Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
Hello dear editor :), we are makers of Tukataka towers – tukataka.co.uk – learning towers for toddlers. Here are the answers to your questions:
The idea of creating a learning tower was the result of the curiosity of our twins who were 18 months old at the time. Holding both babies, while attempting to complete any household task in the kitchen or elsewhere, was not exactly ideal.
That is when we came up with the idea of this ideal helper for the kitchen. The outcome of this discovery was the decision to make our own learning tower. Later on, we posted some pictures to our friends and they asked us to make towers for them. So we saw some potential and offered it via forums etc. 🙂 The demand grew, so we established operations and started making them for other people too.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
We´ve known Etsy for a very long time, that when you are doing handmade products, it´s your first go-to place. But we do not have any previous experience selling on Etsy and so we need to learn a lot – like online manuals, courses, youtube videos, etc.
Our primary focus is still on the website tukataka.co.uk. That is our strongest channel, where we are not limited when it comes to the number of pictures or videos used. We are able to customize user experience better, explain in detail all the questions our customers may have. Also, our product has thousands of variations when it comes to colors or add-ons, so this is a better place where we are able to show the number of options our customers have.
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 make learning towers for toddlers. We know that kids around the world are so curious – they want to know and see everything 🙂 So once they start walking and they do not hold in one place for more than a few minutes, it is very hard for parents to do daily activities such as cooking.
Placing them on the chair or step stool may be too risky, in the case of fall. Our learning tower enables toddlers to explore the world, spend more quality time with their parents and at the same time be safe.
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 are two partners – one is very tech-savvy, so he is taking of all the marketing, website, development, customer care. the other is handy craftsman – it has been his passion for years working with woods and creating various items. so we only combined our skills together I believe 🙂
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 do it as a full time job. we hope it will grow big enough that we will be able to run an international company and start selling these in countries other than the United Kingdom. That was one of the advantages with Etsy (and the internet in general), that it is possible to reach the whole world. This is a fulltime job for us now.
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?
Our main concern was (and still is) cheap competition, making the similar products at a lower quality, such as using plywood that obviously cannot be as stable and sturdy. We try to promote our premium features, that it is handmade (not assembled by machine) and provides vast opportunities when it comes to customization.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever thought you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was a goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
We did not have to wait long, it was a request from our friends to make the towers for them 🙂 as for sales – it depends on the season, but we sell roughly 1500-2000 chairs per year. With going out to more markets in more countries, we believe to increase our reach and potential.
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?
Yes, we are committed to full-time online selling. of course, we have our families and children that we take care of, so that is our other main job 🙂
How does your manufacturing process looks 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 tools that you are using in manufacturing process?
Yes, we do create most popular products ahead of time – mainly standard learning towers and little explorers versions. most popular colour is clear varnish and white, so these we keep on stock, so we would be able to ship them sooner, or through busy period, such as Christmas.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Most expensive is solid spruce wood that we use and then manual work that we do to process it into a beautiful tower. Time-wise, the most complicated process is painting the towers, as the color needs to dry and then we color it once again so there are two layers of it. The biggest impact on the profitability is seasonality – during summer when spending money on ads, we have low conversions and thus acquisition is expensive. On the other hand, in busy times, such as Christmas, we have very high conversions rates and so the acquisition cost is much lower.
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?
Our children and customers, how they use our towers and what they demand, what problems they face that we need to resolve.. these are the biggest inspiration of ours.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
Yes, we do ship internationally, across Europe. As all our towers are already assembled, they come in a very large box, so also shipping is expensive, like 20 GBP within Europe. across the world, it is even 50 or more. so that is why we are right now shipping only to Europe. our customers cover shipping costs separately, we want to be transparent with them.
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?
Yes, there are lots of similar products, but we stand out in terms of quality. this is all handmade work, using high-quality spruce wood, we provide high level of customization so that the learning tower matches the colour in your kitchen. You can add abacus or chalkboard, paint the name, customize the height of the tower so it is well aligned with the countertop.
Most of our competitors are cheap plywood that you need to assemble yourself. It does not look that nice, is not as sturdy and safe and doesn´t come with extras that we provide (abacus, chalkboard, name painting, extra safety legs, height customization…).
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Customer is our priority number one. even if we make loss, we try to make customers happy and deal with any issues or damages, luckily, vast majority of our customers are happy, as you can see in our ratings on Google, Trusted shops or on pictures customers send us .
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever thought you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
Etsy is not big for us at the moment, but selling via the internet changed our life greatly. We are able to approach many more customers, who appreciate the quality that we deliver and want only the best for their children.
Working with people and customers is always more energy consuming, but also more rewarding when hearing their feedback. So it has its ups and downs 🙂
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, Instagram and Facebook are very important, of course. we are emotional products, so pictures of kids being happy using our towers, helping their parents washing dishes or making meals, is the best seller for us 🙂
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 customers satisfaction?
We have a highly customizable product, but we are very limited with the capabilities of listings. so rather than making 100 same listings with different color combinations, I would appreciate having all these in one place. also, I would appreciate the much higher level of customer support, that has not been great in our experience and were quick to resolve our technical issues via forums rather than with their rep.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Constant testing of campaigns, creatives, call to actions. some of my favorite ads were total disasters. on the other hand, ads that I did not even want to run, turned out to be our best performing materials. so we keep iterating and testing.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering to sell on Etsy? How can they avoid beginners mistakes?
It is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Don’t expect to have high sales straight away. So always love what you are doing, because if you are doing it only for the money, you may not get through this touch initial period. If you love what you are doing, then you won´t mind even with low sales, because you are still having fun.