Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
I am an active person with many skills and passions, which I use to enjoy life and support my family. I like challenges and love to learn new things.
While I still consider myself as a crafter, I am currently rather a retailer than the creator, unless we consider daily life organization as an art. Then I am a master creator finding time for everything I need to manage every day!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Etsy is my second online experience, I discovered it while looking for jewelry inspiration. The site was user-friendly, with very competitive selling conditions and finally, I gave up my local site, as Etsy offered me a worldwide range and although the competition for handmade jewelry itself was/is huge, it still works perfectly for jewelry supplies.
My jewelry business online was a natural consequence of wire wrapping jewelry making for pleasure. When I started to show my work at international online forums, especially American ones and got quite an interest. I was frequently asked where I get my jewelry findings to the point that I decided to sell them. I gave it a try via Etsy and it worked tremendously! Then I learned that I am pregnant, and I knew the father of my child will not help me at all. So, I awaited my son birth while working hard to set up my Etsy shop and all processes in it to be ready before Leo came.
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 started by handcrafted sterling silver OAK jewelry, but since it was time-consuming, especially with a day job and a baby, I turned into selling jewelry parts, since I can sell many items of the same kind without having to take pictures and description for every single item each time.
With so many sterling silver findings available on the market I pick up only the ones that are of excellent quality, durable, keeping standards. I deal only with reliable partners and I am able to produce items on demand for massive orders thanks to excellent relations I made over the years. I supervise each product and do not compromise on quality. My detailed product descriptions and good quality pictures help clients to take the right decision. I am always willing to help in matching findings to the beads if the client is hesitating. My own experience as a jewelry maker helps me to understand other creators.
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 am a self-taught jewelry maker. I was inspired by Eni Oken’s projects. It took me about 3 years of practice to get at the level I wanted and simultaneously I have learned a lot about jewelry findings. When it comes to sterling silver jewelry components market, this is also a long, exciting way and I am proud of my achievements.
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 opened my Etsy shop a side-job as I knew I will be raising my child alone. Selling online helps me to manage my time, and I don’t have to any physical store to support my family, and I sell mostly when I sleep since my clients live at the other end of the globe.
Etsy business helps me to stay financially independent, pay holidays and trainings that allow me to develop other businesses, like real estate for rent or interior design.
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?
As I have a can-do approach, I was pretty sure I will succeed if I focus on quality and listening to my clients’ needs. I had a lot of questions from them at the beginning and I spent hours patiently responding even if some people would give up considering these questions as a waste of time. I knew these questions help me to grow and analyze better my business.
I still remember Leo’s father laughing at me. He had told me that I may make a penny on every sale in the best case and that it would not be worth of (his) effort. At this moment I thought that it is not a problem, it means that I only have to sell to the wider public and Etsy was a chance. I worked hard since then, but as you can imagine… I am now the person who smiles with satisfaction when I think about that.
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever thought you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was a goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
It took me about two days to get the first sale and I was even earlier than expected. As I have to register every income on a cash register, I had not yet time to read the manual, so I had to call my friend in the middle of the night because I had no idea how to register my first income and I had 15 minutes till midnight. I was so excited!
As I started selling in November, I was happy I end up the year with an income 2.5 times of what I have invested at first.
Nowadays I have 40-60 sales per week depending on the season and I also work for a German fashion brand who has discovered me thanks to my Etsy shop
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?
Besides being jewelry business owner at Etsy and I am working remotely for a big corporation as an administrative assistant. I also manage my real estate, and recently I started interior design.
I enjoy switching between my roles and jobs since they require multiple skills that I have acquired since then: creativity, manual abilities, perfect organization, prioritization, photo taking and its processing, translation (I’m a French translator, but I work mostly in English nowadays), negotiation, marketing, packing and communication with clients, etc. Every day is different. It’s not easy to manage so many projects at the same time, but I like challenges:-)
How does your manufacturing process looks 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 tools that you are using in manufacturing process?
I am not producing my items myself; I work with the best professionals on my market and am able to provide items on a custom request for larger orders. I have tested many business partners and item models over the years, and I know what I want to offer and what I want to get.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
Sterling silver and gold price as well as currency exchange and new Etsy fees have the biggest impact on my profitability. I don’t overprice my items to remain competitive and unfortunately, some clients do not understand that I can’t offer a 50% discount for two pairs instead of one, neither to someone who wants 1000 pairs. But I am always doing my best to find a win-win solution.
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 am going to the fairs, screening the market for new models and I listen to my client’s needs. I always try to figure out what I could do with the particular component. I know that my jewelry findings have to either be versatile and elegant to beautifully finish the piece of jewelry, but I also have eye-catching items, that make great effects with simple stones.
