Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My name is Robert and I am the owner of Saluere on Etsy. We make unique personalized coffee tables for indoor or outdoor use. The idea to open this shop was given to me by friends and relatives who were impressed with the table I made for my two little boys age (2) and (5). Briefly, when I became a father I was looking for a table that would be multifunctional and at the same time look nice. The important thing for me was that the table must be safe for children, that it was not made of brittle materials such as glass, and that there were no sharp edges that could hurt my two sons. Since I couldn’t find a table like this anywhere to buy, I came up with the idea of making it myself. And so, I recycled a car tire and made a nice and safe table with hidden storage space upholstered in silk satin for everyday items such as cell phones, remote controls, or toys. I decided to use only high-quality materials that are resistant to all weather conditions so my coffee table can be for indoor and outdoor use. All in all, I made a table that I always wanted to have in my home, a table that made everyone in the house happy, even my wife 🙂
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
My friend told me about it but I did not have any prior experience in selling handmade goods or any experience in online business. When I first saw the Etsy platform I immediately liked it and decided to give it a try. And that’s how it all started…
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?
I am selling unique coffee tables that are intended for indoor and outdoor use. The tables are completely personalized according to the customer’s wishes and that is where their uniqueness lies. Each table is special in its own way. Customers have many color options for the fabric that goes inside the table and a variety of rope colors that go for the outside of the table. Also, the top of the table is also special because it is decorated with a high-quality UV print of the image that the customer sends me. Another advantage I would list is the large stainless steel bowl that goes inside the table that turns the coffee table into a real social table. It allows you to put snacks in it when you have children’s birthdays or cold drinks while having fun with friends at home or watching sports games.
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?
I have been in love with handcraft since I was a child. I’ve always loved working with tools and creating something new or fixing something old. My grandfather and my father passed it on to me, and I am grateful to them for everything they have taught me over the years of my life. I am still learning and improving myself day by day and I think this is the right path for every entrepreneur. Man learns while he is alive…
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 for online selling was to expand further from a small market in Croatia. At first, we did not have any major plans. However, slowly we did grow our business, and now its a full-time job. The great advantage of online stores like Etsy is that you can start selling fast and it does not require a large financial investment.
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 wouldn’t say I was scared when I opened my Etsy shop, I would say I was full of excitement. I love challenges and new things and it was definitely a very nice experience. And it still is 🙂 Of course, everything that is new and unknown requires a lot of questions and answers, but with the help of the internet and a little effort, a person gets answers to every question that bothers him.
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 admit that when I opened my Etsy store I didn’t have some set goals that I had to achieve. I let everything go its own way. I opened my store in mid-October 2019 and I had my first sale surprisingly quickly, after only a week. I started getting great feedback from customers and that opened the door for me to other customers and sales. I have to admit that sales have been weaker in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic that rules the world. I hope that this pandemic will pass quickly and that the world market will stabilize.
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?
Online sales are a full-time job. From the outside, it might seem like an easy job, but in reality, it’s a hard job. It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to satisfy the wishes of customers who always come in the first place to me. I always want to satisfy the wishes of customers and do my best to fulfill them. I respond to customer messages regularly and quickly and try to be as accessible as possible. All this requires a lot of time spent outside the workshop, but what can I say, it is a modern online business today.
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?
All my coffee tables are personalized and made to order and that is why they are special. They are unique, and any customer who buys my table can be sure that they will not see the same one in the house of their friend or neighbor. His table is unique and made just for him, no one in the world has it except him.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Our products are not cheap because in production we use the highest quality materials that enable the quality and durability of the product itself. This is evidenced by many of our satisfied customers around the world. In my opinion, people value quality and are willing to pay for good quality and excellent customer service. And we stick to that.
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?
The people who contact us are very creative and full of ideas, and each new project is a special pleasure. I am in regular contact with each customer, informing him how his project is progressing day by day and listening to his suggestions and proposing my ideas to eventually make the product of his dreams.
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 ship globally, It takes approximately 5 working days for the product to be ready to ship. Delivery to the US is within 5-12 business days. Delivery to Europe is faster, 2-5 working days because we are from Croatia, which is in Europe. Since our products are quite large in size and weight, we pay special attention to the packaging so that the product would not be damaged during transport. So far, all our products have happily arrived at their customers.
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 don’t worry too much about the competition. The competition is good because it moves you forward. I believe that our products are of the best quality and we offer excellent service and prompt delivery. So there is no reason to worry.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We have not any negative experiences and negative reviews from customers and we hope it will stay that way in the future. We do our best to meet the requirements of our customers and this has proven to be successful so far.
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?
Of course, hard work and stress are part of this job as in any business. But at the end of the project, when the customer gives you feedback that he is happy and that the product is made above all his expectations it makes you even more motivated and happier in the projects that are in front of you.
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 are very active on Pinterest and Facebook. It’s a great way to reach customers, share ideas, and promote your products. Social networks are today a very powerful tool in any business. I think in today’s world the one who doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities that social media provides lags far behind the competition.
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 think Etsy is a very good platform and they do their jobs very well. Of course, there is always room for improvement.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
In my opinion, the key things for a successful business are hard work and patience. Today’s entrepreneurs don’t have too much patience and they would like to achieve everything overnight, but it doesn’t work that way. Patience is very important.
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 I said earlier, In my opinion, the key things for a successful business are hard work and patience. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes, that’s normal. Mistakes are learned and they are an integral part of every business. Follow your dream and believe in yourself.