Would you believe you could land more sales at your shop just by having a more positive outlook? This week we chat with Mavis Stevens from MissMavisFunHouse. She tells us how having a more positive view completely shifted the success of her shop. Mavis also talks about consistency, photos, meeting her assistant in a cemetery, showing gratitude and MORE!
Mavis started knitting the night Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Mavis remembers her mother trying to get her to watch the historical event happening on the television, but all she wanted to do was watch her mother’s knitting needles! It all just continued from there for Mavis. She always had some sort of fiber art project up her sleeve.
When Mavis was nine years old, she discovered an artist by the name of Eddie Owen Martin (St. EOM). St. EOM was a true hippy. His art and life inspired Mavis to be an artist. Because of his colorful work and her love of knitting and folk art, Mavis found her medium and inspiration that grew her art into what it is today!
When Mavis was in the 9th grade, there was a local craft show that was hosted in her area. Mavis’s cousin was trying to talk Mavis’s mother into entering the craft show, but Mavis decided she wanted to apply to enter herself! She was accepted into the show and while driving there with her father (she was only fifteen at the time and couldn’t drive herself) she decided that this was what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Make art. She has stuck with that decision ever since.
Positively loving art
Through the years Mavis has had only a few “side hustles” here and there, but for the most part art has been her life. She says she absolutely, positively loves this business. Mavis adores being an artist. She knows she has been incredibly blessed in her life by being able to work and sell her art. She is extremely grateful for this. Mavis is also very grateful that over the last twenty or so years the internet has allowed art to grow and sell even more.
It’s what the cool kids…weren’t doing
We asked Mavis if other kids were doing art around her when she was young. Her answer was absolutely not. Mavis says people around her really didn’t know what to do with her. At that time, the school system had something called “work release” and so Mavis would be let out of school to basically make her art and sell it since she worked for herself. At this time she was going to different craft shows and her art was bringing in a small income that was very helpful to her family. With the help of very supportive teachers and even parents of other students, Mavis was a well established artist by the time she graduated high school.
Mavis does say that just because she was established and selling her art at such a young age doesn’t mean it was plentiful all through the years. There were times when money was very, very tight. However, a lot of that has been alleviated through being online! Mavis has an absolute passion for what she does and is determined to make it successful one way or another. She will find the avenue that works best for her.
A true niche
Mavis does all of her sewing with an attachment for her machine that does a one of a kind stitch. She just happened to come across this attachment in the early 80s when she was at a mill store. It was literally a one of a kind attachment that was being brought in to try and sell to the owner of the mill store. When Mavis saw it she knew she had to have it and bought it on the spot! At the time she paid more for this piece than she did for her car!
Looking back, she’s so thankful she purchased it as it allows her to have truly unique art. She’s made a living off of this attachment since 1984 and still uses it today. To her knowledge she has the only one of these attachments in existence. Perhaps there’s another somewhere out there, but Mavis realizes how blessed she is to have come across this one-of-a-kind find!
This attachment makes a stitch that imitates a faux rug. With this, she mostly embellishes kitchen towels as she’s found these do really well on Etsy. She can make the most simple towel look like a beautiful piece of art!
Good flow & narrowing it down
For Mavis’s whole art experience she’s found that you really need to narrow down what you’re doing. Mavis loved painting for quite a while, but she couldn’t marry the fiber art with the painting and didn’t want to do both separately. Because of this she had to make a conscious effort to stick with the fiber art only.
Mavis also feels like she needs to get in a rhythm and flow when she’s working. Because she does a lot of whole sale, she likes to be in a place where she can do one towel after the next after the next. This keeps her in the mind set of her art and helps her get more accomplished.
She firmly believes that finding your flow and niche are very important for any business. Find out what you do well. Be broad and not so narrow that you don’t expand, but at the same time choose something that compliments you as an artist.
The big transition
Mavis was selling her art long before the internet was available. Naturally this was a big transition when it came time to try out the whole online selling thing. Mavis first tried signing up for Myspace, but never could get logged into it. This left her feeling like social media just wasn’t for her. After some time went by, she decided to give it another try and see what the whole Facebook thing was about! This time around the sign up process was a bit easier and Mavis was set with an account.
At the time Mavis was living in Beaufort Georgia where she was connected with other friends who got together and sold art. They called these yard sale/art sales “Yart Sales”. Before one particular “Yart” sale, Mavis decided to post about it on Facebook just to see what might happen. This resulted in a lady by the name of Kathy Hall coming to the Yart sale where she purchased many pieces of art! Not only did she buy pieces that day, but Kathy continues to be a patron of Mavis as well as a dear friend.
When Kathy drove up and bought all that art from Mavis because of her Facebook post, she knew there had to be something the whole social media thing. Mavis went on to take some social media classes from socialmediaclassesonline.com which she says were invaluable. She stresses that she is definitely not a millennial and has struggled with learning how to use social media effectively.
Through her online classes she really began to learn how to sell her art over Facebook. Whenever she’d have an event somewhere she’d post about in on Facebook and have a lot of people show up for them! Mavis says she really doesn’t think anyone can survive off of doing just one thing. You can’t just do Facebook or Instagram, you really need to be on more than one platform doing more than one thing at a time. It’s important to diversify.
In 2008 Mavis opened her Etsy shop, MissMavisFunHouse. It sat there for quite some time not generating a lot of business. She would try to figure out the thirteen keywords she needed but this felt somewhat like shooting in the dark.
Then, Mavis found Marmalead! She says that since becoming a user she has tripled her sales! She says she still hasn’t finished doing all the things Marmalead recommends, but with what she has done already her growth is amazing.
