Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I was born in Portugal (Azores Islands) and Immigrated to USA back in 2007, my parents were artisans and i was raised in that environment which i loved and that is where it all started, couple Years in of arriving in the USA the business was born, with new ideas to be able to provide for customers looking for custom gifts
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
Customers are our number one priority and our responsibility is to make sure they are happy with their order, we strive for perfection on every piece we make, we follow up with customers after their order is received and make sure they received what they ordered if any issue comes up, we do our best to resolve it, that is our main focus, product quality, and customer satisfaction.
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?
Our most popular products are our nautical compasses and pocket watches, that is the products we started the business with, all our compasses were custom designed to replicate antiques, giving it an old and stylish design, functional and not only for decoration, we work with mainly brass, wood and leather
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I love being able to work for myself, but everything comes at a cost, longer hours (12/14 a day) not being able to sleep some nights because you are not sure your customer received the order when needed or if arrived damaged, when you are an entrepreneur, your decision and work reflect on your business, you can make it or break it.
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?
We sell mainly for special occasions, Weddings, Anniversaries etc.
We advertise most on Etsy (Etsy Ads) and the results are okay, when we started on Etsy about 4 Years ago, $1.00 in advertising would bring at less $50.00 in sales, nowadays, we are running $35/$40.00 in sales to bring $150/200.
We advertise as well on the regular social media channels, Facebook, Google, Instagram, and some on Pinterest.
Results on those platforms are not that great but we have to keep advertising to make our brand known.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
The winning formula is keep working hard every day, making sure you have a quality product and you take care of the customers, we have thousands of repeat customers and we treat them as if it’s their first time buying, follow up with the customers, answer their questions in a timely manner, that timely response can make or break a sale.
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 moments are when customers don’t appreciate what you do for them, some just leave a negative review for you to refund the order, those reviews really hurt the business and those customers do that knowing that they will get a free product and their money back, but those are 1 in 100, hard to swallow sometimes but it’s the cost of doing business.
The biggest challenge is the customer acquisition cost, it becomes expensive to bring that customer to your shop.
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 do market research and hear what our customers are saying, we try to improve our existing product if possible and expand to other products as well, inspiration comes from looking at other products and finding a way to make it better and our own.
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 we do ship Internationally, we have shipped everywhere possible, mainly Australia, New Zealand, France, UK, Canada, we also have shipped to India, China, South Arabia, etc.
International shipping we do not offer Free Shipping, we do however offer for Domestic orders, the main reason was that Etsy is giving better “search placements” for sellers using Free Shipping.
Unfortunately, to keep shipping costs down and get the product shipped to the customer as fast as possible, we do not offer special packaging, that would make the product volume larger and requiring different packages and shipping cost would be much higher, from our experience, the simplest the package the fewer chances of getting lost or stolen during shipping.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
The main elements is research and see what sales or not, invest in good photography equipment, a picture is worth 1000 words and have some capital to be able to invest in inventory. buying supplies in bulk to make larger profit margins.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Research your market, research suppliers, have some capital to invest in supplies/machinery, be determined to win.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Being successfully in a business is a combination of multiple things, money is important because if a business is not making money, it can’t continue, freedom is very important, but the freedom part of it is, you don’t answer to no one besides yourself, however, you lose some freedom and why? because you don’t clock out, you are in it since the moment you wake up until you close your eyes, being creative open up another possibility, being able to creative can be hard, depending on how busy you are, if you have 4/5 items that sell multiples every day, you won’t have time to think about other items,
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
The day start once I open my eyes, first I check the phone to check if there are any inquiries from customers, how many orders I received during the night, have a fast breakfast and head to the shop and start processing orders, the phone is always by my side, checking and answering inquiries every 30 minutes, once all is done for the day, head home, eat and process orders on an excel sheet for the next day for production
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Diversity is the plan for growing our business, get different products but that requires large upfront costs for inventory, the biggest impact is when that inventory doesn’t sell, than you have $500/2000 sitting, the best way to go about it is to buy in small quantities to start and see how it does, if it does good, invest in larger quantities.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
To set up a shop for success is a lot of research, good pictures and description.
The biggest lesson is, the customer is NOT always right, some people take advantage of us Sellers, some Sellers do not stick to their policies and refund orders for no reason, and that creates a problem for other sellers.
The best way to avoid this is to have clear policies, a great product and good customer service.