Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
I have been passionated with embroidery for many many years and got a bit frustrated not to find the designs that I liked in the average Embroidery Kits.
I quite like the classic flower patterns but I wanted to make something different, something far from the usual clichés popping in mind when you talk about embroidery.
I was doing unique embroidered pieces for the people I love or admire for a long time and really wanted to reach more people. I also wanted to share my passion for needlework with people who at first sight were far from this crafty world but more into alternative or Rock’ n’ Roll life.
And then, I had the idea of designing my own embroidery kits.
This is how it all began.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Many friends suggested me to sell on Etsy, but, first, I wasn’t really sure how to do.
I was very busy with a day job and not really good at promoting my work, so I wasn’ t sure how to start.
During Summer 2015, our family holidays have been canceled and I found myself with a lot of time for myself. This is when I looked a bit closer and found out that opening an Etsy Shop was really doable, with not much risks.
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 ?
When I had the idea of selling my own range of Embroidery Kits and Patterns, I wanted to use some of my favorite embroidery materials.
I wanted good quality materials, this is why I picked brass and wood embroidery hoops manufactured in England. A lovely unbleached natural cotton calico as the main fabric base to embroider. And a nice variety of threads, from the classic cotton to the gorgeous metallic gold ones.
I am doing everything in my little shop, from the drawing of the pattern, the tutorial, the transfer onto fabric, and the preparation and packaging of the kits.
And I enjoy the EACH step of the process.
I am doing my best to create kits that are suitable for beginners while giving beautiful results and turning into amazing decorative pieces.
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 always found that using your hands was such a powerful thing, whether in cooking, redecorating a house, making crafts. In fact, I can’ t spend a day without doing something with my hands, it brings me joy and makes me feel accomplished.
I am mostly a self-taught crafter, and I wish I would have more time as there are so many different techniques and stuff that I’ d like to learn.
My technique has evolved of course with practice, but I kind of love so e of my older works too, even if they are not perfect. Hand embroidery is never perfect, and this is what makes it far more interesting and full of life than machine embroidery.
Occasionally I have spoiled myself with an embroidery course or a kit and tutorial by famous textile artists or in prestigious houses. It is really magical if you can do it!
My mentors are definitely all the people that I have gifted with my creations and who have encouraged me along the way. I can’ t thank them enough for making me believe in that.
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 I started on Etsy, I had no idea at all if it would work.
Etsy is so big and there were already many other interesting sellers.
But quite quickly it seemed that my style was a bit different and was attracting people.
What started as a little hobby for fun has become a part-time job. I don’ t think that I will be able to leave my main job at some point, but I have managed to share my time equally between my two jobs. And this is really amazing.
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 started without many expectations so I wasn’t really worried. I just suffered a bit of the imposter syndrome and was just afraid that my work didn’t look professional enough as I was ( and still am) a one-woman business.
The returning customers and good reviews helped me to overcome this and encouraged me to design new patterns and widen my embroidery kits range.
I didn’ t really take into consideration the profitability or the time spent during the whole first year of my shop.
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?
My first sale came very quickly, by a friend on the other side of the word. Many friends all over the word did follow and on the first week I had sold a handful of kits, quickly to people that I didn’ t know too.
I didn’ t have real goals and have probably made a couple of sales each week, with far, far more when Christmas has been approaching.
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 have a job that takes me a lot of energy and concentration outside Etsy.
The good thing is that I am also self- employed for my main job and this has allowed me to share my week between the days for my main job ( Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and my work on Etsy, more or less the other days plus the weekends.
The priority of my Etsy shop days are orders of course: prepare, pack, and post them. I am doing my best to send out my orders quickly as I know that my customers are looking forward to get them.
Then I check my stocks of kits, I like to have all my kits ready ( that makes a lot of different kits now, with all the different patterns, some being available with different colors options, and also I have started a year ago to propose most of my kits with English or French tutorials). And when my stash is low, it is embroidery kit factory day.
Printing the tutorials, transferring the patterns onto fabric, putting the kits together with all the materials but also some small little extras.
This is taking me a lot of time but can also be a relaxing moment with music or an audiobook.
My creative process hasn’ t got a real rule, so it happens that I design a few patterns one after the others and that I stay for a relatively long time without putting out new kits.
I try to surprise my customers with my designs and not to head to common and popular stuff.
