the Humane Society told me he was a clown but he is much more than that. He is an incredibly intelligent, communicative, fun loving cat with a strong sense of adventure. He is also a loyal and sensitive friend who seems to know when one of us needs special attention or cheering up. This amazing little animal has added so much to our lives. Through George we have come to love cats and he paved the way for Billy and Sammy, two other cats we have adopted. Each cat has a different personality. Billy and Sammy do not have quite have George’s confidence or spirit but they are sweet and loving cats who fit beautifully into our family. As a photographer, I love taking photos of them and creating colorful designs. My cats have given me a second career.
2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I heard about Etsy on the Today Show about two years ago. I’d been making cat note cards and prints for family and friends for a few years and had been contemplating selling them. This year I felt I was ready to start my own business. Etsy made it easy to set up an online shop and the Etsy community has been incredibly helpful and supportive. I am always looking for new ways to sell my work. Besides my Etsy shop http://www.DeborahJulian.etsy.com, I have my own website http://www.deborahjulian.myshopify.com I am also a vendor in several craft fairs this season.
3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
I do not have any wholesale or consignment accounts yet but I have been thinking about pursuing them. Since I also work a day job, I don’t have time to do everything I would like to do.
4. Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy? Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
I have had some sales on Etsy but not as many as I would like. I have been featured on blogs and even had an Etsy Storque feature which brought my shop over 400 views in one day with lots of great comments about my work-but not many sales. I opened my shop in February, which is not prime buying time, and certainly the economy has not helped. But sales are starting to pick up. I have sold quite a few of my prints from my new series on Cats and Great Artists, where I explore what great works of art would look like if the artists had my cats, as they always want to be part of what is going on. My husband and I also worked together on a book, Travels with George: Paris, about two cats who smuggle their way into a trip to Paris. My husband wrote the story (told from the cat’s point of view) and I created fourteen color illustrations. The book is selling quite well and is available on both of my online stores.
5. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Yes, a customer recently asked if she could get certain images which were only available as prints in the form of note cards. I was able to create these for her using a new card making system I had been experimenting with. The cards really looked great, (She loved them!) and I am now selling some of these beautiful individual note cards in my shop.
6. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
Well, Ragdolls are beautiful and would look great in an image. But my working method uses a lot of photographs while I am creating a design. I feel I need to have access to the cats I am portraying so I can try to get the poses I need. It’s easier to work with my own cats.
7. Are you a one wo/man show?
My husband Dave helps a great deal with promoting my work. He created my http://www.deborahjulian.myshopify.com website.
8. Do you have a blog?
Unfortunately I don’t have time for a blog.
9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
I offer my images in various sizes and formats and would always be willing to try to accommodate a special order. I want my customers to be happy with their purchases and would absolutely agree to a return if someone were not pleased. But that has never happened.
10. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
One of my favorite images is “Good Friends Don’t Need a Special Invitation to Have Fun” which was inspired by George jumping into one of the drawers of our sideboard while Billy just about went crazy trying to figure out how he could get in too. Of course I grabbed my camera and started shooting. This happened before we adopted Sammy but I have added him to the image too as I know he would be quick to join in the fun. Most of my cat images are inspired by things I have seen my cats do. They area party waiting to happen.