Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
It all started about a year and a half ago when things were really tight with money. Christmas was coming up and I was stressing about how to give all my friends and family gifts. I saw a candle making kit online and decided to order. I made a couple of practice rounds and then fell in love with candle making. My boyfriend already had his own successful amazon business and he and I were discussing the possibility of adding candles to that business. After many months of testing different wicks, jars, scent levels, and temperatures we landed with the phenomenal candles we have now. Next, we had to decide what our theme was going to be. Rustic, elegant, sleek, and boho there were so many options so we decried to go with a rustic farmhouse theme which turned into Red Barn Candle Co. We launched right before the pandemic hit and it took off shortly after because everyone had to order all their items online pretty much, and my boyfriends one of a kind SEO and online selling capabilities!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
We had heard of Etsy just as a marketplace that sells handmade items and gifts with no real experience with it. My boyfriend has years of experience selling his own Apple-certified iPhone charging accessories on amazon (Safewire). It was time to diversify market places and launch our new products on a site for handmade products.
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?
We sell all-natural hand poured soy wax candles. We use an essential oil and fragrance oil blend with all-natural cotton wicks with a reusable mayo jar. All products are responsibly sourced. We grow our own herbs and citrus and are able to mostly use that as decorations on the tops of the candle instead of toxic dyes. We designed our products to have a chic farmhouse rustic look to them. Our quality and herbs as decorations as well as our uniquely designed label all help us to stand out to customers.
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 experience creating our products took months of testing different scent combinations, wax types, temperatures for pouring and adding fragrance, wicks, and jars but ultimately led us to our amazing product. It was very frustrating at times and very costly but was all worth it in the end because I can now say I have my very own candle company and each candle is made completely from scratch with love and care.
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 goal was to just have a little extra income aside from my job as an esthetician. My boyfriend helped me set up the Etsy page and just added on to his already running amazing page(he is so amazing at what he does it didn’t take long for things to pick up like crazy along with Mother’s Day and the pandemic making most people switch to online shipping) It just seemed like the best choice was to open online first to gain brand credibility and then try to get into a local business. I can now proudly say my Etsy and amazon shops are now my full-time job!
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 was very nervous about how my products would stand out against the already very saturated market of candles but with my boyfriend’s online capabilities and our solid products, we have managed to be one of the top candle sellers on Etsy!
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 about a week to get our first organic sale on Etsy. I never in a million years thought our brand would have been able to grow this much within our first year of business. I am so overwhelmingly thankful for every one of our amazing customers who continue to purchase our candles it means the absolute world to us. I had a simple goal in mind… just to make a little extra money to have to save but when I lost my job due to COVID it changed to needed to be my full-time job. We are so blessed to average around 300 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?
No, candle making is my full-time job. My typical day starts by drinking some coffee and answering all of my Etsy messages then I will move on to wicking all of my jars and start melting my wax. Sometimes it takes me a full day just to wick all of my jars. I will typically make around 150+ candles at a time depending on how many I need at the time. Managing time can be difficult at times but I am usually pretty good about getting things done. Once a week I will do an inventory count and order all of my needed supplies. Also once a week I go and harvest all of my herbs for drying.
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?
The process starts by gluing a wick into each individual jar, after all, jars are wicked I melt my wax and add my fragrance. The tools I need are my wax melters, scale, glue gun, fragrance, wax, jar, pouring pot. After it cools to the correct temperature I do my first pour, then place all of the wick centering devices on to set the wicks in place. After they have cooled for 12 hrs and harden I take off the wick holders and trim down the wicks. I then place the appropriate dried herbs on the top and start the process of melting wax. I will do a second out on my candles and stir the herbs around. After they have cooled it’s time to wipe down each candle and make sure it’s free from wax on the sides. Next, I place a caution label in each lid then label the candle and lid for storage. The candles go through a curing time before they are sold. My boyfriend prints out all of our Etsy orders and labels what each one is. Then we packed up all our orders and drop off at the post office.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
The biggest impact is the shipping costs. We require many different materials the most expensive being the essential oil fragrance oil blend. Our products are priced at competitive rates.
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?
There is no limit on all the scents I would like to do the thing that is stopping me is not having enough manpower to do them all at this time. Once we move into a warehouse and are able to hire out we will be launching a variety of new scents.
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 offer international shipping and use Usps to ship all our products. We handle postal pricing by including it in our cost and use bulk discounts when applicable. We have orders shipped out in 2-3 business days and offer free shipping. Free shipping is a great marketing tool and just includes the cost of our listing price. We package our products with bubble wrap boxes and priority mail envelopes.
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?
Competition is always something to worry about but trust our quality in products and customer care to always help us stand out.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We always take every review very seriously and will do anything within our power to make the situation right. Every customer is very important to us and we want everyone to be 100% satisfied with their purchase.
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?
Selling on Etsy has changed my life In many ways. One being it is now my full-time job, I still can’t believe how far our brand has come in such a short period of time. We are truly blessed and so appreciative of everyone who makes this possible. With any job, there is absolutely stress but I am able to overcome by talking through my issues with my boyfriend and business partner Elliott. Also by exercising regularly with my German Shepard Luna who brings so much joy into my life.
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 not my strong suit and I hope to be able to expand my Facebook and Instagram presence. We use Etsy advertising and SEO to gain most of our sales.
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?
The adverting is too simplified, while it’s great for beginners, it lacks depth and long term is not beneficial. I would like to be able to manually target keywords instead of the process being automated.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Having great consistent products and good pictures! I learned the hard way that advertising long term was a waste of money with Etsy.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Don’t give up and research research research!