And eventually, the last part of my work is to make supplies orders. I am keeping my classics for my kits but like to sometimes find interesting supplies and add them, this is why I have started to also sell Gift Box embroidery kits. So I can squeeze cute embroidery scissors, goodies like pins, glittery needle minders…
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?
I try to always have my bestsellers ready to ship. So when I am low in let’ s say, my Summer Tattooed Lady kit ( one of my best seller) I print and put together a dozen of kits at the same time.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
The biggest impact on the costs of my materials is mainly when my wholesale sellers are out of stock and then I have no choice than to buy my supplies full price.
It has happened a few times, especially with my embroidery hoops. Sometimes it took almost 2 months for the factory to make new ones in the size I needed…
I price my products depending on the materials that I put in the kits but also depending on the time spent to design the pattern and to write down the tutorial.
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?
My ideas are coming from everywhere, I love to take a walk on Instagram and I have an unreasonable number of screenshots in my phone. All ideas for future embroidery patterns.
But travels inspire me too and also the simplest everyday things. My eyes notice so many things that it is sometimes exhausting!
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?
I am based in France but send my products all over the world.For the first 3 years, I guess I had maybe less than 10% of my sales for France. Now it is a growing ( as I have translated some of my kits from English to French) by might only be 20%.
I offer free shipping in my shop and used to send all my orders without tracking. I had probably 3 orders lost on 3000 orders over 4 years. Post services work very well in fact!
Sadly since covid I had to send all my orders tracked as some customers didn’t understand why their order took more than a normal week to cross the world and opened complaint files on Etsy. And I had to refund them… so this has been a huge problem recently. And with proof of shipping like a tracked number, I am a bit more protected.
This has forced me to raise all my prices by 10%.
I try to send my orders, the day after or in 3 days.
Usually the post from France to the US took a week or less, now it is a bit more ectic.
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?
Embroidery has been a trend in the last years and I think I was in the embroidery kits business quite early. Now, there are more and more people offering kits. Some are really good but sadly a lot are also people trying to recreate the style of one of the older and popular embroidery kit designers. I can’ t really see the point of it.
But what worries me more is that I saw, on Etsy, some shops from Asia, proposing incredibly cheap kits ( with cheap quality materials in the kits too!). They are also using trendy patterns to attract this new kind of young and modern customers. I won’t be able to compete regarding the price.
I think that my patterns are different and have a real personality, this is what attracts my customers. Also, I don’ t want to make concessions on the material I am using and this is also what counts.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I have had very little ( I even think zero) disputes in almost 5 years and 3500 sales. The fist disputes that I have had came with the massive shipping delays because of Covid-19. Most of my customers have been lovely, patient, and comprehensive, but a small part has been a bit hard and have opened disputes. I had to refund them, even if I think that now their orders have arrived…This has been really upsetting and distressing.
I also have had very bad reviews because of the shipping delays. Which I found not really fair.
Most of the time, I have really good and enthusiastic reviews but when it is not the case, I reach out to the customer to see if there is a way I can make him happy. Luckily it has hardly ever happened.
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?
Selling on Etsy has totally changed my way of living, we have redecorated the loft in the house to transform it into a lovely, bright and semi-organized working place.
I work less with my main job, but certainly work more, all in all, than before.
I would never have expected this and am really happy that some of my designs are slowly becoming classics of modern embroidery.
The hardest moments have been shipping delays due to covid, and the Xmas time during the first few years ( now I am trying to be more organized and to anticipate).
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?
I know social media is important, I have an instagram and a facebook accounts.
Sadly I am not disciplined enough to have a real plan and I post whatever I like, at the risk of looking followers sometimes. But that show who I am and I don’ t want to build a fake image that wouldn’t be me.
I try to post teasers in my stories when I have a new kit coming out, some of my customers buy almost all my patterns. So I know they are waiting for the new ones…
I don’ t spend money on ads outside Etsy.
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?
Sadly I have found out that Etsy hasn’ t been supportive with the seller during the COVID crisis. Some customers even reported me that they had the automatic email to ask them to leave reviews, 2 weeks only after the order. And sometimes shipping took 2 months during march-June. I think Etsy definitely could have changed these settings as it brought a lot of unhappy customers who thought that they were supposed to have had their orders.
I had to refund customers because their orders took time to arrive, and this is unfair as they kept their orders and I am as all business.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Pictures are important!!!! Never underestimate the power of it.
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?
Just try! You will learn the best way to deal with your creations by trying! Also keep your own personality, despite the trends.