Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I have graduated from the Art Academy in Latvia, but after I finished it, started to work in the advertising field and continued for 15 years. While working in advertising I started to feel very exhausted and start looking for creativity. I decide to return to ceramic, bought a kiln, wheel, and find a small place to open a workshop. After the first year I understood I wan to return to art and I quite well-paid job and start my own business in my city, I opened shop as well
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I was told about Etsy by my friends, but none of them was ceramic. Ceramic is a complicated thing for shipping and first, I thought it’s no possible. I didn’t have any experience in shipping and first products where all subject of braking and prices of shipping was very high. I did earn any money on it and was ready to quit.
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 am ceramic and I sell only ceramic, although I have plenty of ideas on what to sell. But my 3 shops I full-time job, I don’t do anything more as living. I started with different ideas but best sellers are not usually the best money makers. Again – because of shipping. You must be very careful when considering products. So after 5 years on Etsy, I have left only that one which is best for shipping, small enough and high price.
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 a master’s degree in arts and I have learned the ceramic craft in professional school. I learned marketing while working in advertising, as well – all graphic and photographer stuff. This all helped a lot in online trading. And I do speak in English what is also significant in conversations
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?
First Etsy shop was just to understand how it works. Once I start understanding Etsy’s structure, shipping process, I started to be more effective. I have turned Etsy into my full-time job, I have quit all other markets and also a physical shop in my local city.
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?
Most concerns in ceramic are shipping. As mostly all online trading has free shipping, you must include shipping prices inside product prices. That’s where product choice starts. You must choose a really valuable product to keep the price high but no too high.
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?
in the first shop, I was waiting a lot. I didn’t succeed at all:)) I left keeping an eye on my first shop and remembered it only after 2 years when I took some lectures about Etsy. After getting more knowledge I start to understand how to work and my Esty sales start growing. I opened another shop where I started trying out for different ideas. I tried each idea for about 2 months, if no sales, – I canceled them and started new ideas. That’s how I found my best business I am doing now – pet urns. I have about 40 orders in a week in one shop.
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?
Since 2019 I do have only Etsy business. The most goal of this kind of work I free time. I do work mostly like other people, but there are days when I take off or sometimes I take long holidays. But sometimes I work late, sometimes I work on holidays. I work maybe 25 hours a week, I do have one assistant which helps in packaging and other small jobs.
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?
All my work is fully handmade. all products are repeating. Most of them are not ready, but I have managed to process them in 3-5 days.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
The largest goal in ceramic is the ability to work on the pottery wheel. This process actually is very quick, nobody can imagine how fast you can actually do this process if you are professional craftsmen. So I believe my best skill.
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?
Google, Etsy. Just look around, Pinterest.
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 do ship only internationally. In my country prices are too high. The packaging is a very significant part of all online business, have tried different materials, but best of all is still small size products:)
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?
Until now, I haven’t felt so many competitors. Actually, I am thinking to lose 2cshops and leave only one. Because I don’t work so much.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Usually in conversation. Offering discount work best of all. But if I disagree with my personal opinion, I allow you to make a bad review. There are a lot of weird people in this world who thinks they can do anything they want, I don’t agree with this.
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?
Yes, it has changed. I have never worked so effectively. But truly speaking I have lost some part of creativity. It mostly about business now.
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?
No, I don’t spend anything on ads. I can’t handle more orders.
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?
All works for me.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Shipping! all businesses actually depends on shipping!
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Just continue trying.