Monday, February 22, 2010

Handmade Shop of the Week: The Tote Trove

Tracy Esposito, of The Tote Trove, has been selling her bags, purses and jewelry on Etsy since January of 2009. Her work is colorful and fun, and every item is one of a kind!

Why did you decide to open your handmade shop?
I'd been making jewelry and painting totes for about six months when a Michaels cashier who knew me as a regular suggested I sell what I was making on Etsy. I'd never heard of the site and was immediately impressed when I logged on. It took me a few more months before I took the plunge and opened my shop. But truth be told, I knew I wanted to be on the Web even before learning about Etsy. Creating art is a little bit like writing; you can keep it to yourself for only so long before you feel compelled to unleash it.

Has your inventory changed much since you first opened?
Absolutely! In the beginning, I listed only small and medium totes featuring scenic designs. Then I moved on to bolder designs and decided to list all my jewelry while I was at it. Before I knew it, I was adding large totes and tiny totes featuring every design imaginable and crafting new, envelope-pushing jewelry. Next I'd like to make a line of barrettes and children's jewelry (so many people assume the jewelry I make now is for children! I might as well give them what they want.) I also plan to paint regular paintings and possibly offer frameable prints of my tote desigs.

Who are the majority of your customers? How did they find you?
I meet most of my customers at craft fairs. Although I do occassionally sell items on Etsy, it happens much less frequently. I think the Etsy customers just stumble upon me when I list stuff; I have yet to have someone approach me via a referral from someone else or something they read on a blog.

What inspires you to create?
Everything! I get so many ideas that I absolutely must jot them all down. And forget about walking around Michaels or A. C. Moore; I always leave those stores on idea overload! But that having been said, most of my designs are colorful, bold, fanciful, and funky. So stuff like that inspires me.

What is your favorite item in your shop currently? Your most popular item?
My favorite item is my Large Proud Peacock Tote. I just love that there's this peacock hanging out amidst random stuff like cupcakes, hearts, and orange slices. I don't really know which item is the most popular. My Etsy customers have bought a little bit of everything. At craft fairs, tiny totes and jewelry are usually the top sellers.

What has been your greatest resource to make your shop successful?
I've been social networking a lot lately, which is funny because it's something I thought I'd never do. But I guess the main thing is really my willingness to push myself. I'm constantly asking myself what I can do to make my business better. Sometimes the answer is better pictures or a larger product range or just posting more often. Other times it's finding more niche-marketed craft fairs or focusing on my blog. One thing I've noticed is that even in this age of the Internet, it's far easier to make sales in person. That one kind of surprised me. So I'm trying to make that connection from the craft fair to the Web.

Any changes coming to your shop in the future?
Well, I recently updated the banner and avatar. I hired a graphic artist to incorporate my hand-painted Tote Trove logo into it as well as my business cards, tent banner, etc. She's working on a blog template for me too, which I'm embarrassingly excited about. I think that's probably where I get the most traffic.

How else can we find you online? Any team affiliations?
EtsyNJ team

LET'S DO A GIVEAWAY! The Tote Trove is giving away a Medium Rainbow Fierce Flowers Sparkle Tote. These are the rules: partipants need to follow both and In addition, participants need to heart their favorite tote (any size) in the shop, then comment about it here. Conest ends March 1st 2010.

Interested in being Handmade Shop of the Week? Email me for more information.


  1. I love that so many of Tracy's totes feature animals, like fish and different birds. Some of my favorite things- so fun! Great interview :)

  2. Love the Electric Palms tote! Really cute! Though they're all great. :-)

  3. Hi! I am following both blogs and my favorite tote is definitely this one:

    The colors are awesome!


  4. I love the large version of this bag! Your stuff is fabulous