Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I think art is the fastest way to make a house feel like a home. Being a military family, we moved a lot and I wanted my kids to settle in and feel at home quickly. Adding art to the walls in their room really made it feel like ‘their room’. I found that printable art was the most affordable way to add art to the walls. That is how I started with Benji and Bear Art Prints on Etsy. I wanted to give other Moms and Dads a way to personalize their little ones’ spaces at an affordable price.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I try to make sure that I provide on-trend art so parents will have a lot of options for additional items, that coordinate. I offer multiple sizes that parents can play around with and use in different ways to really add some of their personality to the room. I add new prints all the time so my customers always have a lot of great prints to choose from.
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?
Woodland is a huge theme this year! It really brings the outdoors, in 🙂 I offer a lot of woodland options so parents can browse and find the style that works for their taste. Dinosaurs are big too. The southwest,/boho vibe is really hot right now as well. So many great nursery trends to choose from 🙂 I try to spend time looking at what is trending in baby items so that I can stay on trend for my customers.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I love being a small business owner! I love the freedom to follow my gut and try new things. Etsy has really given me a great opportunity to be my own boss and use my creative side 🙂 Working from home with kids is not always easy (especially during a pandemic when they are home 24/7) but I love the flexibility and the joy I get from what I do.
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?
Pinterest is a great resource to find new ideas and I love having my pins out there for parents to see and hopefully want to purchase. I am a small shop and word of mouth is so important. I try to have top quality customer service so my customers will not only want to come back but will tell their friends about me 🙂
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Working for yourself means that you can try new things and experiment with new ideas. I think the most successful entrepreneurs on the ones who follow their gut and believe in what they have to offer. Stay the course and don’t up because you know that what you have is special and people need it in their lives.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Copy cats! My ideas and designs get copied a lot. It is frustrating. I put so much time into creating unique prints, no one else has, that when they are copied, it hurts. It feels terrible and hurts on a really personal level. It was really hard for me in the beginning but in the end, I know my designs are better and I think my customers know that too 🙂
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?
A lot of my inspirations come from my customers. They message me with ideas that they would like to see and I take those ideas and design until I feel the print is perfect and good enough to be in my shop 🙂 My customers know what they want and I love designing prints that I know will make them happy.
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?
My prints are all digital and most are instant downloads that are available right after purchase. I also offer custom name prints, which after approval, are emailed over. Selling digital items means I don’t have to be at the mercy of the post office or FedEx which is great.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Sell something people want. Always do your research before you spend time and money on products. Make sure it is something that sells. I know you might love what you make but you need to make sure you don’t spend time and money on items that no one is looking for. It can be very discouraging. Find ways to market your items to your target customers. Maybe they didn’t even know they needed it in their lives but now you have found them and offered it up, they can’t live without it. 🙂
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Believe in yourself and don’t give up! It is not an easy thing to do, running your own business, but it is worth it. It will take time to establish yourself, so be patient. If you have done your research, marketed to the audience you want, and have a great product, then all you need is time. Give your product time to reach the right people. You can’t rush that.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Freedom and money. Freedom to create and explore your talents, and money to afford to live a good life. I know I am not looking to be a millionaire doing what I do, but I do want to be financially stable and provide a good life for my family.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
The first thing I always do is check my messages. I get messaged all hours of the day so first thing in the morning, I sit and answer them. I love talking to people about their requests and answering any questions they might have about my prints. Then I sit and design new prints for the shop. Not everything I design makes it into the shop, but I do play around with new layouts and colors to see what works until I find just the right combo. My job allows me to home in the morning with my kids before school. and available to them after school to help with homework and just spend time with them. I love that about working for myself.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I would love to expand into printed material. Right now, my clients use third parties like Shutterfly to print and I would like to offer my own printing service. It is an idea I am really excited about and am doing research on at the moment.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Photos matter. Photos sell on Etsy. Period. The better the photo or mock-up you use, the more traffic you will get. Your product may be great, but if the photos are terrible, no one is going to purchase. It took me a while to find a style to use for my mock-ups but I feel like I have a good, recognizable brand with my photos now.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Being a creative person and using that creativity to run a business is so fun! Success doesn’t happen overnight but if you have done your research and feel confident in your product, success is possible.