Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
It’s been already five years since I, Ingrida, and my family as well as a small team of talented tailors, great friends of ours, started producing high-quality linen clothes at a reasonable price and more than 10k items from our shop already colored our beloved clients’ lives and – we believe – made them feel as on a cloud nine. Everything started when I was on maternity leave raising my little daughter Lucia and understood I don’t want to come back to my previous job after the maternity leave will end. I thought I could try realizing my old dream of creating linen garments and other things since I do love linen – I always did. And Lithuania is well known as a country of linen, so it’s really easy to gain some local fabric of great quality here. So that’s how we did start – me and my family we gained some linen fabric, developed our own ideas of the things we would like to produce, asked for some help from our friend seamstress who helped us making some interior things like pillowcases, etc. and we opened a shop on Etsy. Later we began developing linen garments and everything began to move step by step. Now we’re a team of 5 persons who do work on linen clothes and other things daily and we feel very happy about this.
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
Using only time-tested techniques we create handmade linen garments from linen dresses to linen pants and tunics, from skirts to coats and jackets, from linen aprons to tops and blouses, and linen home decorations like linen towels, napkins, tablecloths, bags, or curtains. We do develop a design of one or another garment – usually by working all together from discussing the idea of one or another thing to finding technical ways to produce it in the best quality we can achieve. Later we do organize a photo session of new items and upload them to our online shop @ Etsy.com. And after our clients gain one or another garment or another thing from the shop, we do begin producing it for that client namely. And I believe this is a really strong part of our service – we do produce our clothes individually for every client of ours, by adjusting them to their personal measurements so that the garments would fit as best as possible. So when a client gains an item from our shop, we do our best she (the majority of our clients are women from all over the world) would receive a garment which will fit her shape as a glove, which is not always so simple when you work without seeing a client alive.
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
I guess exposing the items in their best shape in the pictures is always the most challenging aspect of our business. You may develop a really beautiful garment, but if the picture of it won’t reflect this item in its best shape, you won’t be able to achieve the interest of your potential buyers. And it’s about all the aspects of the garment from its design to the color – it’s quite difficult to show them attractively, but when you do that, you may be sure the clients will be interested in it. We put lots of energy into this process since selling online is always based on the pictures. The buyer cannot touch the item, so he or she must rely on the view only. That is why the pictures must expose the garments we sell in their best shape. We try various techniques of making pictures, we looking for models who can reflect the style we develop best, we change the surroundings of our pictures and do many more things to achieve the best result. And there are no limits for perfection here actually…
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
Daily challenges of organizing this business from developing new garments to picturing them, producing them in the best quality, and sending them to our clients are something that inspires me, but sometimes those challenges are something difficult to cope with. Close communication inside our team and with our outer partners as well as close communication with the client is the best tool to overcome all the challenges we meet and we do practice this daily.
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
We work on the Etsy platform mainly, and I think the Etsy team did a great job by developing a help book for all the sellers. All the best advice and suggestions are being posted there, and what we know now is that is always best to follow those suggestions there as well as reading about the success stories of other sellers. Etsy will always emphasize the importance of good pictures of the items you sell, great descriptions of them, relative tags and titles, strong SEO, and other things, and it is really important to follow this. For the beginner, it may seem terribly difficult from the very beginning since you may feel like sinking in the sea of information, but I think our biggest mistakes did happen when we didn’t manage to follow those advices. So what may I suggest is simply doing what Etsy tells you to do – this will help you to stand out in the crowd and make your shop successful.
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
I feel best when I design some new garment which I feel I would like to wear too. I do always create something new which I know I would use by myself. And when I think that many different women around the world will maybe feel comfortable to wear this, will feel pretty in this garment, and will receive some compliments from their surroundings, this motivates me to move on and develop something new. Happy customer brings me so many good emotions and those emotions are the basis of my motivation.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I think organizing is something which I have in my blood. I did this before, that is why to organize this type of business wasn’t something too difficult for me. And from my secondary school year which was really long time ago 🙂 I always knew I like to create something beautiful too. I was attending the art school, so developing something aesthetical and lovely was always beside me. It really helps today when I’m running a shop here in Etsy and creating garments and home decorations daily.
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
Besides all the things I did describe the quality of the items we produce and the importance of great pictures of them, I would like to emphasize a really good relationship with the customers. When a new or a coming back customer sends me a message by asking some questions about one or another garment of ours, I like talking with them. I do my best to respond to them in detail, and to fulfill everything our customers ask for. I feel like my clients are my friends and I want them would be really happy about the orders they place from the very beginning like the first message to me to the very end like receiving and wearing the garment. A happy customer is something I seek daily and I believe later this works as a part of marketing too.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
A vision of what are you going to do, understanding will be important for your customers, knowing the way how will you implement your ideas and will make them become real things and a determination to work on it hard. Learning from your mistakes and looking for the best working examples too.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Creative expression is the key aspect of your business success I think. Especially when you work in the crafts sector and a platform like Etsy. But it is always really important to match your creative expression with the ability to count the costs and results from the point of financial view. What I want to say is your creative expression must always have an economical perspective. I guess I don’t believe in the ideas like you don’t have to think about money, you have to think about the content you develop, and if you’re passionate about it, the money will come. Yes, it is really important to like what you do, but you always have to know the best ways to suggest the product you create for the world.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I do trust in my team. We’re a small yet really strong team and all of us know what we have to do daily. We do our best to implement the orders and dispatch them to our clients asap after the order is being placed. So we work on the garments we produce on the first half of the day, and on the second half of the day, we do pack and dispatch them. Of course, extra time or some spare time is something that we always need these days, but I guess this is more like a philosophical problem – everybody needs some more time in today’s world.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Today my dream is being realized actually – I want to have a small family business, and in further growth, I actually see more problems than profit. And I have a family business which helps me realize my creative ideas as well as earn for living. We’re small and we don’t want to be big at the moment – that’s my situation. What we need to have a successful small business is simply a constant flow of daily orders – as long as we achieve this, we’re happy to work on them without planning too much growth for our closest future.