Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
The last fifteen years I have worked in the corporate world working your typical 9-5 job five days a week. I loved working for my job and was really good at what I did but it was never fulfilling. When I use to get my paycheck, all though good but not satisfying. Recently, I became married and had a baby after many years hearing from the doctors it would be very difficult for me to have a baby so of course, when I become pregnant I was ecstatic! I was overjoyed with the upcoming baby but also in the back of my mind I was thinking about not able to spend enough time with him when I go back to work after my maternity leave was over. I finally resumed worked after my son was born and my job became less fulfilling. Being away for 11 hours a day, (including commute) coming home tired and getting only a few hours with the baby before I have to do it all over again the next day was not what I had pictured. Blessing in disguise a few months later I was laid off from work and while others in this position would be stressed, I was very happy it happened! The first thing in my mind came I can spend time with my son, then I also thought about what can I do to make an income from home while being with the baby. It gave me time to think and use my creative side. In high school I had taken a sewing class and new some of the basics of sewing and youtubed some immediate skills for it. The beginning of the pandemic with Covid-19 rising across the country gave me the idea to start making masks. I thought to invest and make masks that were durable and sustainable. I got hard at doing research, trial, and error of different masks and finally coming up with few that were getting great feedbacks.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I had no experience selling on Etsy except for purchasing stuff. I was aware of any products other sellers had on Esty and making hand-crafted items. A friend of mine had some experience selling on Etsy and I started to look into and researched it. The main reason I wanted to sell online because I can be an entrepreneur at my own pace and time while being home with my son. Selling online gave me a chance to raise my income on my own pace versus working long hours and putting a lot of hard work for a small paycheck.
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 ?
At this moment we mainly sell 100% cotton masks,, (which great for hot tropical climates). We also use fabrics that are 90% cotton and 10% spandex. Based on customers responses and suggestions, I have created the masks that suit everyone. There were many trials and errors in this process. I had ordered many samples from various companies and determined with my own design in mind which type of design would be suitable for everyone. Now we have plain solid colored masks, black, gray, and navy and four different designs the consumer can choose from. One example, solid color, three-layered 100% cotton mask, (pleats or no pleats).We also have the 90% cotton, 10% spandex where you insert a filter in the filter pocket which are two layers. We just made a larger version of the pleated masks upon customer’s requests. Our products stand out because we use high-grade cotton fabric which makes it comfortable to wear. Our pleated masks are more suitable for people who would like some type of customized sized to adjust to their faces. Currently, we are working on a new design which will give our customers better breathing space.
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
Learning the craft took a lot of research. I had tried many masks are out in the current market and let a few of my family and friends try them out and get their feedback with what they liked or disliked about it. After the input, I came up with few designs that I had people try out, It took a few times until I finally got it where they were liking the product and wouldn’t change anything about. I am self-taught. It took me a few weeks to be satisfied with my creations but of course, we are always developing various styles to try to fit everyone’s needs for the masks.
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 was to be able to have a home-based company and not have a set salary and be able to spend time with my newborn baby. My initial plan selling online was to have it as a side job to able to pay all my minimum bills until my baby was one year old then go back to a corporate job. However, my Etsy account has become my full-time job where I have been able to make more than ends meet. If my Etsy account goes as it is, I don’t see myself going back to a 9-5. Etsy has given the opportunity to be creative, make money and work on my own hours.
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?
Overall I didn’t really have fears per se to start my Etsy shop since Esty is a very reputable company. I’ve heard many great success stories and for a long time, I wanted to have my own business but wasn’t getting the chance to since my 9-5 job didn’t give me much time. There is always competition in any field of work so instead of being feared by it, I took it as a grain of salt and told myself how can I be better than my competition.
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?
We over exceeded expectations in everywhere. My first sale was almost immediately. My income was nearly 5 times more than what I got paid weekly from my corporate job. I didn’t think I would be able to do so well in my first year considering I am a rookie and starting out in the e-commerce business. My goal at first was to able to make minimum payments for all my bills after I got laid off and now I am able to pay off a lot of my bills and currently ready to buy my first home! Average a week, I have an average of 500 sales.
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?
I no longer have a job outside of Esty. My Etsy account has become my full-time job now. Typically my day starts with spending time with my baby and my husband has been a great help with the baby that I can spend time getting all the items shipped out to the customers during the day. At night when my baby asleep, I will do my research about different types of masks and styles.
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?
In the start, we didn’t know we would sell that many products in daily basis. However, we now keep stocks in thousands products ahead and if we see are we are getting to close to be out of stock . Since our sales are more than we exceeded, ,I have hired employees keep producing the products we are running low at. Yes, we do customize products by feedback and customers request.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
The biggest impact has been being able to pay off all my loans in a matter of short time and save up for a house. I was also able to pay off my car and start savings account my for my baby! I have one of the best qualities of materials for the masks and because I buy the fabrics in bulks I am able to get low prices for the best quality. We are not here to price gouge, if anything we are one of the best-priced masks for people in need during this crisis. We’ve generated our profit from the volume of sales and not the price of the masks.
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 biggest inspiration has been having parents who are at high risk and need to be protected from this pandemic. I thought about first how to protect my family to my fullest then I thought there are many people in my position who also think about how to be able to protect their families from Covid-19. Then I started to get creative on how to be to help with making masks for different ages and sizes of people since not everyone has the same needs. Some masks are small, big, layers and fabric sensitivity, etc. so I started to be created, searched fabrics.
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?
Yes we ship internationally. We generate our shipping labels through Etsy and go by what postage pricing Etsy has set up for us. Typically, from order we ship our orders within 24 hours and delivery it takes about 3-5 days with first class mail and priority mail takes 2-4 days and express 1-2 days. Yes we use free shipping because Etsy suggests we use free shipping and most customers look for free shipping when it comes to online orders.
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?
Competition is always there in any market so you can not avoid it. However, we strive to stand out by trying to use high-quality fabrics and coming up with different styles for the masks. Yes, competition affects our business but for the most part, we had great sales mainly because our fabrics are not so commonly used with the average mask.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Typically, if we receive a negative review, I will always contact the customer and try our best to resolve the issue in their favor. We always communicate with our customers for their satisfaction before and after sales within 24 hours.
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 has changed my life so much, First most and important is able to spend time with my baby. He is my one and only and I am able to be here to see all his milestones and have a bond with him. Etsy has helped me provide more than enough for my son and my elderly parents. I didn’t think with my shop I would be to change so much in my life so fast, it has been great! There have been stressful moments with customers and manufacturing products especially at the start when I didn’t know my sales would boom so quickly and there was a delay in my shipment, however, I have since then been able to manage all of it. Stress comes but it is only temporary and it can be always solved.
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 is very important. Nowadays especially working from home, we have to use social media to bring attention to our shop . Main key is to grab the customer’s attention so I try to promote by what has been the main reason our customers like our products and that’s the fabric quality and durability. So far we have not needed to advertise outside of Etsy because working with Etsy has generated great profit.
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?
My experience with Etsy has been very smooth and great for my family. I would like to know how to bring my listing to the first page?
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
One lesson I learned the hard way I did not expect the overwhelming sales in the first week of my shop that my supply was not enough for the demand. Since then, I have started to have all my products in stocks of thousands before they are short in stock going by the rate of fast they are selling, I make orders in bulk so there never a delay in products.
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?
Be ready for large amount of sales, do not list the products unless you have back up plan to fulfill the order because it may take you by surprise how quickly you will need the products on demand.