ButterSideDown is the vintage jewelry shop owned by Scott on Etsy.
The first thing that strikes me about Scott’s shop is the variety of costume jewelry from whimsical and fun, to dignified and charming. It is delightful to browse through his items and to learn about Scott’s business.
Margie: So, Scott, what pathways led you to open ButterSideDown on Etsy?
Scott: For years I sold things on eBay, but as sales declined there, I looked to Etsy as another venue. I looked at Etsy as another venue. I had heard about Etsy back when it started while I was working for Jewelry Artist magazine. Jewelry was not my initial Etsy foray though. My first move was for my rubber stamp business and the vintage jewelry is an interest that followed later.
Margie: Please tell us the story about your shop name, ButterSideDown. Also, do you have any additional shops on Etsy?
Scott: My original shop on Etsy was my rubber art stamps business. It is called Butter Side Down Stamps. I named it ButterSideDown because I was between jobs and it sort of amused me. I am endlessly optimistic so the unoptimistic name is poking fun at me. Vintage jewelry came next and I forgot to think of a name before setting it up. With a distinct lack of imagination, it simply became Butter Side Down. A third shop became necessary after I started making jewelry and etched glass and that one is called Atomic Lizard Designs.
Margie: Scott, it is interesting how things happen sometimes. How and why did you get started collecting Vintage Jewelry?
Scott: For years I worked as a writer at a craft jewelry magazine group so I was accustomed to dealing with jewelry. Vintage jewelry always had an appeal because I like antiques and antiquities of all sorts. I liked jewelry particularly because of the wide variety of styles and trends over the years. There are so many different types that it is always a learning experience.
Margie: Most of us have a favorite style of jewelry. Scott, what is your favorite period, designer and/or jewelry type?
Scott: For some reason, I have grown very fond of the 1920s. The whole flapper look appeals to me through prior to jewelry, I scarcely noticed that period of history. I also love Egyptian Revival pieces. For designers, I probably need to go with a classic like Hattie Carnegie.
My interest in vintage jewelry is mostly an offshoot of working with gemstone jewelry over the years and selling antiques. Basically, I blundered into it. I’ve also written about geology so while I still favor real gemstones for their beauty and geologic interest, costume jewelry has a much greater diversity of imaginative designs and styles.
Margie: All of us who hunt vintage jewelry enjoy finding unexpected items. What surprises have you found and what is your current favorite item in ButterSideDown.
Scott: The best part of buying jewelry is finding hidden surprises. You can never know everything so it is fun to see an unknown jewelry signature, style or design. Of course, the unexpected piece from a classic designer or a brooch of surprising quality is always a treat too. I’m a treasure hunter at heart and enjoy searching for things more than anything else.
Right now, my favorite piece of jewelry in ButterSideDown is a 12k gold filled Cart Art cameo brooch with real pearls. It’s an odd choice because cameos are not a usual favorite for me. This is not an especially rare piece, but I like the look and style of the whole design and the hand-painted woman who is the subject.
Margie: What are your thoughts on Etsy, customer service in general and helping your customers in particular?
Scott: Using Etsy has been a big plus for me. Overall I like its ease of use and the Etsy community. It’s a friendly place and I hope that it will stay that way.
Customer service is always important and most Etsy customers are sincere. You will get a few who seem determined to make you crazy, but they are a small minority. I simply do my best to be attentive, package their purchase carefully and get it into the mail quickly. To me, these are the most important factors. I feel that if people are good enough to purchase something from me then the least I can do is to make sure that they get the item safely and as quickly as possible. To be honest, I am quite honored when someone purchases an item from ButterSideDown. I do my best to hold up my part of the bargain. Customer service is not hard and it makes for good feedback and return customers. I truly want my customers to be happy with their purchase.
Most of my ButterSideDown customers on Etsy are great buyers and I value the interaction with them. A fair number have become personal friends. Beyond that, there are often touching stories associated with a purchase. One woman wanted something that would remind her of her grandmother and others purchase items to wear at their wedding. I am so thrilled that I can contribute even a little to such important events in their lives.
Margie: One of the keys to selling vintage jewelry online is doing research. Where do you find the information that is critical to your successful sales?
Scott: My source information comes from a variety of places including my own collection of dozens of jewelry books and guides. These days the Internet itself is brimming with possible sources. The research was never easier though it really helps to get a firm grounding in the subject first. You should never take information found on the Internet without a grain of salt. For sellers and collectors of all sorts, listings on Etsy are themselves a great source of potential information. I almost always search there first when I have a piece of jewelry I do not recognize. And finally, I rely on the experience of my Etsy team, friends and even my customers. Customers that are collectors are a boundless source of information so do not overlook those valuable cyber friendships.
Margie: As part of the Vintage Jewelry Team, we offer to give advice to other members. What advice do you want to share with our readers?
Scott: When you sell vintage jewelry it is important, to be honest in the description. Photograph it from all sides front and back and give a complete description. Don’t expect the picture to do everything. Spell out the size, shape, color, and anything else you can think of and be sure to mention if there is a defect. Vintage jewelry is not new and so it is up to you to describe the condition.
I get wary when there is too little information on an item I am thinking of purchasing. What are they not saying? If you forget the buyer’s point of view, it can seriously affect your sales. Too little description also effects how computer searches work. One of the biggest mistakes I see for sellers new and old to Etsy is that they do not provide a full title, description, and do not use all of the keywords. Those are the things that help a computer (and the buyer using it) to find you.
ButterSideDown is a well-curated shop purposely designed for those who love vintage costume jewelry. Scott’s journey relies on continually collecting and learning about his collection. He then passes the knowledge on to his customers. Scott puts his energy into creating a positive experience for all his buyers.