Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Amber Lamoreaux Art began with my love of art, nature, and creating. It is impossible for me to do something as simple as going for a walk without feeling the breeze and admiring every tree and flower bed along the way. I love celebrating life this way and I enjoy sharing the beauty and inspiration of nature and emotion with others through my art.
Every painting I paint is inspired by something beautiful I found in nature, the weather, or a feeling (generally love or joy) and my imagination. I use high-quality canvases, acrylic paints, and glossy varnish. I generally don’t use references much when painting as I prefer the freedom and simplicity of painting from the mind and spirit. My love for painting is such that I could do it all day and into the night and rarely if ever tire of it.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
As a business owner of an online store I’m responsible for overseeing orders and listings and managing any issues that come along with the orders and listings. I’m also responsible for answering customers’ questions and interacting with customers on a daily basis, something I really enjoy. I am kind of a people person.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
Some of my best-selling products are canvas prints, desk mats, shower curtains, bath mats, tapestries, and laptop sleeves. I design my products using original artwork and I feel they stand out due to the inherent uniqueness of original artwork. I tend to be drawn to vivid colors, lots of contrast, and gold accents in my artwork with some softer pieces too, but in general my art tends to be pretty vivid which I feel makes it unique. I offer a large variety of products too, which I feel increases the chance that someone will find something they are looking for.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I most enjoy the feeling of selling my artwork daily, knowing it is out in the world in people’s houses and offices everywhere, that is such a satisfying feeling. I know it brightens people’s days and is a part of their lives, so I guess getting to touch people’s lives with my art…that is just amazing. The feeling of daily sales is amazing and I am filled with gratitude to get to experience that feeling. Getting to work with people is also one of my favorite parts of running my business. From messaging back and forth with them to creating custom pieces that they will love, those are some of my favorite parts of my business. The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is when things that are out of control happen and I feel my customer is unhappy about it…from items being lost in the mail to production partners being unable to create something in a timely fashion, those are the toughest parts of being an entrepreneur for me. Sometimes I am just the middle man and I can’t control something arriving in time or being created quickly enough. I stay focused on doing the best I can in those moments and doing everything in my control to make sure people are happy.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
I sell a lot of home decor items to people looking to spruce up their living space. I try to show my items in mock-ups of how they would look in a home environment to help people visualize the items in their home. I feel this helps boost sales. I am definitely satisfied with the results as I have a lot of home decor items that sell. I market my products through Etsy offsite ads and through Etsy regular ads. This seems to be a successful strategy for attaining new customers and making my products more visible. I also work through Etsy teams to promote my items and know this helps as I have sales often after promoting through teams.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I think there are two important factors for being a successful entrepreneur. The first one is offering a great variety of products so that there is something for everyone in your store. Appeal to the masses. Also pay attention to trends (for example right now glitter is really popular in art…pieces inspired by Z Gallerie art, marble is also really popular, rose gold is a key trend and so are geode pieces and gold-highlighted art). Incorporate trends into your artwork and into what you offer as products. The second factor to being successful is I feel you have to genuinely care about your customers’ happiness with your products. I don’t feel you can be successful without truly caring whether your customers are happy with your products or not. From messaging them back quickly to making sure they received their items to maybe redoing a piece a 2nd time for them when they didn’t quite love the first one, I think going the extra mile when it comes to service really pays off in the reviews you receive and in having repeat customers as well as word of mouth working in your favor.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
One of my customers had a serving tray she had ordered. At first, everything seemed to be working as expected with my production partner and she was going to receive it on time. There was a delay and I was told it would only be a few business days. I reached out to my production partner again when the day came and went for this item to ship and I was told it would be almost a month later. This made my customer very upset, and rightfully so. I ended up refunding her and letting her still receive the serving tray as it seemed like the right thing to do. She was much happier after this. This kind of thing, dealing with production partners and the inherent delays that have come along with the covid virus (plus delays of home decor sales virtually exploding since people have been home so much and now my production partners are inundated with orders), this has been the main struggle in my business right now. I tackle it by trying to do a good job of communicating when there are going to be delayed and letting people know what’s going on so expectations are properly set.
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?
