HandsOfBerbers – Moroccan Textiles Created by the Hands of Berbers

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Home and Living
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/HandsOfBerbers
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/handsofberbers/[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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

My name is Anouar Regragui, I’m 33 years old, I live in one of the oldest towns – Fez in Morocco. I am inspired by a variety of art in my country and always had dreams of doing something artistic. I have been acquiring products and antiques from Morocco and Fez for a long time, and even run a Riad which displays many fine examples of traditional and antique Moroccan textiles and furniture, which is the perfect space to photograph my wares. During the lockdown – due covid-19 – I had so much free time and I decided that this is the right time to start making things. I am sharing both my own products and other items made from artisans from my city, thus not only creating a business for myself but also supporting the local economy.

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

I discovered Etsy by searching online for what is the best place to share and sell my work and other artisans’ work, I had been selling a handmade product but that was local.

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 a variation of handmade pillows, poufs, and rugs from all over Morocco and my local region. They are all handmade by local artisans and me, so there are many years of culture and history in each item. The fabrics used are all handmade and nothing is mass-produced. Each item has its own character and no items are the same.

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?

Self-taught, and in collaboration with many people, I know. We are a close community in Fez and there is a huge sense of teamwork and shared experience; the skills and methods are passed down from elders to the new generations and so it is almost inherent that we continue the past.

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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?

When I first decided to open an Etsy shop, my first and foremost goal was to share beautiful and unique items from Morocco around the world. We have a great many tourists visiting usually, and during the lockdown of course all travel was prohibited. There is still a great demand for the items which frequently sold out in ‘normal’ times, so I was looking for other ways in which to put the items out there. For me, Etsy was intended to be a side job alongside my Riad and Restaurants, however at the moment all of my time and effort is dedicated to Etsy – sourcing new products, creating new items, photographing, and marketing.

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?

No, I have full confidence that the items are in demand and with the tourism being halted, people will be looking online to purchase the items they otherwise would have bought in person on their travels.

How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?

It took approximately 2 months to sell my first item. Business is slower than I anticipated, I was hoping for approximately 4 sales per week. I have good faith that with perseverance business will pick up as the items I am selling are of impeccable quality and it is expected as an initial business with no reviews it would take a while to build a decent reputation.

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?

At the moment, my business day consists of a few hours of sourcing new products, a few hours crafting my own products, and liaising with other artisans developing our craft. I am also spending time doing market research and finding out what people want – this I believe is key in creating an accessible shop.
Every day I commit at least 7 hours to my Etsy business and artisan business in general. I do have other businesses, all of which are currently on hold due to covid so I am a full-time online seller.

How does your manufacturing process look 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 the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?

I have specifically hand sourced items in stock which I personally photograph and market on my site. For the items I make myself I do make in advance, however, I am open to commissions if requested. My products are traditional, unique products and are all handmade. The tools used in the manufacturing process are all hand tools, no factories or machinery is involved.

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

Due to the nature of my products, the fabrics and materials are often sourced in faraway locations. I frequently travel to the mountains and far away villages etc for the most unique and traditional materials. Occasionally fruitless, depending on the quality, as I will only use the best for my items. The cost of this travel is calculated into my prices, along with the raw materials, cost of labor, and the shipping costs which are also included in the product price.
A general formula I use is materials + time and labor = item cost item cost x 2.5 = retail price. As wholesale is not something I am involved with at the moment I can afford to keep prices as low as possible for the end customer.

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 hobby has always been traditional interior design, from when I was a waiter in a local cafe I was assisting the owners in decorating the place. From there I have helped many friends and colleagues with designing their businesses. As a local in Fez, my own history and culture play a big part, and I have always wanted to follow my creative path and achieve my dream.

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 ship all of my products internationally, and the cost of shipping is included in the price of the items. This cost can vary, however, I use a median average calculated into the price to ensure I will not be shipping at a loss.

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?

There are other sellers of similar products on Etsy so there will always be competition, however, I am confident that once people start receiving and reviewing my products I will be a cut above as I sell only the very best quality. I know of other sellers who purchase anything and sell it for a ridiculous markup. I am an honest and conscientious seller which will be apparent.

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

I have yet to receive any negative feedback, however, I would liaise with the customer and resolve any issues they may have. I communicate effectively with my customers to make sure they are confident in their purchases.

Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?

I have faith that – pending on my hard work and dedication – Etsy has the potential to be a life-changing endeavor. The only stress I have encountered is that the products will not sell, but I am starting to move my products efficiently and so this stress has been quelled.

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 have a Business Instagram for my Etsy shop which I keep updated with all of my products. I have experience in photography and a beautiful Riad in which to take the pictures which I know enhances the pictures to no end. Social Media is essential in any online business or presence. I often spend money on paid promotion for my products which I feel is essential so it doesn’t get lost in the hoard.

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 customer satisfaction?

I would love Etsy to have its own international shipping company with reasonable pricing. This would make life a lot easier (and cheaper) for both the seller and the customer. Aside from this, Etsy is a near-perfect selling platform for my needs.

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

As I have just started, I am trying to make sales to make money to expand my stock and be able to source and produce new models. This is probably my biggest challenge. Fortunately, I am still able to do so locally, which is essentially how I am preparing for success.

What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?

I would advise people to be honest with their products, ensure the quality and liaise efficiently with the customer. Additionally to take some great photographs of their products.


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