We are so pleased to introduce Carol-Ann Vigneault. On Etsy since 2015, Carol-Ann’s shop, Carol’s Vintage Jewelry, has earned 1922 sales and 599 reviews. Carol-Ann is a member of the Vintage Jewelry Team and part of the Team’s leadership group. Her vintage jewelry shop is filled with high quality, beautiful pieces, and her shop has been very successful. Because of these things, we were happy to interview her and get a peek at the secrets to the success of her business.
Margie: How and why did you get started collecting Vintage Jewelry?
Carol-Ann: To me, when I look at vintage jewelry, I find the jewelry to be much more of a work of art and a tribute to the wonderful craftsmanship of the person or jeweler that created the piece so many years ago. I don’t find a lot of the vintage pieces to be “cookie cutter” like the styles that we see today. There are so many beautiful unique pieces of jewelry from bygone eras and I just love them all. I always have!
Margie: What lead pathways you to opening Carol’s Vintage Jewelry on Etsy?
Carol-Ann: As long as I remember, I have been a lover of jewelry. I had accumulated quite a bit of jewelry that I no longer wore and I decided to start my Etsy shop on a whim as a hobby. By selling some of my beautiful pieces, I thought it would be a great way for me to continue to hunt for more. I adore my Etsy Shop. It has taken me to new places and allowed me to meet people from all over the world. It just doesn’t get much better than this!
Margie: What is your favorite type of jewelry, period of jewelry and/or designer? Why does it inspire you?
Carol-Ann: First of all, I love the Victorian Era. I find the pieces to be so unique and feminine. It amazes me that these items are still around and that they are actually antiques and not just vintage. And of course, who doesn’t love the Art Deco period? This is the period where I feel that the jewelers of that time really came into their own. Some of the pieces are just extraordinary and beautiful! I think Ed Levin is a great designer and of course, there is always Ostby Barton designs that are memorable and timeless.
Margie: What other things would like us to know about you and/or Carol’s Vintage Jewelry?
Carol-Ann: Please know that I am very committed to my customers new and old. I work hard to treat each person with kindness and respect. I do everything in my power to make their experience, in my shop, to be the best online shopping experience possible. Many customers have been so very kind to leave wonderful reviews and I cherish each and every one of them.
Margie: What is your favorite piece of jewelry in your shop and why?
Carol-Ann: Actually, The first two pieces pictured below were very difficult for me to part with when they sold, but they were my favorite… and yes, I shipped them to the buyer, but they are the two that I just loved.
The third pictured item was my highest selling piece and it was stunning! So gorgeous!
Margie: Have you ever found any surprises after you bought something for Carol’s Vintage Jewelry?
Carol-Ann: Almost every day, but I think the vanity compact sets that I have found are the items that surprise me the most because they are just so very beautiful and feminine. They are one of my favorite things to find as well as the opera glasses… they are just awesome!
Margie: What do you look for when you shopping for an item for Carol’s Vintage Jewelry and where do you look?
Carol-Ann: First of all, I try to look for items that are unique or different. Quality is very important to me. I have no interest in buying someone else’s junk. An item doesn’t have to be perfect if it can be repaired or fixed because I can see the potential. Also, I am very lucky to have a jeweler that specializes in vintage jewelry and together we have created some beautiful pieces and give them new life! I search in different places and I don’t discriminate… auction houses, antique stores, consignment shops, online, etc…. any place where I might get a good deal and a unique piece.
Margie: Do you keep items on your site until they sell or do you cycle them out?
Carol-Ann: So far, I’ll leave an item in my shop until it sells… but I am considering LOT sales for items that I may not want to sell separately. I’ve had pretty good turnover, so really haven’t given much thought to other options right now.
Margie: What is your best funny or heartwarming story that happened on your site?
Carol-Ann: I had a couple that had purchased a bride and groom ring set from me and decided on a payment plan. Well, this poor couple, the groom ended up in the hospital several times along with a stint in ICU. She ended up having to switch jobs because of this whole medical situation. At one point, she offered to stop the payments because time was moving on and she was feeling bad for being late with a few payments and so on. I told her if she wants the rings, then I could wait and for her to pay as she could.
They did finish off the payments in decent time and I sent her the rings. Life can throw you a curve sometimes that just can’t be helped. And there have been times in my life where a helping hand would have been nice. I’m very happy that things worked out for them and me on this one!
Margie: What items do you buy that you have to keep for yourself?
Carol-Ann: Oh my gosh… LOL… honestly, there are more than I care to admit! I have a semi ballerina diamond ring that I can’t part with right now but hoping to be able to do one day. I also have an Art Deco Platinum diamond ring that was handmade that is pretty extraordinary and unique that I’ve not been able to bring myself to put on my shop. The rest, I’ve managed to finally put in my shop, but some took longer than others!
