Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My name is Laura Post. My husband owns a plastic packaging company with his family in Sparta, NJ. When Covid-19 hit his business slowed down but he kept all his employees working by producing clear plastic face shields. They were the type that snapped on to a rigid headband. He brought just the shields home and we came up with ideas to custom make them by adding elastic and foam. After several prototypes and trial and error, I came up with a face shield that had the right elastic, snaps, and foam to be considered a good quality product. I feel good creating face shields because I know it can help keep people safe and protected.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I have a full-time job so my online business is a second responsibility for me. I need to make sure that I order quality supplies and order enough quantity to fulfill expected sales. My responsibility to my customers is that I deliver my product in a timely manner. I have had to pull late nights with early mornings to make sure my items shipped out quickly.
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 product is clear plastic face shields. I offer them with several different headband colors and two color choices for the side snaps. My most popular choice by customers is the face shield with the black headband and black snaps. The foam header is black so the all-black looks nice. I believe this is popular because it will match any color when worn.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I receive satisfaction with creating a product myself. When business is going good you know internally it is because of the choices you made and the hard work you put into it. But the opposite is also felt. If I have an unhappy customer it is felt personally since I am the one responsible and hand making each product. I then do anything to make it right whether issuing a refund or sending out another item.
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 started selling just on Etsy but I have been looking at other sites I can sell on and I started my own website with a store. I was really busy on Etsy but lately, sales have slowed a little. I am not sure if it is because of competition or the ranking of the listing on Etsy. I do Etsy marketing which you can pay daily and have your listing show higher up as an ad. So far I have had more profits from customers clicking on my ads than the cost of the ads. I can say I am happy with the results.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I am willing to work hard and put in the extra effort. I feel it is worth the work because it is mine and what I put in I will get back. There is satisfaction in building something that is your own.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
My hardest moment was when online orders picked up I underestimated the supplies I needed. I had to rush around and come up with my supplies in order to fulfill my orders. I just barely met my deadline and had much stress in doing so. Another hard aspect I have learned is you can’t make everyone happy. Some customers are not always nice and have different expectations. I have learned to do what it takes to make them happy and to move on. Do not take comments personally. My biggest challenge now has been a slow down of orders. I just started selling on Amazon Homemade and applied to Walmart Marketplace. I also opened a website with a store.
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 have just been creating my one product so I just concentrate on variations. I use colors that have sold well in the past and am willing to try a different color to see if it will sell and become a popular choice.
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 internationally. The buyer pays the postage. It can take several weeks for items to be received, I have had to issue full refunds in the past because the buyer said they did not receive and it is hard to trace the package once it leaves the United States. I do have a listing that I offer shipping in the United States only. I do adjust my product price to cover average shipping.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Realize that it will not be easy. There will always be unexpected obstacles. It is how you handle them that will make the difference in succeeding. Don’t give up! Sometimes things take time even if we want immediate results. Hang in there!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Do not get discouraged, If you believe in a product stick with it. Use the internet for advice. There is much help out there. So many times I found myself researching to find the answers to issues I was facing. Also sometimes you have to know when to let something rest and then come back to it. Believe in yourself! Do not get discouraged. Try to try again!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
To me, success is to have created a useful product. I am humbled when people message me how they used the face shield and thank me for making them. I received a postcard from someone who gave them as favors to her father’s 82nd birthday celebration. They were able to honor her father and remain protected. Of course, I want to be able to make a profit but I also get the satisfaction that my face shields are helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19 which to me is a very big deal.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I have a full-time job so I only am able to dedicate my evenings and weekends to producing my face shields and shipping them out. I am married and have an adult daughter that moved back home from NYC because of the pandemic so I still need to dedicate time to my family. I do feel that I am very busy but I feel I have a purpose and would not change a thing.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I just recently opened a website. I am now selling on Amazon Homemade. I am waiting to hear back from Walmart Marketplace to see if I am approved to sell there. Another place I started to sell on is Poshmark. I am still waiting for sales to increase. There is a monthly fee to maintain a domain and a website so it does affect profitability. It is just a chance I am taking and hopefully it will pay off.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I did participate in Etsy Ads marketing and I agreed to pay a higher percentage if they advertise for me on the internet and it results in a sale. I believe this was worth the cost when first starting out and to continue to be seen. One lesson I learned the hard way was not having enough supplies to complete my orders. I ended up paying overnight shipping to have supplies delivered on time and driving long distances to pick up supplies directly. Have your supplies in place. It will save you time, money, and stress.
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