My business partners provide me also with new models, so I have access to products that are not widely available. Some products are made only for me. I am really proud I got to this level
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is 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 ship worldwide and I mostly use registered mail via Polish Post. I also offer FedEx and Global Express, but the second one is currently on hold due to Covid-19. Depending on the location and season, delivery takes 2-6 days within the EU and 2-8 weeks for the rest of the world. Delivery depends a lot on the season, weather and incidents on the road, that are completely beyond my control, for example, strikes, but most of my clients are very comprehensive.
Depending on the number of items to pack, I use a jewelry box of the right size, that I put into a bubble envelope. Thus, the products are safe, and my client can reuse the box to offer or sell her or his jewelry afterward.
I used to offer a free shipping option for a few months, but I have finally given it up since every month I had to manually apply discounts to other countries to keep my prices at their usual level. It was an additional thing to manage and to be honest I haven’t seen any huge advantage for my business. Moreover, I would have to refund the full amount in case of items return, so in fact, I would lose on shipping that I provided. Luckily it wasn’t the main reason.
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 have few competitors and I even had a copycat who copied my items descriptions! I was shocked because I knew the girl from a corporation we used to work together for a while. I knew she was starving at that time, but this is not a reason for me. I let it go.
I see some not really fair play techniques to attract clients, using their lack of knowledge and trust: some products are described as hallmarked while they are only with 925 stamps and hallmark is much more than this. Another example consists of showing at the first picture of the listing a gold-plated item with the price of sterling silver one or naming as “vermeil” items that are in fact gold-plated with a max 0.4 microns layer while vermeil items should have at least 2.5 microns layer of gold. Vermeil item would be a few times more expensive than the silver one…. I admit I used such a description myself before I learned that part of the industry. Since then I use proper naming and may look less attractive comparing to my competition selling “vermeil”, but I prefer to be an honest and reliable seller.
I believe competition is a great thing and motivates to become even better.
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I always try to understand the problem, to ask questions, and to ensure the client that I am here for her/him. Then I propose a solution depending on the situation. Usually, clients are really great when you show that you want to solve their problems. I only had once a situation when I was chased 3 times per day for two or three weeks and it was really exhausting, Etsy helped me and finally, it turned out that the buyer didn’t receive items… because her local post didn’t leave the notice and the mail was returned to me afterward. By the way, items awaiting at the post office while the client is not aware of it is mainly the problem I have with orders.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever thought you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
In my day job I always assured administrative support for top management, but the range of my responsibilities is limited. With my Etsy business, I am the CEO, but also logistic and packing specialist, graphic designer and client relations manager. Starting with Etsy didn’t require to be a professional and the site provided a lot of useful articles to help me to grow over the years. I have learned everything from scratch, had the possibility to implement and test my ideas without asking for anyone’s permission. With a small business, you don’t risk a lot if you walk slowly and wisely one step after another. It is a great experience to see your business growing and I am proud of being where I am, with so many happy clients. It wasn’t easy and it cost me many hours of sleep during years, but it was worth of it and it helped me a lot not only to support my family (I am single mom and besides growing my son, I need to pay for my disabled mom care) but also to develop new skills (real estate management, interior design) and to invest in real estate.
Besides business part of my Etsy shop, I may say I made few friends internationally and I am really proud of being Etsy’s community member.
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 may sound like a dinosaur nowadays, but I don’t use social media to promote my shop at all. I think Etsy makes a great job for me and I have a lot of orders to manage. I am in a kind of balance right now and would like to keep time for my family, learning and rest.
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 customers satisfaction?
I don’t follow all new features and fees that are added to Etsy, but I see that some costs have increased a lot over time from 3.5% + listing fees to the point that it constitutes 13-15% of my revenue on Etsy. I believe that paying for every item listing when one client is buying multiple tiny 20 pieces of the same kind does not make sense, because these 18 weren’t even taking place on Etsy’s server. Each time I see that in my orders list I hope next time the client will contact me before purchase, so I would prepare one custom listing for him for all items and spare on multiple listing fees.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I was always listening to my clients’ needs and tried to be in their shoes. Detailed descriptions, nice pictures, and attention to the details combined with great customer service. I am patient, reliable, and honest. I have optimized many internal processes and it helped me to have more time for clients and business development.
I had to learn to accept that competition does not always behave in a fair-play way. I spent too much valuable time looking back at them instead of doing my job in my own way. I have lost a lot of energy. However, I see I have imposed some standards anyway and I see how much effort it costed others to be at that level. I don’t fear anymore because thanks to Etsy I have also built other sources of income and I have loyal clients.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering to sell on Etsy? How can they avoid beginners mistakes?
You must have either a strong motivation like supporting your family, quit your day job, or really love what you want to do. Both (being motivated and loving what you want to deal with) would work even better because you will work free for some time for sure and you will have to take a risk of the first step.