Margie: What do you like about having Carol’s Vintage Jewelry on Etsy?
Carol-Ann: Almost everything… my shop started out as a whim and a hobby, but now it is my only source of income. I love making my own hours, talking with folks around the world, sharing the beautiful things I’ve found. It’s like “show and tell” every day! And I love photographing the items. I’ve always loved photography and still learn about it every day.
Margie: Where do you find most of your best items?
Carol-Ann: I have a strong relationship with a few jewelers in my area and I do think that they are the ones that help make my shop have some unique items. I will purchase items from them as much as I can. Tomorrow morning I am going to a vintage jewelry party to look for new things… it’s like going to a candy shop for me
Margie: What or who first got you interested in vintage jewelry?
Carol-Ann: Actually, I think that this one is all on my own. I’ve always loved the glitz! Even as a child!
Margie: Which came first: your love for vintage items or the dream of having your own business?
Carol-Ann: The love of vintage items came first and then the dream of a shop and then finally turning it into a viable business. It has been a great ride and I am still learning and still growing!
Margie: What have you found is your best source for research information?
Margie: It is hard to develop good customer service online. What do you do special for your Carol’s Vintage Jewelry customers?
Carol-Ann: I have had very good luck with my customers, It was a bit of an evolution, but I think I now have a model that I have been sticking with for a while now. I do my best to make my customers feel special and I do that in the way I package their items. Every package is like a present. It shows my appreciation for their purchase and I think it makes them feel special too.
Margie: What is the best advice you can give to someone else about selling vintage items?
Carol-Ann: Try to be as responsive to questions as you can be because in this day and age of “frustration in waiting for an answer” or “short attention span” a delay can be an issue. If you don’t respond in a very reasonable amount of time, the customer will move on and your sale is lost.
Margie: What is the best advice anyone gave you about selling vintage items?
Carol-Ann: There will be times when you think that something is not worth much of anything, but it is, or vice versa. You need to simply learn from it, chalk it up and keep going. I think it happens to the best of us.
Margie: Do you have a hint that you are willing to share with the team about buying for or selling on Etsy?
Carol-Ann: I think your descriptions and tags are your most important aspect of being found on Etsy. Try to keep your terms common and make sure both sections match as much as possible. I think getting found is to the key to everything for any Etsy shop owner.
Margie: How do you market your shop?
Margie: Right now, I use Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter to promote my shop Carol’s Vintage Jewelry. I’ve also just recently purchased business cards. I think I’m a bit late on that front, but I’ve been doing things as I’ve been ready. So far, things have been going fine. @vignec8897
Margie: Do you have any additional shops on Etsy? If so, what are the shop names and what do you sell?
Carol-Ann: The only other shop that I have regarding Etsy is a Pattern Shop and it has the same items as Carol’s Vintage Jewelry has right now. It is just another avenue for folks.
Margie: Where will you like to see VJT in a year?
Carol-Ann: If it wasn’t for the VJT team a few years ago, I don’t think I would be where I am at today. The comradely, friendship and support was amazing. Everyone was helping everyone and I was so very amazed at the whole team process. It was really a wonderful experience
Margie: What do you think, currently, is the best thing about Vintage Jewelry Team?
Carol-Ann: Just coming back to the team now, I feel that I’m still in a learning phase because much of the activity that we used to do to help everyone get seen and noticed isn’t the best course of action anymore. So we need to think differently and find new ways to help each other. I think it really comes down to finding a purpose for our team that will help and support each member. I think the blog is a super idea and can’t thank Bruce enough for his efforts.
And I really like the Help with Identifications thread on the Team discussion page where questions can be asked about certain items or maker’s marks, etc. and find ways to share knowledge. I think our team will have to evolve on its own and in a way that supports each member. I don’t feel like I have all the answers, I only wish I did.
Margie: Is there anything else you would like members to know?
Carol-Ann: Yes, that I am always here to help anyone and please reach out to me any time of day or night. I am always happy to help if I can. I don’t have all the answers but will try to help in any way that I can.
So, what are the secrets to Carol’s Vintage Jewelry success? First of all, the secrets aren’t really secrets. But there are things we all can do. In Carol’s Vintage Jewelry case, it is Carol-Ann’s hard work, determination, wonderful photographs, dedication to quality, passionate interest, her quest to learn and research, savvy buying practices, marketing, positive relationships with jewelers, outstanding customer service, willingness to share, and her love of vintage, antique jewelry and collectibles. Furthermore, Carol-Ann discovered these attributes in her journey to build her shop and now is committed to helping other members. We can only hope to follow her example.