Women in Business: The Secret Sauce to a Successful Online Shop? Authenticity

Head shot of Laura Mazurek
Laura Mazurek
There are about a bajillion little online boutiques out there. So how does one cut through all the noise and get noticed? For artist and multiple-shop owner Laura Mazurek, the answer has always been simple: Stay true to yourself.

Laura Mazurek might be the purest example of a creatrix I’ve ever encountered. I’m lucky enough to call her a friend, and am continuously impressed by just how closely she and the muse seem to collaborate.

Whether she’s creating lush and earthy jewelry, designing the cutest little boho tees you’ve ever seen, dreaming up magical photoshoots to show off her wares, or even gathering communities on behalf of other artists she knows and loves, the girl is always putting something beautiful out into the world.

And it would seem the world has taken notice. Her jewelry and home accessories shop, Roots & Feathers, has more than 4,000 sales on Etsy. Skyline Fever, the tee-shirt shop she runs with her husband James, has more than 8,000. And on Instagram alone, Laura has racked up 38,000 followers on her personal account.

She makes this stuff look effortless, but in truth it’s been a long road. So I asked her to spill a bit about her journey to Etsy Shop Girl Extraordinaire, her secrets for instantly recognizable product photos, her opinions on that whole algorithm thing, and what she wishes she’d known before she got started down this path.

Copper moon necklace
Roots & Feathers | Laura Mazurek

Artist Born and Raised

To hear her tell it, Laura always knew she was destined to be an artist. Her mother owned a jewelry business for 30 years, and Laura’s childhood was spent around other artists at local markets and art shows.

Her first job after high school was working for her mother, soldering and eventually designing pieces. They worked together for about eight years, until her mother’s passing in 2007.

“I loved the creative process,” she says. “I loved all of it. But when she died my dad and I decided to sell the business because it was too much to handle, and it wasn’t really our baby.”

Soon she opened her own shop, Violet Bella, where she made and sold jewelry, paintings, photography, beadwork, and mosaics among other creative expressions. She sold online, and at local shows and galleries around town, trying to make ends meet with her art.

Artist Laura Mazurek modeling her tshirt and jewelry designs
Skyline Fever | Laura Mazurek

The Search for Soul-Fulfilling Work

Then, in 2011, she decided she needed a change. She closed Violet Bella and threw herself into her new passion, Roots & Feathers.

“It was a transition toward more soul-fulfilling work, as opposed to creating jewelry based on what I thought other people wanted, what was selling in shops, and what was easy to wholesale.”

The name Roots & Feathers is an homage to her mother – a way to honor the roots and the wings she gave her during childhood. Something that undoubtedly became even more poignant after becoming a mother herself.

“I was working through a lot of deep emotions after losing her in 2007, and it just felt like a really good thing to have her be a part of that shift in my work and creations.”

Since shifting to this new, authentic focus, she finds the muse comes calling much more often. But running a business is more than waiting around for inspiration to strike.

“When I get that inspiration, it’s like, ‘Oh my god I have to do this now.’ I love that feeling, but obviously that feeling is not always around and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to pay the bills.”

When she’s feeling less than inspired, she’ll focus on reproducing pieces that she’s already made, and making batches of what’s been selling well. And in the process, the muse usually makes an appearance anyway.

Gold earrings with celestial/esoteric symbols
Roots & Feathers | Laura Mazurek

The Social Media Game

In the 10 years since she launched Roots & Feathers, Laura’s passion for designing has only grown. And so has her following, as anyone who’s glimpsed her social media accounts can plainly see. Though she admits time might have been on her side in that regard.

“I grew a following way before algorithms. It was a lot easier back then and growth was a lot more natural. When algorithms hit it dead-headed everything.”

Things have gotten harder, she admits. “But you have to,” she says. “When you’re selling online the only way to market yourself is through social media.” She posts consistently, and shares behind the scenes glimpses of her family and her creative process. But she doesn’t mess with the generally accepted “rules” to beat the algorithms.

“I don’t want to play the game. I’m so tired of playing the game. So I just do what I want to do. I share what I want to share. I do try to make everything look beautiful, but that’s just because I like to make everything beautiful.”

Presentation is a big part of it. And while having a background in photography doesn’t hurt (Laura’s photo shoots are seriously what dreams are made of) you don’t have to be a professional to get ahead of the game.

“You simply need to have good quality photos. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be totally curated. There needs to be a flow; a recognizable style so that when someone sees a photo come through, they almost automatically know that it’s yours. I feel like that’s really important as a brand. I think that says a lot.”

Women lying on ground wearing whimsical jewelry
Roots & Feathers | Laura Mazurek

It’s All About Authenticity

And for Laura, at least, styling and curating her shop might be the most fun part of running a business on Etsy. But she wishes she hadn’t spent so much time early on worrying what other people thought about it.

“I wish someone would have told me to just stay true to myself and to create exactly what I want to create. To not worry so much about what other people will want to buy, and to truly create from my own visions. That almost always translates into sales, because it comes from a more authentic place.”

The takeaway? “Just stay true to yourself,” she says. “And stay in your lane.”

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