Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I work with costume bridal jewelry. I have a post-graduate degree in Cell Biology but was always interested in crafts and the creative aspect of it. I have worked on various mediums including pottery painting, folk art, and interiors. When I came across jewelry making, I knew I had finally found my calling! The first few months were a lot of trial and error and testing my work on family and friends. I originally started with making daily wear jewelry but moved to make bridal jewelry about 2012.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I work alone, handling all aspects of the store. That involves sourcing materials, creating, taking photographs and editing them, listing the products, answering customer messages, packaging and posting.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
I use brass based metal that is plated with either rhodium, rose gold or gold finish. I also use Swarovski crystals and pearls and mainly work with cubic zirconia crystals.
I make a simple line of jewelry, a lot of which can be used for other events after the wedding. I try and keep up with styles and materials that trend each season by reading wedding magazines and wedding blog sites and a lot from the feedback from the brides.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I love the freedom it gives me to do something I love in my own time. The difficulty in that is I am always working. I work seven days a week for at least 8 to 9 hours every day. Getting time off for a holiday or just taking a day off is a difficult option.
I do try to streamline my process as much as possible to make it less stressful. When I am having a tough time focusing on my work, I just go with the flow for a few days till I am ready to get back to it full on.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
I sell globally. I sell mainly on Etsy and I also have a website. On Etsy, I use Etsy Ads for marketing and some customers come through word of mouth. I try to keep up with good SEO to get customers who visit Etsy to my Etsy store. I try and send orders quickly especially as a lot of it is international and offer good customer service.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I am not sure I would say there is a winning formula, I would say its more of doing your homework before you begin and try and keep on top of the game.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
I would say hands down it’s the COVID impact. It is still a work in progress trying to get back to any sense of normalcy and getting back to the normal order levels. I have been trying to use the extra time I am getting right now to redo some of my jewelry, listings and photographs.
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 use a lot of my time going through current wedding trends by going through blogs and magazines. It gives me some idea of what to work on design wise. The best ideas do come from Brides themselves and helps with working on new styles.
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 sell worldwide. I try to get a better rate on the postage from the volumes that I send. A lot of my orders are international and on average most destinations take between 12 to 20 business days and within a week in Australia. All orders are sent with tracking. I also offer express shipping that gets it there in 3 to 5 business days.
I did start free shipping last year. Once my jewelry is ready I put it on a card so that they are held stable, that goes into a satin bag and then into a gift box which is finished off with a ribbon.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
I think the most important thing is to research the market before deciding on the product. When I first started it was much easier as the competition was not so high and you could still get your products seen relatively easily. Today store owners are good at their game and know what they need to do from the get-go. Shipping fast, great quality and good customer service are also key.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
A good way to test the waters and see how the business will perform is to start on Etsy. It’s a great platform and affordable to list products and sell. Its easy to set up and they have a great seller handbook to help along the way.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Success for me has been doing what I love. Its exciting to get the feedback from customers when they receive their orders. It is an honour knowing they will be worn on a special day.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I prefer to start my day early. I begin with checking customer messages and the orders that have come in overnight. I spend a bit of time planning out my day before I start work on the orders. Once the orders are ready, I pack them up and then get them ready for dropping off at the post office. Then there is the back end work of messaging customers about their orders and tracking details. I try and rotate the work between working on my shop and getting orders done to keep the monotony at bay. I have a great partner who takes care of a lot of the work on the home front and then I usually pitch in on the weekends and evenings.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I am planning on a few new ideas in terms of designs at the moment. It has taken a bit of a set back due to the current conditions but should hopefully get done around the end of the year.
The biggest impact on profitability is the amount international shipping prices have increased.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Listening to my customers when I started was a big part of my initial effort. Learning what worked and what didn’t come from feedback I received and still receive.
A few years back I went through a burnout phase, I have been doing this now for 10 years and I was tired of working every day for really long hours. Took me a while to rework my working hours and to teach myself to take a break every now and then to stay fresh and excited over my work.