Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
I jumped into fashion after I finished my bachelor in biology which is far from where I ended up.
I always felt being creative is something I felt close to my skin since I was a little girl.
I grew up and finished most of my education in South Korea. Traveling and some soul searching after college brought me to America in my twenties. When I settled in America I wanted to do pursue my creative energy instead of doing what was expected from other people. So I went to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and finished the fashion design in the MFA program.
Fashion has been the main medium to express my creative force.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I have come across Etsy from one of my favorite blogger in Japan.
This was winter in 2009 which is a fairly early stage of Etsy. I made a couple of skirts I wanted to wear my self and posted them on my first online shop. Prior to this experience, I have never sold anything I made.
In the beginning, it was more of a fun thing to try close to extended blogging.
However, I ended up selling more than 100 skirts by next summer. After my first shop became successful than I expected I opened my second shop, ArtAffect Home, in a few years later
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 ?
ArtAffect is contemporary women’s wear line mainly focused on minimal and easy style. And my other shop ArtAffect Home is for unique and fun color and textile home decor items such as pillowcases.
I go through a lot of images of people and lifestyles on social media and magazines. I collect any details to catch my eyes and create my ‘design pool’. This helps me to come out with my own style.
I’d like to use cotton, linen, and knit jersey.
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 have finished fashion design/knitwear design in the MFA program at Academy of Art University. I have learned great lessons from one of the top teachers in the industry while I was in this program. I also had an internship with a local designer while I was in school.
This experience was a great asset for me to develop a commercial sense of products.
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?
When I opened the Etsy shop I was in between jobs. I thought it will be something to do to fill the gap before I go back to the next work. Luckily, it has been successful than I expected and it has been my full time job for many years.
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?
Prior to my first Etsy shop, I never sold anything I made.
It was somewhat terrifying to think if anyone would like what I made since it felt too personal.
However, the only confidence I had was that I liked what I created at least and I thought some people might appreciate them.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever thought you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was a goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
It took three months for me to get my first sale. I didn’t expect to make enough sales in the first year. I thought it might be side job as close to hobby. After my first sale, I have sold enough not to look for full time job.
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?
Etsy shops are my full time job. I check sales and messages in the morning when I start working around 9. After I finish working on computer I put most of my time production and creating new products.
How does your manufacturing process looks 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 tools that you are using in manufacturing process?
I normally make products upon orders. For bestsellers, I create them ahead of orders. I do offer custom with an additional charge.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I try to use quality of materials since it has immediate feedback from customers.
I spend enough time searching and shopping fabric vendors and wholesalers to find quality materials in affordable price.
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 get inspired by people and life style via movies, cultures, and social medias. I create my own design idea collections picked up from various sources to come out with my own creation.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is 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 do ship internationally which takes about 5 to 15 business days.
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?
I focus on quality of products and customer service greatly, to keep royal customers.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I try to offer the best customer service with understanding manner when customers are not satisfied. It has been very helpful when you approach more communicative manner.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever thought you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
Selling on Etsy has been quite satisfying experience with me since I raised my son while running business at home.
Having flexible schedule is one of the best thing running on line business.
I try to get over the stress from dealing with customers or production by prioritization and meditation.
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?
I use social media such as facebook, instagram, and pinterest.
I share design process and photo shoots with models on social medias.
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 customers satisfaction?
I have been with Etsy from the very early stage. I do feel saddened by how the unique and genuine handmade market has been saturated by mass-produced products you can often find on ebay or amazon these days.
To be differentiated from this e-commerce business, I do hope Etsy keeps the one of kind creative aspect.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I have tried to put myself in customer’s position from the beginning so that nobody leaves my shop feeling unsatisfied experience.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering to sell on Etsy? How can they avoid beginners mistakes?
Try to keep manageable goal and have fun being creative.
Always put yourself in customer’s position.