Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My name is Petya and I am a graphic designer with a passion for crafting. I started making different things like knitting, мacramé, sewing, and decorating with my mum (she used to do clubs for handcrafting) when I was a little girl. I guess this is where my passion for creating comes from. Later on, I went to a college to learn woodcarving, followed by graphic design at the university. I have always wanted to give special cards to my friends and family but never was able to find what I wanted in the shops. That’s how I started to make very personal and unique cards to give.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
Since I always was looking for special, unique things to give (if I was not able to make it myself) Etsy was a familiar place to look.
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?
I make greeting cards. Very special, handmade, custom, and different than those in the shops.
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?
Lots of the crafting techniques came from my mum. The technical things I had to learn at school are helping a lot. For everything else, I am looking online. Noone has to explore the hot water again. The key is to use the knowledge and turn your crafts into something new.
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?
For the past few years, I was making cards for friends and family. The reaction was always “WOW, did you make this card?” The feedback was more than positive and most of my friends encourage me to start selling, so I decided to give it a try. In the begging selling on Etsy was more like a mini income from my hobby. Now is a side-job, which I hope someday I will able to turn into a full-time job.
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?
Yes, I did have reservations before and after opening my shop. I was not sure if my cards will be selling. There are so many talented crafters. I still have some concerns, but there are so many people with different tastes, so there is a little something for everyone. I just hope more people like my designs.
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?
I don’t remember how long I had to wait for my first order. I did not expect many sales at the beginning. It takes time.
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?
I usually work during school hours. Right now, with the Covid situation, nothing looks like it should be. Most of the time I had my kids at home. Home learning and crafting don’t always work well together (no one want’s to do homework when mum is making something cool).
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?
My manufacturing process looks a little messy. I use lots of tools: die cutting machine, stamping tools, embossing powders, scissors, paper cutters, pencils, inks, ribbons… Some of my cards such as a”Thank you” and some Christmas I made in advance (at least the base). The rest of my products can be customized, this how I started – making special personal cards, so they are made to order. So far my best selling cards are “shaker cards” and cards with a hidden message.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
So far I spent much more than I expected to. I am still working on pricing – I try to offer competitive prices, but it is hard. For a single card, I am using different colors and types of paper, sequins, a few types of glue, inks, embossing powders, acetate, and the instruments I mentioned above, and on top of it, I have to include an hourly rate and packaging.
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?
My inspirations are coming from everywhere. A conversation, a shape of a toy, a stamp, or something else that caught my eye. Then I make a simple sketch of the design and when I have time a new card is born. Sometimes the final product is very different from my original idea/sketch.
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 ship in the UK at the moment but have plans to start international shipping as soon as I deal with the postage pricing. The average order – delivery time is around 2-3 days. For some of my cards, I offer free delivery, just because everyone likes free stuff. Since I spend lots of time and effort to make my cards I want to be sure the client will have them in the same condition it came out of my workshop I use hard-board backed envelopes or boxes, adding some personal touch.
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?
Competitors should be used as a way to push yourself further. To improve the design and quality of your products. My designs are different, some quite tricky to make.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
Luckily haven’t deal with this. Communication is very important especially with custom orders. I am honest and precise, especially in small things. Always make sure to fulfill the client’s expectations. Everyone is special and making sure they can feel it is a good thing.
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?
Etsy is a great platform to start your handmade business. Sure, everyone, has experienced stress with some products – for me, it is the custom orders. I try to meet the highest expectations of my clients.
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?
Social media is very important. If you want to be noticed you have to use it.
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?
It would be great if creating custom orders is as simple as creating an order. I had to do research and ask friends to find out how it works. And still, it is way too complicated and confusing.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
You need to read and research a lot and consider advertising.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Don’t get discouraged if your shop does not go as planned. Keep on trying, make research, try to improve.