How vincenteBERLIN 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 Birgit Tappe from vincenteBERLIN, I am a fashion designer and have specialised in knitwear design. I studied at the University of the Arts in Berlin and, among others, learned from Vivienne Westwood. Later, I taught fashion design for a while and worked a lot in the special effects area of costume design for film and video productions. It was after graduation that I realised that the world of knitwear design was very underdeveloped or old-fashioned in 2004, with a few exceptions.
I discovered knitting after I knitted all my baby’s clothes and was asked about his look almost daily. That was an interesting challenge to me, as there was something to develop and redesign. Online platforms like Etsy and Dawanda emerged during this time, and that’s how we came together: vincenteBerlin, also vincente®.
Since then, I have been working on my own label, Vincent. We design and knit sweaters, hats, pants, cuffs, and kidney warmers for children and adults.
Etsy stands out among the many platforms. It was where I felt taken care of and well represented with my design and craft. We also enjoy the international side of it. If our work is appreciated in New York, Zurich, or London, it makes us happy!
In the beginning, we only had baby and children's clothing, but more and more parents asked for our designs in their size. So it happened that we developed some products like the sarouel pants, the skirts, and the bat sweaters in all sizes for babies, children, and adults.
I design and make everything myself; in the meantime, very luckily, I am no longer on my own. We knit on second-hand knitting machines from the olden days. Our designs are 3D-formed directly on the machines, so there are no cuttings and no waste. The precious merino wool is 100% used and processed. And if something goes wrong, it is unravelled or the leftovers are used as filling. Avoiding waste and sustainability are top priorities.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
My favourite items for kids are the Sarouelpants because they look so cute on every baby and they fit over a long period of time as they grow along with the baby.
The same is true of the baby hat, which is knitted. It is one of the rare hats that has a perfect fit, we can proudly say.
For adults, the "must-have" is the kidney warmer and the arm and leg warmers. Here, I have developed a knitting technique over the years that is particularly dense and elastic yet remains soft. So, the winter cannot get to you, and in your home office, you will stay cosy warm.
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?
Well, it didn't take me long to sell the first pieces, but it took me a long time to make a living. It took about 6 years, during which I was still taking costume orders on the side. Meanwhile, we have a small shop in our workshop, and we also knit for retail. This means I have always had several sources of income.
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?
Yes, I manage the store pretty much alone. I also take almost all the photos myself and post them.
I do everything through Billbee. This is an app that I use to write invoices and print out the shipping bills. All orders come together centrally here. Especially before Christmas, it's fantastic how this wonderful app takes care of everything.
When knitting, packing, and shipping, I am helped superbly by Maria and Lena; you know them from the many photos featured in our store. We exclusively ship used cardboard boxes collected from the neighborhood.
The future of vincenteBERLIN
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
We would like to make a little more and, above all, more stable sales and convince more people that sometimes you might spend more money on a favourite piece to then be able to love and cherish it for a longer time.
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
Take your time! Start and try out all the possibilities you get here. If your products do not sell, ask yourself the right questions: is it the text or maybe the photos? The good thing is that you can change everything quickly and easily. If you are convinced of your product, communicate that with the available possibilities. It is rarely the price. Very important are clear titles and a thoughtfully filled keyword list.
Do not sell yourself undervalued! Etsy stands for craftsmanship, which takes time and material. Imagine others would make the product; what would you have to pay for it? There comes a point where you have to delegate work, and that's when the costs go up. Often, you are suddenly subjected to sales tax, and everything becomes a lot more expensive. Get advice; there are many good courses to get basic knowledge on how to be and work as an independent.
I would like to appeal to the many women who do this on the side: even if some of you may not be in the situation of having to support yourselves, your work has value! Appreciate yourselves! If not, you risk putting pressure on the prices, which not only affects others immediately but also harms you in the long run.