Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My 12-year-old daughter Londyn and her best friend, Maren, started making hand-beaded mask lanyards in June. The initial idea was thought of because the girls thought they were going to have to wear masks during passing periods when school started back in the fall. They thought the lanyards would make it easier to keep track of their masks throughout the day. Also, so they wouldn’t set them down on contaminated surfaces throughout the day. My daughter considers herself an entrepreneur. She’s been coming up with “inventions” since she was little. This was her first successful idea!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
After about 3 weeks of selling locally, the girls came to me (mom – Krista) and asked if I would open an Etsy account for them to sell on. We know about Etsy because I had had previous experience with purchasing on Etsy before. I had never sold on Etsy before. We started selling online because Covid was not largely spread in our community (Gretna, NE) so we needed to reach a broader market of people.
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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 sell hand headed mask lanyards. The materials we use are a 7 strand beading wire, seed beads, and xl large lobster clasps. What makes us stand out is we offer a variety of colors (over 50 options) and we use an extra-large 21mm clasp that easily fits over the straps of any mask straps and is very easy to manipulate. We also thought the larger clasps would make it much easier for younger children to use.
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?
The learning process was fairly easy. Since it is such a simple item we were satisfied with our creations right away. The learning curve was definitely how to manage all of the orders and keep up with the demand we experienced right away.
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?
Our initial goal was to reach a broader market of people. Places that had already implemented a mask mandate. We wanted to make mask-wearing as painless as possible and wanted to be able to offer this convenience to the areas that were already implementing mask mandates. My daughter and her friend were just hoping to make some extra pocket change. It became much more successful than they imagined, so they now have been able to put a large chunk of money into a college savings account.
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?
There were not any fears or reservations upon opening the shop. Because it was just for extra pocket change, the girls would have been excited for any type of success!
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?
They got their first two or three sales the day I opened the shop for them! We absolutely had no idea we would have that many sales right from the start. After the first week on Etsy, I had to step in and run the business side of things so the girls could concentrate on creating and packaging the lanyards. After the first month, they had to find several more people to help make the lanyards just to keep up with the demand. I also started making them, as well as my mom (Londyn’s grandma). Their initial goal was $2000 and by the end of the first month, I encouraged them to raise that goal to $30,000. Although sales have decreased the last couple of months (due to a much more competitive market now) we’ve still managed to have $70,000 in sales – more than double our goal.
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 work very part-time doing bookkeeping for my husband and my daughter and Maren are full-time 7th graders. Initially, we were very unprepared and unorganized because we had absolutely no idea how successful we would be. I was running around every day trying to find materials to keep up with the demand! My daughter was sometimes having to make 70 chains in a day! It was crazy! Once we found extra help and an organization plan that worked, we were able to take a little bit of a breath. These days, it’s pretty smooth sailing.
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?
We use a heavy-duty beading wire that we’re able to feed beads directly onto with our bead spinners. The girls initially had a plan to have a stock of lanyards but that quickly went out the window once we started the shop on Etsy. Any stock they would make would be sold by the next day so they started making them only after they were ordered. That is still the process we’re using today and it seems to work out well. We ship our lanyards 1-3 days after receiving an order. We have a wide variety of colors to choose from and although the chains come with standard 21mm silver clasps, we do offer several other clasps colors that buyers can request for no additional charge.
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 biggest impact has been the competition. When we started, there was only 1 other seller selling beaded lanyards and now there are too many to count! We have large beads that cost more than the smaller ones. And some clasps are more expensive than others, but we sell all of our lanyards for the same price.
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?
The girls definitely get sick of doing the same colors over and over so we like to keep it fresh! We do have our stock colors and then we have specialty colors that we change up once we run out of a color. We also have been doing seasonal colors and recently started doing NFL team colors.
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?
We do ship internationally. We charge a flat shipping price for everyone. Orders are usually received about 5 days after the order is placed. We do offer free shipping over $35. Our lanyards are packaged separately in jewelry bags and mailed in 4×6 multi-colored bubble envelopes. We also like to switch up the colors of the mailing envelopes, as it makes it more fun for our repeat buyers.
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?
At first, there was no competition. Now, there are several shops that are offering the same product. We try to make them stand out by offering new colors periodically and also, by using the larger clasps. I haven’t found any other shops using the large clasps and from the feedback and reviews we’ve received, the buyers really like the large clasps.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We haven’t received many bad reviews, but the ones we have were about the slow shipping. After receiving a couple of those, we upgrading our shipping to add tracking and that has helped a ton! We’ve also had a couple of people think the beads were too small and because we offer both small and large beads for the same price, we reach out and offer to exchange the lanyard for the larger bead size. We are very quick to respond to any customer inquiries. We always respond within 4-5 hours!
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?
It has drastically changed my daughter and her best friend’s life. To be able to put so much money away for college is incredible. It also has taught them so much responsibility and time management skills (especially after school started back up). We all have been super stressed at one point trying to keep up with demand! We dealt with it by finding more and more people to help! The girls had two other friends help, I stepped in and helped, my mom, our neighbor’s daughter, and her best friend and my daughter’s old babysitter all helped us at some point!
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 post periodically updates about the shop and the girls on my social media. That always results in a small boost in sales. We advertise only through Etsy ads. We have also done a few local craft fairs.
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?
Etsy has been incredible. They’ve made it too easy to be able to manage a small business. I guess the only thing would be there are things I can’t do on my phone that I wish I could (start a sale, print orders in PDF, print shipping labels). I have to log in to my computer to do those things.
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What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We set it up for success by listing our idea early in the pandemic. We immediately became a best seller because we were one of the only shops offering the product.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Make sure to use tracking on your shipment and use Etsy shipping. Before I added tracking there were so many lost orders and a few upset buyers. And I was using a different shipping app which made the shipping labeling process take much longer! Etsy makes it very easy to manage to ship and is soooo quick. I would have used Etsy shipping right away if I would have known the headaches I would avoid!