Meet Jennie K. Snyder, a Pittsburgh artist and take a tour of Queen Boheme Maison. Queen Boheme Maison is an online store that sells upcycled chandeliers and vintage textiles. Jennie resides in Carrick and sells her goods around the globe.
Q: Where do you find materials for your chandeliers?
A: Craigslist, Construction Junction, on the curb on garbage day, flea markets, yard/garage sales, and my favorite thrift store, which shall remain unnamed.
Q: Are any of your items available in local brick-and-mortar stores?
A: Not yet, but if they want to buy outright at wholesale, I’m game!
Q: Do you prefer that people buy from your website or from your Etsy store?
A: The website. It’s more personal, I can more easily give discounts to friends, locals and the trade and it looks way prettier.
Q: Are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?
A: I live in a gritty neighborhood – Carrick/Mt. Oliver – so I have LOTS of favorite places! Jerry the Lamp Guy on Brownsville in Mt. Oliver Proper has a gorgeous storefront full of amazing lamps he made and designed himself, next to his brother’s antique and stained glass window store. These guys are incredible artists! Jerry lets me go down into his basement workshop to rifle around for parts and bits, or sit down on the floor and go through all of his crystal prism boxes. I tell him how much his stuff would go for on eBay or Etsy, but he “doesn’t do computers”. I have been known to sit on his floor for hours.
Then there’s Charlie, my dealer. Antique dealer, that is, but it’s all crack to me. He owns Charlie’s Used Furniture and Antiques. It’s a gold mine. He purposely puts things he knows I’ll like in his display window, knowing I’ll drive by and need my fix. I take the bait, and Charlie says, “Have you seen this? Oh, if you like this, I got somethin’ you’re gonna LOVE!” He tips me off to the good estate sales before they’re advertised in the Pennysaver or on Craigslist. I can’t decide if he is friend or foe.
Q: What do you think is the fanciest place in Pittsburgh?
A: It’s a tie between Henry Clay Frick’s summer mansion, Clayton, and my house. My garden is certainly better.
Q: Any advice for someone who is looking to start an online business?
- Take two months to do market research. Google the products you want to make/sell. How many results come up? 1,800,000? 60,000? Go with the product that matches the lower number and that’s how you decide what to make/sell. Find the hole in the market.
- Specialize. Keep your offerings to one or two things you do well and become the go-to person for that product. Also consider things like shipping. Is it difficult to ship? Heavy, expensive? That will take away from your fun.
- Next, look at sites selling similar products. Then, charge 10% more, and make sure your presentation is better. Make sure your customer service is better. Then, deliver incredible customer service, and they won’t mind that extra 10%.
- Ship internationally. Gift wrap and include a thank you note, and, as you wrap and write, imagine a stranger opening the thing YOU loved, the thing YOU made, with delight. See the joy in his/her face. Wish them love, peace, safety, and a happy life. Do it each and every time you wrap and pack a sale. It will feel good. World peace is made in such ways, one interaction at a time. You will have a rapport with your new friend from Tel Aviv or London or Milan. They will send you photos of your product in their homes. They will ask for your advice about fabric colors and paint. You will email them to see if they’re ok when that hurricane hits or their city is the target of an attack. You will actually care about them, and they will care about you. I now have friends and places I can stay all over the world: Tuscany, Milan, Tel Aviv, Honolulu, Saskatchewan, London, and Toronto, and they can stay here in my magical, crooked cottage.
Q: What do you teach? Where do you teach?
A: I teach fine arts at Community College of Allegheny County. I also give private art and voice lessons at my home in gritty Carrick/Mt. Oliver.
Shop for Chandeliers, Italian Wedding Blankets & Fancy Pants Pillows @ QueenBohemeMaison.com
You can browse and shop all of the Queen Boheme Maison wares online here. In addition to chandeliers, Jennie sells antique textiles – take a look at the Italian wedding blankets and she has a wide assortment of other housewares, including a whole section of Fancy Pants Pillows.