Friday, April 2, 2010

Across the Pond and Over the Mountains....Meet Tracy Schaal!

Hi Ladies!  We all know how hard each other works, and I am here to tell you:  Let's take a wee break; it's time for our Friday Feature! Un-fasten your seat belts: we've reached a cruising altitude of 40,000 ft. Out your left window you can see the Alps......... and nestled down amongst the snow-capped grandeur you can see the city of Zurich.  To a tune of Eidelweiss, we will land in about 10 minutes.  Grab that cup of cha and enjoy the scenery for just a moment!

Where she lives...

I was intrigued by Tracy and so I asked her a few extra questions.   Knowing she is a fairly new team member, and one living "across the pond" as they say in Etsy, I wanted you to know just a little about her story.   And so, to celebrate Euro Week just a tad post-date, I bring you Tracy Schaal.

Yes, I did ask her if anyone else has ever told her that she looks like the fabulous Catherine Zeta-Jones.......oh yes!   This girl was born for glam it seems.   Let's read on...
"My husband and I moved to Zurich, Switzerland about 6 months ago from London, UK. I am Canadian-my mother is from the Philippines and my father is from Ireland. My husband is American. We move around quite a bit as my husband, Aaron works in International Tax. Communicating here is a challenge, as the locals speak in a non-written language called Schweizer-Deutch and read in High Deutsch (German). In many ways I wish we were living in the French side of Switzerland as I understand French much better (as French being one of the official languages of Canada).
I think the only thing I am homesick for are really the conveniences: late night shopping, multi-cultural foods and Sunday shopping--oh, and Mexican food! I also miss the ability to walk into a shop and speaking freely without sounding like a dip-stick in my raw-German! :o) In the cute little village we live almost no one speaks English!
However, for the time being we are set to stay here indefinitely. Switzerland is a very safe country with good schools and a low crime rate and is an ideal place to raise children--and that is what it all boils down to for us!"
That was free, but this is the interview.  Shall we?

Kelly:  Hello, Tracy, and thank you for joining me here today! Tell us, how young are you?

Tracy: I will be turning the big 4-0 this August. I’m SCARED!!

Kelly:  What is the name of your business?

Tracy:  I had no idea what to call it so I go by my name.  TracySchaal

Kelly:  When did you begin?

Tracy:  The Etsy shop was opened in June 2008 but I didn’t start putting anything in it until a year and a half later as I just gave birth and needed some time for things to calm down in the house.

Kelly:  Do you have any background in business and/or design?

Tracy:  I have a degree in Fashion and worked in the industry as a designer, merchandiser and illustrator on and off for about 10 years.

Kelly: What motivated you to start your shop, Tracy Schaal

Tracy:  Although I absolutely LOVE being a mama, I really missed creating and a friend of mine told me about Etsy and after looking at the site I got so inspired, I had to do something!

Kelly:  What inspires you to create?

Tracy:  I have been constantly making things my whole life, even as a child I was sketching clothing designs and trying to emulate my favorite fashion illustrators at the time. My current motivator though, has been reading about the atrocities happening to women and children in the world. I really felt the urge to do something and came to terms that the key to peace and poverty is by empowering women and girls, by educating and training them and giving them a future. That is why I support Women for Women International-helping women victims of war rebuild their lives. I support them on a monthly basis and have set up my Etsy shop to help them by donating half my profits to their cause.

Kelly:   Tracy, I love your heart for this!  I just went onto the WomenforWomen Website, and that is so gratifying and wonderful to see this outreach into the 10/40 Window!  I know you will be rewarded for your heart of compassion!

Kelly:  What is your favorite product?

Tracy:  This is a hard one, because I don’t make anything I wouldn’t wear myself. My top two, however are my Monaco Bangle and my Black Tigress bangle which have both sold out but I managed to make one for myself, he he!

The other faves I have are my Skinny Sista Bangles in both copper and gold

and my La Tigress bracelet in nude color

What are the special Features?

All my items comes with complimentary giftwrap as featured in most of my pictures of each item.

I also try to make things easy with shipping, therefore ALL my items are shipped complimentary worldwide. Yes, you read right!

Kelly:   OMG, Tracy, that packaging is class act!   I have sought to have this extra special touch in my products too, and sometimes it is not easy to do!  Your packaging and your products positively ROCK.

