Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My store was born in the midst of the 2020 pandemic. I work at the end of the supply chain for a manufacturing company that ground to a halt due to canceled orders from customers who shut down. As a packaging company, we are considered essential workers. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” is quite right. Collectively we tried to come up with a plan to keep our workers working and to help fill the need for PPE for our community. After several failed prototypes, we came up with our face shield that is comfortable for all-day wear, fashionable, and most importantly, affordable to those who were out of work. Made in the USA. Ships to the USA.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I try to answer all inquiries within a few hours and ship the next business day. My day job is working to produce the actual shields, and at night I put them together myself. My last job of the day is to answer all of the buyer’s messages and follow up with them. There have been several late, late nights trying to keep up with demand, but I can say it has all been worth it after reading reviews of buyers who love my shields and the appreciation from the donations that we gave out to church, schools, hospitals in our community and throughout the country.
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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?
Our several different-sized face shields can be used by kids, teens, and adults. I use PET clear plastic, foam, and elastic. The plastic, foam, and elastic have to be cut to the correct size before you can attach the elastic. Our shields stand out for their brightly colored bands and the wide array of color choices, as well as the lightweight comfort of them. You forget you even have it on! The kid’s shield is a Bestseller for a reason! It comes with a fun, colorful stickers that make it fun for your children to wear!
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The most difficult thing about the process was attaining the supplies during the pandemic. So many vendors were sold out of the materials, or their stores were shut down. The postal service had crazy delays as well. We managed to keep up with demand after working nonstop most days and nights. Everyone pitched in and did their best to keep getting these out there to people in need. It made me smile each and every time someone reached out to say thank you or gave CreatedbyChristinaUS a glowing 5-star review.
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 to businesses, schools, individuals who have a need to just get out of the house and go shopping or get on a plane. I market with Etsy ads and try to freshen up my listings by taking different pictures, using different materials on my shields. I also have a Pinterest site, where my face shields can be “pinned’.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
“Adapting and changing your course”, is my company slogan. You need to move forward or you will stay in the same spot and fall behind.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Right now the biggest challenge is sales. Getting sales, keeping your listings fresh, and coming up with new marketing strategies. I am looking towards the holidays and how I can showcase my shields as gifts and make them “festive”.
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 is mostly the kids. What will they wear? What will they keep on and not touch? What types of activities do they do? I also think that if people have to wear PPE, why not make it fun and fashionable?
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 mainly within the United States. I offer free shipping on bulk orders. My average lead time is one business day. On bigger orders, the lead time may take longer, but usually within a week. I use commercial rigid cartons to ship to protect the face shield from damage, and I individually bag each and every one of them.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
The Key is filling a need, and quickly. Keeping your buyers happy with their purchase. Good and conscientious customer service. Top-quality materials attractively finished items. Follow through and follow up.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
It’s okay to make mistakes. You just need to rectify them immediately. It’s okay to ask for advice. I went on the Etsy forum to ask about the shipping questions I had.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Business success at end of the day is happy, satisfied buyers. Being able to pay for your supplies and put back into your business. Helping others who are in need and ask for a hand.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I carve out time when I will make and produce the shields. It is usually when my family goes to bed, so I do not take time away from them. They even have all pitched in to help, making it a family affair. I always make sure my family comes first. No business is worth taking away time from them that you will never get back. It makes for some long nights, and sleep-deprived eyes in the morning, but I have no regrets.
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How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
As long as people have a need for PPE, I will continue to produce them at my day job, and assemble them at night. The buyers help fund my donations. I can say, “Yes! I will send it to you because you are going through a tough time.”
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Good customer service is imperative. Being a good human and nice to others. I had a few people who were dissatisfied early on. I corrected the matter immediately, but you can’t please everyone all the time. No matter what – you need to remember you are dealing with someone who may be going through a difficult time that you do not know about. Keep calm, be nice, be honest in your dealings. Always keep the customer happy.