Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I was at the store one day when the Covid-19 deal started and didn’t want to touch the touch screen at self checkout… That sparked the idea to make the PullPro, so people wouldn’t have to touch public objects!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
One of my good customers sells some products on Etsy and recommended it to me. I do have experience selling homemade products online and on Amazon from a company I started when I was younger. My company is a Waterjet Machine shop that has no storefront so selling online was the only option for me to get started.
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?
Right now I sell PullPros, solid copper keychain tools that people can use to open doors and use on public touch screen devices. All made from cool designs, these are something people will actually want to put on their keychains! I am very close to coming out with a full line of brass wallets as well. I find inspiration from people around me and what they are passionate about, that is how I decide what to design.
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
It took about a month to really be satisfied with my designs enough to start selling them. I have lots of practice with AutoCad running my machine shop.
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?
I really wanted to supplement my shops income with new products because we really didn’t know how Covid was going to effect our business. Online sales was really the only route to go at the time too. I consider online selling a side part of our company.
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 didn’t really have any fears or worries about anything, my product was the first out of its kind so I knew that people would buy. And if by chance no one bought anything, I still have the rest of my business to fall back on too.
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?
It took about two days to get my first sale, I figured that we would sell quite a bit in the first year actually. With a unique and fairly priced product, there is not really a limit to what we can do. Right now its between $1000-$2000 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?
Kind of, my business is kind of in the same kind of realm. Just making parts, but this time I am making my own stuff, not other companies. I would not be able to commit full time to online selling, I would need help. My day typically starts at 6:30 in the morning when I get to my office, then I start to coordinate the day by laying out the schedule for my employees and prioritizing jobs that need to get done. During the same time, I work on organizing my emails and taking care of any quotes that I may have gotten the night before. When my employees start to get in around 8:30, I go over the day with them and answer any questions. Starting at around 10, I spend a couple of hours on my computer thinking about the next week and answering quote requests/programming jobs. Then around 1-2 I go to visit some suppliers to check up on current jobs until around 4-5. Then I make a few more stops and end up getting back to the house around 6-7. After a workout or run, I relax and make dinner before bedtime.
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 use waterjet machines to cut the parts out, then they are tumbled with river rocks and polished with a Metabo polisher. Yes all products are created beforehand except custom orders which people will do for specific designs!
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Advertising is the largest impact on profitability, it can either make or break your shop. Copper is the material that my products are made from which is pretty expensive. I price my products by taking all of my average costs and putting a comfortable margin of profit on them.
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?
My friends and family inspires me to create new and cooler products. Half of my designs were ideas i have gotten from friends, using autocad I can think and draw up these designs to be pretty sweet!
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, only on Etsy do I ship internationally. You can buy postage right from the site which is easier to just buy from compared to domestic shipping where Stamps.com I have found to be the best route. I use free shipping over $35, that is where the most sales success has come from, and each product goes in a 4 mil 2X4 plastic bag and then shipped in a bubble mailer.
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 standout?
There are tons of companies coming out with their own versions of the “No Touch Tool” right now, I believe my products stand out because they are unique designs that people are passionate about. That is why they will buy mine over others.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We actually haven’t had any Etsy returns or bad feedback, a few customers had messaged me about their key rings falling off but those were replaced right away. Communication is key, if someone has a question I typically get back to them right away and that always makes people feel good.
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?
Etsy has not really changed my life in any way, definitely not as stressful as looking at complicated military part prints and completing those jobs.
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?
Social media is not that important for my shop, mostly because I don’t have a whole lot of time to run it with all of the orders already coming in and so many other companies coming to us with work at the moment.
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?
I would make it easier to understand the advertising portion of Etsy, when I first started the way it was explained by them was hard to comprehend.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Taking good pictures of your products and using all of the tags for searches is huge. Making sure that you can complete all of the sales on time is big too, when I first started I had to scramble to complete all of the orders that were coming in because I did not have enough help.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Think outside the box, take risks, and don’t be afraid to do what others are not!