Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I’ve always considered myself to be a creative person with a touch of business savvy. When I was a little girl I would sell homemade perfumes and jewelry on the school bus and even door to door. At the age of 22, I took a job with an online store that sold hair accessories and jewelry, it was then I discovered what I was meant to do. There were two major factors I wanted in a career, to be independent and creative. I’ve had many jobs since then including hairstylist, makeup artist, and interior designer. But all roads led me back to selling online.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I discovered Etsy many years ago when I first decided to try selling my handmade products online. I started out selling handmade wedding veils. Unfortunately, I lacked the key elements of starting an Etsy shop: good photography, good craftsmanship, and good materials. I was not prepared and changed my product far too many times. I ended up closing my shop, but in 2018 I was ready to try again. I opened a new shop that sold creative throw pillows, wall art, and aprons. It was promising but I lost myself again and became too scattered. When the quarantine was instated and I was suddenly out of a job with loads of free time on my hands, I knew I had to take another shot at my dream job. This time I would create and sell Jewelry, something that I had already sold many times before, even as a child.
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?
I sell beautiful jewelry that ranges from simplistic to statement. And lovely jewelry making supplies such as charms and chains. Having sensitive skin myself that often turns green or rashes easily, it is extremely important that I use materials that are affordable and safe for sensitive skin. Almost all of my pieces are hypoallergenic, tarnish-resistant, and nonirritant. My favorite material to use is gold or platinum plated brass. You get the quality and benefit of having 18 or 24 karat gold at an affordable price. When designing I like to pull inspiration from the past, current events, popular trends, and customization. What makes my products stand out is affordable cost and personalization. You can personalize more than half of the items in my shop with one of my favorite things in the whole world, a monogram. A sweet, shiny, simplistic charm with a hand-stamped monogram gives you a custom item, made quickly, at an affordable price.
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’ve been crafting most of my life and although I dabbled in jewelry making, I wasn’t up to pro standards just yet. It took a lot of research, trial, and error, and testing the jewelry out myself to get to the point of satisfaction. I’d say it took about a month to get to the point of knowing what materials worked and didn’t work and about two months to finally have products I was proud of. This was all done before opening my shop, as I wanted to be fully happy with my product before selling.
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 original goal when opening my shop is still my goal today, turning a passion into a business. Since starting that job with an online store at the age of 22, I’ve known I’ve wanted to sell online. Having creative freedom, being independent, and being able to share something you’ve made with the world, is a dream come true. I definitely consider online selling a full-time job. I work on my Etsy shop every day throughout the day and even sometimes late at night/early morning at 1 am. Any time of day, any free moment, I will be working on my Etsy shop. I am not yet at the point of being able to rely solely on my shop as income, but I absolutely plan on getting there.
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 absolutely had fears of opening my shop because I had failed many times before. I was worried about competitiveness because jewelry is so widely sold on Etsy. There are days that I would look at other shops and feel defeated. But then I had to remind myself that every successful Etsy shop has started at the bottom. I set myself apart by having high quality and customizable items at affordable prices. I stopped comparing myself to other seasoned shops and started doing my research, continually making changes, and improving every week.
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?
I was lucky to have major support from my friends and family. The day I opened my shop I made multiple sales. Then it slowed down to 3-5 sales a week which is amazing for a new shop. Since then I have continued to grow and now my sales are at an average of 15-30 a week. I have not reached my goal yet but I know I will with continuing growth and dedication.
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?
Apart from my Etsy shop, I am a freelance seamstress. On a typical day, I start by printing out orders, responding to messages, renewing listing, adding new listings, editing an existing listing, restocking if needed, adjusting advertised listings, and post to my social media platforms. I then work on any seamstress work I might have and finish the day by fulfilling orders and driving them to the post office. However, I am always checking messages and ads throughout the entire day. I manage time and stay on track by having a daily schedule and checklist.
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?
I offer so many custom options and personalization that almost all of my orders are made after the order is placed. However, most of my charms are pre-made so that does help me get orders out within 24 hours. To stamp my custom initial charms I use various metal letter stamps pressed by me with a machine that I found and purchased on Etsy. This machine makes beautiful, even stamps and it’s a great arm workout.
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 greatest impact on profitability is definitely the cost of materials. I like to keep my prices low so I’m very lucky to have found an amazing supplier for my materials used. This was also a struggle, in the beginning, it took a while to find the right suppliers that ship fast, offer high-quality materials, and are affordable. When pricing out items an always factor in material, labor, packaging costs, and fees.
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?
I draw inspiration from many things whether it is watching old movies, talking to friends, researching current trends, or even seeing what else is out there. When I shop for jewelry, what do I like and dislike and how can I make it better. Pinterest is an amazing tool for researching trends and gaining inspiration.
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 do ship internationally. I went to Usps and looked up pricing from my address to multiple countries to keep shipping costs as low and true as possible. I offer different shipping options so time depends on what you choose. First-class mail takes an average of 2-6 days to get to where it’s going in the US, Priority takes about 2-4 days. I offer free shipping on orders over $35. All of my jewelry comes in satin bags that are perfect for gifting. Jewelry supplies are sent in a bubble wrap bag for extra protection, everything is sent in bubble mailers for safe travels.
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 think you should always think about competitors when it comes to creating new products. Keep an eye on competitors and see what they are doing with today’s popular trends, try to set yourself apart from them by taking a trend and somehow making it different.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I have gotten a lot of wonderful feedback from customers. I want to make my customers feel special when they’re receiving their packages so I include notes, jewelry bags, coupon codes, polishing cloths, sparkly crinkle paper, and close each package with a beautiful sticker. I follow up with customers asking for honest feedback wanting to grow and improve.
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?
Customers and manufacturing have never stressed me out. I love creating these products and seeing people enjoy them. Etsy has changed my life for the better. It has been a stress reliever and a dream come true. I love the Etsy community and the opportunity they’ve given to creative people like me. I am extremely fortunate to have done so well in such little time and look forward to each new milestone.
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 experimented with a lot of advertising whether it be on social media or directly through Etsy. I personally love advertising on Etsy, I know that people on Etsy are ready to shop. I also advertise on Pinterest. The great thing about Pinterest is that you can gain a large following fast and your pins are always out there being saved and shared. I also post on social media daily.
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?
There are really only two simple things I would like to change about Etsy. I would like to be able to create a listing from any message not just from a direct message initiated by a customer. I would also like it if I got more for my money with advertising. Compared to other places, I get fewer clicks per dollar with advertising on Etsy. With that said, I love Etsy and I think they do a wonderful job continuing to improve with the seller in mind.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I took my time before opening my shop. I waited till I had close to 70 listings available. I made sure that my office was set up and ready for manufacturing and shipping and that my photos looked professional. I learned early on to stop putting pressure on myself and expect success overnight. Having a successful Etsy shop will not happen overnight and I’m still setting new goals for myself every day.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Be as prepared as possible. Starting an Etsy shop is very exciting and it’s easy to rush into it. Take a step back and really perfect your products, branding, style, and listings before opening. You will make changes and continue to learn and grow after opening but give yourself a solid base to start with.