When I create, I kind of feel what color or colors I want to work within a particular day. For instance, turquoise might be calling to me based on my mood and emotions that day or perhaps I saw an image of a beautiful ocean and I’m feeling those water vibes. This is how I get started creating something new. I get ideas for new products by searching the internet for custom photo items and thinking about what might appeal to my customers. To get creative I really just tap into my emotions that day or inspiring images I have seen recently and feel what color or colors are calling to me to work with. That seems to be the most effective way to create beautiful art (for me).
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 some products internationally like some of my paintings and other items that are fulfilled, namely through Printify. I do offer free shipping for some of these items, whenever possible as it is a huge motivator for someone to buy something. I definitely am a believer in the free shipping model. When I can’t do that I try to keep shipping fees at cost for international buyers to offer them the most appealing prices possible. With the products I offer through Printify, the great thing is they handle the shipping and even the shipping notification so I don’t have to do anything! No worries about international shipping prices or anything like that, everything is calculated by them and taken care of. For the products I package myself, like original paintings, I create my own cardboard boxes out of recycled cardboard sheets and send them on their way.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
To start and run a business successfully online you need to commit as much time as possible to your business. Know that it is going to take time and effort. There is a running joke with entrepreneurs about “which 70 hours would you like to work this week?” It is true. I find myself using every free moment to work on my business. The beauty of an online business though is that once you have set things up they kind of self maintain, so your focus then becomes on adding new products, creating new art (in my case), and marketing to reach new people. The foundation is already established. I think another part of it is that you have to know and accept that you are going to need to do the unfun stuff like working on your SEO in listings, making sure you tag items in the best way possible to get sales, working on marketing. Those things are all essential parts of your business. I took some time to rework the tags for my items a while ago and I noticed a huge upswing in sales after that so it was definitely worth it (though I did it begrudgingly).
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Be prepared to put in the time. Truly care about your customers and their happiness with your items. Know that you will get to do fun things you love, but also time-consuming not so fun things like creating applicable tags and SEO for your products and marketing. Try to see things through your customers’ eyes when you look at your shop…would you buy from you? Do your listings allow your customers to visualize your products in their lives easier? These things will help your sales. Above all else enjoy what you do (even the unenjoyable parts) because everything you do for your business increases your momentum and in time it will all pay off! I think that feeling of enjoyment translates through your store and makes people want to buy from you. You can kind of tell if a store is one where the owner truly enjoys what they are doing or not, so make sure that your business is something you are in love with.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
For me success is the feeling of creating a new design that people love. For instance, one of my newer pieces, Arctic Blue is really popular on different products including coasters (currently over 20 people have the coasters in their carts). To me that is the greatest feeling, knowing something you created appeals to people in such away. That to me is a success. Also, the feeling of having daily sales over time is a success. Every time someone buys something from me I still get giddy like I did the first time I had a sale. Every single sale says “you are doing something right, you’re on the right track” and that is a successful feeling to me. Above all else, the greatest successful feeling to me is that I know my products are in the houses of thousands of people around the world. To know they are seeing them and enjoying them in their spaces every day…that feeling is amazing!
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I try to make sure that every single day I catch up on orders and don’t let them go into the next day. The promptness of receiving items is VERY important to me in my business management. For me, it is all about finding a balance between creating new pieces to offer in my store and managing the orders that have already happened. I prioritize orders above creating a lot of the time just to make sure things are done in a timely fashion for my customers so they are happy.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I definitely want to continue using Etsy offsite ads and Etsy regular ads to increase visibility to my customers in the future. Aside from that, simply creating new pieces is important to appeal to new customers I feel. I’m also reaching out to companies that print and fulfill artwork to see if they would like to offer my art on their sites. I’m currently featured on Canvas Freaks and Avery and Rose, for example, and these sites are huge for increasing my passive income each month, so I’m hoping my art will appeal to other companies as well to increase that passive income even more.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Hmmm I think in the beginning I just thought I would put my artwork up in the store and it would sell. It was kind of a cruel awakening when it took MONTHS for me to have my first painting sale. I remember going for a walk with my husband and kind of just accepting that I wasn’t going to have my artwork sell and then I got home and checked my site and painting had sold! It was the best feeling. It taught me that things would be worth the wait, that success wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight. I would have to wait for it and work for it. I have watched friends open Etsy stores and expect too much to happen right away and then quickly close their shop when things didn’t happen overnight. In my opinion, they could have had very successful stores but they didn’t want to wait for it and work toward it.