How STATICClimbing got started
Introduce your Etsy shop and tell us your story. How did you begin and decide on what to sell on Etsy, and how do you create your products?
My name is Taylor Barnes, and I am the owner and creator of Static Climbing on Etsy. I began selling on Etsy when I started my company in the spring of 2014. I moved from Mammoth to San Diego in 2013, where I was surrounded by some of the most interesting people I had ever met. It made me want to explore my creative side, and through my love of rock climbing, I created my first chalk bag. Having no prior sewing experience, I quickly learned the ins and outs of a sewing machine. I worked on creating the first version of my chalk bag.
The pattern on the fabric was upside down, and the fleece wasn’t long enough to even close the bottom, but it lit a passion in me that has continued to this day.
My boyfriend, now husband, designed the logo that I still use. If it wasn’t for his support over the years, I’m not sure where my brand would be today. He has helped me create the overall image and vibe of the brand.
Once I finalised my logo and chalk bag, I created an Etsy page and posted my first listing. A few weeks later, I heard the cha-ching go off on my phone. My first sale! The photo I originally posted in the listing had three different chalk bags on it. I didn’t even know which bag the customer wanted, so I messaged them to ask. They loved the bag, and from that day on, my decade-long adventure began creating chalk bags.
After my sale on Etsy, I brought a newly made chalk bag to my local climbing gym and showed it to the manager of the gym. He said if I made them a bit better, he would carry them to the gym. Nearly 10 years later, the chalk bags are sold at REI and in dozens of climbing gyms and shops around the world.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
One of my favourite fabrics to work with is waxed canvas. I love how the chalk bags look and how every time you use the bag, it creates a crease, which tells a story as you use your chalk bag. Before I started STATIC, I couldn’t find any chalk bags that used out-of-the ordinary fabrics. You typically only see the normal canvas and nylon options. I decided to focus my brand's style on creating chalk bags with unique fabric options and functional patterns. This is how the waxed canvas collection began. They are the most popular collection I have in my Etsy shop.
Getting sales on Etsy
How long did it take for you to earn your first sale and how do you currently attract customers to your Etsy shop?
It took a few weeks for me to see my first sale. Over that entire first year, I only saw a few dozen sales. It took a few years to really start seeing sales happen on a daily basis. I remember being in the desert when I heard a ding go off on my phone that I had never heard before. It was the sound of my first customer! Even a decade later, I have never forgotten the feeling of that first sale.
Having good product photos as well as using Etsy seller ads is how I attract most of my customers. Excellent customer service is one of the core values of my company. I would rather make every customer happy than incur the cost of making that happen. Anytime someone has an issue, I try to turn it into an experience that will turn a one-time buyer into a lifelong customer.
How do you manage your shop? Are you running solo or do you have any team members? What tools or services do you use to run your shop and how do you handle fulfillment?
STATIC started with just me prepping the materials, sewing, and shipping everything myself. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to hire two seamstresses to help me make all of the gear. Five years ago when REI reached out to us about carrying STATIC in their stores my husband quit his career and came to work with me full-time. I am lucky enough to be married to a designer and equally hard worker. He and our newest employee cut and prep all of the materials for us to sew. Together our team of 5 creates all of the gear!
I make all of the shipping labels using the Etsy integrated shipping system and help my husband pack up each order. I try to ship orders out daily during the week and take weekend off to spend time as a family together.
The future of STATICClimbing
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
My hope for the future of STATIC is to expand into more climbing gyms and shops around the country. I have a few new product designs up my sleeve that I would love to launch in the near future. Expanding the artist series collection is also something I would like to continue to work on. Adding chalk bags that give back to our national parks is something I am looking to add in the near future.
I plan to keep my Etsy shop online and running, as well as our own website. Etsy has given me the seeds that gave me my start and helped me grow over the years. I will always be thankful for the opportunity the platform has given me. It has been truly life-changing for me and my growing family. Duncan and I welcomed our daughter into the world in 2022, and I hope one day she will want to learn how to run STATIC in the future.
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
The best advice I can give a new Etsy seller is to have excellent customer service and well-lit product photos. I strive to make sure each and every customer has a positive experience.
Growing a successful Etsy business is not something that happens instantly. It takes years of product design as well as building up those 5-star reviews that help customers trust your products are the high-quality products you know them to be. Everyone has to start somewhere; owning a business isn’t about being successful from day one. It’s about learning from each failure and growing stronger as an entrepreneur each time it happens.