[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Jewelry and Accessories
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/UnicornVibration
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/unicornvibration[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text bb_tab_container=””]
Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I’m a crafter and organic farmer. I have interest in nature and plants, I’m a botanical artist.
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 sell handmade jewelry, I share the shop with my husband that also makes jewelry, and we have another Etsy shop called PerlaBlu as well.
I mostly use copper, sterling silver and leather. I also share the shop with my mom that uses linen, cotton and hep for her crochet creations. Most of my material comes from up cycled/recycled sources.
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’m interested in handmade products since I was a child, as my mom did most of my clothing, furniture, toys, food etc…
I did learn a lot of forging techniques from my husband, who also has an Etsy shop (PerlaBlu). What I couldn’t learn from him, I teach it to myself!
It took me a full year to become satisfied with my creations. At first I was making a lot of mistakes, plenty of times I had to remake an order more than twice, many times my new jewelry wouldn’t come with the look I wanted, the patina wouldn’t turn right, the metal would melt instead of just annealing…! Also it took me a long time and many changes to find the right material, that will be both high quality, and from recycled primary sources (a very important feature to me). So yes, at least one year.
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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 wanted a little extra income, a job I could do anywhere I was going, as I was traveling a lot and needed some money during my long trips (I’m a farmer and have some months off during the cold part of the year). So here comes the idea, a little Etsy shop. I was carrying with my my tool box in my trips, and find material along the way, flea markets, garage sales, old warehouses…selling online my jewelry, and be able to support my trips (small family farming won’t make you rich, so a little extra was a very big help to me). Now my Etsy shop actually became my major font of sustenance!
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 actually opened 3 or 4 Etsy shops without much success before opening UnicornVibration. But when I open it, I soon make my first sales, I think about just a couple days later. I was selling 1 or 2 items a week pretty constantly for the first period, been so excited for every sale, I still remember how happy and amazed I was, I couldn’t believe it! It was truly a dream come through for me. Then my sales constantly increased during the years, actually having trouble keeping up with the orders during certain periods of the years, like summer and Christmas!
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?
Yes, I’m an organic farmer. I don’t think about quitting, because with it I don’t just serve the neighbors and supermarkets of fresh organic products, but I also feed myself and my family of organic vegetable and fruit, helping the environment and our finances quite a bit too. For me the contact with the earth and its products is very important. But I did reduce a lot the work I was doing years ago, both for my Etsy shop work, and for some physical health problems I recently had. I fortunately have a friend that now helps with the farm.
I alternate days of farming with days of forging, without ever leaving a portion of my days for hiking in the mountains, that arrive all the way to the doorstep of my house. I also spend some days preparing and storing food made in my farm, drying, canning and fermenting. Whenever I have some time off I dedicate myself to botanical drawing, one of my favorite thing to do, along with petting the neighbor cat.
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 work in my small lab, with all vintage and handmade tools, it truly looks like an old “bottega”! I cut and prepare all the copper, then I work each piece one by one, hammering, forging, torching, re-hammering…then I give them in bulk the finish (filing, patina, polish when needed…), then I package everything, using as much recycled material as possible. At last I go with my bicycle at the small local post office. Then there is the internet part where I complete my order and message the customers.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I mostly take in account the time and effort put in the piece, but also the material used, and a bit of every expanse of my shop, the listing fee, the tools used, the computer, the camera, etc,….that get consumed by time and use, and need eventually replacement (and are not cheap). I also keep in account Etsy and bank fees.
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 mostly get inspired by nature. I love the natural forms and patterns. The perfection and scheme of nature. I have most of my ideas when hiking in the mountains and walking in the woods.
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 I ship internationally. The price from Italy is not too expensive, but when I’m in the USA, and I ship to Europe is very expensive, and becoming more and more every year (this limited a bit my customers I have to say, as they pay the shipping cost). Another problem is the timing: sometimes packages take up to a month to get to their destination, and some customers get very mad!
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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?
I actually generally don’t surf the internet too much, as I already spend a lot of time posting jewelry, handling the sale and answering to messages. Also I don’t always have the best connection where I live.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I always contact back the customers offering refunds or to ship another item if there is something the matter with their order (mostly are about delay of the packages). I like my customers to be happy with their experience in my shop, so I do my best to fix ant=y problems. Unfortunately not everybody answer…
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?
Yes, it did. I finally was able to feel comfortable with my money income. Money doesn’t make happiness, but I was always seriously broke before! Also I spend a lot of time creating what I really love. I also have a vintage shop on Etsy, UlulaAllaLuna, and now I spend some time to flea markets all over Italy and France to look for treasures, so even more reconciliation between traveling and working!
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 don’t like the “mandatory” advertising they recently introduced. They basically promote your shop items, no choice, and if you sell an item through it you need to pay a very consistent fee on the sale. I keep my price as low as possible, so many times the resulting taxed price is too low for the time and effort I put into it. Other than that I’m pretty happy with it, the overall fee is a bit expensive but I don’t think I will be able to have so much business in every other online selling platform.
I would like to tell CEO of Etsy thank you very much for offering me this possibility of selling my jewelry. I will definitely not be able to do it locally. Second: please keep always in mind for every decision you take, that behind every shop there is a person, with his heart and needs!
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I had a Tumblr and Instagram, but can’t really take the time to post often. As I mentioned before, I don’t really like to spend too much time online, so I end up not being so productive on the promotion part…So I think most of my sales come from customer publicity, and good tags! It seems to me people really like my jewelry, I have many returning customers all the time.
Always put your brain in your creations, and not the one of somebody else. Copycats are frequent on Etsy, and there is no defense from them. But if your jewelry comes from your heart and should, you will slowly build up your very personal style, and people will appreciate it and love it.
I think taking good natural photos, and having a good selection of items is some of the most important feature of a shop.