Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
Hi, I’m Ismail, and 50 years old. We have started with my brothers, I’m a professional crafter and maker of kilim rugs. I have been making kilim rugs for over 30 years. We are still making kilim rugs as made to order. I have been collected lots of rugs from villages in central Anatolia which is a Capital of the Seljuk Empire. So, I can ensure that all rugs are vintage and in good condition.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I discovered it through some friends from Europe and the US. Yes, as I already mention I’m selling handmade kilims for over 30 years. Selling online was an easy and fast process to reach customers that are not in my country.
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?
Vintage and handmade kilim rugs and rugs. The products I sell are at least 30 years old. It is made of wool on cotton. I’m collecting rugs from villages in Anatolia and I use the best pictures and ground. Cleaning has great importance. So all rugs in my shop already cleaned and ready to go and also checking last time after purchase. Customers will get rugs without a single problem it.
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?
It was a long process and took about a year to learn to craft. I was self-taught and made a couple of mistakes till I make great creations.
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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?
I aimed to reach my crafts everywhere. So I opened an Etsy shop in this regard. I could not reach to the customers out of Turkey. Online selling is a hobby for me and a kind of side-job.
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?
No, I would not. If I don’t make a profit, I wouldn’t sell on Etsy. I searched mostly for Etsy’s helps and Etsy teams. They have all the answers.
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?
It took about 2 to 3 weeks. Yes, I hope to make 1000 sales in a year. I got a couple of sales per week. It actually depends on time. Some weeks daily 1 sale, some weeks 10 to 15 sales.
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 got a job and that is making kilim rugs made to order. It is my full-time job. I send them to the UK for only over 30 years. I send rugs to the last cleaning after it purchased in the early morning and check the schedule for new shipments for kilim rugs. Making arrangements for wholesale delivery. I send all rugs to the washing and cleaning before I list them on Etsy. It takes time behind the scenes.
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?
Firstly, we make crafts on small paper before we got to make the rug. The making of a kilim rug took about 2 to 4 weeks ( depends on the size). Then it’s washing and cleaning. We customize rugs. We work as a factory to make it a rug. Our workers deal with the manufacturing processes and I make crafts.
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 ropes that we use include wool and cotton materials. We price products in accordance with its labor cost, materials cost, shipping cost, and profit.
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?
İ really listen to people and customers while I’m creating. That inspires me. I research trends and try to follow recent trends around. When İ spend time in nature, it makes me get more creative.
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?
I ship the products internationally via FedEx. I usually pay it myself and add it item’s final price. It usually takes 3-5 days everywhere via priority shipping. I use free shipping because it makes it easier for buyers to get the item via free shipping. When I package my products, I ensure that there will not be any damage to products until it delivers
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’m not actually worried about competitors because my products are guaranteed by quality and price but it has an impact on my shop that lots of rug shops on Etsy and they sell bed products for a cheaper price. I always choose good quality products and it costs so I price products in accordance with this method.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I make deal with customers when there are disputes and bad ratings. I always tried to make customers happy. I reach out to the customer after purchase till the delivery of the product and I follow every process of shipment.
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?
I must say that it changed my life in a positive way. It makes me more income as a side-job. I would get this far with my shop when I made everything correct. Sometimes to deal with people may be hard but I always try my best and customers are always right even when they are not. So, I deal it with stress sometimes!
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 has some importance. It may bring some more customers. I haven’t had any social media regarding my Etsy shop. I have spent money only on Etsy ads. Tags and keywords make products appear on the first pages.
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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?
You never know what exactly and how much exactly you have been charged for. The percentage of the commission may change from sale to sale. I don’t like it.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I had spent some time on pictures and product videos. It may help for success on Etsy. If you want to succeed you have to work enough and spend time enough to succeed!
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
If they are not the only sellers for a product, pricing is one of the most important things. Free shipping, product pictures, descriptions, and tags. Fill in all optional spaces when you are listing.
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I would like to thank this team whoever made it possible to have an interview with you! I hope I will reach people in need of new beginners and customers. Thanks for this!