PlayWoodIT – Reconfigurable Design Furniture for Home and Office

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Home and Living
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Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…

I consider myself a thinker. Meaning that I take my time to think. And 5 years ago I was thinking about how to turn my passion for nature and design into a job. For this reason, I tried to think of innovative but at the same time beautiful and useful wooden products; the initial idea was to design innovative and quality products adapted to people’s lifestyles, made with materials that last like natural birch or poplar. We started in fact 5 years ago, in a garage, with the innovative connector idea, that allows avoiding the use of non-aesthetic screws, screwdriver, and nails. So we entered the market with the line Karya, furniture designed for home and office; at the beginning, we proposed the Karya Desk with accessories like a laptop riser and a monitor stand. This idea was then appreciated by the market so we kept on with the business widening the range of products: we launched a bookcase, a toddler bed, and a storage modular system. Today we sell throughout Europe and America and we still think about new products for an even better offer.

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

I already knew Etsy as a customer and I thought it was the right marketplace for our products. Etsy’s audience is quality and handcrafted oriented, so it fits very well with our business idea. We were looking for an audience sensitive to respect for nature and able to appreciate our values like handmade products, craftsmanship, and the care of the design.

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 products are made of real FSC certified wood like birch, poplar, or MDF; while for connectors, we use a technical plastic reinforced with glass fiber to make it as resistant as steel. The competitive advantage of our products is that they are easy to assemble but at the same time of high quality. Moreover, daily direct contact with customers allows offering products that meet their tastes. In fact, the customer is very important during the product design step: we listen to their advice, opinions, and wishes so we are able to design new products

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?

To start a tour business we needed to create a team with different skills as craftmanship, finance, use of technology, and marketing. Together we were able to design our products and make them saleable. Then we learned by doing, more and more, investing a lot of time. Our goal today is still to improve ourselves every day.

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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?

We sell exclusively online so this is the backbone of our business; we spend a lot of time on that. Selling online allows overriding the large-scale distribution and physical store avoiding many costs. In this way, we allow people to have high-quality products at a better price. So this is possible for us also thanks to Etsy. Etsy is also essential to retain customers and get feedback and advice, this is very important to make our offer always better.

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?

As said, I already knew Etsy, so I was pretty sure that it was a good investment. Obviously, like every business at his beginning, we didn’t know if people would appreciate our offer so we started with caution, and then we have increased the offer slowly. Today we are very satisfied with this service.

How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever think you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was the goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?

It took a lot to get our first sale due to meticulous planning and design period; it was not easy to go from the idea to a finished product. Then, the market appreciated our offer and we had a good first year. We did not expect this. People appreciated above all the high quality of the product, but at the same time ease in being assembled. We haven’t been selling for a long time on Etsy, but we aim to strengthen our presence and increase sales.

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 also have our website e-commerce and a lot of other things to do for our business. So every day I and my team have to organize our time to complete all our tasks. Recently we have increased our team in order to have a person who is in charge of managing Etsy; it is an important marketplace for us and we want to dedicate the right time to it.

How does your manufacturing process look 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 the tools that you are using in the manufacturing process?

To create our product we use industrial CNC machinery, but at the same time, we need a strong use of manual labor. Each product is handworked, dyed by hand, and have to pass very careful quality control. Real wood needs the right manual and artisan care. Actually, for slowdowns due to covid, we can’t customize products; it would require too much time. However, we always listen to our customers to involve them in designing new products

What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?

Real wood is very expensive and so is a handcrafted and high-quality product. Also to produce and distribute in Italy is not cheap. However, people are interested in products made with good materials and able to last over time. As said before, selling online gives us an advantage with regard to costs.

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?

When I and the other members of the team think about new products we are inspired by people’s needs and tastes. We like to think that people can use them to improve their spaces. We try to be always close to our users and get daily information about their needs and wishes. This is the starting point for new products: customers must always be at the heart. We therefore mainly use the media to gather useful information to think up new offers. The underlying idea is always to offer products with lasting quality to create value for our customers, but also for the environment.

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?

Yes, we ship products all over Europe using couriers and we offer free shipping to make our customers as satisfied as possible. In order to allow our delicate products to travel on long journeys without being damaged, we have designed a special eco package. It is designed to perfectly contain our products so that they do not suffer shocks, but also to have a good looking for the customer who receives it. After all, the package is the first thing the customer sees and its image is also important!

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?

We do not usually make an analysis of competitors to find out our positioning, we prefer to start from our product and define our best possible offer. We can count on careful customer care to satisfy and listen to our customers and offer an even better product. Also for this reason Etsy is so important for us, it allows everyday contact with people!

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

We always try to be very close to our customers, making a customer care our strong point. We like to be present in the after-sale to know the positive or negative opinions of our customers. The same goes for pre-sale: we like to think of our users as a community to keep up to date without being intrusive, but asking for opinions or advice that are always very useful for us. Finally, we always try to satisfy the requests of our customers.

Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever think you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed about dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?

Etsy has certainly given us the opportunity to improve and increase our sales; we created the shop we were hoping for. This platform allows us to have a close dialogue with people, so we have always had the opportunity to have a direct confrontation. As said before, Etsy allows also to offer high-quality products at a very competitive price.

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 for our business. We try to use different media in a complementary way; for example, social networks can be used to bring people to the Etsy marketplace. We use in fact a cross-media strategy spending money on each of these media to create a unique big turnout. We try to create hype by inspiring people with our products; showing how many solutions they have, how innovative our product is, and asking people to show us how they furnished or would like to furnish with our products. For example, we recently launched a new product: Adakto. It is modular storage, interchangeable, and stackable modules able to change and adapt to its user’s requirements and needs. We have designed this product according to the lifestyle and feedbacks of our customers and it is important to communicate the innovative character of this product.

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 customer satisfaction?

I wouldn’t make a big improvement in Etsy. Maybe I would give more emphasis to the interaction between users and sellers by putting more emphasis on people’s actions as “likes” or “add a product to favorites”.

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

One thing we have learned to do on Etsy is to pay attention to detail and keep everything up to date. It’s not just adding your own products and waiting for them to sell, it’s also very useful to try to understand the best marketing strategy through a constant presence on the platform. Details are also important to convey the care you have for your products. Finally, a constant presence allows you to be in contact with our users at all times.

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What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?

As said, details are very important; I, therefore, advise against using Etsy as a secondary platform, paying little attention to it. You risk making a senseless time and money investment and give a bad image of your products.

Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Etsy and congratulate him on his excellent service.


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