Sales & positive thinking
Mavis says that at one point in her life she was the most negative thinker in the whole world. She was afraid of her own shadow and worried constantly. Mavis says at the time she considered herself a starving artist. She was consumed with how to get from point A to point B and never really thought much about not just surviving but thriving.
To the best of her ability she began to try to take out as much negativity from her life as she could. Mavis now thinks that one of the most offensive statements is “starving artist.” She says when you think this way it sets you up to be just that. She doesn’t want to hear that and if anyone says it in her hearing, she will politely correct them. Mavis says she cannot stress enough the power of positive thinking and thinking about thriving instead of just getting by. She says that the more she thought about thriving the more things and people were put in her path to allow this to happen!
Breaking the negative cycle
Mavis has a few tricks that help her break the cycle of negative thinking. She listens to a lot of YouTube videos by Louise Hay and Abraham Hicks. Mavis says there are a lot of teachers/speakers out there who talk about positive thinking, these are just two of her favorites. She is also aware that she doesn’t stay positive 100% of the time. However, she tries to catch herself whenever she’s being negative and immediately switch her thoughts to ones that are positive. Will you have times when you go off the deep end and feel like everything is going wrong? Yes. But the more you make a conscious effort to not allow yourself to go down that path of negativity the more you will naturally gravitate to what is positive.
Don’t think about things not working or not selling. Envision them selling! Embrace the success that will come with positive thinking. Don’t be afraid that success will not happen for you. Instead try and imagine the feeling of one sale after another!
Tips for selling art in general
1.) Do small things for your store on a regular basis and they’ll add up – posting a few things at a time on Etsy keeps things moving and Mavis believes this helps with the Etsy algorithm. Be consistent instead of doing it all in a mad rush. If you have products in your shop that are not custom, make them consistently instead of waiting until you have a ton of orders in. Post regularly on your social media platforms. All of these things are never done, so staying consistent with them will help you stay on top of everything.
2.) It’s important to be consistent with the listings you have in your shop – You don’t want to have random things that aren’t related to one another. For example: you don’t want a shell next to a fidget spinner. Mavis says she learned from doing retail and whole sale shows, that taking random items to try and sell them isn’t what you should do. If it doesn’t communicate your story and who you are as a seller don’t list it. You’re not a thrift shop or one stop shopping.
3.) Photos are super important – This doesn’t just apply to Etsy. It’s important to have good photos of your work to get into different art shows as well. Mavis says for her this is a thorn in her side and an area she struggles in. She’s always looking for the best lighting and position to photograph her products in. Having quality pictures is very important and something Mavis is constantly brainstorming about, knowing it will work out.
4.) Surround yourself with people who can do what you can’t or have time to do what you can’t – Marmalead, QuickBooks, socialmediaonlineclasses.com, these all can help save you time and will simply take a lot of the busy work out of every day tasks. No one can do it all. If you think you can, you may need to review all that you’re doing.
For a while Mavis had an art gallery. She thought it would be great, envisioning herself working on her art in the gallery in-between customers. It simply didn’t work. She had to ask herself if she was a gallery keeper or an artist. This was a no brainer for Mavis. She is and will always be an artist. It took about thirty days after this realization to transition out of the gallery. There were commitments that had to be filled first which Mavis of course honored. Once she could leave the gallery in wonderful hands, however, she was out of there. Her art had to be the priority.
Mavis also has an amazing assistant! He helps her with saving all those minutes and seconds she would spend running around doing things like shipping and trimming threads. Time really is money and if you can get someone to help you save time whom you trust, it’s invaluable. How Mavis acquired her assistant is QUITE the story! In order to find out the lovely tale, you’ll have to listen to this week’s Jam 😉
5.) Rules to live by – Follow your heart. Don’t copy. If someone copies you don’t worry about it unless it costs you sales.
6.) Don’t EVER fall into the starving artist mentality – Mavis mentioned this earlier but she has to reiterate it. If you can keep from doing this, she truly believes the rest will fall into place.
7.) Always show gratitude for sales – Mavis also puts time into her packaging. She wraps each of her towels in tissue paper and even draws on the outside of the box she ships them in. Every once in a while she’ll write a hand written thank you note, especially if the customer has bought several things from her.
8.) Always ask for critics of your shop – Mavis asks people she knows well and who will be honest with her for their opinion on her shop. She tries to choose people she respects, always telling them she’s not looking for compliments but an honest answer.
9.) Every sale is an opportunity for advertisement – Mavis sews a label with her information on it which includes her website, phone number and shop name. She is basically giving no one an excuse not to be able to find her. Mavis feels like this is so important. She knows she’s gotten orders from people seeing her tags out and about.
10.) Free shipping rocks – Mavis says this is something easy you can do for your customers that really makes a difference. Mavis increased her prices just slightly to include the cost of shipping and it made the process much easier.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
In Mavis’s shop icon/picture there’s a picture of a chicken. This little chicken’s name is Lucy Fowler and she’s Mavis’s main girl! Mavis even has Lucy tattooed on her arm, which is the best advertising she’s ever done;) Lucy has her own wonderful story, seeing how she’s a trailer park manager in south Georgia! One day Mavis would like to begin a blog to tell this fantastic tale, but for now Lucy leads a quiet life on Mavis’s Etsy shop.
Mavis was an absolute blast to chat with! Her positivity and joyful attitude are such an inspiration and we love hearing all her wonderful advice. To check out Mavis’s shop, you can click here!
As always, please go listen to this week’s Jam! How Mavis acquired her assistant is a story you don’t wanna miss!
Happy selling, everyone!