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  • Annette Dawm

Introducing Unbound Designs

Rachel Tsitomeneas is the creator of Unbound Designs on Etsy. Her shop is full of colourful paper bundles that are known as “Junk Journaling Kits”. (Junk Journaling is a form of scrapbooking.) After two years as an online business and over 2800 sales later, Rachel said it is still something that she hasn’t “grown tired of”.

“It is super exciting to have this many sales and for it to keep climbing. I’m so lucky to have been able to turn a hobby into something that makes me money…. I look forward to going to my office and playing around with my papers and making kits in the evenings.”

She added that she wanted customers to enjoy making art with her kits. She also thought they should know that whatever they make “doesn’t have to be perfect”.

“That’s what my business is all about—taking scraps and smaller pieces and putting them together any way you want to create art.” She continued. “I initially did not even start my business with the intention of selling or making junk journal kits. I started making handmade paper which was labour intensive. It did not have a large market and it takes a lot of trial and error to get good at! ….I came across junk journals online while I was looking up how to bind your own journals and I thought they were really cool. I saw a couple other people who were selling kits or fully made junk journals themselves. I had so much extra stationary and scrapbooking supplies, I knew I could make them too. I started with a couple themed kits and went from there.”

“I have acquired my paper, stickers and scraps from so many different places. Sometimes I buy them online. I usually watch craft stores for sales on paper. Thrift stores also have a great selection of books and vintage papers or magazines. Since my family and friends have learned about my business, they often bring me scraps, paper, stickers, and journals that they have thrifted or bought for me.”

Rachel often organizes her kits by colour. Currently, they range in price from $5.00-$21.00, depending on how many items are included. She also makes personalized kits for customers. This happens to be her favourite part of her job!

“I think my favourite item is my personalized kit. I love when people send in ideas, themes and some of their favourite things for me to make a kit out of. I really enjoy the creative freedom with this, and helping people create special books and journals for themselves and their loved ones. I have made kits for people making scrapbooks for their significant others for birthdays and other celebrations….I am looking forward to the busy holiday season and being able to provide people with unique gifts for their friends and families….”

At times, it can be hard for her to decide what to sell and what to keep for herself, but she has a bin of items that are meant for her own journal. "....Sometimes I will buy vintage goods that I intend to include in my kits but they are just too cool to cut up. So, I have a growing vintage collection of books and stamps etc.”

Using Etsy can also be a challenge for sellers like Rachel due to the high fees. However, there are many positive aspects to it. For example, she has complete creative control over her kits. Additionally, she does not have to spend time on marketing or “driving customers” to her site.

“Etsy fees suck. There’s no other nice way of saying it. They do take a lot of your money. However… Etsy is the best place for me to sell my kits because they manage all the behind-the-scenes stuff and it makes it really user-friendly. I guess that’s why the fees are so high.”

Finally, when asked about her advice for others wishing to open an online store, Rachel Tsitomeneas replied: “Just start. It does not have to be perfect in the beginning. Just get some products together or start creating and see where it takes you. Start researching the type of business and the products you want. Look at what other people are doing. It will probably not be an overnight success. You just have to keep adding products, learn SEO and develop a niche product…. Making sure you have a niche is very important when it comes to selling online—especially in such a large marketplace like Etsy.”

For more information, please follow Rachel on Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Tsitomeneas.

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