Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
When our brand first started I didn’t plan on starting a business. I have always been crafty and decided to make some ear cuffs after a trip to Hobby Lobby. I posted the cuffs on a local yard sale facebook page and received tons of requests for them. A friend had suggested I start an Etsy shop which I had never heard of until she recommended it.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
A friend recommended I open an etsy shop to start selling my handmade jewelry. I had no prior knowledge of selling online. At the time it started as just a hobby and then I quickly realized I could turn it into a business after a few months of selling.
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 ?
Most of our products are minimalist jewelry. I have always been a very on trend person and get my ideas from trending items I’d wear myself. We try to always have quality photos to help our products stand out.
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?
Once I realized I could turn my Etsy shop into a full time business I dove all in. I went from making easy jewelry pieces from items bought at Hobby Lobby to researching quality materials to use and techniques to make them. I spent countless hours researching YouTube videos and google searching. I am a self taught metalsmith and jewelry designer.
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?
When I first opened an Etsy shop I had no idea what I was doing. I was just trying to sell some items I made. The shop was an instant success and from there I realized I could make it a business. I sell online full-time and we have a few employees who help us make and fulfill orders now.
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?
When I first opened an Etsy shop I really had no plan so those fears weren’t present. Now years later we have more goals for our business so there’s definitely some fear especially when you have employees you need to be able to pay. I think you just need to go for it and you will learn along the way. That is my best advice for overcoming the fear.
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 don’t remember when my first sale came in from Etsy but I know it was pretty quickly. I honestly had no expectations when I first started selling on Etsy. Eventually my goal became wanting to be able to make selling online my full time job. Currently we generate about 300 sales a week from Etsy alone.
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 have not had a job outside of Etsy since I began selling. So this has been my full time job for 6 years now. On a typical day I go to our store front/ jewelry studio and answer emails in the morning and then begin working on orders. I usually work 8 hours a day and the entire time is dedicated to making orders. Time management is very hard since we are a small business and a lot of the work does rely on me alone. I try to stick to business hours between 9-5 to balance work and family. Although many times I work later and answer emails or order supplies during the evenings when I’m home.
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?
Some of our non personalized items we can create ahead of time. Now we are at a point where if it sells fast we try to stock it. A lot of our products are still made to order and that includes pulling raw materials to make the item, usually engraving, soldering, polishing, cleaning, and then shipment.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Pricing can be difficult but we try to factor in materials, time, overhead (rent/utilities/tools) and market value. Also if you are trying to grow you will need to run advertising eventually and we try to factor in these costs as well which can be very expensive.
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’m not sure my creativeness comes from one area. I usually just get ideas from Pinterest or bloggers. We definitely don’t believe in copying others work so any ideas we have are inspired from things we like but we always try to put our own twist on 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?
We do ship internationally and we charge the actual cost that USPS charges us to ship. Every country has different time frames for delivery so unfortunately we can’t give an exact time frame. Some countries 6-10 business days, some 2 months. We do offer free shipping and it’s just something we like to offer our customers. Free shipping is almost expected when shopping online now so we’d like to be a part of it. Our products are all packaged in jewelry boxes with care tips cards, our story inserts, polish cloth, and tissue paper with a sticker.
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?
We don’t really worry about competitors. It is a little frustrating when you see other sellers copy you almost exactly down to the way the product is photographed. In all honestly though we don’t really worry about competition we just do our thing and keep it moving. After 6 years I understand the hard work that goes into the business so anyone that wants to compete I know they will have to work extremely hard.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We try to be respectful to all customers and value their feedback. If we receive negative feedback we do try to look into it and respond in a professional manner. Unfortunately all sellers will receive negative feedback eventually it’s just something that comes with selling online. We try to respond to all customers within 24 hours if they reach out to us.
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 definitely changed my life. We now have a store front boutique/ jewelry studio space and employees. That was always my dream and it’s crazy to see it come to life. I definitely have a lot of stress but I’m hopeful that will subside as I grow my team and don’t have to juggle so many tasks. Most of my stress comes from trying to meet order deadlines since we are a small team with a lot of orders to fulfill that take time to make. I try my best to just take it a day at a time and focus on the big picture instead of getting overwhelmed with all of the work.
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?
The number 1 thing I don’t like about Etsy is the amount of messages we get from buyers every day asking when their item will ship and also address changes. I wish customers had the ability to change their shipping address on their end. I also wish it was very clear to buyers when their order is expected to arrive. I think Etsy does an okay job of this but lately it isn’t shown in buyer accounts which seems strange. 90% of our messages are customers asking about shipping which takes time away from us being able to make orders.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We utilize Etsy advertising. If you want to be successful you must advertise! One lesson I learned the hard way is don’t refund the customer until you get the item back.
My advice is to be as organized as possible in the beginning because once sales start rolling in it can be hard to find the time to backtrack and get organized. Organize your raw materials and inventory from the beginning. Set up a work area and also a shipping area where everything has its own place so you can easily fulfill orders without taking time out of your day to move things around constantly.