Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
We are a team of four people. I, Berna, Muhammed, Elif, and Eren. We were already friends before it all started when I, as a hobby, began designing and making jewelry. I would consider myself both a maker and a crafter, I have a little bit of artist inside me as well. I began making jewelry for myself during a creative energy burst in my soul, mostly boho pieces made out of all-natural materials. Then people have shown interest in buying those and after a while, I ended up selling to boutiques all around Turkey, our home country. After all this, we came up with the idea of opening an Etsy store together with my friends each of whom has a different set of skills, network and experience.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
As I mentioned earlier, I was already an enthusiastic person with a creative energy surge which translated into making my own jewelry, and then it turned into something more than a hobby when I started selling to boutiques. Etsy is a platform that we have been familiar with for quite a while, a place where we could find authentic designs and an eco-friendly platform for craftspeople and designers. Thus, the idea of selling on that platform came up quite naturally. Thankfully we are all very excited about our online store, Art & Crafts Jewelry, as a team.
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 have a selection of bohemian style jewelry in our store. Each piece has a unique story and tradition behind it whether it be a pair of handwoven metal earrings with natural pearls or a copper piece of jewelry with floral carvings on it. We usually derive our inspiration from the traditions of Anatolia as well as other ancient cultures. It’s all about celebrating local traditions while having a global outlook on style. Our materials are almost always natural including but not limited to copper, pearls, natural stones such as quartz, aquamarine, sapphires and rubies.
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 am mostly self-taught with a lot of help from my mother who happens to be very good at artisanal stuff. I am always trying to improve my technique and sense of style, seeing it as a never-ending journey to perfection. I gather inspiration from a lot of sources online and offline.
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 we opened the online store I was already somewhat into the business side of things so my goal was to reach ethnic/boho jewelry enthusiasts and customers from all over the world. We all have full-time jobs that pay the bills. But still, we appreciate the extra income and a whole lot of opportunities that came with online selling.
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 had some concerns regarding the technical management of the store, luckily we got a lot of support from experienced sellers, even from an academician. When you have faith in yourself and in your dream you just need to focus on doing what you need to do and the results will come.
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?
Within a few weeks we got our first sale. A couple more followed and then doubled, tripled, and so on. As I said earlier, we believed in ourselves, in our designs and quality of materials right from the beginning. So this is exactly how we expected things to progress. Now on an average, we sell somewhere around 20-25 items per week.
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 all have full-time jobs. So we handle our meetings usually in the evenings after work or during the weekends. We each spend a couple of hours daily on average for our part of the job, design and production, store management, shopping for the materials, social media presence, etc. We, as a team, are personally close as well, so this definitely helps in managing our time.
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?
We already have our own collection on which we add new designs every now and then. Each item is unique, handmade by me and photographed by a team member. We also cater to requests for custom made designs. They either describe what they want based on what we already have or ask us to come up with a unique design specially made for them. We can process metals, do gold plating, beading, crochet, needlework, etc.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Our materials are quite expensive as we have a no-concession-on-quality policy. Of course this affects our profitability in the short run. However we are in it for the long run, so offering the best quality for reasonable prices is our main principle.
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?
Anatolian culture and traditional art in this region are our main sources of inspiration. Our land has strong influences from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Mesopotamia, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Hittites, Ancient Greeks, Byzantium (Eastern Romans), Ottomans…etc. So it is not difficult to find inspiration if you know where to look. Museums, history books, visits to small towns and villages in rural Anatolia, old family albums, conversations with locals all help our creative juices to flow.
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 ship internationally. Handling, shipping and delivery are all included in our prices. Orders are usually delivered to the US in 5-7 days, standard package delivery sometimes takes up to 15-20 days. We don’t want our customers to be worried about delivery charges so we include everything. We shop around and try to find the best shipping cost deals again without compromising on the quality of service. If need be, we sacrifice some of our profit in favor of service quality.
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?
No, to be honest. What we do is a unique thing targeting a somewhat niche market. When everything is designed in-house and handmade by us, there is no reason to worry about competition.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We never had any negative feedback or an unhappy customer so far (knock on wood). What we worry about is not ‘a negative review’. An unsatisfied customer is our nightmare though. We believe in the value of human connections and good karma. Trying our best with the most sincere intentions is our secret, well, it’s not even a secret. It’s out there. We should value people and relationships, not money or things.
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?
We’ve come to see the beauty of working as a team, each of us has different strengths. In the beginning, we dreamt that we would come this far but until the realization of that dream it seemed a little bit like a distant thing. We don’t see customer relations as something to be dealt with, it’s almost always a pleasure, a way to connect, to get inspired, to feel the satisfaction of making another person happy. This outlook made everything a lot easier.
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?
Our social media presence came later in the process. We now have an instagram account as well; @artandcraftsjewelry is our handle. We haven’t run any ads or campaigns yet as we are quite new on social media. We are getting there. We see instagram as another mean to create more human connection, build and grow our community of handmade jewelry fans.
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?
So far our experience on Etsy has been quite fun. Everything goes smoothly. The interface is user-friendly and it all operates in a coherent logical way. We don’t have any complaints.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We gathered as much information as we possibly could prior to opening up our store. We made sure we felt 100% happy with our designs. We have been picky, maybe even a little fussy, and I am glad we have. Luckily we don’t have any regrets because we studied the platform for quite a while before taking action.
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?
or those who are thinking of setting up a store on Etsy, please do not rush things. Listen, read, learn. Don’t be so quick to take action. Try to find people that would criticize your way of doing things. Be humble. Be open-minded. Make sure you have a unique quality to your service or products. Etsy is a huge community with a meaningful connection to each other centered around design, art, and crafts.