I’m taking time today to run through my most frequently asked questions and answer them all in one shot. If you have inquiries of your own, send em’ over!
1. What’s with the name?
Once Again Sam has been my shop name from the beginning, and it has nothing to do with Casablanca (the line from the movie is actually “Play it, Sam”, but it’s often misquoted). My name isn’t Sam, and neither is my husbands. We both get that a lot!
Here’s the real story: when I got married, my initials became S.A.M., and I thought having a name within a name was pretty novel, so I decided to use that for my business. When I first started my shop, I never dreamed I’d ever meet my customers in person, I assumed my business would only exist on the web, so I liked using an alias to maintain some anonymity. Well, that blew up in my face - nowadays I meet thousands of customers every year in person and they don’t know what to call me (you can call me Sarah, by the way)! The “Once Again” part of the name refers to my love of upcycling. I repurpose materials like leather & wood and give them new life “once again” in a whole new way.
2. Do you make everything?
Yep! I have many hobbies, my skill sets are always growing, and I make everything you see on my table at craft shows and in my Etsy shop. My husband helps with the general operations of my business, and he definitely has a hand in the designs and will often assist with some of the woodworking items as well. Everything is made in our home studio in Greenville, SC.
3. I’m local, can I pick up my order?
It seems like an easy way to save a few bucks on shipping, so I don’t blame you for asking, but I’m afraid I cannot do meetups or deliveries. I do go to the post office almost every day, so I promise you wont be waiting long! I get asked this question a LOT, especially around holidays (the record still stands at 22 meetup requests in one week last year right before Christmas). If I had taken the time to meet up with 22 different people to deliver their orders, 22 other people wouldn't have gotten theirs on time, so it's really not fair to the rest of my customers (or myself).
If you really don’t want to pay shipping, here’s a few things you can do:
Find me at a local craft show: I always post schedules on social media, and often have 10 times the inventory of my Etsy shop. You can order online and pickup at a show, then I’ll refund the shipping.
4. Do you ever have coupon codes?
Yes, but it’s rare. I only do discount coupon codes about 4-5 times a year (usually for 20% off or less). Here’s why: I decided I would rather have my “real price” as my “all the time price” rather than marking things up just to put them on sale. I wanted my customers to be able to buy whenever they wanted, and not have to wait for the next sale to be able to afford the purchase.
5. Do you take custom orders?
YES!!! I’d say about 50% of my business is actually custom work. People see something they like in my shop or on social media, but they want something slightly different (or completely different) and I’m cool with that. Interested in a custom order? Just send me a note (via Etsy Conversation, a direct message on social media, or through the contact form on this website).
6. Did you go to school for this?
Nope. Although I did go to art school (Maryland Institute College of Art), I studied Environmental Design (Interior Design / Architecture / Furniture Design), nothing to do with fiber art or jewelry. When it comes to the items I make & sell through Once Again Sam, I’m primarily self taught.
7. Do you do this for a living?
Pretty much! In 2013 or thereabout, I was able to flip flop my hobby with my career. My business was doing well, and I was making more selling my work than I was in my full time interior design job, so I made the switch. The problem was, I actually liked my day job too (as an interior designer in the field of commercial architecture), so I’ve been lucky to find a firm that’s flexible enough to let me work part time. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to do both! I typically work 20-25 hours a week as a designer, and 40+ as a maker. Income-wise, I'm about 80% self employed.
8. Will you ever open a brick & mortar store?
Boy, that’s tempting, but as of right now I have no plans to. I love working out of my home, and having the flexibility to set up temporary shops at regional craft shows, while not being chained to retail hours. I know I’d enjoy the retail design & display side of things, but for now, I’m sticking to what has worked well so far: online shops & craft shows. Things can always change in the future though!
9. Do you teach classes?
I have in the past, but it’s not something I do regularly.
10. About the needle felted fiber art: Are these toys? Why are they so expensive?
They are definitely NOT TOYS! They’re actually quite fragile, and I’m afraid if you give one of these needle felted creations to a small child or household pet, it will probably not survive. Although a lot of my felted pieces are cute little animals and monsters, they’re intended to be decorative art pieces.
As for the cost, they may seem pricey, but it’s because they take an awful long time to make. I’m talking hours and hours. A small four-legged felted animal figurine may require 4-6 hours of my time to create, so in the end, I’m making minimum wage of some of these things, which isn't much for something that requires a specialized skill, but I do it because I enjoy the process.