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Starting An Etsy Business: Blue Bell Bazaar

by Grace Bonney

I started my very own business, Abigail Vintage, two years ago, selling vintage home accessories on Etsy. The thrill of starting something from scratch, from a tiny flicker of an idea to an actual business has been one of the most exciting things I’ve accomplished.

I often get asked for my advice on starting a business on Etsy and today I’m thrilled to share two great interviews with women who’ve started Etsy businesses. Tomorrow I’ll share my own advice and some practical tools to help those of you who are dreaming of starting a business of your own.

First up is an interview with vintage guru Gosia Korsakowski of Blue Bell Bazaar . If you aren’t already familiar with her perfectly curated shop, check it out here. Gosia, thank you for sharing your insights and influences!

So…. When and how did you start your business… tell us your story! What was your first concrete step?

I was born and raised in Poland. I’ve always been entrepreneurial: during my college years a friend and I ran an art gallery, where we sold the art work of students from the Art Academy. Later I worked for a couple years in the fashion business. Then I got married and moved to the States! During my vacations to Europe I was always looking for interesting objects to bring back home. It all began when I started buying old glassware on vacation. Inspired by these vintage objects, I started making drawings of glassware of my own design. One vacation I went to Czech Republic to look for a glass maker who could execute my designs. I started selling my glass for some time and later I added vintage finds to my offerings. Most of my clients were store owners, interior designers, and prop stylists. I was looking for a way to reach individual consumers and so I was very happy to find Etsy, where I started selling in 2007.

What do you look for when you shop for Blue Bell Bazaar? Colors, shapes, a certain price point? Without giving away any trade secrets, where do you do the bulk of your buying?

When I buy finds I always think “is this something that I would like to have in my home?’” During my buying trips I’m focused on design, shape, colors. Not so much on the maker names. Of course price is very important to. I’m trying to keep my prices reasonable.
Since I was little my parents took me and my brother every summer across Europe. I think that traveling and seeing different cultures shaped my taste over the years. Also a major influence was my mom’s love for shopping. During our trips I would go with her to antique stores and flea markets to look for that one right find. In terms of buying for Blue Bell Bazaar, I look for finds every week. I work with many antique dealers, I go to auctions and antique shows, and of course flea markets.

What do you find most challenging about running your vintage business? The most rewarding?

The most rewarding part is finding unique objects that touch people lives. For example some time ago I found an old wedding cake figurine, which one lady bought it because it was exactly the same figurine as on her wedding cake. Or one girl bought a music box because it reminded her of her grandmother’s box. I love those moments when I receive messages from buyers, who are so happy with my finds.

And, of course, it is rewarding for me personally when I find something special in the course of shopping for Blue Bell Bazaar. A couple months ago I bought an Italian drawing of a woman with child by Aldo Luongo. It was very special for me because it was made in the same year when I was born and the woman from this art work looks exactly like my mom. It was so magical when I saw it for the first time. I had to buy it.

The most challenging part is looking for interesting objects. It really takes a lot of time and a lot of work to find the right artwork, the right figurine, the right industrial object, etc…

How much time a week do you spend on your business? Is it your full time job?

I work full time for one foundation. I can say that selling vintage finds and my glass is my second job, about 30-35 hours a week, sometimes 40, buying, making photos, listing, meeting with my local buyers, packing and shipping, responding to e-mails. I would love to one day say that Blue Bell Bazaar is my full time job.

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  • I couldn’t get either of the links to Blue Bell Bazaar to work and when I tried searching for it on Etsy, nothing came up. Just thought I’d give you a heads up! And I really enjoyed the post, thanks!

  • Thanks for the great interview! I think its great advice to make sure you only sell things which you would be proud to have at your own place.

  • i have wanted to start an etsy shop for a long time. this interview is inspiring to me and might give me that push.

  • great interview! I started my etsy vintage shop 5 months ago. I love finding things I love to sell to others and agree, when a customer tells you their story and what their purchase means to them it’s the best!

  • hi guys! this comment was eaten in the server move yesterday:

    Thanks for writing this. Very inspirational. I do have a question, now that shipping costs are up, how do you know what to charge and what is your preferred shipping method?

  • Hi Cheryl, that is a great question and something I should have clarified in my post! I ship USPS first class mail. I avoid Priority unless it is a very heavy item or I’m running a promotion around the holidays. I have a small food scale that I use to weigh an item and then calculate via the USPS website how much it will cost. I’ve noticed that buyers are VERY sensitive to shipping costs, ie, they would rather pay more for an item and pay a flat $5 shipping fee. I rarely charge more than $5 on shipping for this reason — if an item cost more than $5 to ship, I’ll add the extra on to the price of the item. I hope this helps!

  • for me the challenge has been knowing how much inventory to keep in my etsy shop ( i just started a vintage baby/toddler clothing shop). it’s hard to be able to anticipate demand.

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