Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
We recently had a baby (born on Christmas Eve!) and as she was getting older, I wanted to make sure we had everything she needed before starting solid foods. I began to research high chairs, and the IKEA Antilop was highly recommended, but have seen a lot of mentions that it did not include a footrest. I searched Etsy for Antilop footrests, and I did find some options, but I really wanted a white one. I showed my husband what I was looking at and explained that I would like to have a white one but would have to order another choice. After looking at them, my husband decided he would try to make one and paint it white for me. He had recently re-painted our kitchen cabinets so he had already researched paint and products to make them durable for everyday use, and applied that same method to painting the footrest. With the current pandemic, we were both reduced to part-time hours, so he decided to make a few extra and try to sell them and see what happened!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I have been shopping on Etsy for a while, its a great option for finding personalized items for baby & bridal showers. I often check Etsy first if I’m looking for an item that may be unique in nature and not commonly sold at a big box store. We had no experience selling handmade items, although I do have a background in retail which helped with a lot of the business and customer service aspect. Etsy just naturally seemed like the best way to get our product available to anyone all over the world, and its a one-stop place for us. We can communicate, sell, and ship all from the same website that also has a lot of daily traffic.
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 ?
Our footrests are made of different types of wood, depending on color, and cut on a C & C machine. The routing and finishing are done in our garage at home. Our product has a unique notch on the bottom that makes it different from the others in that it hides the bottom O-ring, which is what is used to hold the footrest up.
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
My husband is self-taught, he has been interested in woodworking since high school and is currently a member of a maker-space and sometimes gets guidance from other members. It took a few rounds of footrests of different sizes and cuts, but after a few weeks, we got them perfected and ready to sell.
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?
Our original intent was just to be a side project to earn some extra income at the expense of a baby. We are doing very well though, and with the uncertainty of our current job industries in the pandemic, this might be something we try to make into a more full-time job. As long as people are having babies, we”ll have products to sell!
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?
Our only fear initially was just wanting to make sure we made our money back! We had already worked out the price of the wood and shipping material so we knew it would be profitable even after Etsy’s percentage. We watched a few seminars on selling on Etsy and things took off pretty well from the start
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 got our first sale within 24 hours! We honestly weren’t sure what to expect and we’re still in the first few months but the last couple weeks we’ve had at least 20 sales a week!
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?
We still currently have jobs outside of Etsy but are working reduced hours due to COVID. Once our jobs require us to work 40 hours a week gain we’ll have to decide if one of us will make this full time or just continue with it as kind of a hobby, side gig status.
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?
We only list the number of footrests we have ready so we can ship them fast and don’t over-promise anything. Typically we cut once a week, then do the finishing steps at home throughout the week.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Sales from google ads have the biggest impact right now, but since we’re still new we keep the ads turned on to ensure traffic. We priced our products to obviously make a profit, but also stay competitive with the other footrests already out there.
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?
We just try to think of how we would use the products in our house, and what designs features we would want.
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?
We do ship internationally, we mostly use Etsy shipping to calculate prices for us, but we offer free shipping over $35 domestically to get priority placement from Etsy, and in our shop, $35 would be an order of multiple items. Our footrests are packaged in cardboard and shipped in poly bags. Besides the poly bags, we try to use more paper products vs plastic to be eco-conscious.
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?
there are competitors for sure, but we try to find ways to make our products unique enough with distinct features to make them stand out and add value!
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We have only gotten one bad rating (3 stars) and I was unsure how to handle it because the buyer was honestly confused about what they were doing. Etsy prompted them to leave a review, and they left 3 stars saying they hadn’t received the item yet ( shipping from the US to Canada). I messaged the buyer and let her know it takes a while for international shipping, and she messaged back saying she wasn’t worried and just wanted to leave feedback which is a bit confusing to me why she thought a 3-star rating would be helpful. But we have gotten more positive reviews since then so sometimes you just have to give good customer service and move on! I have had a couple of other incidents that have all been able to be resolved through good communication or messages in Etsy.
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?
it has definitely become busier, but that’s a good thing because it means we’re doing something right! There have been a few stressful days when we feel we’re getting behind or customers all start to message at once, but just taking the time to respond thoughtfully, and just being thankful our business is doing well gets us through
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?
We do post on Instagram and Facebook a few times a week, and try to follow accounts that would be our target audience. The only money we have spent on advertising is occasionally turning on Etsy ads for a few dollars.
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?
I don’t like that once you respond to a buyer rating publicly, the rating cannot be changed. They will only remove ratings about shipping if the customer mentions the shipper by name. so it doesn’t seem fair that the seller cant explains themselves without the rating being permanent.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We watched a few Etsy marketing/strategy classes on Facebook to really help set our listings up properly, that was probably the most helpful thing we did. Plus good photos! One lesson I learned the hard way not responding to negative feedback publicly because then the buyer can’t ever change their rating.
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?
Sing up for the free Etsy workshops! Look at popular listings to see how they word their titles and tags, and how their descriptions are organized. The more professional you look the more people will trust you as a legitimate shop.