Interview With Natalie Fontane Of Scrivenerferret Etsy Shop
Natalie Fontane lives in North Las Vegas with her boyfriend Dave and her six ferrets. This twenty-seven year old has been sewing since she was eight and has been making stuffed pet toys for two years and enjoys every minute of it. Natalie grew up with cats rather than dogs, so she strives to ensure that each ferret toy she makes can double as a cat toy. Her business Scrivener’s Retreat offers a variety of stuffed meat and prey toys for your carnivore kitty as well as many fun toys animal lovers might like. Natalie prides herself on offering cute, safe toys for pets. In her home, pets are children. Everything is done for them first and foremost.
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
When I was four and my sister was two, my parents adopted Bitsy from the Humane Society. She was a yellow tabby who was very well-behaved because she would let me kiss and hold her as long as I liked. The house I went to for day care had a cat, cocker spaniel, and parakeets as pets, so I developed a love for animals very early on. Even watching cartoons with cat/mouse or bird/cat characters, I always sided with the cat. I never wanted to see Sylvester or Tom get beaten up for just doing what cats are meant to do. I have had ten cats in my life, and they were all special and different. I currently only live with ferrets because my boyfriend is extremely allergic to cats. Maybe one day they will invent a shot to cure cat allergies, and I will have as many as I like.
2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I believe an old manager at work was reading an article about a girl who sold a ton of purses on Etsy. The article explained the fees and shop structures. I compared it to what I knew about Ebay’s fees and decided it would be worth a shot to sell there. I had only been making stuffed pet toys about a month before discovering Etsy, but I had been sewing for years. I don’t remember considering other ways to sell them or even selling them at all before I found Etsy.
3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
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I don’t currently sell in stores in my state, but I do have products on California and Canada shelves. I would be delighted to sell to many more pet boutiques.
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 think I have been pretty successful, but there are times when I wonder where all the buyers are or what I’m doing wrong when I don’t make sales. I got a lot of traffic and sales when Etsy had its Gift Guides because I was in quite a few for the Pet category, but they have stopped that. I really only get a spike in views or sales when I advertise on Facebook or do a lot of promoting or posting in the Etsy forums. Unfortunately, with my day job, I don’t have a lot of time for that.
5. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
I have asked a few friends on a frequented ferret forum (http://ferretharmony.com) what kind of toys they might like to see. A few of them have made it into my shop, and the others are just waiting to be cut into patterns. I also have plans to write a survey and send it to my fans to find out what direction they would like to see Scrivener’s Retreat take.
6. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat in some way? (Had to ask.)
Currently, I only have the stuffed ferrets for pet lovers, but I would be happy to create a Ragdoll should anyone ask. I love making new patterns and challenging my skills.
7. Are you a one woman show?
Yes, I am a one woman show, but I do have help from my boyfriend Dave when I exhibit at pet events. He is also very supportive and encouraging with my business and all aspects of my life when things aren’t going as planned.
8. Do you have a blog?
Yes, and I post several times a week. I often feature pet-related topics, Etsy sellers, or just share my passions with my readers. You can follow the blog at http://scrivenersretreat.blogspot.com
9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
Yes, and I love making custom orders. I always show pictures of the completed product before mailing it out, but if a customer doesn’t like it after receiving it, I will take it back if it is something I can sell to someone else.
10. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on?
About a year ago, my father Benny was very sick and in the hospital with complications from cancer. I had flown home to Louisiana and was sitting at the computer in my mom’s house petting our three-legged yellow tabby Chester. I looked out the window and saw two red cardinals swooping around one another. My dad was a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, and seeing the birds, I got this strange feeling about him. My sister and I went to the hospital, and half an hour later, he died. When I got back home to Las Vegas, I decided to make a stuffed pet toy to commemorate him. He loved cats as well and called Chester The Amazing Three-Legged Cat. He had been hit by a car before we found him, and Daddy thought it was amazing he was alive. It was then that I made Benny the Cardinal toys. These are cute little plush cardinals with bells sewn on the tails. Benny the Cardinal can also be attached to a tether to make it a teaser toy.