Interview With Kate Benjamin Of ModernCat Studio Etsy Shop
All answers are copyright of Kate Benjamin.
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved cats and we always had one while I was growing up, but I didn’t have my own cat as an adult until I was in my 30s. Now I have seven and they are my kids.
2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I started getting into Etsy when the documentary and book Handmade Nation came out. I’ve been a crafter for as long as I can remember (my mom got me started when I was little) but I never thought about making a living selling handmade goods until I saw and read Handmade Nation and started learning about all the other people who were doing exactly that. It’s really exciting that there are so many awesome resources, like Etsy, out there now to help crafters sell their goods. It’s more than just a marketplace, it’s a whole community that can help you become a better business person. There are some other sites, like Artfire where I would consider listing my products, too. It can’t hurt to have them in multiple places.
3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
Yes, my products are at this wonderful handmade art and craft boutique in downtown Phoenix called MADE and also at a local independent pet market, Noble Beast. I also have a little shop set-up in the lobby of my vet’s office, Dreamy Draw Cat Hospital in Phoenix, where I sell my products as well as items made by some of my other favorite Etsy sellers.
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 just started a few months ago, but I’ve had quite a few sales. I corss-promote my Etsy shop on my blog moderncat.net, since I designed a lot of the products specifically for that audience. I think in order to be successful on Etsy you have to do a lot of self-promotion, like giveaways and interviews on other blogs and websites. It’s important to create a buzz around what you do and to also constantly add new things to your shop.
5. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Yes, I’ve had lots of emails with suggestions for different kids of products and improvements to existing products. That’s some of the most valuable feedback and I always appreciate it!
6. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat in some way? (Had to ask.)
I’ve never actually met a Ragdoll in person, but I would love to! My products are made for all kinds of kitties, so I would hope that Ragdolls would like them, too.
7. Are you a one woman show?
I collaborate with other designers to create the products sold through Moderncat Studio. We work together to develop and refine the product concepts and figure out the production methods and materials, then I usually take over manufacturing, marketing and distribution. Everything is sourced locally in Arizona and constructed by hand. It’s a lot of fun to work in a team and I think it leads to some very innovative products.
8. Do you have a blog?
I don’t have a blog for my product line, but I do write about Moderncat Studio products on moderncat.net. I do have a Facebook page specifically for the studio which is a good way for fans to stay up-to-date on the latest products, plus I send out regular emails about what’s happening at the studio. People can sign-up for the email at www.moderncatstudio.com and find us on Facebook.
9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
I don’t have anything that can really be customized right now, but that’s a possibility for the future. Absolutely, customers can return something if they are not fully satisfied. I want everyone to be thrilled with their purchases!
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?
I’ve really enjoyed working on the new line of scratchers with the design team at Juggernaut Design mostly because my cats got to test all the prototypes so I could bring feedback to the design team about how to improve them. Ando, my big black cat, is the best tester! I would bring home several new products for him to check out, and, without fail, he would march right up to each one and give it a good work out. One early design idea for a cardboard scratcher was doomed within seconds because Ando walked up to it and had it completely dismantled in no time. If it can stand up to Ando, it’s a good product!