Friday, February 29, 2008

Recent eBay fee changes send Norwich artisan to to sell her wares

“eBay has not scored any points with me, by claiming to lower the insertion fees, while increasing final value fees by another 3.5%. This means I will be forced to increase my jewelry prices, which are already set to what I would consider affordable and competitive for those in the market for something special for their wedding, renaissance recreations, or formal occasions.”

Meet Elizabeth Frank. She is 35 years old and she lives in Norwich, Connecticut. Elizabeth works as an Administrative Assistant in Old Saybrook. She also sells custom-made jewelry online. She got her start selling Beanie Babies on eBay in 2000. It sounds like a typical story.

But Elizabeth is far from typical. Although it’s more of a sideline for her, Elizabeth is a savvy business-woman when it comes to selling online. Her product-line these days is far from the world of Beanie Babies!

There’s another side to Elizabeth.

Her alias is ‘Mistress Kayleigh McWhyte, Order of the Laurel’. The title is part of a process of years of work and study in history and technique in medieval and renaissance arts and sciences.

Elizabeth is an active member of The Society for Creative Anachronism ( The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. They learn by doing. Members are brewers, archers, calligraphers, heralds, fencers, spinners, blacksmiths, costumers, dancers, cooks and armored fighters. They enjoy feasting, spinning, needlepoint, equestrian, leatherwork, beadwork, socializing, live weapons competition, period music, theatre and much more. Elizabeth has been involved with the group since she was in the sixth grade and an active member since 1998.

The enthusiasm Elizabeth holds for her pastime is reflected in her work as a jewelry artist and calligrapher. Elizabeth’s specialty item is renaissance-inspired necklaces. Her pieces are exquisite in detail and styling.

When asked how she got started, she tells me she made the first necklace for herself in 2001. “People just pounced on it!”, she said. It prompted her to create more custom pieces for others.

While her unique necklaces and earrings are aimed at renaissance, fantasy, and history-buff customers, many of the designs adapt nicely to current fashions. Imagine the look with a pretty v-neck blouse!

She’s a busy lady. In addition to jewelry-making, Elizabeth devotes creative time to crafting illuminated manuscript pages. It involves not only calligraphy, but painting and gilding as well.

Most recently her time has been deeply absorbed with planning a wedding. In fact, she’s getting married (today!!!) and she and her husband are also working on buying their first home.

As an independent artisan, Elizabeth has much to say in reaction to eBay’s recent fee changes. Because she is not a high-volume seller, it will cost her more, making it more difficult to keep her prices competitive.

“EBay is not the same place it used to be. My items normally sell for under $25 each, and for the most part, I do this for fun.”

This is one reason why Elizabeth favors Etsy as an online venue for selling.

“Each listing on Etsy is just 20¢ and stays online for up to 4 months. They charge a 3.5% commission. In comparison, eBay charges approximately $16 per month for an eBay store, plus listing and final value fees.”

Elizabeth’s good business practices include buying supplies in bulk to save money. She wraps each jewelry item in colored tissue that matches the color in the necklace, making each package pretty enough to pass on as a gift. Additionally, she includes a business card with each shipment to make it easy for buyers to remember how they can find her online.

Her product photography is gorgeous, each photo carefully staged, taken with care.

Her ‘About Me’ page on eBay is informative and helpful to a buyer.

Most of all, Elizabeth has a great chance for future success in selling online because in spite of the huge competition online in the jewelry market, she targets a specialized niche. Her pieces are customized, wearable art — certainly something that won’t be found at Walmart.

Visit Elizabeth's shop, Archeress Arts on


Brangwyne said...

Hey! That gown looks AWFULLY familiar.


And one of these days I will buy one of those necklaces.

Archeress said...

Thank you for making it, Brangwyne.
You did a great job on that gown.

Kate said...

You go Kayleigh! And the surprise wedding! Congrats, you too.

Also, great article. Goodonya both!


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the surprise wedding! I think you caught just about everyone out. :)

And great article, too! Good on you both.

-- Kate

Saire said...

I'm so proud of you: both on how your represented yourself, and how you represented the Etsy community. You rock, girl! -Saire