There are so many stores online, let alone craft stores, but how do you distinguish which ones are reputable, which ones actually sell handmade items, and which ones are just importing merchandise from elsewhere to sell to those who really don’t know the difference? Well, just visit Under the Rainbow and you’ll soon discover the difference. Owner Ralyn Speerly Schraceo knows that handmade crafts are becoming harder to find, and that finding handmade crafts that are reasonably priced are even rarer, so she set up an online craft mall that features handmade goodies, some of which aren’t to be found anywhere else online.
Way back in 1989, Ralyn was a single mom struggling to make ends meet, trying to eke out a living with a small specialty gift store. Since she’d been crafting since an early age, Ralyn decided to add some of her crafts to the selection at the specialty store. When she once told a customer that she sells “everything under the rainbow”, the phrase stuck and became her new company name.
Although the internet was still fairly new, Ralyn began to play around with the computer, programs and software, learning from books and other resources, to develop a mall-type setting for herself and other crafters. After working very hard, and mastering web design, she began to invite other crafters to join her. In 1999 many crafters didn’t know anything about advertising their crafts online, but wanted to, so Ralyn jumped in there and helped them get settled at the new mall.
I have spoken to Ralyn on the phone, and have communicated through email, and I’d like to share, in her own words, some of the thoughts Ralyn has about the future of Under the Rainbow and why her online mall is different than others:
Emma: What does Under the Rainbow offer customers?
Ralyn: Under The Rainbow offers a place to shop for handcrafted items online from a variety of crafters with a variety of talents. Our crafters, along with myself, are very customer oriented – after all, we craft for them specifically. Most of our members are eager to customize to the customer’s needs and wants, including coming up with new unique designs to fill the customer’s desires. Customers are safe from scams at Under The Rainbow – all payments go through the company and held until tracking numbers for shipment are provided by the crafter.
Emma:What are some of the more unique crafts featured at Under the Rainbow?
Ralyn: I would have to say the more unique crafts in the craft mall are made by Urmila Mitra. Although she’s a US citizen and lives in GA, she’s originally from India and has brought her family craft designs and talent to our site. Her designs are beautiful and unique work – much different from what you normally see in the USA.
Emma:Do you set limits to how many of a certain kind of craft will be accepted by Under the Rainbow? For example, if you have 20 crafters selling crocheted items, will you still accept more crochet-crafters?
Ralyn: No, I don’t set limits by a particular type of craft. I do, however, set limits for duplicate items. We want a variety of choice, not competition between members. So I do not allow duplicate items as are already posted – they must differ in some way, be it style or size they cannot be identical.
Emma:What are some of the benefits to listing crafts with Under the Rainbow, that would prompt crafters to list their crafts with you, rather than having their own website. And, can a crafter have their own website and still list their crafts with you?
Ralyn: For starters, the cost of having your own web site is not there when you list with Under the Rainbow, and the usual web work time needed to maintain a good site is not necessary. Many of our crafters do not have web skills or writing skills and most of the items that get submitted go through a lot of work by me before they are posted. The crafter and I work together to tweak it until the details and descriptions are satisfactory. Many of our members have their own sites. We also offer store fronts for crafters in our Gazebo Store Front shopping mall (which I’ll be re-doing with a better editor program). With a gazebo store front they have the choice to build their own site or have me design one for them at a fraction of the expense elsewhere. This program is currently being re-vamped.
Emma:Do you have a limit as to how many crafts the artists can post at your site? Can they post any amount of crafts they want?
Ralyn: They can post as many items as they like. New members get 20 free posts on signing up + ways to earn more by participating in meetings, having an item sell, and more. If they want to post more than the free posts they have coming, then they have the option to purchase posts for only $2.00/5 posts. We have about 5 Executive Members that have unlimited free posts. They help me with the newsletter, our Celebration events, ads for the mall, and more.
Emma: Do you have something like an Open House Event or Parties, where crafters can show their wares?
Ralyn: We have great parties where people can drop by and see what we have to offer, participate in workshops, play games, and win great prizes. When we have a new party approaching, we post all the info at the site. The prize drawings are done via webcam and we usually have a nice turnout. This gives crafters and customers a chance to meet and discuss possibilities.
Emma:Do you advertise for the crafters or do they have to promote your site for you?
Ralyn: It’s a combination – we all promote each other. That is what team work is, after all.
Emma:How many years of crafting experience do you have? In what areas?(knitting, bead work, etc.)
Ralyn: I learned to crochet at the age of 4 and learned just about every craft I could get my hands on from there. Hence – Under The Rainbow. There are actually very few crafts that I have not personally done at one time or another. My personal favorite crafts to make are crochet (which I mainly do for family and not sales), macramé, and blue jean crafts – but I do many more that I love to craft and design. I don’t like to do the same things everybody else does and have a hard time following a pattern even. I like to be unique and design new things.
After visiting Under the Rainbow you’ll discover just how much the site has to offer and how unique the featured crafts really are. If you’re a crafter and you need a store, consider Under the Rainbow for your crafts. You’ll feel like you’ve come home!