[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Home and Living
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/MurrersMonogramsMore
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/murrersmonograms
Pinterest : https://www.pinterest.com/summarmurrer/_created
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/murrersmonograms[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I feel like I have entrepreneurship in my blood. My grandparents, aunts, and uncles all owned concession stands and from the ages of 9-17, I traveled the mid-west with them for four months out of the year. We mostly set up at county fairs. We sold cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, fresh-squeezed lemonade, corn dogs, and more. At one of the county fairs, my aunt and I visited a booth that was set up selling embroidery machines. We decided to buy one so that we could embroider our work shirts. I found it so fascinating learning how to work the machine and everything that it could do. I worked a “real job” from the ages of 18-22 doing accounts payable for a fortune 500 company. I learned a lot about accounting which has been very useful to me now. I had a baby and when my maternity leave was finished, I tried to go back to work but just felt that I needed more time with my baby. So, my mother and I decided to take the leap and open up a boutique. We sold costume jewelry, shoes, handbags, etc. I decided to break out that old embroidery machine that we had and I offered personalization on some of the handbags and totes that we sold. This was a huge hit! I noticed that people love to have things personalized, especially when they are giving it as a gift. Unfortunately, the overhead expenses of the store were too much and we had to close down after two years. At this time my son started school and I got a job as a para-professional at his school. I did this for a couple of years until one day my mother-in-law told me that she purchased a sewing/embroidery machine and was really excited about learning how to use it. She said she was hoping that she could maybe start a little side business for when she was planning to retire in 5 years. Light bulbs starting going off in my head! I proposed to her why don’t we start now?! I wanted to sell baby items, personalized baby items. I absolutely hate sewing but she loves to sew. So, she would sew and make items and I would do the embroidery and all of the marketing and shipping. I started off just using Facebook swap-swap groups. Then I started setting up at local art markets or any kind of show that I could find. We did well but this was a lot of work traveling and setting up. I decided it was time to try Etsy. I was SUPER intimidated at first. It was very overwhelming to me to write all of the descriptions, learn about SEO, figure out competitive pricing. I just took it one step at a time. Until eventually I had about 20 items listed. It was a slow start. I was getting a few sales, but I wanted more. At that time, I was selling personalized burp cloths and baby bodysuits. I started to think about what could I sell that people buy in bulk and how could I personalize it? Then it came to me, favors! Favors for baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, baptisms, and more. I started selling hair tie favors with the cards being personalized. These were a huge hit! At some point I decided to add a heat press and started making custom shirts for bachelorette parties, then business really started to boom. I am constantly looking for the “next big thing”. I like to be one of the first in the market with new items. I started making labels to fit hand sanitizers in January of 2019, way before the pandemic. There was nobody on Etsy selling them at the time and they were a very hot item immediately. Now with the pandemic, they are still a hot item but I’m always thinking about what can I do next. Now my Etsy shop has about 300 listings and over 12,000 sales. It truly is a family business. Myself, my husband, son, brother, father, and other members of the family all help to contribute to making this business run smoothly. I was able to quit my job as a para about a year after I started on Etsy. My Etsy shop has helped my family so much financially. We take more frequent vacations and live a much more comfortable lifestyle thanks to the shop.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
Managing the shop is always a struggle and not something that you can slack off of doing. I personally answer every message that comes to the shop, which is about 20-30 people per day and each of those people will usually message several times. I also do all of the accounting and bookwork. I do all of the original artwork, take photos, and list all of the items. I do most of the production with help from my husband. My husband does all of the packaging and shipping. My brother sends proofs for approval to customers. My father also helps by preparing shipping materials for us. To keep everything running smoothly I have to allow certain days for tasks. I will have one day a month that is just dedicated to creating new items. Then another day just for bookkeeping. I work 7 days a week unless we are on vacation. Now some days I might only work for an hour or so but I have to work that much so that we don’t get behind on anything.
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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?
Currently, my best-selling product is custom-designed labels to fit onto hand sanitizers. I use design software to make designs for baby showers, bridal showers, wedding favors, and more. I think the main reason that my product stands out from others is my listing photos. I take pictures of the actual product vs using computer mock-ups. I also ship very fast which is always appealing to the customer.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
What I enjoy most about being an entrepreneur is being my own boss! I get to decide when and how long I want to work. This works for me and my family. I can manage my work time around my son’s activities. I have never missed a school field trip because “I couldn’t take time off of work”. I have heard this so many times from friends and I feel so lucky to not have that dilemma. On the flip side, this means sometimes having to work until 3-4 am to make sure items get shipped in time.
