Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Rummaging through my grandmother’s jewelry box and trying on all of her costume jewelry was one of my favorite things to do when I was a young girl. I have always loved to create and through the years I have experimented with many different media including painting, cross-stitch, sewing, and knitting. I have found my niche in designing and creating wedding jewelry and fascinators. When I first started selling jewelry on Etsy 12 years ago, I focused on creating jewelry that I would love to wear myself; modern, delicate, everyday jewelry pieces. Perhaps drawn by the delicate, intricacy of my work, brides began to seek me out to request custom pieces. How lucky I am to have had the privilege to work with so many creative, lovely, brides! I am always inspired by their ideas and I love to collaborate with them! Some of my most popular pieces were inspired by my bridal customers!
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I don’t have anyone working for me, so I do it all, from designing, photography, styling, and advertising to inventory, purchasing, and accounting. My mom helps me by writing my invoices and my family will often make the trip to the post office each day for me to ship my packages.
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?
Surrounding myself with beautiful materials; natural pearls, Swarovski crystals, sparkly cubic zirconia, and gemstones, and my collection of vintage jewelry inspires me in creating my designs. Sitting in my somewhat cluttered, bright, cheerful little studio that is in my home is one of my favorite places to be! My best selling pieces are ones that I designed and created out of love. My statement cubic zirconia, Swarovski crystal, and freshwater pearl jewelry I designed when I was trying to create something perfect for my sister to wear when she got married 6 years ago. My line of jewelry and hair fascinators with mother of pearl flowers I designed for my sister in law’s wedding.
My bridal customers are amazing designers as well! To help see their vision, they send me pictures of their dress, their other accessories, and sometimes even draw pictures of pieces that they envision! My best selling earrings were created when a bride sent me a picture of a hairpiece in my shop. She had drawn a shape around part of it that she envisioned as earrings!
I also am inspired by beautiful wedding photography! I have a popular Pinterest board where I pin my best inspiration! https://www.pinterest.com/virginiageig/everything-bridal/
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is the creative outlet. I love designing the jewelry and styling it and photographing it! The hardest part is time management. I am a wife, a mom of 2 daughters, a first-grade teacher, and my yoga practice is very important to me as well!
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?
My customers are mostly brides and their wedding parties. I use social media; Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram to acquire my customers. I always feel like my sales flow perfectly with my life. When business is slow I can focus on other things, which is sometimes a welcome change. I have another Etsy website, where I sell modern, everyday designs that I make and wear for myself. https://www.etsy.com/shop/moderndesignsbyvkg
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I believe my winning formula is to create every piece of jewelry and hair accessories with the intention of love!
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Etsy often changes the way customers shop. My business was really slow after one of the major changes that they made because Etsy customers were not finding my shop. I focused on helping customers find me by using social media and that was when I grew my Pinterest following.
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?
Looking through my collection of vintage jewelry and looking at wedding photography really inspires me!
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 internationally on Etsy. I offer free shipping for domestic orders and $13.95 for international shipping. It generally takes me 3-4 weeks to make my pieces. International delivery can range from 2-4 weeks. I work hard to accommodate my brides’ time frame.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
The key elements of running a successful online business are hard work, research, excellent customer service, and a passion for what you are creating.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Try it and grow as your business grows!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I base my personal success on my creative expression. My intention is always to bring joy to my customers and hopefully help to make them feel beautiful, confident, and special on their wedding day.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I start my day with some quiet time and gratitude. Then I respond to customers, update social media, look to see what orders I have to process for that day, print my shipping labels, make the pieces, package them and send them off to my customers. Then in the afternoon and evening, I usually work on custom orders and find time to be creative with ideas that I have.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
One day I see myself selling in person, perhaps in a setting with other creatives. I love the idea of having a beautiful, glamorous but cozy little shop where people can come and collaborate with me to create jewelry designs for them!
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Most of the time working on custom orders is so rewarding and inspiring. The vast majority of my customers are incredibly patient, kind, and considerate of my time. That being said, sometimes I spend too much time trying to please a customer, who will never be satisfied with what I have to offer them. In truth, they most likely don’t know what they want in the first place or they want something that is beyond their price range. I wish that I could say that I have solved this problem but truth be told, I continue to struggle with it. I try not to take anything personally and realize that difficult customers help me grow as a person.