Meet Mark Poulin of marmar! He draws, makes jewelry, and says things like this: “When I was a boy I had a recurring dream that I could fly. Having an etsy shop makes me feel like that again.” Mark’s personality pops off the page as effectively as his drawings do, so please enjoy the interview:
Your jewelry designs are born of your drawings. What inspires the characters you create?
I’m inspired by anything that tells a story, captures a moment, or steals a heart.
I traveled back in time to your first sale on Etsy: March 14, 2007. Your pictures have come a long way! Tell me what that first sale was like for you.
I remember being really excited with those first sales. Etsy buyers are so nice in that they gave me a chance and bought from my out of focus photographs! In my early years on Etsy I had my phone set up to text me every time I had a sale, this drove my friends crazy but kept me pretty happy.
Did you start with a business plan? Do you have one now?
I’m a man without a plan. Or more like it I’m a man with a new plan every week.
What advice would you offer an Etsy newbie looking for their first sale?
Have a product unique to you. We all love to shop, and we all love to support innovators.
Would you please describe your “zone.” What’s it like in your work space when you’re drawing or creating jewelry?
I get most of my best design time or rough idea time from stolen moments where I am trapped somewhere. Airports, trade shows, craft fairs. I’m drawing a million miles a minute. I’m not trying to draw good but to get a concept down. Then there is a structured studio time draw, I usually have scraps of paper everywhere, I’m grouping, I’m redrawing, I’m editing, I’m excited and full of self doubt moment to moment. There’s sad music playing making me happy. Then there is feedback time from my shop team and from my partner Mike. Then I start carving wax or sawing metal… and hope for the best.
I noticed you not only have a top-selling Etsy shop, you have a marvelous user-owned online shop, and fantastic-looking shows and festivals lined up. I imagine this all adds up to one very successful you, but which is your favorite venue?
I love having the opportunity to sell on line at Etsy. Sales on my website are great too, but Etsy is so community based it feels more fun. When I do retail shows it’s a chance to see people directly react to my work. Invaluable.
Which is your most profitable venue?
My largest amount of sales comes from doing wholesale shows like New York International Gift Fair twice a year. Though selling wholesale cuts pretty dramatically into profit margins and adds a lot of headaches to the day to day. I’m not sure I would recommend it and I have come and gone from that venue over the years.
What has been the best marketing strategy for Marmar?
Nothing will ever beat word of mouth but advertising will get you pretty close!
What has been your proudest handmade moment so far?
A long time ago the Whitney museum shop (when it was storefront on the street) used a bunch of my stuff to make a valentine window display. I was visiting New York and got to see it. I loved that moment.
What are your favorite business or art resources? Are there any books or websites that have helped you along the way?
I love the blog/newsletters that Daniellexo writes for Etsy, I wish I had this resource years ago when I was starting up. It is written simple and to the point. Can’t get enough. For inspiration I visit blogs like this> my love for you or this> pikaland
Finish this sentence: When I was 18, I thought …
I would be a rich and famous painter by 30. That didn’t happen, but little did I know then how much I would enjoy going to work every day.
Thank you, Mark! It’s been a true delight. Alright friends, go buy some marmar on Etsy! ♥ Until next time, Lisa