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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Team Spotlight! Interview with Gertie Gear Store

MsAnomaly's interview with GertieGearStore
Gertie Gear: http://www.gertiegearstore.etsy.com/

1. When did you open your Etsy store and begin selling?
The Etsy store was opened in April 2008, but I had been making product, and working on design and marketing materials since January. I had sold to friends before that. My first six months on Etsy, sales were sporadic, but orders are increasing as time goes on and more people find out about the pet air beds.

2. How did you select your shop's name?
Several years ago I adopted a beagle named "Gertie" from the local shelter. They told us she was about 5 or 6, but when she started having health problems (almost immediately), our family vet informed us that she was closer to 10 or 11 years old. Gertie has back problems & incontinence among other things. After trying several types of pet beds and replacing them regularly, I developed the unique air bed system. Inspired by Gertie's needs for a comfortable, supportive bed and my need to avoid excessive laundry and continued replacement and disposal of foam/stuffing filled beds, it only seemed fitting to call if "Gertie Gear." After all, "Gertie's Nose Knows Great Gear."

3. What do you create and sell in your Etsy shop?
While the pet air beds and snazzy replacement slipcovers are my main focus, I'm an avid supporter of "green living" ... Re-Cycle, Re-Purpose, Re-Use, so I've created a line of simple, durable dog/cat toys and custom refillable notebooks made from re-purposed fabric scraps and recycled paper goods.

4. How did you become involved in your craft?
"Necessity, who is the mother of invention." -- Plato. If I can't find (buy) it -- I'll make it." -- Me. Fortunately, this time, I found that others had the same needs as I did and appreciated the values that the Gertie Gear air bed brings to the health and comfort of their pets, as well as the easy of care and designers touch to their life and home.

5. Explain your favorite part of the creative process.
I fully appreciate art for art's sake (I'm a designer/art director by trade), but like many, I don't have a lot of space in my home for items that don't have a needed purpose. The challenge of melding function with design has always been my personal measure of "Creative Success."

6. Do you sell in another Etsy store or anywhere outside of Etsy? If so, where?
Gertie Gear pet air beds currently sell online exclusively via Etsy, but this may be changing soon. I've also dove head first into dog shows, farmers/artisans markets, arts and crafts, and general pet related events this year. Newly scheduled events are regularly listed on the "Gertie Gear" Facebook page.

7. So far, what project are you most proud of?
When I first started making the pet air beds, the largest size was only 36", for medium size dogs. Unfortunately, large breeds tend to carry excess weight are more susceptible to hip dysplasia and arthritis, and therefore can benefit most from the orthopedic qualities of the air bed. A good friend kept asking, "Where's the love for the big dogs?" When I finally found a source for the 46" bed inflatable, her 80 lb Shepherd-American Bulldog mix with advanced arthritis and a severe skin infection was the first to try it. The next morning I received an email ... "thank you thank you thank you! ...when I got home ... she was totally curled up and sleeping like a baby!! Â She snored so loud last night I had to wear earplugs." Stories like this (I'm proud to say I hear frequently) make me smile and help keep me motivated to push forward. "VENUS" was gracious enough to be one of my models for the large size beds: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=21224582

8. What advice can you give to someone who would like to learn your craft?
My learning to sew was a direct result of my desire to produce and sell the pet air beds to the public. The ladies at the Husqvarna Viking store inside my local JoAnn Ect (fabric/crafts) were an invaluable resource -- when you purchase a machine from them, you get free lessons to familiarize you with operation and maintenance, even if its not a Viking brand machine.

9. What motivated you to join the Etsy Beagle Street Team?
Gertie, my best model, is a pure-breed, perfect 13" beagle. She has no papers, being a stray, but the vets can tell she was bred often ... likely TOO often. She was pregnant when she entered the shelter and had to be fostered for two months by a volunteer, while she recovered from surgery before we could adopt her. She's retired from puppy making now, but she remembers her life "on the streets" and still has a motherly heart. In support of other forgotten animals, Gertie Gear proudly partners with ARNO (Animal Rescue New Orleans), an ALL volunteer organization, in its continued mission to help Katrina area animals still in crisis. $1 from each bed set and/or sale of replacement covers $25 or more is donated to ARNO. We are also in the midst of launching a "Give-an-airbed to ARNO" campaign.When a person donates ($50, $75, $100) to ARNO through their website and mentions it's for an air bed, the donor gets the full tax deduction and ARNO gets a Gertie Gear air bed at a special price, leaving extra for food, medical and other needs. Since the covers are machine wash/dry and the beds NEVER compress, shelters can use them over and over without worry of spreading disease and they last for years!For more info about ARNO, to donate and/or volunteer, please visit:www.animalrescueneworleans.org or call (504) 522-0222.

10. Any other places we might find you (Flickr, blog, MySpace, etc.)?
More places to find info about Gertie Gear: OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://gertiegear.com/
BLOG: http://gertiegear.blogspot.com/
FACEBOOK, including events calendar: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gertie-Gear/89680899658?ref=mf
PET LIFE RADIO (just the Gertie Gear interview): http://greenworldcreative.com/gginfo/PmpPochE4_GGint_full.mp3
PRESS RELEASES:Gertie's Nose Knows ... Glitz & Glamour!http://www.prlog.org/10299970-gerties-nose-knows-glitz-glamour.html
Gertie Gear Pet Air Beds Go (Green) HOLLYWOODhttp://www.prlog.org/10220182-gertie-gear-pet-air-beds-go-green-hollywood.html
PLEASE VOTE "Gertie Gear" in StartUp Nation's Best Home Business Contest: http://www.startupnation.com/homebased100/contestant/6771/index.php

5 comments:

2 Raven Chicks said...

I love the way your business got it's start! Gertie is one blessed Beagle!

I love learning about my fellow Beagle Team members.

Best of luck to you and your CBS as your business grows!

Gertie Gear said...

Thanks for doing this Linda (wow, you were up late!) -- it is very much appreciated.
Best to you and Flash,
Julie (& Gertie)

MsAnomaly said...

Busy with family lately, and I bolted out of bed, remembering (finally) that it was Friday! :P Made an early saturday post instead. Sorry 'bout that! I voted for you, and really enjoyed reading your interview. Gertie is such a sweetie, and it's great that she has become a celebrity! :D
Best of luck with your Gertie Gear line!

Cindy said...

Another nice interview!! Wonderful to read about Gertie. Good to know there are products out there like this. Many success to you Gertie Gear@@

Lara Harris said...

I've been looking for something like this for some time...I will definitely put this on my list of need to get soon!And to think we are neighbors!I live in Livonia!:)