Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
Seller stories are a wonderful opportunity for us to share some of the amazing individuals in our community. Susan, of SuMo, is one of those individuals.
Susan stumbled across Tophatter by accidentally clicking on a Facebook ad. She says it was a very happy accident! But before this fateful event occurred, let’s go back to the beginning of Susan’s story.
It begins in 2010 when Susan had leukemia, that manifested as a lymphoma on her spine. After waiting for a diagnosis, for which she thought would be for a minor form of cancer, she was delivered the news that she had a very aggressive and rare form of cancer that required a stem cell transplant. Susan left her job at Parsons School of Design, her apartment and her friends to move to Seattle, Washington to partake in the procedure. Afterwards, she found herself incredibly weak, barely able to stand and was being fed through a tube. With the support of her family, she slowly recovered and moved to South Carolina, where her parents had retired.
While there, Susan took up jewelry-making again, a pastime that she had thoroughly enjoyed as a kid. “It felt good doing something fun and easy, and just worrying about colors and sparkly things…making people happy felt good”, she says. She opened up a store on Etsy and had been thinking about opening up a supply end, and that’s when she accidentally found Tophatter.
Susan has been recovering ever since the life-changing procedure, making it difficult to have steady employment. She says that Tophatter has given her a great opportunity to grow her thriving supply business while simultaneously dedicating time to her art. Using the money she made on Tophatter, she was able to fund several art projects she showed in Brooklyn, NY and Ashville, NC. The connections she has made in the auction rooms are amazing, she says, and she particularly loves being able to help new crafters just starting out.
What’s most impressive though, is Susan’s dedication to the emerging art of 3D printing. She’s been experimenting with 3D printing at a maker space in Greenville, SC, known as the Greenville Markers Group (aka GMG). She’s been invited to do a local Tedx talk and has also applied for an artist business initiative grant from the state to continue developing the maker space.
The Makers group is now fundraising to purchase a 3D Printer Kit. The group wants the larger community to have access to it, so that they can “bring ideas to life in new ways and help personal and professional dreams become realized”. You can see their campaign on Indigogo. To learn more about 3D printing and some of the current projects in which the Makers group is currently involved, watch this video.
The group is gearing up for a number of different development phases for the future, and ideally will be fully equipped with woodworking, metalshops as well as the robots.
As Susan has successfully built her brand and has begun to develop these groups that harvest creativity, we asked her a couple of really important questions:
Tophatter: How important is customer service in order to run a successful business?
Susan: Customer service is very important to me - as a buyer as well, I appreciate it when somebody goes the extra mile to ensure a good experience…and I try to do my best and do the same for my customers. What this means is coming to an equitable resolution. Sometimes if things go wrong, I remind myself to think of the bigger picture. What is worth more: a sale or a good reputation? Sometimes there are situations where you just need to write it off as the cost of doing business.
Tophatter: How did you discover your brand and image? You have a great logo and great store presence. How does a new seller go about starting their own brand?
Susan: Finding something that personally relates to you is great inspiration for developing your brand. For me, I took a cue from my name. Su - Susan, Mo - Molnar…SuMo. I also have an interest in Asian history and graphics, so I try to incorporate those elements into my branding. Another thing to consider is consistent lighting and setups for products, so that your store looks professional. If possible, learn programs like Photoshop or GIMP to add watermarks to your item photos and ensure that they are of high quality. Maintaining a consistent color palette is key too. Here’s a great place to start.
We’re so excited to see the outcome of Susan’s 3D projects and how their initiatives impact the future of design.
If you have any questions for Susan, leave them in the comments below!
You can find Susan on Facebook too.