Alwaysabridesmade – Handcrafted Bridal and Formal Jewelry

Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

I have always been interested in crafting for as long as I can remember. As a child, I loved to create dresses for my Barbies and as an adult, I have many interests. I love knitting, crochet, chocolate making, hand-stitched Teddy Bears, and porcelain doll making. My passion now is jewelry making. My daughter opened her Etsy shop in 2009 and after seeing a gap in the wedding jewelry gift market I decided to create gifts for the bridal party. I have now expanded my shop to include personalized and birthday gifts as well.

What are your responsibilities as a business owner?

As a business owner my main responsibility to make sure that my customers are happy. I always answer my convos as soon as I am able and to address any concerns my customer may have and rectify any problems to our mutual satisfaction. It is important to stay current with designs and fashion and to make sure I have everything in stock that I offer.

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?

I endeavor to use the best materials available to me. I work mostly in sterling silver, but also offer the gold filled and rose gold filled options in many designs. The sentiments on my box inserts convey a special meaning to the recipient and I try to design an insert that is also visually pleasing. My gift boxes are sourced from a locally owned family business which is also important to me. It makes them unique as well. My best selling products are gifts for Mothers, Mothers in Law, Nieces, and Birthdays.

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What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?

The most enjoyable thing for me is the interaction between myself and the customer, especially when you receive feedback from them to say how much the recipient loved their piece. I love to be able to make someone happy. When things are slow or my components are no longer available you sometimes feel like giving up. However, I like a challenge so I look at trends and find a new supplier, and design something new.

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 pieces are primarily designed for women. Most of my listings are gifts for family members and friends. I also love to work with a client to create a custom design. My customers come mainly from Etsy, although I do have a store on the Australian site ” made it”. I do need to improve my marketing strategies to bring in more customers. I have just created my Facebook and Instagram pages and I am hoping these may help to increase my customer base.

Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?

The winning formula is to always put customer service first. Make sure the customer is always happy and taken care of. Stay current with trends and always offer the best possible components and workmanship.

What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?

My toughest moment was when someone copied my original designs and outsold me. I had to find a way to make myself bigger and better. I had to come up with a new design for innovative boxing that they did not have and offer more variety than my competitor. I found more gaps in the market and filled those with new innovations.

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?

Often my inspirations come from custom orders. With permission, I take clients’ ideas and expand on them. I look at fashion sites, magazines and T.V. shows to see what is current and design something that fits in with the current styles. I also like co-ordinating gifts, so for instance, I try to create matching boxes for each of the bridal party. Each one on the same color and design theme but also different.

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 have been shipping internationally, which was my biggest market. However, with the current pandemic, overseas flights are largely suspended and so I am currently only selling to my Australian based customers. When pricing shipping I do not overcharge. I charge only for the packaging and the actual postage cost. I was offering free shipping over $35 to the US, but sadly at the moment, it is on hold. As the boxing protects my pieces I send them out in a bubble protected envelope.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?

Be yourself. Don’t try to copy someone else and don’t try to keep up with others. Always be polite and helpful and offer the best customer service. Keep up with current trends and be prepared to change.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?

I was once advised by a family member that it takes three years for a business to start to make any money. My advice is the same. Do not give up early in the process and stick it out. Use everything at your disposal for advertising through Etsy and make sure that photos tags are spot on.

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How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?

For me personally, success is reflected in the number of sales and positive feedback. I like the way that working online gives me the flexibility and freedom to work my own hours. I am able to create my own designs and offer them to the market place without having to convince a buyer from a third party to change them. I like that I am cutting out the middle man so that my sales are mine and mine alone.

Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?

Each day I begin work at around 10 am. This gives me the opportunity to take care of my responsibilities around the house. I try to keep my office hours 10 am till 3 pm, at which time I take my orders to our local Post Office for processing. After that, it is coffee time! I love working from home as I can have flexible hours if need be.

How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?

I would like to grow my business to my own online store one day. The biggest impact on profitability is the initial outlay on components and the cost of listing items. The fees charged by Etsy and the GST also have an impact on profitability now more than when I started out due to their increase. Trying to compete with overseas sellers’ prices often means that my profit has to decrease as the cost of importing many of the components is greater than being able to purchase locally.

What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?

To make my shop successful I had to have something that no-one else could offer. I found this with my packaging. The initial way I boxed my items was to use a pretty pink box. When these were no longer available I had to create another way to be noticed. The hardest lesson I learned was that if you are successful someone else will find you and copy you. At first, I did not keep my sales privatized and this is how I was copied. It affected my sales immensely.

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