Thanks to Debra for letting us interview her for the site!
Last June, I had to say goodbye to my beloved companion of 17 years, Edgar. His passing left a large hole in my life that I knew I had to fill, although I wasn’t ready to go out and adopt a new cat. I decided I needed a new hobby, and thought what better way to honour and remember Edgar than to make amazing catnip toys and name my business after him. Edgar’s Attic was born! I loaded up on felt and sourced some premium organic catnip, had some discussions with friends, mocked up some ideas, and away I went. I tested things out with a local craft show this past Christmas. The interest and attention was overwhelmingly positive so I decided to branch out to Etsy. I get lots of compliments on the toys, and lots of laughs over some of the sillier shapes. I’ve still got a number of ideas floating around in my brain so the shop is ever-expanding.
Edgars Attic on Etsy – Get 15% off all purchases of $10 or more (excluding shipping) by using code FLOPPY15 at checkout – valid until June 20, 2013.
How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
As kids, my sister and I had a few gerbils, but that’s it. I actually never really thought much of cats growing up, although I liked the one that lived across the street from us. Once I’d been out on my own for a while, I realized I wanted a pet and a cat fit the bill! Unfortunately, she was not a well kitty, so I only had her for about two years. Friends started getting cats so I was still exposed to them, and knew I would want another some day. Then, one day, a customer of a flower shop I worked in was telling us about this stray kitten she was feeding. He’d apparently been tossed from at least two houses and had nowhere to go. She couldn’t keep him and knew I’d been thinking about getting a new cat – it was love at first sight and he never left my side. He was the gentlest cat I’ve ever known.
Please describe your creative process.
I had a few toy shapes in mind when I started out, and others have been suggested by friends. Still others have been inspired by looking through children’s art templates online. These templates are perfect because they are simple shapes that translate well to the process, and the ideas are practically limitless!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I’d made purchases through Etsy over the years, including cat toys, so I looked into the selling side of things after getting such a great response to my toys from friends, coworkers, and craft show customers. I did look into other online shopping sites, but Etsy is by far the best known and would therefore have the best traffic and possibilities.
Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
It’s something I’ve thought about but haven’t yet pursued.
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’ve sold a lot more in “real life” than online so far. I haven’t hit my first anniversary with Etsy yet, so I’m definitely still building. I’m trying different ideas to get the word out – I’ve done a couple of local craft fairs, friends help out by sharing my posts on Facebook and Google+ (and buying product!), I’ve done a bit of online advertising. I definitely get more traffic after being mentioned on a blog, but I do get my fair share of search traffic as well. Even if someone doesn’t buy, it’s still encouraging when they favourite an item or the whole shop.
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
The ideas for a number of the toys have definitely come from friends (some of whom are customers, too). I guess you could call them unpaid consultants 😉
Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
Trust me, if I had one or knew someone with one, a Ragdoll would be front and centre! They are such beautiful kitties, and I’ve read great things about them.
Are you a one wo/man show?
Yes, it’s just me from start to finish.
Do you have a blog?
Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
If someone contacted me looking for a specific shape, I would most definitely try to work with them. As it would be custom, there would be pictures and consultation throughout, so hopefully there would be no cause for return once it’s all finished and shipped. That said, I always want my customers to be happy! I love it when folks send me pictures of their cats playing with the toys. I have been asked about existing toys in colours other than as shown in the shop, and that is definitely possible.
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?
Edgar will always be the inspiration behind the shop and the toys. I love coming up with new ideas and wonder which ones would get his paw of approval. Edgar was definitely a catnip fan and would have adored these toys. I guess that’s the ironic part. If he were still around, I probably would not have started this little business – he would want them all for himself and I wouldn’t have had the heart to deny him each and every toy.