DipintoAdArte – Custom Ceramic House Signs, House numbers, Address plaques

Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…

 

I’m Roberta, owner and artist of DipintoAdArte a business entirely dedicated to porcelain hand painted house signs. I graduated at the fine art academy and since then, I’ve always dedicated myself to my passion for porcelain painting. I live in Tuscany, Italy, one of the Italian regions better known for its excellent craftsmanship, this is a privileged place where creativity, esthetic and proficiency have always originated high-quality objects. I am Tuscan and my works are the expression of my traditions! I consider myself as an artist because each one of my plaques’ design is unique; I entirely create and hand paint every single piece.

 

How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?

 

I’ve firstly discovered Etsy in 2014, thanks to a friend of mine, that was already running her watches shop. I’ve previously owned a shop in my city but having the possibility to share my passion with people all over the world and give them the opportunity to get unique and custom items, really made a difference for me!

 

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 ?

 

My business is focused on custom house signs. I mainly create address plaques, house numbers and welcome signs, but I do also paint signs for holiday homes, gardens, porches and patios. Lots of B&Bs, Hotels, Guest Houses have asked me to paint door signs for them as well. I don’t use decals, prints or markers, my porcelain plaques are entirely hand-painted with specific powder colors, mixed with turpentine, and then fired in a special kiln for porcelain at 1470° F to fix the color. The design of all the items you find in my shop is the result of my creativity, DipintoAdArte means uniqueness! If one of my customers is not able to find the perfect sign looking at my Etsy Shop’s wide selection but he/she has a specific request, I’m always glad to work together on a custom order! Custom orders are my specialty: the customer usually sends me some inspirational pictures, explaining how to combine text/decoration and setting. I create a quick sketch/mockup and show them for their approval. Once the customer is happy with the final result, I start painting the desired decoration on their new sign: that allows me to create a truly unique piece.

 

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

 

As previously said, I graduated at a fine art academy and improved my skills as an artist since then. I’m a very picky person and, even if I’m satisfied with each one of my products, I always try to improve myself; it’s a never-ending learning process but exercising every day really helps you gaining experience and confidence in painting my products.

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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 original goal when I first opened up my Etsy shop was to reach a wider number of customers; that’s why selling online was the most obvious choice. I’m glad I’ve made this choice: selling online is now my full time job!

 

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 did have some reservations before opening up my Etsy shop, I used to sell my products in my shop but I didn’t have any experience in selling online. I’ve overcome my fears studying a lot: Etsy guidelines, blogs, online forums, entrepreneurs’ biographies, etc. Getting to understand all the dynamics behind a successful online business has helped me gaining self-confidence.

 

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?

 

I’ve opened my shop on January 2014, it took me 4 months to get my first sale, but I thought about my first year on Etsy as a year of preparation and learning, so I wasn’t expecting many sales. My goal was to sell 10 signs per month in the beginning but I’ve never thought I could sell so many items in so little time. It took me some years, but I now get 20/30 orders per week.

 

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?

 

My Etsy shop is a full-time job for me. I usually work 9-10 hours/day, 5 days per week and that’s a lot, but the weeken is mine! I usually wake up early in the morning and I start painting my plaques. Since the largest part of my customers are from the US while I live in Italy, due to the different time zones, I’m busy with the “customer care” stuff mainly during the afternoon. Taking care of every aspect of my business is always exciting but sometimes it absorbs all your energies, leaving just a little time for myself and other things; anyway, it always worths it!

 

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 always create my products after each purchase since that my customers have a variety of personalized options to choose from: plaque’s size, how to hang it, custom text, custom design. I always start with the design and the painting of the sign, then I fire it in my kiln, sometimes to get the perfection, the signs need to be fired more than once, this process takes me a lot of time, but the result is a really unique piece!

 

What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?

 

Raw materials have the biggest impact on the profitability of my shop: porcelain plaques and powder colors. I always choose the highest quality materials for my items and it’s not a secret that quality has a price! When I have to give a value to one of my signs, I like to consider some factors: surely the time I need to create a piece, material costs, a part to invest in my business and mostly my experience.

 

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 get my inspiration mostly from nature and art; I live in Italy and our culture is full of inspiring things! But sometimes it can be reading a good book or a trip, which suggests new ideas to develop for my signs. I like to keep a notebook to write my ideas, the inspiration comes unexpectedly! I also use Pinterest to have a look at worldwide’s trends!

 

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 ship my orders worldwide and the shipping is always free of charge. Free shipping is a powerful marketing tool: “unexpected costs” is the number one reason shopping carts are abandoned. The processing time usually takes me 3/5 weeks, it depends on the volume of orders I receive, while the shipping takes 1 business day to Italy, 2 business days to get to the USA and 3-4 business days everywhere else. Packaging my products always takes me quite a lot of my working time… I always pay all my attention when packaging my items since they’re made of porcelain and they’re really fragile. When I pack a sign of mine I think: “this package can be throw on a plane and nevertheless, it has to arrive intact!”

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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’m not worried about competitors to be honest, as I paint each one of my signs with my own style; each piece is unique! The high quality of raw materials, their durability and the possibility to customize your product exactly as you want are the key factors that make my products stand out.

 

How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?

 

Fortunately my reviews are 5* reviews and that’s not only thanks to the quality of my product but also thanks to the importance I give to my customer care service. Said that, I think the best way to deal with a negative review would be to respond to your buyer quickly in Messages, showing that your efforts are willing to address the issue that may lead a buyer to edit their review. This is the reason I think the pre-sale communication is fundamental: no sales organization will be effective without good communication. That may sound unespected, but to improve your sales, you have to pay more attention to presales.

 

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?

 

Selling on Etsy really changed my life, both from my private and working life. I’ve never thought I would get this far with my shop, but hard work pays off! Selling on Etsy is a full-time job that can give you great satisfaction even if sometimes it can be stressful to deal lots of orders, but a good organization usually can really solve the problems.

 

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?

 

Social media are very important for an online business, you have to find that one that really works for you and put your energy on it. I spend money on Etsy ADS, they work well for my shop, but I’m thinking to expand my ads on my best social media. Advertising is essential, it can seem a waste of money, but you have to look at it as an investment for your business.

 

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 think Etsy is the best selling platform for handmade products; it offers a huge selection for the best in unique or custom pieces. It’s also less expensive than other online platforms. The current CEO has made huge improvements on Etsy, the sellers have now countless resources that facilitate the work and help to grow the business. The only feature I’d like to add is to have the customer’s mobile phone as a mandatory field in the buying process, Etsy is an international platform with millions of sales and shippings, a phone number of the customers would help a lot to improve the delivery service!

 

What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?

 

The best way you can try to set your shop for success on Etsy is to know your customers and their needs. Offering a product that is not only well made but also useful is a key factor when opening a shop on Etsy. That’s the lesson I learned the hard way. I used to sell mostly jewels and mugs in my shop and it took me months to understand that my customer was not interested in this kind of items but once I’ve found the product they were looking for, it really gave a boost to my business.

 

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?

 

First of all: find a product that sell, then find your niche, study and read blogs, guides, handbooks and everything that can help you improving your knowledge in the online selling field!

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