Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
About two years ago I placed an order on Etsy for a new herb grinder. My old one was very dirty and needed to be replaced. There is a large selection of grinders on Etsy with some beautiful designs. While there are large recognized businesses that manufacture grinders I found that the grinders on Etsy from private sellers were very unique. After finally receiving my order after delays through international postage it sparked an idea in my head about starting my own small business!
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
The majority of my responsibilities as the owner of Soupy’s Grinders can be pinned down to communicating with suppliers, manufacturers, artists, and the guys at the fulfillment center. While I used to hand wrap my items for post, I am now using a small fulfillment company. While this has taken a lot of work off my shoulders, I now have different responsibilities for getting my items to the customer. An example of this was learning how to make clear spreadsheets for the fulfillment company.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
All of the grinders in my store are made out of high-quality aluminum, while the design on the top of the grinder has either been laser engraved or UV printed. I have spent many many hours going through different artist’s work on Instagram and other social media platforms looking for art designs for the tops of my grinders. It can be quite debilitating contacting many different artists asking for permission to use their work for a commission while generally never getting a response. But still.. in light of this, I do believe the items in my store are high quality and that the artist’s designs on the grinders are diverse and that’s what makes my products stand out.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
For me, the best bit of being an entrepreneur is the independence and personal responsibility. When I make mistakes they are my fault and mine alone and I must work past them to find a solution. The flip side of the coin is that every time I have a small success, I recognize it is because of the hard work I have put in.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
So far almost all of my sales have been organic through Etsy’s search. I do plan on creating my own website and to start advertising on social media platforms in the new year.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Before opening my store I spent the best part of a year researching my particular market, testing different materials, and purchasing samples from different suppliers. I do believe research is one of the most important things for success.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
During the start of lockdown, I was overwhelmed with orders, while it felt amazing that my store was booming. It was very stressful working full time at my day job and packing my products for shipping every evening. During the summer I was able to find a very reliable small fulfillment company to handle the logistical side of my business. This has taken a lot of work off my shoulders while being able to put more time back into developing the business further.
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?
Seeing an interesting art piece on Instagram would generally be my first inspiration for starting to create a new product.
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?
My orders are almost always shipped within two days of a customer’s purchase. I believe it is very important for a customer to receive their purchase as quickly as possible. I do use free shipping on some products as I have found that they show up in Etsy’s search results faster.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Keeping all customers happy while selling high-quality products.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
You have to jump into it! Building self-confidence and knowledge in your market take time, but it is well worth it!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I will consider myself successful when I have the ability to quit my day job because I am making enough money from my business. The freedom to choose how I spend my days is my ultimate goal.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I generally spend an hour every evening during the week replying to messages and emails, while also making spreadsheets. I would spend time on the weekends taking pictures of new products or taking better pictures of old products. A couple of times a month I would spend about a day learning about general business practices. An example of these would be business accounts, SEO, and advertising.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Providing many more products is my next step for my Etsy store. I plan on creating my own website, start selling on other e-commerce stores, and start some social media accounts next year too!
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I would recommend when first starting off to keep your products selling price as low as possible. This will encourage growth, views, and revenue. The profits can come later!