Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I have found my niche in custom home decor, especially calligraphic art. I’ve always loved arts and crafts, and I was looking to learn something new. I took a calligraphy class and loved it, but for a long time, it was just something I did as a hobby to pass the time. One day a family friend asked me to write on a wood project she had made. After she posted it to Facebook, people started asking where she had the calligraphy done. More requests started coming in and I soon realized I could make my hobby a business.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
My main responsibilities lie in the creation of custom projects and orders that come in from my Etsy shop and social media channels. The rest of my time is spent managing those pages.
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?
My best seller has definitely been custom watercolor portraits. Buyers send me a photo and I turn that photo into a watercolor painting. Many times I add calligraphy to the product as well.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I enjoy the fact that my business is something I love to do and has been a long time hobby. I also enjoy providing customers with custom, handcrafted products that they can’t buy in stores. The hardest part has been time management, especially through the holiday season.
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?
I have noticed that the majority of my customers are women and mothers. However, I sell to anyone interested in calligraphy and home decor. My main marketing tools have been Etsy and social media ads. Overall, I have been pleased with the results.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I don’t believe there is a single winning formula for all entrepreneurs, but I do believe selling things you are passionate about and enjoy doing is key. I believe that combined with hard work leads to success in most cases.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
The toughest moment has been managing time through my peak season, which is November and December. I love the holidays but orders tend to pile up and managing my time and workload can be difficult. I’ve found setting a schedule for myself and sticking to it has helped a lot.
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 try to let my personal likes and interests guide my work. I don’t want to create anything I don’t personally like, so my ideas generally come from creating new products for my own home.
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 do not ship internationally. I feel it is important to offer free shipping, so I only ship domestically. The general turnaround time from purchase to delivery on custom projects is two weeks.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Managing your time properly, consistently posting on social media, and keeping content fresh.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Stay dedicated and celebrate small victories. Building a business is time-consuming and at times can profit can be low, especially in the beginning. Pushing through those times and being patient is vital.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Income is important to any business, so that is obviously a gauge for success. However, I feel that enjoyment and fulfillment are equally important.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I work full time and my business is my side income. I generally set aside a few hours each day after work to focus on my business.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I would love to expand my product offerings, increase marketing spend, and gain a following through positive experiences and reviews (word of mouth). I believe my biggest impact on profitability is making sure that my customers are satisfied with their product and the service I provide.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I spent a good deal of time researching how others found success, how to reach my target audience, etc. The biggest lesson I learned the hard way was to learn where to draw the line on custom orders. When I first started out, I was so eager to get customers that I took a few projects that were far more difficult than my standard products. This often led to more time spent on that order, less profitability, and working with difficult customers. Setting clear boundaries for what you are willing to customize and what you are not is very important.
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