Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Hello, my name is Ema I’m 23 years old and this is my first time starting an online business. After living over 18 years in Austria, I decided to begin a new life chapter in my country of origin Lithuania. Here I started to think of how I wanted to shape my work life/career and thought about online business. Getting to know my roots better and starting this new journey is challenging and exciting. Outgrowing myself and improving each day is the beauty of this path. I consider myself as a crafter in my first online store “Emute home” because I produce handmade & upcycled home textile goods on my own – in my second online store I consider myself more as a seller because I’m selling already produced original 90s Vintage caps in the Etsy-Store called “VintaStudio”.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Etsy, is a platform I knew for longer as a customer but not as a seller. I did some research on various platforms, their conditions, what the differences are, what the benefits might be, and what target group they reach. Etsy seemed the best fit. I didn’t have any experience before in online selling and Etsy is therefore a good start to understand how everything works – it’s super user-friendly and has a welcoming aesthetic look for buyers. The motivation behind starting to sell online was the fact that I truly like selling – I had great experiences in selling offline but not online. To my way of thinking, you have to begin with something that’s new as well as challenging and will let you learn and grow throughout the journey using your talents and experiences as tools to able to master it.
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?
In my first started Etsy store I began with upcycled home textiles “Emute home”. The motivation behind it was to create handmade products that are aesthetical, minimalistic, practical as well as environmental friendly using manufacturing leftovers due to overproduction (mostly European linen). Targeting customers who are aware of the environmental impact the textile industry has – Conscious consumption is a key essential here. In my second online store “VintaStudio”, I do not have to create anything because I sell original Vintage caps from the 90s – these popular vintage caps were sold in European countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy, and many others.
All these caps were produced in special limited editions 30 years ago. Cotton caps (with original patterns and prints from the 90s) and Corduroy caps (in monochrome colors) are the main materials used here. What makes these caps stand out is the fact, that they are reminding people of a legendary era, wearing history attaches most of the customers emotionally to a place of memories that they want to hold on to and match with their outfit style.
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
In my first store I gained experiences through time and interest, sewing lovely home textiles calmes me down and I truly enjoy doing it. My grandmother was and is a mentor for me in this. Sharing this interest in creating products with her is wonderful.
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?
Selling on Etsy is for me (for now) a full-time job. In the next step, I would like to focus more on my other projects and still work on these two Etsy-Stores but with less intensity. As I mentioned before, my motivation behind selling online was to learn and grow as well as use my talents, be creative and attract customers that are as passionate about the products as I am.
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?
Fears and doubts are of course part of the process when starting such an online business. The way I see things is that there are moments in life where you just close your eyes and jump into cold water knowing deep down in your heart everything will be alright. I overcame some fears by simply writing down important questions about starting an online business and searching for answers online. Some of them were useful – some of them not. Experimenting with different marketing strategies were necessary for me to find the right strategy to work within the long run.
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?
Without giving away numbers – I wasn’t expecting such a huge demand on Vintage caps in my online store “VintaStudio”. This was such a positive surprise to me. Thrilled to see that there are so many 90s Vintage fans who love my caps so much that some of time returned to buy even more.
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 have some projects outside of selling on Etsy. My time management is strict and all about efficiency. Rather than writing a long to-do-list, I take one task that is my priority for me at this moment and then head over to the routine tasks. After that, I write down what I accomplished throughout the day to document and visually see what I’ve done. My personal life is as important as my business – so I do my best to equally distribute my time for both things.
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?
In my Etsy-Store “Vintastudio” you can find already produced Vintage caps from the 90s – they are ready to ship within a business day. In my Etsy-Store “Emute home” I create some products ahead (depending on how much I forecast the demand of it) and there are other products where I just create the example and then produce them after I got an order. That saves a lot of materials and is an environmental process because I only use the materials when I’m absolutely sure that this piece is sold. Economically and ecologically a win-win situation.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I’m not giving away any numbers of my price management and profitability.
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?
My inspiration for my creations is life itself, I think of my target group and what they might actually need in their life – I also ask questions and listen to what each customer says and gives me feedback. You shouldn’t guess too much what customers want – just ask 🙂 After defining a product category, I’m all about thinking about the aesthetics and practical use of the product which questions like: What kind of habits my customers do have?
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 my products in the European Union and the US with a free-shipping guarantee. All of my products are packaged in a light-weight way mostly in the envelope/letter format.
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 standout?
Competition is everywhere – no matter where you start and is vital. In my opinion, you can only stand out by being authentic. Being unique and getting creative is the key here – you have to be different in ways others seem the same and be brave in activating your creative potential. It starts from the pictures you put in the Etsy-Store and ends with the description and the way you communicate with your customers. It’s all one big picture and concept that you have to follow – a customer journey where you are the tour guide leading to happy customer experience.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
It’s my belief that customer satisfaction should be viewed as a relationship. Even if it’s just a short one. At the end of the day, we all want a happy customer, one that remains, keeps coming back, and interested in what there is to offer. Listening and caring is what I do to understand where the roots of the problems are and taking action is what I can offer to keep customer satisfaction.
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?
Selling on Etsy made me realize how beautiful it is to sell online. It’s fantastic that Etsy exists and offers such easy to use tools and statistics. For now, I’m happy and and really grateful.
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?
With my first Etsy store I use Etsy-Ads and social media advertising. With my second Etsy-store I use Etsy-Ads only. This marketing tactic works for me the best, because my first store has a niche target group and the second one has a broader target group in different demographics.
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?
I would thank the CEO of Etsy for creating such a user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing platform with great features and wish them the best 🙂
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I learned to try out various things and not being afraid of trying out and failing. If one idea doesn’t work, doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just maybe not fitting or at the wrong time. In my second Etsy store, I have a broader range of products and therefore attract automatically more customers by offering different Vintage designs – that is really generating customers organically by listing more products.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Be yourself, listen to your gut feeling, trust the process, try new things out, ask for advice 🙂