Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My name is Nic and I manage AirCorps Art started which is a small retail offshoot of our aircraft restoration business AirCorps Aviation a world-class restoration shop that specializes in WWII aircraft. AirCorps Art was created to offer products that are inspired by flight, including aircraft profiles, posters, decals, stencils, and other authentic and original artwork that is aimed at those who are enthusiastic about historic aviation themed products. All of our items are printed/made at our restoration shop, and shipped and handled by me (Nic). It’s a fun business and I greatly enjoy helping customers with their decor and custom artwork needs!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I’ve been a big fan of Esty from the beginning. It’s a great place to find unique items, shop for friends and family, and enhance your hobby endeavors. I have experience selling online for multiple industries and selling artwork with a WWII aviation theme is fun and always fun to create new items for our customers.
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?
Air corps Art sells decor type items for the home, such as wall art and wall decals. We specialize in authentic aircraft profiles, posters, insignia, shark mouth, and stencils that are all WWII themed. Chances are if you’ve been to an airshow you might have seen some of the aircraft that we showcase!
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’ve always been interested in aircraft, artwork, and history and AirCorps Art is great because it combines all three mediums. I’ve always been creative and had an entrepreneurial vision to grow my ideas into successful businesses. It takes a lot of creativity and hard work to start out, but in the end, the results are worth the effort. I end up creating much of the artwork myself or curate with other artists in collaboration.
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?
AirCorps Art’s original goal was to offer fun and innovative products for the warbird enthusiast community. Since we make items in our shop for our restoration customers as gifts and items for friends and family, we thought that others outside of our immediate contacts would enjoy them as well. We opened the shop as a part of a full-time job, as we work with museums, restorers, organizations, and aircraft owners around the world to help restore their aircraft and decorate their homes and hangars. Selling online on Etsy is a natural extension of our business and online store.
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?
Having a balance between making new items, shipping, and producing items in a timely and efficient manner is always a bit of a juggling act since the shop is a small business. Luckily we are growing! In the beginning, I/we were concerned if the effort was worth it. The key is to set realistic goals and develop steady progress. In the long run, if we are able to continue to fulfill our customer’s orders quickly and efficiently, produce high-quality items, and have fun with new products we will continue to do so!
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?
It took a week or so to get our first sale. We set out to achieve a goal of making one sale a day, which over time we were able to achieve. We set out to create growth, so the steady progress of sales was really a goal we set out for. Every step of the way we tried to make steady improvements and continue to grow the brand of AirCorps Art.
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?
The Etsy store is part of the www.aircorpsart.com brand. A typical day is spent managing orders and working with customers on both large and small orders/jobs. Time is often managed by fulfilling orders placed the previous day first thing in the morning and producing products that are in need. The afternoons are often used to update products and inventory and make new items and artwork.
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?
We have a number of smaller items that we are able to make in production runs so that we are able to quickly and efficiently ship once an order is made. Some of our larger items are made to order as well as our custom items are hand made as our customers wish. We use high-quality brand name paper and vinyl products along with industry grade printers, vinyl cutters, and laminators, with inks that will stand the test of time.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We use top of the line materials and printers that are expensive to obtain, but in general, are worth the upfront cost to make high-quality items for our customers. The key is scalability, so we aim to treat our customers right by pricing our products competitively and comparable to other products in the marketplace. Every quarter we make sure that our products are priced competitively and run sales to help drive growth.
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?
We always think about those that worked in the 1940s in the factories to build the parts and planes that were flown. There are many unique and creative ways the companies inspired and organized their workers and customers with manuals and advertising materials so we take inspiration from that golden era of hard work and productivity. There is a lot of great inspiration out there from WWII that we use to make our products and keep things fresh.
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 to all of the above. We greatly enjoy our international customers at AirCorps Art! Using Etsy’s shipping tools is incredibly efficient, and we use those almost exclusively. Our typical processing time is 1-2 Days. We try to pass on free shipping to our customers as much as possible as it is a great way to convert customers by offering the service. We use high-quality packaging materials to keep our product safe during transit.
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?
We like to keep our products unique and one of a kind. There are always going to be competitors out there, so we keep our SEO up to date, our prices fair, and our listing high quality with excellent customer service. We take great photos and graphics to go along with our listings and try to stay competitive with product research. We welcome competitors because it keeps us on top of our game!
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We always want to offer the best customer experience possible. If a customer is not happy with their product or shipping time we do everything in our power to make sure that they receive what they ordered and are compensated for any inconveniences along the way. We always offer 10% off for repeat customers and try our best to keep them coming back when they need more products from Aircorps Art.
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?
Sure, it has kept us busy and helped us grow our reach! If anything it has helped us be proud of what we do, strive to make new and exciting products, and help our customers with their projects and decor needs. We don’t feel stressed about our customers because we know that they are people just like us who want high-quality products and excellent communication along the way.
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?
We have a social media person manage our page and make sure to post at least once a day. It helps drive valuable traffic to our site(s) and grows awareness of our brand! We don’t over obsess with social media but keep up to date with trends and the best methods to promote our brand.
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 think that overall the service that Etsy provides to sellers is overall a great method to create income for both individuals and small businesses, so I don’t have a whole lot of negative feedback. Etsy in general does a great job of helping sellers and customers alike by providing tools and feedback. For the most part, the store has been helped a lot by the growth of Etsy and its management team.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Make new items regularly, create high-quality item descriptions, photos, and images. Price your items according to market demands and don’t be afraid to learn from mistakes! Once you find a way to make or promote a successful item(s) you can use it as a template to create others and continue to grow. It won’t happen overnight but if you put in the hard work and are creating the time spent will pay off in the long run.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Always keep the customer in your mind and create a shop that excels at excellent customer service! It’s this mindfulness and understanding of customers that will ultimately make or break your shop. If you keep the steady progress with keeping your products up to date and new people will keep on coming to you and your sales will increase. Top tips are great photos, descriptive items, and excellent customer service with shipping that is affordable and timely.
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