Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I have loved and collected glass, in some form or another, since childhood. My focus turned to glass beads in 2009 when on the internet I saw Kandice Seeber’s amazing beads. I had no idea that it will eventually change my life! Also, at the same time came Trollbeads. At the same time, I have seen and creative freedom, and serial beads that were not free. I discovered quickly that famous brand beads are expensive, but the range is limited and every store has “the same” beads. I somehow found the term “Self-Representing Artist” and I was instantly won over by handmade artisan beads. In May of 2009, my husband helped to install my workplace and I took every day lampworking. I set up my studio. I wanted to learn and had complete confidence in my creative and artistic abilities, but I studied the blind. I did not have anybody to consult or discuss. Everything has changed when I bought the book of Corina Taittinger, “Passing The Flame” on the internet. This was my first extramural class and teacher. And that’s all it took. I was hooked, an addict, a flame junkie, just like that. There is something mesmerizing about the glow and flow of molten glass. I love it!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
From the first bead I made, I realized this is my life. It didn’t take more than a few months when I opened an Etsy store, I sold at my city street handmade show markets, the jewelry found itself in city galleries where it sells directly from artists. Everything turned up fast like a tornado. Until my first bead was made, I worked in a bank. I sold bank products, but not jewelry. And all the more so I didn’t have experience making them. And when it became my main job, I took all the possible lanes of the road as much as I could physically.
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?
The works I sell are all made of glass. Creativity in the mind takes place constantly. I may be inspired by a fallen leaf of a tree, a sunset, a flower, a passer-by’s dress, a mistletoe on a stone, or a starfish lying in my son’s hand. My products are usually unique, unique, even I can’t create another one myself. Sophisticated technique, my own made glass blends, bead shapes made by hand without the use of molds. All this plus my thoughts always give a unique end result.
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?
Yes, I was self-taught. And now, after more than 10 years in Lithuania, lampworkers can be counted on their fingers. And I was one of the first. I made beads 10-12 hours a day. I had neither weekends nor vacations. Experience and mastery came through too much practice. I became a teacher very quickly. I taught everyone who was interested in lampwork. Creativity and lifelong learning are inseparable. And I always know the need to go further.
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?
My decision to sell online came quickly and easily. Lithuania has a population of only 2.5 million. I made it very clear that selling online is the only way to sell.
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?
The only ambiguity and concern were that I did not speak English. At school, I taught Lithuanian, Russian, and German. I had to learn many things at once. How to make a glass bead, how to photograph it, how to describe it in English, and sell it to a specific buyer. I had too many worries to keep up and doubts about something.
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?
In fact, I no longer remember exactly how long it took. That was quite a long time ago, more than 10 years ago. I only remember that it lasted no more than two weeks. Sales weren’t just through Etsy. And I wrote down the goals, how much I want to sell per day, per week, per month. When there is a goal – there is something to strive for.
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?
This is my main and only job. But there must be like many of us I am a mother, a wife. Time-sharing is a complex issue. Often I leave work that needs to be concentrated at night when the kids are sleeping.
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?
The production process begins far before production. Planning, sketching, deciding how to technically make it. I make the glass I need and then I make it. There is always music playing. I always accept orders and challenges. Even if I have never made it – I always say that I will try, and the customer will be able to decide for himself whether to buy or not. And the best-selling product? Each bead finds its buyer.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Materials are not cheap. Complex equipment is required first. Burner, oxygen concentrators, annealing furnace, expensive glass, pure silver, gold, enamels. It’s really expensive. And then my working time, the time during which I gained mastery. Photo studio, photo equipment. I’m a perfectionist, I couldn’t take pictures with a phone camera. Everything has to be as good as I can at the moment.
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?
Apparently, I am creative from the inside. I don’t need complicated methods. Creation in the mind takes place constantly, involuntarily. I can’t even stop it.
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?
Yes, the beads I sell travel all over the world. You ask – Do you use free shipping? – In fact, I do not know such a service, I do not know who could deliver my parcels for free. Shipping costs are there and they are unavoidable (or I don’t know anything very important). Usually, the customer pays for the bead and plus postage. The time depends on the country. For example, from Belgium where I now live in a remote village in Italy, my bead travels for 1 day. In these times of Corona, such speed is almost equal to the speed of the Internet. Haha ha … It looks almost like a miracle. And within Belgium, it takes 1-3 days by post, in EU countries 1-9 days, to America about 9 working days.
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?
When I make a single and unique product it’s all a little different.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Once made, I always show the customer. And he decides whether he likes it or not. The biggest problems arise when post service works poorly. But I can’t change that.
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?
Until the lampwork, I worked directly with clients at the bank. I served up to 100 customers live per day. There I learned everything I needed to work with clients.
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 have not yet opened this booking sheet.
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?
Cheap Chinese replicas have a significant market share in Etsy stores. Removing it would be a big job.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
go forward and don’t look back
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
I think there is no universal advice or everything has already been saying. And advice can be given in a specific case.