SerendipityNaturalCo – Vegan, artisan handmade skincare and bath products

Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…

I am Desislava Vasileva – artist & crafter, mum of two beautiful girls. I love art in all its forms that is why I decided to combine natural soap making with a bit of art and create those great for skin and lovely for the eye products.

How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?

I started in Etsy many years ago (painting mugs) but fast closed the shop. Then I opened it again with my Natural Soaps and in 1 month got pregnant with my first child, so had to close the shop again. Two years later I decided it’s time to open it again and in 1 month I felt pregnant again :)))) And closed it.
Now, at the end of 2018 I opened it again (with big hope not to close it 🙂 and here it is still running with such a force I didn’t expect it. So glad people love my products and are returning back to natural cosmetics.
So, even when you see my shop is open from 2012, it is basically running full speed from 2019 and all my sales are generated afterwards.

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 Natural Bath Products – soaps, bath bombs, Salts, all enriched with clay, herbs, essential oils. Luxury Cosmetics, deodorants, wraps.
Scented Candles, Luxury Aromatherapy candles as well.
Many ready Gift Boxes full of Natural goodness. Everyone would be happy to receive them.
Wedding Favours. Hotel Soaps.
I use only Raw, Unrefined, Organic where possible natural oils and butters. Soy Wax for my candles.
Most of my products are Vegan. All are cruelty free and not tested on animals (only to my family 🙂 )
I don’t use Palm oil.
Most products are Plastic free, only use plastic for safety on some of the products.

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 am totally self-taught. When I moved to the UK back in 2011 I went to Camden Market. Oh, my Lord, all these handmade stuff…. They clicked something in me but I had that herbalist blood for years in my family.
I have always loved all my products. We use them in my family for a long time, it is only known that I offer them to anyone and glad people see the difference.

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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?

It was just an extra income as I am a Photographer as well. Now I am full time Crafter + Photographer + Mum 🙂

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?

No fears at all. I see everyone is very happy with their orders. Actually, I was worried about bad reviews and I had 1. It was only 2 weeks ago a client didn’t receive their product for 3 weeks (UK to USA) and there were severe delays due to COVID19, really not my fault but I got a 1 star review. So I had to make a change and learn something from that bad review. Now all my shipments are tracked. I really wanted to save my all clients money and pay less, but now all my International shipments are with higher price and tracked and signed. Bad for good.

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?

Very fast, maybe a week. Now I have more than 140 listings, so I hope everyone finds whatever they need – for ladies, gentlemen, kids, elderly, gifts, wholesale….

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?

Yes, as I said above I am a full time Photographer, Etsy crafter, mum. Hopefully I will open a physical shop very soon. I also supply wholesale with my products to several shops in the UK.
Working 24/7. Getting up at 6am with my 2 girls (2yo and 5yo), getting them ready, making breakfast, while they are schooling online (as much as they can for their age haha) I am printing my orders and packaging them. Make new products if some are over. Then giving new tasks for the kids, me working again. Making lunch together, having a meal, the tree of us. They have a nap afterwards and I use the time to work again. All my products need labeling (I do them as well), luxury packaging as I want my clients to be happy even before they have opened their box. It takes a lot of time. Going out with kids for a walk to the post office and some bike riding. Making dinner and waiting for my husband to come back from work. There are times when I put the children to sleep in the evening, then I get up and continue with work.
My husband also helps me a lot. Recently I taught him to make the best ever Bath Bombs and now he is the King of Bath Bombs (on weekends 🙂

What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?

As an ex-general Accountant, I calculate all my expenses, time consuming, set myself a “salary” and add a bit of profit. All prices are reasonable for the received products and its benefits.

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?

I love nature and listen to music. I always have an idea. I have a big list, so stay tuned 🙂

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?

Yes, I do. I just add the price for the tracked package and clients pay for it, as I learnt it the hard way.
It is more than clear there is no “free shipping”. It is always included in the price but clients are happier to buy a product with free shipping. My products come with 1st class shipping price and here is why:
1 soap is let’s say £4.50, 1st class shipping is £3.70. If I sell it with free shipping, I should either get a huge loss as while the client pays only 4.50 I will have to pay the shipping myself, so I will have only £ 0.80 which is not paying even only my materials 🙂
The other way for free shipping is to list the soap for £8.20. Who would buy it?
On the other hand if you buy 10 soaps, shipping will be again £3.70.
So free shipping is not always the best option.

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How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?

I had a dispute and Etsy said I was right. The parcel was held at the Customs and the client didn’t receive it on time.
The 1 star review left was for an item not received for 3 weeks (UK to USA in COVID19 delays). The client got it later but no point…
I try to get the good points from every bad situation and learn from my mistakes.

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?

I love Etsy. If it wasn’t Etsy, I wouldn’t be that successful. It is so easy to navigate and such a huge platform for all artists and crafters.

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?

To make those algorithms work best for everyone as there are days I have 0 sales and days with 30 🙂
Reduce the fees. There is no option if I want to make wholesale discounts for orders over lets say £1000, to set 50% discount and to include only the listing I want. As I don’t want to sell all my listings wholesale.

What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?

Everything is done with lots of love and passion. And clients feel it. The lesson I learned the hard way is that International shipping should be tracked!

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