LenaQuilt – Handmade Quiet Books for Toddlers

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

 

I worked in a pretty big garment factory and I made patterns for women’s clothes. It was a very interesting job and the people were great. At one point I felt like I wanted to do more, to be independent. All my childhood education was based on creating beautiful things that would make the house more pleasant so I went for this idea. I consider very important the need for beauty in our lives and if you bring a smile on someone’s face, you can be satisfied.

 

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

 

I worked for a few years in the US and I was impressed by the American quilts, the richness of colors, and patterns. Because I knew how to sew I said it was right for me. The name ETSY came from somewhere. I said that this is something I can do if others can. I had no experience selling something and Etsy, being a large community took over some of the hardships of the beginning.

 

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 make the drawings myself, sketches for the book. The main idea is for a book to have a story that at the beginning the parent tells and then the child continues. Because the toy market is very big, you have to be careful with 2 things: creativity and competitive price. I try to balance them very well.

 

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

 

I learned to work as a child. I did everything that could be done with thread and needle. My mentor was my grandmother. And yet when I list a product for Etsy, I do several tests on paper and then with materials. A toy must be beautiful for the eyes and easy to use. Even if I have already made the final toy, I realize that something can be done better and that is … i change.

Quiet book for baby boy and baby girl
Quiet book activity soft book for boys
Newborn baby sleeping bag

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 idea was to be able to do a job with a schedule set by me and to be able to take care of my first niece sometimes. Slowly it became a full-time job. Selling online is not as simple as I thought at first. Things happen which I didn’t even expect. I take them as challenges and move on.

 

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 had a sum of money that could reach me for 6 months without earning anything. In 6 months I had to see if I could sell or not. I saw the quality of the products sold on Etsy and the first goal was quality. My work helped me a lot in the garment factory because there I learned that a good thing has to be done in a timely manner in order to be profitable. You learn a lot from conversations with customers, even from negative reviews. You must be open to suggestion, and you must see what your customers wand to by.

 

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?

 

It took about 2 months until I realized that I could sell something profitable. As I said, the toy market is very big. My goal was to have an income for a decent life. I sell about 3-4-5 products per week and my goal is one product per day. Because I work alone, this is what I can do respecting the quality.

 

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 don’t have another job. My working day starts with the computer. I see the store, what I have to do for advertising, what the competition works for, I make packages. I buy almost everything I need online. This takes about 2 hours and then I start working. If I have something new to do then I stay at the sewing machine all day. I always listen to audiobooks. The time I spend working is not always important. A quality book has to come out.

 

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?

 

Each quiet book is personalized with the child’s name, so it’s harder to work in advance. Because my business is small, I wait for the order and then i use everything that is best and most appropriate to be a joy for the child. My workshop it is small and full of materials. It is the place where I feel good. I have pictures of my daughters and grandchildren, I have two sewing machines, pencils and paints, notebooks, books, fabrics, colored threads. It is a very orderly mess.

 

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 on profitability is the shipping price which is not low at all. For example, the shipping price for the US where most customers are from is almost a third of the product price. Here I can do nothing. Another third is the price for my work. third is for the materials used and for profit. Everything must be carefully counted in order for a salable product to come out. The profit is not great but it exists. If I have sales every day then I have a profit every day.

 

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 read about the child’s education, I read comments on various mothers’ forums, I watch on youtube what toys the children’s parents buy, I look at other online sales sites. Some ideas suit me, others don’t. When I start working on a new product, there is always something different than I thought because the ideas come working. I draw a lot and out of 10 sketches maybe one becomes reality.

 

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?

Dollhouse quiet book with paper doll
circus quiet book activity book with animals
quiet book soft toy for baby

Most customers are from the US. The price for shipping is very important and I was looking for the best option for me and the buyer. The average delivery time is 15-20 working days and depends on the busy season or other problems that may occur. {Covid } Some products offer free shipping, others do not. The price that is displayed is very important. Everyone knows that there is no free shipping. It is just a convention. The customer wants to see the total price from the beginning. For packaging, I use bags and envelopes water-resistant. My products do not break so I use boxes only in larger quantities.

 

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?

 

Obviously I have very good competitors and that makes me not satisfied with the quality, the ideas. I had to learn to take better pictures, to describe the product as attractive as possible. Many things have nothing to do with the sewing machine and yet I have to Keep up the good work. A handmade designer must be good at many things if he wants to sell online.

 

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

 

I have to admit that I have had some amazing clients. Most of the time people understand if you explain your problem to them. Most of them are realistic when they are waiting for a package coming from overseas. I had parcels lost in the mail and I usually offer to replace the package and add 2 extra pages of games. There are risks you have to take. I always respond to messages. If you answer nicely you have more to gain.

 

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?

 

I have independence and this is very important to me. It is also important to do what you like. Sometimes it is stressful to answer buyers who do not know what they want or have weirder ideas. But this is … Sometimes there is a time zone difference and not all buyers think about it. Sometimes I wake up at 4 AM to see the message and be able to answer it because I know it’s waiting.

 

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. It took me a while to understand this. Instagram works for me. I spent money and advertising but the results were not very good. Maybe at a higher level, it works, but for a small business, it is not even so simple. You have to use social media anyway. You have to help yourself.

 

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?

 

Although the changes are quite stressful, I like Etsy. Otherwise I wouldn’t have a store here. I try to keep up.

 

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

 

The buyer in the US is the one who taught me that you have to respond to messages quickly and as nicely as possible.Work, move on, be good in what you do.

 

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?

 

I honestly don’t think that new sellers on Etsy can avoid the mistakes of the beginning. Every situation is special. Be good at what you do and keep your eyes open for the new.

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