“I’ve had a love of paper since I was old enough to realize there was a pen and paper,” the wife and mother of three said with a laugh. Even during her stint in the U.S. Navy, she always carried a notebook and pen in her uniform pocket.
Her interest spread to paper crafts, especially handmade cards and gift tags.
“I love making cards, but I’m really terrible about sending them. I have good intentions, but I never do,” Skinner said. “You can only make so many cards, and then what do you do with them?”
Skinner, a court interpreter for the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, found a way to turn her hobby into a business through Etsy.com, an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items. Imagine the ultimate county festival without the hassle of booth set-up and the uncertainty of weather. Even better, crafters from around the world have Etsy shops.
Skinner’s shop, Dreaming by the Sea, features handmade cards, custom-covered notebooks and her latest hobby, etched glasses. The shop name was inspired by her love of the sea. She was born near the coast in Lima, Peru; raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; and joined the U.S. Navy – to be at sea.
She draws inspiration for her crafts from everyday things – from color schemes found in catalogue layouts to needs for special family occasions.
“When my sister had her son last September, I didn’t want to just give her a card. I wanted her to have something that she would be able to look at all the time.”
The result was a framed keepsake made of Skinner’s favorite things – paper and ink.
She even draws inspiration from other crafters on Etsy.
“There’s a lot of stay at home mom’s on there. A lot of things they do is inspired by their kids.”
Since its launch in 2005, the internet site has become so popular that Etsy reported revenue of $314 million last year.
Registering to sell on Etsy is easy and affordable. The listing fee is only 20 cents per item. For example, a set of four mugs would list for 80 cents. When an item sells, Etsy collects an additional 3.5 percent of the sale price.
For Skinner, the site is more than a place to sell her handmade goods. It’s a community.
“They’re really helpful if you have questions,” she said. “They give you all kinds of tips on how to sell and how to get your name out there. They’re more than happy to help.
“It’s almost like you’re making friends with people, and you don’t even know them.”
She did have help from some people she knows when it came time to promote her Etsy shop. Her sister, Paolo Seminario, linked dreamingbythesea to Skinner’s Facebook page and to her blog, dreamingbythesea.blogspot.com, both marketing recommendations from the online Etsy community. For blog advice, she turned to Trigg County native Beth Wallace Sachan.
Skinner isn’t the only Trigg County shop on Etsy.
JDB Knives features handmade sporting knives and cowhide scabbards.
Braino’s Vinyl sells a variety of vintage items, including 12- and 7-inch vinyl records.
To find any of these shops, including Skinner’s, go to Etsy.com and type the shop name into the on-site Search engine.