Instagram Seller Story: Marina Borushek from ValleyStreamAtelier

Instagram is the hottest and most effective social media channel for establishing brand value. It’s all about the visuals, which makes it a favorite with sellers trying to popularize their businesses. Big stores are now treating their Instagram profile as their homepage and not just another social network.

Etsy seller Marina Borushek believes Instagram is a constructive way of growing a community specific to your business. She has organically amassed over 2k followers and real time engagement on her Instagram account valleystreamatelier. We caught up with her to get to know the secret behind her Instagram success strategy.

Photo credit: @VPVISUALS

Hey, Marina. It’s so great to have you with us. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your shop?

I opened my Etsy store ValleyStreamAtelier in December 2014. It’s a home for Golden Section Designs – my handcrafted jewelry line, and also a collection of vintage, timeless, elegant accessories for ladies and gents. I’m a full-time family nurse practitioner, passionate about design, vintage and photography.

One of the goals for my Etsy store has been to raise funds for the NYU Pediatric Oncology department. I have a ‘Proceeds to Charity’ section in my store that donates 100% of all profits to the Wanda Ortiz Fund. Last year we were able to open a new children’s playroom at the NYU Hasselhoff Cancer Center for Kids.

That is so impressive – congratulations! How do you market your shop?

Most of the marketing takes place on social media. The OrangeTwig app is my favorite tool for marketing. Considering my busy schedule, it allows me to auto post on Twitter and Instagram.

Also, I love to use the OrangeTwig sales campaign for holidays and events. They have a great Instagram hashtag research tool and a variety of templates for posts. The OrangeTwig team is very helpful in providing a variety of marketing tips via the OrangeTwig blog and via personal contacts and conversations.

Thank you! We’re so glad you’ve found us helpful. Tell us how Instagram happened. When did you join? Did you have a plan right from the beginning or did you play around it for a bit?

I joined Instagram in December 2015 as soon as I got an iPhone with a good camera. So I was able to post my cell phone photography mixed with my product posts and behind-the-scenes creative process images.

Why do you prefer Instagram as your marketing medium of choice?

I do market on a few other social media channels as well, but Instagram is my favorite medium of choice. It’s very visual and for me as a photographer, it allows me to create a visual gallery. I love the international creative community I’ve been able to connect with on Instagram.

Photo credits: Sam @itsyoungnotesimages

How did you build your following? Do you have a strategy?

I have built my Instagram following organically. I only follow accounts that relate to me, that I admire and find inspirational. I post 80:20* and incorporate my original photography posts that complement my products, such as, vintage street fashion and styles, retro architecture and design elements.

I post 3 times a day, spreading my posts throughout the day when my followers are online. To make my posts engaging, I try to write captions that would be interesting to my followers. I also use my posts for feedback on my designs and my photography editing skills.

Is there anything you did differently that you think helped along the way?

My photography affair started as macro captures of my products that grew to professional level. Unique quality photography not only increased my sales but also provided other business opportunities. For example, I just collaborated with a New York City fashion blogger who featured my captures in her last post.

I’m also part of a professional models-photographers NYC group that allows me to style models with my vintage accessories/jewelry designs and take photos for my social media marketing.

Photo credits: Sam @itsyoungnotesimages

I’m always torn between what to post and what not to post on Instagram. Whenever there is a good photograph, I’m tempted to put it up, but then I have to stop and wonder if it really goes with what my Instagram is about. How do you make that choice between what you want to post and what’s relevant for your Instagram?

I plan my post layouts ahead. They should be relevant to my Instagram gallery and connected to the aesthetic, mood, colors and scale of my page. I always strive to have a visual balance between dark/light posts, color coordination, and scale of the photos, so that it’s aesthetically pleasing and flows well.

Since I have a variety of followers with different interests, I try to alternate the topics of my posts – fashion, travel, architecture, vintage, design. And I ensure that it’s all connected through a similar editing style, caption style and overall page flow.

I post what inspires me and what I feel passionate about at the time of posting. Heartfelt images bring me the most audience engagement.

How much of your Instagram popularity have you seen converting into sales?

That’s the most difficult question. To be honest, I see my Instagram gallery first as my artistic board and creative community network. Lately with my photography growing into business opportunities I have neglected my Etsy store marketing. However, I am planning to be more active with it as soon as I reach 2,000 followers. Actually, I’m few dozens away from my goal. (Pssst! While she was behind her goal when the interview was taken, Marina has now already crossed her goal of reaching 2k+ followers – congratulations, Marina!)

I’m planning on creatively using OrangeTwig’s templates by incorporating my photography and Etsy products. Love to customize OrangeTwig’s templates!

You must be knowing that Instagram is currently shutting down the automated bot services. It has already shut down Instagress, Mass Planner and other services that automatically liked and commented on posts on behalf of the user. What are your views on that?

It’s great news that Instagram is currently shutting down automated bot services. I am old school and have always been appalled by these follow-unfollow games and using fake followers and likes on Instagram.

Personally I have never unfollowed an account that I’ve whole-heartedly decided to follow in the first place. Instagram is all about true connections and community, not fake popularity. A friend of mine wrote an interesting blog post on this.

What do you think about Instagram’s shadowban? Have you changed your posting strategy to avoid it?

I’ve learned a lot about Instagram’s shadowban from OrangeTwig’s marketing posts. Very insightful and I’m planning on utilizing all your helpful advice with regard to hashtag usage. I have a lot to improve!

Could you tell us how OrangeTwig has helped you with your social media marketing?

OrangeTwig has been instrumental in my small business and social media growth. From providing insightful updates, to personally engaging and guiding me with sale campaigns, and helping me customize the templates. Great team!!!

Photo credit: @VPVISUALS

We are so happy to hear that Marina! Any word of advice for fellow small business owners on Instagram?

My best advice for fellow small business owners on Instagram is to be yourself and to post everything from the heart. It takes a lot of work and it takes time but the results are rewarding.

If not for Instagram I would not have been able to create an amazing community of talented photographers, artisans, creatives from around the globe. And the caliber of people who are following me is mind blowing! Instagram engagement may provide you with networking and other business opportunities that you may not realize right away.

Follow Marina on Instagram and check out her Etsy store. 


*According to the 80:20 rule of social media marketing, 80% of all content posted on social media should be educational and entertaining, and only 20% should be promotional in nature. You can read about it here.

(Marina Borushek’s photograph used in the blog header has been taken by Sam @itsyoungnotesimages)