Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My niche is beautiful & affordable handblown glass pipes. I got into this space because when it comes to handblown glass pipes, in order to purchase one they are typically hundreds of dollars. I decided to design and import my own hand-blown pipes from India where my blowers there make gorgeous glass pipes and I can sell them for much better pricing making them available to a lot more people who normally couldn’t afford a nice glass pipe.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
As the biz owner, I do everything because this is my second business, my main business is my herbal supplement company and this one on Etsy is a ‘side hustle’ from my main business. I design the pipes, order, and import from India, do all the photography, write the sales copy, and ship out orders.
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?
My best selling pipe is actually a pipe made with glass and aluminum. So it’s a glass pipe encased inside aircraft-grade machined aluminum making it this really cool tactical looking pipe people love. You don’t get the nasty aluminum taste when smoking from this pipe. The rest of our pipes are handblown glass anywhere from 4″ to 5 ” in length. We also sell glass screens which save your lungs versus using a typical brass or metal screen in your pipe.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I love being an entrepreneur because of the time freedom it affords me and I love just being my own boss and in charge of my destiny. In the eCommerce space that I operate in, if you want to make more money then you just need to research and add more products. You can also do things like sell on more platforms, better SEO and marketing, etc. Last but not least, there is nothing better than working from home!
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?
With this company, we use Etsy and are very happy with Etsy Marketing Ads. I am currently getting about $3 for every $1 spent using Etsy Marketing Ads on their own website. I started at $30, then raised it to $40 then $60 and now it’s currently at $100 per day in ad spend. My product pages are well SEO optimized and I need to start collecting email addresses which I am going to start doing very soon.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
The winning formula is really just 2 words; “Take Action”… So many people don’t want to give up their spare time to start a business, but that is what it takes. When I started my supplement company in 2015 I went to work all day, came home, went to jiu-jitsu, and then came back home, showered, and stayed up till midnight every night working on my business. I did this for 2 years before I was able to go full time in the business. You have to be willing to sacrifice, in the end, you become the one with more time freedom and it’s always worth it! Be willing to do what others are not and you will eventually be rewarded for your determination and hard work.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
The entrepreneur journey is full of ups and downs. I have had the best selling products suspended and lost 6 figures because of it, you just have to put your head down to the grindstone and grind harder to build your business back up. It’s devastating when it happens, but there is no other option other than getting back up on the horse and making things happen all over again. It will make you stronger as a person and your business stronger as well when you do.
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 want to create a new pipe design I usually just think of themes and when I think of one I like, then I design a pipe to fit that theme. For example, the glass & aluminum pipe I spoke about earlier is our “007 James Bond” pipe because this is the pipe James Bond would use if here were gonna light up! Another pipe I have is a beautiful purple, green, and gold color handblown pipe and this is a King Tut themed pipe.
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?
We just started shipping internationally and we do it thru Etsy’s International program and the customer is just charged the actual shipping charge. We offer free First Class Shipping on all domestic shipping. If they want to upgrade faster shipping then they can just pay for the upgrade.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
My Moto has always been “Don’t sell ‘me too’ products!” Do your research and sell products that people can’t get from anyone else. This is how you stand out from the crowd. I also am a big believer in using cash for starting your business and not taking a loan. Don’t take any profits from your business but take your profits and pour them back into your business with more products and marketing! Learn how to marketing online with Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc… You need to become good at online marketing in eCommerce!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
There is no better time to start a business than right now! There are so many shady business owners out there that if you just do a great job of serving your customers, then you will succeed.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I define business success as being whatever each individual person thinks it is… Some people are happy with a cash flow business that makes them $10k a month but gives them lots of time freedom. Others feel it is when they make one million per year. Someone else may be happy with working a full-time job but making $3000 a month on a side business that doesn’t take them that much time to do, maybe an hour a day packing orders.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
My day consist of packing boxes for shipping out the pipes and the rest of my time is spent searching for new products to add to my Brand both on Etsy and my herbal supplement brand. I’m also working on launching another brand on Amazon.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I may build a separate Shopify website for the Glass Freak brand and expand it that way, but right now I am working on another brand to launch on Amazon.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
The Etsy marketing ads work great for us because we have great conversion due to good quality photos. I have about a 26% Review rate to Sales ratio right now which is due to the fact that I email customers once a week and ask for a review. I also thank each customer with a handwritten note on their Invoice that I put in their shipping box. So far every review has been 5 stars, so people are very happy with our products. I have not really had any negative experiences yet with Etsy.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
I love the Etsy platform, I think it’s one of the best ways to start a business when you have unique items and products to sell. It’s also very simple for beginners to use. Thank you for having me! Peter