Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My Name is Valya Vasileva and I am a modern Inventor. 6 years ago I find out that there is no easy way to apply makeup at home and then I developed my first product – Quick Makeup Stencils. One year after that came the idea for my second product – Quick Eyeliner Stickies. It is a great journey so far because dozens of thousands of women bought my products and can create now easily and fast their daily makeup at home or any other place.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
A friend of mine told me about Etsy. I already started selling on eBay and Etsy was a great new place to present my products. Before that, I had no knowledge of Etsy, but since I discovered it, I am very satisfied with Etsy. Since the beginning of the Internet, everyone who has a product and wants to sell globally sells online. I wanted to sell my product in every corner of the world and that can happen only online.
What products do you sell, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
I sell two products – Quick Makeup Stencils and Quick Eyeliner Stickies. To create my products, I use only the best and safest products. I designed my products first by hand and after that on a computer. My product was invented by me and there were no such products before that. My products are one of a kind.
How was your experience in learning to craft, are you self-taught or did you have a mentor, how long did it take for you to be satisfied with your creations?
I developed the whole production process by myself. All my products are homemade with machines that I bought. Because my idea was very clear to me, it took only a few days for me to be satisfied with my creations.
What was your original goal when you opened up an Etsy shop? What impacted your decision to start selling online? Do you consider online selling as a side-job, full-time job, or extra income to pay for your hobby?
I knew nothing about Etsy, so I may only goal was to present my products in as many online shops as possible. I want to sell my products globally and the best way to do that is to sell online. Online selling is my full-time job.
Did you have any fears or reservations before opening up your Etsy shop? Were you worried about profitability or product competitiveness? What are some concerns and questions you had before you got started? How did you overcome them?
I had no fears or reservations before opening my Etsy shop. I liked the idea that here people can find one of kind handmade products and my products were the best fit for this place. I had no worries about product competitiveness because I invented those products and got a worldwide patent on the products and if I see a replica of my products, I send immediately a report of infringement. Regarding the profitability, I knew that my products are products that every woman who likes makeup needs, so the potential was enormous. I got no concerns or questions. The model of Etsy is very clear and easy to use. I like that I pay only when I sell and there are no additional fees.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
I started selling immediately. I had no idea how many Sets will be sold in the first year, so every sale was a joy for me. In the beginning, I sold 1-2 Sets per month, but after that, I started investing in Facebook ads, and my sales skyrocket to 100-200 Sales per day. Unfortunately, Facebook got greedy and increase the cost of the ads by 10 and there was no more possibility to make advertising. After that, the sales dropped again.
Do you have a job outside Etsy? If not, are you able to commit full-time to online selling? How does your typical day look like? How do you manage time?
I do not have a job outside Etsy. I sell full-time online. I listed my products on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Wish, and every day I wake up, make fitness, breakfast, and after that, I start preparing the orders to ship. Then I go to the post and ship the products to the customers. After that, I manage all the inquiries regarding the orders, because especially nowadays with CoronaVirus a lot of deliveries are getting lost.
How does your manufacturing process look like for e.g. your best selling product? Do you create products ahead of the orders? Do you customize your products, if so how? What are the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?
My manufacturing process is very hard and takes a lot of time. First, all the products are made by a machine, after that, they are cut by hand and packed by hand again, I manufacture thousands of products that I store into my own storage and when I get orders I take Sets from the storage. I use machines to hand cutters to manufacture the products.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
No business is bigger than its advertising. When you advertise a product and this advertising can be seen by 10 000 people every day, you can get a lot of orders. The materials that I use are very expensive because they are imported, have all the safety standards, and are the best that can be used. I price my products so that people can buy them and after that feel that they got much more for what they have paid.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
Solving problems and helping other people to be their best every day and live a happier life. This is my inspiration. All women that put on eyeliner for the first time, know how much time, effort, frustration, tools it takes until you finally get it done. I wanted to help those women with my products. I stopped creating new products because the Chinese are stealing all ideas that people have and make cheap replicas. This is so unfair.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
I ship worldwide. The postage pricing in Bulgaria is very high. One order is delivered within the European Union for 5-10 working days and to the rest of the world for 20 working days. Unfortunately because of CoronaVirus a lot of orders are delivered with huge delay or are totally lost. Also now no letters can be delivered to Australia and from time to time the post stops the deliveries to the USA. I use also free shipping for some of my listings because people like the idea to get something for free. I package my products into envelopes.
Are you worried about competitors? Does it impact your business in any way? If there are a lot of similar products, how do you make your own stand out?
Unfortunately the Chinese have no shame and steal everything that someone into this world invents. They made cheap replicas of my products and started selling them online. Because I have patents on my products I report them constantly for infringement. Those replicas have a huge impact on my business because they are cheap and not very good well made. Then someone buys them, uses them, is not satisfied, and starts telling everyone that those products are not good. So that my products standout, I represent my products as Originals and report for infringement all replicas that I find online.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I try to solve every dispute or problem that a customer has. If there is bad rating/feedback it is mostly because the post did not deliver the product, so I always offer two solutions to the customer. I answer every question presale and post-sale by myself, so that the customers have a great experience and satisfaction with my service and products, This is very important for me.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
The selling on Etsy has a great impact on my business because it is a great place to offer products online and most of the orders come without spending money on advertising. I never thought that I would have such success on Etsy. I never had stress dealing with customers or manufacturing products, because I like communicating with people and producing my products.
How important is social media for your shop? What are some common tactics you use to promote your products? Do you spend money on ads outside of Etsy? How do you generate excitement/hype around your products?
At one time Facebook was the only place on the internet where I advertised and got a lot of orders because of those ads. It is very easy, I placed a 10-sec video on Facebook that comes on Facebook as a post and millions of people around the world saw this video. I used to spend 10 000 USD every month on ads on Facebook. But after that facebook got so expensive, there is no sense anymore there to advertise. I used to reach 10 000 people daily and now with the same budget, I get only 1000 people. So now I spend 0 USD on advertising. My products are one of a kind and they generate excitement/hype just by what they are, what they can solve, and how they can help.
What are some things you don’t like about Etsy? If you could talk to the CEO of Etsy what recommendations would you tell him to improve sellers and customer satisfaction?
There is nothing about Etsy that I don’t like. I was very impressed when Etsy invested 5 Mio USD into advertising during CoronaCrisis and helped me sell more. It worked very well for me. At this point, I do not think that there is anything that can be done to improve sellers and customer satisfaction. The only problem that exists between seller and customer is the post service. A lot of letters are lost and this is a big frustration for both parties, but nothing can be done.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Actually, the shop on Etsy has a snowball effect. You place a product and if the product is interesting, some people start liking it, then friends of those people see it and like it as well and so on and so on. So far it was an easy ride, so there were no lessons in a hard way.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Find a way to advertise your products to a lot of people. Know that only 2 % buy. You need 10 000 people to see your product every day so that you can have 200 sales per day. If you do not start selling within the first three months then change the product. Try to offer one-of-a-kind products that solve people’s problems and make their lives better.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Etsy now for me is much better to place to sell products online than most of the other online places. I get a lot of attention and orders for my products. I like it because it is simple and easy to use and there are not so many cheap products from china like on the other platforms. It is a great place to sell products that are handmade at home. Thank you very much, Etsy.