Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I am a mother of three children and my first son inspired me to create these soft books. I couldn’t get good books for my little one, so I made them myself (I knew a little bit about brain development then). Books turned out to be a great hit among my friends’ babies and that was the impulse to start this business. My husband then did a series of scientific experiments to find out which illustrations were most interesting to babies, and I took a machine sewing course. We invited our friends to cooperate with us: optometrists and ophthalmologists for children, psychologists, educators, and graphic designers. We were looking for the best materials and printing techniques. We created the first two books that are selling great today, but back then nobody was interested in them. We put a lot of work into reaching out to customers.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I am responsible for the final quality control – I pack the product and seal it – it is a guarantee of the highest quality and safety. I reply to customers’ messages, prepare personalized orders, and make sure that each customer receives their order as soon as possible. My husband is in marketing and shipping. We regularly introduce a new product and then there is a lot of interesting work: photo sessions, the creation of descriptions, etc.
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?
High contrast books for newborns and infants are the best sellers. Ideas arise from observing our own babies and collecting information from parents. We create an optical model of the perspective in which the baby sees the book and use this model to create various illustrations. Next, we show these illustrations to infants, and the best ones are selected through elimination.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
What I like the most about being an entrepreneur is freedom. The hardest part of this is to give in to change, to float on the wave of constant changes in an uncertain direction.
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 to two groups of customers: parents and people looking for a gift for a baby. I mainly use advertising campaigns for searched phrases and cooperate with influencers.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Vision, systematicity, humility (being in truth). The best product possible, excellent customer service, do not skimp on advertising. Constant training, constantly trying, and courage to change.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
The most difficult thing was when our family did not have money at the beginning of the journey, because the business took up all savings. We kept borrowing money for food and bills. Months passed and the situation grew worse. The extended family and friends kept saying: do you still sew these books? When will you finally get on with something normal? How do you want to live off these cloth books? It was then that my vision and my husband’s support helped me survive it.
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 am inspired by cognitive science, mathematics, nature, and especially my children. New ideas appear gradually, in fragments. Sometimes it takes months for these passages to form a new book. I meditate, make music, ride a bike, talk to people, read valuable books, and watch biographical films – it triggers my creativity.
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 worldwide. I have a very favorable contract with the postal operator. The average time from order to delivery is 10 business days. I use free shipping because it simplifies offer and improves visibility. I pack my books individually in hygienic polypropylene foil with a label as a seal. I send up to 10 books in a white bubble envelope. For an additional fee, I pack it elegantly as a gift and protect it against crushing. When I send by courier or larger quantities, I use cardboard boxes.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Existing resources, e.g. knowledge, subcontractors, contact A product that meets the needs of customers. Social confirmation (e.g. reviews), great photos, accurate words.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Do what you believe, try, correct, and change, but don’t be put off by the fact that the results are not what you wanted. Keep trying! And don’t worry about the critical talk of non-entrepreneurs – they will always put you off!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Money is fundamental proof that business works. Freedom is a state of mind. Impact … yes, creative expression and innovation … definitely yes. I think that the greatest business success is creating a self-improving organization that develops according to my vision, which will continue to develop and improve without my participation, but in the direction that I have set (but I’m not at this stage yet).
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
For me, there is no distinction between work and home – whether I clean my kitchen, reply to clients’ messages, go by bike for materials, or put the children to bed – I work. Together with my husband, we try to introduce rules, e.g. the most important things first, social media on Saturday, no work on Sunday, we do not talk about work in the room, between 23:00 and 6:00 we do not work, we do not answer phone calls during meals, we have set times for various activities.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I plan to create a team of over a dozen people with whom we will create new products. The pace of scaling has the biggest impact on my profitability, I have to keep running like a marathon, but not too fast not too slow…
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I follow all the updates from the Etsy team and always try to understand their intentions so that I can fit in with them. When they put priority in the search engine for offers with free shipping to the US, I did so immediately and it produced a great result. At the beginning of my adventure with Etsy, I assumed (as I had learned from studying economics) that in order to be successful, you should allocate maximum funds to advertising … and I lost a lot of money, and sales did not change. It taught me how to create appropriate descriptions and titles of offers and use statistics.