Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Interview With The Tattered Tower

Welcome to the fifth in my series of Sydney Etsy Team member interviews. Today I'm featuring The Tattered Tower who creates lovely little steampunk inspired things!  

Who are you?

My name is Sarah. I'm a 22-year old Sydney girl with a love for anything outside the modern day era and in my spare time I'm a medievalist, a re-enactor and a Steampunk enthusiast.

What do you do?

I also run The Tattered Tower, a small business that specialises in Medieval and Steampunk inspired clothing, jewelery and accessories. I create items you're not likely to see anywhere else, things that will catch the eye and work as functional items (and historically accurate pieces where I can) while still allowing you to take bits of history with you wherever you go.

What is your background in making?

I've been crafting and sewing since I could get my mother to trust me to use her sewing machine and to get my father to let me use the tools in his shed. I've always enjoyed anything that allows me to use my hands and see an end result I could be proud of, but my real love for creating things outside of the modern era came when I joined a local historial group in '07 and started sewing tunics and dresses for the group and learning how to make my own gauntlets, swords and hard kit. It was love from then on.

How did you learn your trade?

Learn? I'm still learning :) Still working out how not to glue my fingers together or that it's a bad idea to sew at 2am when you haven't slept. It's all a massive learning process but you listen to other people (even if you don't always take their advice), you learn from your mistakes and you keep making improvements.

Who or what inspires you?

A combination of things including history itself, friends I have in the Steampunk and Medieval movements and 3am conversations over coffee and mead.

What themes do you explore in your work? 

What I try to do is to create a functional, wearable item while still maintaining the charm of the era and the high standard of materials and craftsmanship. At the moment most of my jewelery and clothing caters towards a female audience with emphasis on the very 'ladylike' ideals of the Victorian era.

What mediums do you work in? 

Mostly fabric and metal at the moment though I have been known to play with leather, wood and found items/mixed media on occasion.

Why do you create?

I create things that I would personally want to wear. I noticed there was a gap in the market for high-quality individual items in my area rather than mass-manufactured things that you'd buy off eBay. I want to make items that start conversations and make people feel good while wearing them.

 How did you come to open a store on Etsy?

 I had been looking for a medium to sell my items for a while before I opened my Etsy store in January this year. I only had a few and I was 'testing the water' so to speak. I needed to know if there was an interest for what I was making and Etsy provided not only a good starting point for a novice seller, but a fantastic community of experienced members, more exposure than I would have had on other sites and a very proffessional looking storefront.

How do you feel when you make a sale?

 Most of my sales come from one-on-one transactions at markets and events rather than online, so it's always fantastic to see my customers walk away with a bounce in their step because they've purchased something they've fallen in love with. It really makes my day.

What are your top Etsy tips?

You only get as much interest in your items as the effort you put into the listing. Don't skimp on descriptions or tags because if you don't give customers something to be interested in, well, they won't be interested at all.

People judge by what they can see, not by how the item might look so make sure your pictures are clear with enough lighting to give your potential buyers a good idea of what you're selling.
Don't rely on the wonder of your items to lure people to your store. If you want sales, take your items to the customer! Marketing is SO important, even if it just involves you asking a few friends to spread the word or starting up a blog or Twitter account (I was amazed at how many views I first got when I started a Twitter account!). There are so many free advertising mediums online, so use them all before you start paying for advertising elsewhere.

Where else can we see or buy your work?

At the moment I'm selling mainly off my Etsy page while a website is underway, but between now and next year you'll also catch me at HEAPS of markets around the Sydney area - Bundeena, St Mary's community markets and the I Heart Gallery markets. I'll also be having a stall at Ironfest in Lithgow early next year (trust me, it's worth a look!).

Any extra info you'd like to include?

Don't get disheartened if you don't make sales from the moment you open your shop. It took me almost five months before I sold my first item and seven months before I made my first online sale. People are fussy buyers and are really influenced by 'the terrors' of the economy, seasonal events like Christmas or just general indecision. A lot of the time you really have to work for your sales and, even if you don't end up actually making a sale, you generally have made someone's day, made a new contact or need more business cards! Don't forget that you're not only selling your items, but you're selling yourself to your customer too. If you've got the prettiest items but the worst attitude, you can kiss those dollars goodbye.

If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. It's free, it's effective and it comes with a free smile (at participating venues). People are much more likely to remember you as the person they had an awesome conversation with about a cool shop then they are to check up on your business card that's been sitting in the bottom of a desk draw in 6 months time.

Thanks for the interview Sarah!

You can add The Tattered Tower on facebook here, on twitter here, on tumblr here and find her Etsy store here! It will be well worth your while as The Tattered Tower hosts regular giveaways on her facebook page.

If you're a Sydney Etsy Team member and would like to be interviewed, featured, or do a guest blog post, please convo me on Etsy at I'd love to hear from you!


All photos used in this post are copyright to The Tattered Tower and used with their kind permission.