Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Theo Ferrin and I ( Margot Guicheteau) met in Detroit. I was a French journalist for the national newspaper writing on the design scene, he was an industrial designer who studied in Detroit. Detroit is an incredibly creative place so we started creating whatever we had on our mind. Theo never stops drawing, building, fabricating, and solving problems. I never stop having big dreams. After traveling the world and discovering many design scenes from N-Y to Ukraine passing by Paris, I was hired as a Creative Director for a big design company in North Carolina, Theo took this time to meet makers and start building all ou furniture for our house. It just made sense for us to work with the people that surrounded us, learn from their experience, and build locally. Then COVID hit and we didn’t want to sit still even if I had lost my job. We needed to take advantage of this weird period to be even more creative. And we did. We started with a couch. We realized how tired we were of always seeing the same sofa everywhere and how cumbersome it was to relocate furniture every time we had to move. So we decided to make our own nomadic furniture. We set out to make a couch that was both visually fun and practical. Once we had achieved that, we pushed the idea even further: Why not share our principles and make a platform for designers? We created our online design platform and challenged ourselves to meet specific criteria like making the furniture locally, use rope, use organic fabrics, work with local makers, making it flat-pack. now we are in Nashville and make everything in our woodshop we built up.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
All our friends in Detroit who have small fashion and jewelry companies all told us that Etsy had helped them a lot to grow apart from their website. We had and still have our website where we sell online but we needed a platform to boost us, boost our traffic, boost our sales and we believe that Etsy can help with that. We believe in its community.
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 furniture and accessories. For the moment we mostly use wood but we are in process of creating vases made out of resin. We believe that products are materials given a second life. This practice encourages us to keep building a collection of products that highlight materiality and quality. From the maker to the buyer we are able to show off the fabrication of each product and guarantee their origin. We practice everyday prototypes, we kill ideas quickly to move on to the next one, the one that will be the good one. To make the most structural product, a product that makes sense for everybody’s daily life. Our products are designers’ products but more affordable and thought to be sustainable.
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?
We never stop learning. We always test more and learn by testing. We buy materials that intrigue us and practice with them until we are satisfied with the result.
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?
We are truly hoping to enlarge our community, show our work to as many people as possible, and make sales. With COVID we believe that people are believing more and more into e-commerce. So it became our full-time job. We want to make it happen, we want to show people that it’s worth it to put a little more money for a quality product.
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?
We don’t have much to lose but as we just began we are wondering how to stick out from this very very big community. We are trying to understand what people are looking for and we want to also be educative to our clients. We want them to understand our process, how we make those products in the most sustainable way, we also want people to understand the design world that is often such a small, niche, privileged world.
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?
We just started… It has been only one week. We are really hoping to sell at least 4 couches per month, 2 chairs, and some accessories as much as possible.
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?
I am committed full-time to make those sales happen. I work on the SEO, marketing Etsy page all morning, post on Instagram after that, organize my photoshoots, and write press kits and newsletters in the afternoon. At night, Theo and I spend time together to go over what he prototyped during the day and think of the next upcoming project.
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?
We insist on making our products to order to not waste any material if the product doesn’t sell well. We are still testing our market, seeing what people want so for the moment we don’t customize much, we only propose different types of wood for our Wabi-sabi chair. We have a whole wood shop that allows us to be free on what we really want to build. Whatever we are not able to do we outsource from people in Tennessee.
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 materials that we use are pretty expensive as we work with local businesses but 75% of the final price is the cost of materials. We want to be as fair as possible. We prefer to have reasonable prices and sell more pieces. Our big goal with our couch is too convince Etsy customers that $1250 is not expensive for a couch.
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 have a strong design community that inspires us every day. We share ideas with other designers to learn more about their process, their technics, their materials. We believe that having this design community makes all of us stronger and we can grow always more. We are inspired by architecture, by engineering, by solving problems.
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 only ship in North America for the moment. We include the price of shipping in the final price. Shipping is obviously our biggest cost that’s why we always try to make our product flat pack because we believe that it makes sense to be able to move wherever with a Knot product without having it take too much space. It helps us and it helps the clients when they move when they want to change their place in their house.
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?
Competitors motivate us to be different and to always propose something new. We are lucky that there’s only one other couch similar to ours on Etsy. We are hoping that this is also going to help us reinforce our branding to stand out always more.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We didn’t get any yet… but we are ready for that and will always do our best to satisfy the customer’s demand.
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 waiting for it to happen. We can’t wait! we are truly hoping to get very far and will do whatever is needed.
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 been testing Etsy ads as well as Instagram ads and are hoping that it will lead to sales. I try to manage as many photoshoots as possible to always have nice shots to post and it will only get better through time. I am working on building our virtual community.
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 wish there were a category ” New shops” for it to be easier to be seen at the beginning, to give a chance to customers to see who we are.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
For the moment I am just posting as much as possible trying to find the best keywords and working on creating the best pictures for us to have a strong visual identity and stick out.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Believe in your brand. Put all your energy into it as if you were working for a company that hired you. Have a strong visual message.