Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
I got started when I was really young always trying to make something for my parents or my sisters in order to get out of buying a present. But when quarantine hit I, like almost everyone else, was incredibly bored so I took a houseboat I built my senior year of high school and turned it into a small 8by8 workshop and I spent hundreds of hours just making different things and giving them away to train and get to a point where I thought my work was good enough to sell. The only tools I used were the ones I could afford my dads table saw, my grandfathers hand planes and a few other random tools I could scrounge from friends and family. I love the idea of using minimal amount of tools to give the pieces character and a story.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
My sister started selling on Etsy and she had a great experience on it. So I decided to try and sell on Etsy as well. I had no previous experience selling anything had made and was honestly not very handy before this and had to teach myself everything from the woodwork to the marketing.
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 sell cutting boards, tables, charcuterie, and soon I’m expanding to coffee tables as well. I use mainly slabs of walnut, cherry, and maple that I got from a local mill. I love the contrast of the dark and light colors in those woods. I think my products stand out because they’re all 1 of a kind and have a character in the imperfections.
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’m completely self taught, with the help of YouTube and online forums, but I just spent hours a day working on improving. It took me 4 months to become comfortable enough in my own work to actually sell it.
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?
My goal for running my Etsy is to eventually be able to open up a shop at my college and teach my friends my passion and so they can start selling things too. I think it is a great way to make some spare cash that can help pay some of the college bills. I’m not trying to make a lot of money but mainly be able to enjoy my work and be able to share my knowledge with my friends.
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?
I was not really worried, I wanted whatever I made to go to someone who would truly appreciate the work that went into it. So even if it takes longer to sell I would much rather that, and know that the person who bought it truly knows how much work and pride went into making it.
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 about a 5 days to make my first sale. I am still a very new shop and that is actually my only sale. I have been open 6 days. And I am really happy with the results so far.
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?
Before Coronavirus hit I was a college student full time and when I was home I was a chef at a small local restaurant. But my hours got severely cut so I took the rest of my savings and sunk it into building my shop in my parent’s backyard. After a while, I found a new job at my uncle’s Air conditioning company, but that started later in the day. So a normal day would be waking up at 7 workings until 3 in my shop and then selling AC until 8:30.
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 start with a drawing in my notebook and then I go to my shop and end up scraping whatever I drew and figuring it out. I take a look at my wood pile and see whatever I am feeling that day.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
By far the biggest profitably factor is the price of the wood. Most people completely underestimate the price if hardwoods and do not realize how much of it is wasted through sawing, planing and sanding.
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 never know I kind of just look into my wood pile and pick out a few pieces and see where it goes. I always try to make a plan but have never followed it.
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 offer shipping internationally and I offer free shipping in the US and I figure it in to how much my products cost. I do not have any fancy packaging because I want the buyer to see the product right as they open the box.
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 think the space I’m in is all about someone’s personal taste so I’m not too worried about competitors because each of my pieces is one of a kind, so whoever wants a hand made piece has to pick what they like the best. I’m hoping there are enough customers for everyone and there’s something out there for everyone’s personal style.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I have never had any bad customer feed back and I really hope to never have any. But working in the food industry for so long I’ve always held the belief that the customers always right and I would do whatever necessary to rectify the situation. I am reachable on any social media platform so I would hope communication is not an issue.
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?
It has allowed me to explore a passion I never knew I had. I’ve never been nervous about customer interactions, I honestly never knew I would have an Etsy shop until a few months ago.
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 shamelessly use my mom and friends to promote my products as a 19 year old my audience on social media is not really into hand made wood products so I needed her to help me gain an adult audience. I have not spent any money on ads because I am hoping that I can let my work, work for me and it will come. That may be optimistic but time will tell how that strategy is working.
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 would tell him to promote my products for free. 😂
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 that there are amazing artists out there and I really hope to be able to continue learning and get to that level some day.
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?
I would say to just go for it and not get disappointed if nothing sells for a while. Everyone had there own tastes and if you like your work someone else will too.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
I’m extremely greatfull for the opportunity to have my shop shared with a larger audience. I’m a 19 year old college hockey player who is saving up to buy there first car and open up a wood shop so to say the least money is tight and any marketing is extremely helpful.