What are your business goals this year?

Tracy:  This year, I really want to get the word out about the shop and making more items to fill it out a little more--oh, and yes, SALES!!

Kelly:  How do you get traffic to your website?

Tracy:  I lurk around the Etsy forums every once in a while and make the odd, posting. In February I joined the fabulous Busy Moms of Etsy team and that has made a big difference not only getting my name out but just the support alone is great—what a friendly and well organized group!

Kelly:  How do you juggle work/life balance? For instance, you have a small child.

Tracy:  I have a son, who will be 2 in April and who IS my day job! He is an only child but I tend to doubt myself as a mother everyday because it can be so exasperating! I don’t know how moms with more than one kid do it!! :o)

My husband gets a good laugh out of me because I am an incessant list maker. It also helps that my social life here in Switzerland is pretty bleak (being new here and all and not speaking the language!) so I have a lot of free time in the eves! :o)

Kelly:  Can you share some of your frustrations?

Tracy:  Not sure if frustrated is the word to describe it, perhaps just a little saddened that I’ve only got one measly (yet PRECIOUS!) sale. I kind of feel like the nerdy kid at the prom compared to so many other shiny sellers out there with billions of sales!

Kelly:  Your products stands out in a world of ordinary, Tracy!  I am sure sales will come when you reach your target market!  What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Tracy:  To restrain myself when it comes to sourcing craft supplies. I think I have a hoarding problem. There are far, far too many trimmings and not enough things to make them into—its just embarrassing, really! I suppose when the time comes when I pass away my husband can decorate my coffin with all my sequins, rhinestones, furry trims and countless over-the-top embellishments...

Kelly:   I do believe you are not alone in that regard!  I have stockpiles of cigar boxes, ribbon, sequins, mosaic tiles, sea glass too!  What word of encouragement can you give a person who wants to also start their own business?

Tracy:  Read everything you can about what business you are going into and talk to other designers who make what you want to make. Separate business from pleasure and spend ONLY what you can afford. If you are a shy person, reinvent yourself, especially when talking to buyers. Oh and sometimes its OK to say 'no' to a buyer--especially if they are a large chain or a department store--many of which take advantage of independent designers by demanding massive discounts, late payments and the reshaping of your own product--I'm speaking from experience there!

Kelly:  Any other thing you would like to share with us?

Tracy:Yes, I've got some new hand-painted patterned pieces that I'm the process of completing--really excited about how they turned out! Going to list them this week!

Also, if you're wondering who that gorgeous blonde woman is modelling my jewelry it's Miss Switzerland, Linda Fäh--who ended up buying some of my collection then and there at the photo shoot! So happy about that!

Lastly ---followers wanted!

 --yes, the nerdy girl needs fans!!
My own website:

Kelly:   Tracy, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to let me interview you this week!   I am so blessed to meet with you and I love your heart for underprivileged women.   Your product and your packaging is elegant and "class-act".   One day I do believe you will be famous and I would love to meet you!   Don't be homesick too much and enjoy this time with your little boy and your husband!   And I hope that soon you will be able to "speak en de Deutsche" as it were!   I am amazed at your creativity!   One thing I have heard on Etsy that is crucial is to list and list often.   So that keep you visible in the stream of thousands of listings.

We will catch up with you and I personally will look for you in high fashion magazines as well!

Ladies, why don't we go on over to Tracy's Facebook Fan Page, her Twitter, and her Blog and show our support and cheer her on?   Maybe if any of us are lucky enough to have our products in shops where we think her things might be a fit Stateside, we could recommend Tracy Schaal as well?   Why Not?   Right now I can think of two boutiques in my own town who might be a fit for Tracy's fantastic high end accessories!

Remember, Ladies!  The roving reporter from CassiasGarden  want to interview YOU! Be sure to convo me when you can and I will send you the interview!    Until next week, Happy Easter to all the Busy Mom's Team!

Contributed By: Tracy Schaal


Anonymous said...

Tracy you do make beautiful pieces and how did you get Miss Switzerland???

Tracy Schaal said...

Hi Jessica,

The photographer knew her--stroke of luck, really! :o)

Joy said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing, Tracy!