Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Starting Rugs2Roll on Etsy is the result of years of experience. We see Rugs2Roll as a courier that transmits Turkish cultural heritage to the world. Since carpets outlive humans, all people who own hand-woven Turkish carpets can see themselves as an ambassador who passes this culture on to the next generation. Known as the oldest carpet in the world, the Pazyryk carpet is a Turkish carpet and was found in the Altai mountains of Kazakhstan. Although the carbon tests performed on this carpet shows that the carpet is at least 2500 years old, it can be predicted that the history of Turkish carpet weaving goes back further, based on the patterns and craftsmanship on it. We grew up watching our mothers, aunts, and other women in the house weaving carpets. In fact, carpet weaving provided a work environment where peasant women could work simultaneously while raising their children at home, apart from working in the agricultural fields. As we grow, machine-made rugs started to replace the handmade rugs in the houses. Because they were cheap and easy to make, so the national demand for handmade rugs decreased sharply. Finally, there are no more handmade rugs left in our houses. That’s why we’ve always longed for hand-woven carpets. So we started to collect them for ourselves years ago. As we collect, we met some good people along the way. As people with such a high interest in this job, they insisted on us doing this job and guided us. They suggested the rug business should be done by who really cares about them. So we started hoarding beautiful rugs. At first, we were only dealing, then we started to learn how to repair a rug, how to knot, and how to wash a rug. You cannot imagine how much relaxation it gives you to take care of a rug and repair it. So, what are we considering ourselves as? A hoarder, curator, dealer, repairman, artist? Well, we like to consider ourselves rug lovers, that’s all.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
We discovered Etsy more than 3 years ago, but we did not want to jump on it. We observed for a long time, we set up our chain of trade and after we felt ready, we started Rugs2Roll on Etsy. We were dealing locally before that. I guess it wouldn’t be a lie if we said that the pandemic pushed us to do this job a little earlier.
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 only buy and sell hand-woven Turkish and Anatolian rugs. They are all hand-knotted, made from organic wool, mohair, and cotton. All the products we buy and sell are woven at least 30 years ago, which makes all of the vintages. We cannot say that these rugs are our creations, however, preparing them for sale, washing them, cleaning them, repairing them could be seen as a part of the creation process. Since your husband and wife are a couple doing this job, there are always two points of view that choose products: one feminine and the other masculine. We think this is the reason why our products are so appreciated. Of course, we should not ignore the efforts of those who supply products to us.
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?
The process of taking care of a rug, even choose a rug is painful. There are so many options, so many rugs on the local market. Without a mentor, or let’s say a maestro, we could not have learned how to choose a rug or how to take care of it. We always feel lucky to have the support of great mentors and friends. We are, and our customers are satisfied with what we are doing now, but like life, this business is a journey and we are learning on the way. A wise man said that life is a collection of experiences.
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?
When we started this business, we set our goal as “to be the best online carpet retailer shop” and we are moving forward. This is a long term goal, and you have to work constantly to achieve it. Of course, we set ourselves short-term (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and yearly) targets. For now, I can proudly say that we have successfully achieved our monthly and quarterly targets. The “beginner” articles provided by Etsy have helped us immensely in this regard.
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?
When we entered the online rug market, it is literally full of rug sellers. At first, that makes you panic because you are new, nobody knows you and you don’t have a clue about what is going to happen. But Etsy is such a nice platform to start. Even if you do not know anyone, Etsy brings you, customers. It takes your product among the experienced sellers on the search engine. It is so fair and promotes new businesses. The Etsy support team offers many articles on almost every topic, and each includes many tips to support your business. Etsy’s help has given us incredible support by solving our problems, usually within 24 hours.
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?
I have to say this with both pride and gratitude: 1 week! Yes, we made our first sale in just 1 week. We owe this sale to the PR work we do via social media and e-mail. This part is the pride part, but there is also the gratitude part: our first customer @mustardmayi (this is her public Instagram account) gave us incredible support by trusting an online shop with no sales or reviews, and then posting the product he bought from us on her Instagram page. Maybe it will be unbelievable, but we also made our 2nd and 3rd sales to @mustardmayi. Happy customers come back.
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?
It requires full-time attention. The important part of the day is preparing the orders. They should be perfect, in case of any deficiencies (which old rugs might have sometimes), we take them to our maestro for repairs. We check every inch of the rugs because customer satisfaction is very important for us. Remember, a happy customer comes back. After dealing with orders and packing, we are photo shooting, creating content for our products, social marketing and also buying new rugs.
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?
It must be a challenge to work with rare products such as hand-woven rugs, the preparation process of the products is difficult and tiring. We don’t customize, since all of them are already customized (unique) in a way (woven by a different person, different yarns, small mistakes along the way of weaving, colors and etc.).
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We have our own standard of pricing. We are adding all the costs to it including Etsy share, shipping, expenses during the search of the rugs, buying, washing, repairing, and packing costs, and taxes. I cannot point out a single element that affecting our profitability. Everything is connected.
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 are following interior designers and people who are renovating their home. We are carefully observing what colors they are using in their designs. Which posts get the most likes, which rugs people demanding more. The trends can easily change and you have to follow them. We felt like it is not enough to watch it, so we bought an old house to renovate. We are now renovating it and it will be our little home/office/photo studio. We will take photos not only outdoor but also indoor, so people can relate how they would look inside their houses. It would also give us another point of view I guess while choosing new rugs in the local market.
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?
We are shipping worldwide. The shipping cost varies according to the weight of the package, so we weigh the products before we price them. It normally takes about a day or two to ship an order. We ship-free all of our products. It brings two advantages: One is the customer can easily compare your prices with others before checkout and won’t have a surprise when checking out. Second is Etsy promotes a free-shipment guarantee to the US.
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 worried about competitors, actually, we like to help others to be successful. We believe that every rug has its own story and they will find a way to their next home. We don’t rush to sell. More products are just better for us. Our customers are more likely to come back and choose us. If they are coming back and choosing us among all the other competitors, it is only proof of we are doing something right.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We haven’t had any bad ratings/feedback. Our most effort of preparing our products and orders is just for customer satisfaction. Even we don’t make a profit out of an order, but a satisfied customer and good feedback, we are happy and proud. We do not like to push people on the buying process, we just help them in case of questions. Post-sale, it is really hard, most people just do not want to deal with anything if they got their order safely and if there is no problem. Some people are only rating bad experiences. So, we are only sending one reminder e-mail for the rating/reviewing, but no more. Pushing never helps. However, some people are natural helpers, they like to rate/review their good experiences, too. So, if they forgot to review your product, it is more than enough for just one reminder. They enjoy writing a comment and reviewing your shop.
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?
We are t a point of our estimations before we started Etsy, so it has only changed our lives as we predicted. We do not stress out, stress will only get you more trouble.
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 vital to our business. We establish our communication with our customers there, and we also share the links of our products there. Etsy is also super compatible with Instagram and Facebook shops.
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?
Well, there is only one thing I can complain about: there are no shipping labels for Turkey. If Etsy will provide shipping labels for Turkey, I believe there will be an enormous increment in the number of sellers/buyers from Turkey.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Well, I have to say, Etsy has a magnificent search engine and there are manuals on how to optimize your shop for it, which also provided by Etsy. I can advise that only follow the Etsy manuals, you won’t regret it. Don’t try to increase your ad quota suddenly, Etsy will tell you when to increase it.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Just follow the Etsy articles, manuals, forums, be patient, use social media, care about what you are doing and it is gonna be just fine.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Thank you for this beautiful opportunity to share our experiences with others.