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 sell a wide range of customers. From soon to be moms, first-time grandmas, soon to be brides, etc. My customer is one that wants that “extra touch” to their party. Having extra personalization in small details such as hand sanitizer labels gives their party a special detail that people love. I use Etsy ads to market my products. I have found it to be very successful. As long as I’m making more money than I’m spending on marketing I up my budget every week.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I think the winning formula is dedication, great customer service, high-quality product, and patience. You don’t become successful overnight; it takes hard work. This is where dedication and patience come in. You have to work at your SEO on all of your listings. Give them time to see what’s working and what’s not. When you do start getting orders you need to communicate clearly and quickly to the customer. Finally, you have to have a great product that the customer will want to brag about. If you don’t have a great product, you’re not going to get repeat business or may not get new business if they leave bad reviews.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Customer service has been my biggest challenge. I have learned that there are some people that no matter what you can not make happy. I tend to take it very personally because I put so much time and effort into everything that I do. My personality tends to be defensive sometimes when customers can be so rude. I have really grown in this area and now I just try to let it “roll off my back”. You never know what others are going through in life. So, when they are rude to me, I just respond back as kindly as I can and move on to the next. For every unruly customer, I have 20 extremely nice and grateful customers. I try to focus on them instead.
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 try to look at market trends to see what’s popular for colors for weddings or see what are popular themes for baby showers. Sometimes it comes very easy to me to design and other times I struggle. I find when I’m struggling it’s best to just walk away and have a little break and then come back to it.
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. I figured out my product’s weight and size after packing and used USPS online tool to get estimated shipping cost. Right now, I offer USPS and FedEx shipping. From the time of order, I usually ship the product within 2 days. The time that the product arrives varies greatly depending on the carrier and the time of year. Anytime there is a holiday where USPS is closed mail will run behind and packages will be delayed. I offer free shipping if the order is $35 or more. This was something that Etsy really pushed sellers to start offering based on research that they did. They said it was more appealing to the customer so I trusted them and started offering it.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
I think finding a niche or product that is useful is the first key. The next step is really mastering how to create that product quickly, with good quality and with good profit margins. The key to keeping the business going is moving with the market. Sometimes that means finding new products or sometimes that means changing your pricing. You can’t be lazy when running your own business.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Just take it one step at a time. It’s very easy to look at how much needs to be done and get overwhelmed. Make a list, even if it’s a long list, and scratch off one item at a time.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I think my first thought is money but when you think more deeply about it it’s all of those things. My business has been very successful financially which has led to more freedom. There was a time where I would have to check my bank account to make sure there was enough money for gas or groceries. I don’t have that stress anymore. Since I don’t have financial worries that frees my mind to be more creative and put more effort back into the business.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Firstly, my phone is always in my hand. Some people may not like this but it’s my livelihood. I get notified as soon as an order or conversation from a customer comes in. I look at every order as soon as it’s ordered and if I see anything wrong or missing, I will message the customer immediately. I also will answer questions immediately. I have found that this will usually lead to more sales. If you wait to answer their question, they are more than likely to move on to another product. As soon as I wake up in the morning, I will grab my phone and answer any messages that I missed while sleeping. I do this while lying in bed and this usually can take about 30 minutes. After I’m up I will move to the office to work on production for the day. I usually work about 5-6 hours a day on production. I stop work in the mid-afternoon to pick up my son from school and will have dinner with the family. After dinner, I will go back to the office and finish up any production or will work on new designs. I will continue to answer messages until I fall asleep and then start over the next day. My husband and son are very understanding. When we go on vacation or on the weekend, I will try to only answer messages a couple of times a day.
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How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I’m looking into some new equipment to offer a different type of personalization on different products. I want to add a sublimation printer and laser engraver to my inventory. That will open up a lot more possibilities for the business.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I think the best thing that I did to set-up for success was having a high-quality product at reasonable prices. I personally hate when I ordered something and it would come in looking or feeling “cheap”. I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for. I have never been the seller who is the least expensive or most expensive. I try to stay right in the middle of the market.