Claudia Loitz of My Quilts 4 You
In the decade Claudia Loitz has been selling online, she's stitched together a real patchwork of experience—a little of this and a little of that, with a large measure of humor woven throughout.
Now that mélange is taking shape as My Quilts 4 You on Auctiva Commerce, where Loitz offers handcrafted home goods from quilts to cozies to purses, many of which reflect the droll wit that punctuates her conversation.
She still has a lot of hard work to do in the recently opened store, she says, but things are coming together.
"I had my first sale last week—and it was somebody I don't know, not from Auctiva or the chat room or anything," laughs Loitz.
Blankets and books and horses, oh my!
Handmade creations are Loitz's specialty, but it didn't start out that way. Back in the late '90s, she and her husband would frequent local auctions looking for items to put on eBay "to try to make a buck," she muses. Listing found treasures just to watch the bidding frenzy was a fun diversion from their main occupation of raising and selling miniature horses and donkeys.
And she would frequently list her used books on eBay as well to try to get some money back out of them—"Because I don't just read books, I eat them," she quips.
It wasn't until about six years ago that Loitz began quilting. Introduced to the craft by a "very patient" neighbor, she found it to be a good way to relax and unwind after a long day working on the farm.
"Six years ago, I couldn't sew on a button to save my life," Loitz remembers. "Back then I would glue buttons on. By the way, Super Glue works great for attaching buttons!"
Soon, she began creating lap blankets, "huggable" cloth dolls, purses, bottle aprons and other homey one-of-a-kinds to auction on eBay. Using Auctiva's eBay listing tools and templates saved her a lot of money on picture hosting and made her listings pop, she notes.
"I was never a big seller, but most of what I listed I sold—especially around Christmas and Easter," she recalls. "The summer months, forget it. It doesn't matter whether you sell live stuff or dead stuff or whatever, the summer months are just slow. It has nothing to do with the economy, in my opinion. And, by the way, the economy is picking up—I see it in the animal world."
A stitch in time
I have high hopes for this coming Christmas, being that what I sell makes for unique and memorable gifts
These days, Loitz is eager to operate in a setting that conveys the uniqueness of her personal creations, while allowing her to sell them on her own terms—and she's betting Auctiva Commerce is such a place.
But for good measure, Loitz has also recently built a website using the service of Homestead, which has long hosted the site on which she sells livestock. There she lists the same items that fill her Auctiva Commerce Store. She cross-promotes the two stores and links them to her blog, where she invites visitors to sign up to receive her newsletter.
"I have high hopes for this coming Christmas, being that what I sell makes for unique and memorable gifts," Loitz says. "I recently added a new category for holiday items. I'm doing some ornaments. I'm just waiting for Christmas fabrics to start making quilts and stockings. And I'll start to make pet items like collars and toys."
In the meantime, she's been regularly updating her Google feeds, advertising in the local newspaper, sending promotional e-mails to customers, and blogging and tweeting to generate more traffic.
"I have business cards that I keep losing somehow. I must have huge holes in my pockets," she teases. "I walk through Wal-Mart and my business cards just fall out on the floor. I'm really bad about that! Whoops, one just went right under your windshield wiper—sorry!"
So far, sew good
Loitz says Auctiva Commerce is easy to work with and reasonably priced, compared to the other selling platforms she's experimented with. "I've tried them all," she says.
There are days when everything seems to be an uphill battle, she notes, but she takes them in stride—and with a big dose of humor.
"Between getting my own Web site going and getting Auctiva Commerce going, there's a lot of cussing going on in two languages," laughs the German émigré. "But Auctiva is user friendly. The best thing is it's very easy to add and delete inventory. And when I had a sale recently, everything went smoothly with my notifications and my customer's notifications. I was really proud of that."
Loitz thinks the upcoming holiday season will be the true test of the work she's put into honing and marketing her sites. She hopes being perched on the foundation of Auctiva's known and trusted brand will ultimately provide her and other Auctiva Commerce merchants the stature they need to start building their own brand reputations.
Come what may, Loitz is committed to the e-commerce game for the long haul: horses, blankets, dolls and all.
"I will definitely continue selling online," she says.