Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Hi, there I am Mustafa. I was born and living in Turkey. I am from Sivas, a city located in middle Anatolia. I reckon the deal starts here. My grandpa became unemployed due to ww2 and starts his own craftmanship business. He begins with carpet knitting. So much so that he left the legacy of the carpet business to us. Our whole family has inherited my grandpa’s perspective and way of looking. Unlike the grandpa, our family merged into retail rather than wholesale. Apart from my father, and my siblings got involved in e-commerce. I can best describe myself as a collection as I find the best quality of carpets and take them to my storage.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I remember that I first heard about Etsy in a chit chat with my friends. Then I opened my store after a short while in 2019. Although I listed my products, I couldn’t make any sales as I repeatedly launched ads. I realized that there was something wrong with the payment method. Since PayPal is unavailable in our country, we didn’t have a PayPal account. So we had to get paid only via other payment methods. As another payment method is more too exhausting, customers tend to avoid it and I took a break in my Etsy journey till June 2020, the date on which a solution was found. I became active again. The only reason I sell on Etsy is that I want American customers to shop cheaply. Otherwise, when there is a mediator between us and the customers, prices surge, unfortunately.
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 handmade carpets, mostly vintage ones. Wool is used in cotton carpets. Their unique pattern can be maintained with rigorous cleaning. Patterns also vary by region. While capers in Sivas have minimalist taste, uşak carpets have a more vibrant spirit. Our storage process and cleaning method help us keep the carpets intact.
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?
As I said before my grandpa is the only mentor for me. The moment when I learned every single pattern and color on a carpet means something was a breakthrough. The very first day that I was proud of my carpets was when I sold the first carpet.
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?
As ı mentioned above, my desire to make my customers reach to best quality carpets at a reasonable price was the strongest trigger for me to sell on Etsy. I see this business as my long term occupation.
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?
No, I didn’t have hesitation. Customers used to pay too much when they buy vintage carpets. Because I wanted to change this, ı had no worry.
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 3 months if I count the very first day I started in Etsy. So far I only sold 1 item. My aim is to sell 4 items per week next year.
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?
Since I make wholesale, I add 3-5 items after I complete my communication with the customers coming from that channel. I frequently stalk Etsy the rest of the time to see what products do other competitors sell.
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 first item that I sold was a round rug. We are specifically cleaning or maintaining the handmade rugs that date back 30-50 years if necessary.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Wool and cotton are the main raw materials used in my products. What makes our products differ in terms of profitability is being handmade. We consider the cost of the product, photo shooting, storage, employee expenses, and profitability when it comes to determining the last price.
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?
My main source of inspiration is videos on YouTube. I look forward to the best size carpets by watching house presentation videos.
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 them free of charge as I am also a consumer who is glad to get his orders for free. We run our international shipping process with the help of the most prominent cargo companies. Our deliveries reach customers in the USA in 5 workdays.
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?
I believe competition always keeps my spirit high. I precede my competitors by adding videos to my list.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
The customers reach us via the private message section. We reply to them in a good manner when they ask their wishes. Some of them ask us to send real photos while others want to know whether another color of their favorite carpet is available.
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?
Our Etsy experience is yet to contribute to our lives significantly as we are newbies. Because we have the long-lasting and absolute experience, we didn’t have a hard time keeping manufacturing.
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 have only Pinterest and Instagram accounts available. The enthusiasm towards social media is increasing gradually so I have to be more active in it. I only use Etsy ads. I have never gotten paid external traffic out of Etsy. I try to draw more attention to adding videos to my listings.
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 would probably tell them not to charge 0.20 cent per product 🙂
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Again, I have noticed the importance of being patient. Of course, I am not considering myself as successful as my store has been up and running for 4 months. I want to give other sellers a trick. Since the algorithm works in a way that it cares about quantity alongside quality, the more you add product, the more you become prominent on Etsy. So I keep up with the rules of the game.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Be patient. As a Turk proverb says:” Patient saint gets his wishes”. Just focus on adding more and more products for a month. Only then they should contemplate promoting the products they added. Almost every people who have the potential of becoming successful on the internet have anxiety disorder unless they progress step by step and all of their time and money they devote throughout the process gets ruined. As a result, they give a negative impression around them. My advice for them is to proceed step by step.
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You are dealing with a great business. Thank you for helping the niche sellers like me to be promoted. Be well.