Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Most of the visual artists I know including myself at some point lived off of coffee, whether it was to finish an animation assignment overnight or just a personal art piece you got into the groove and can’t stop for sleep. But After traveling to South America on coffee tours, I started trying out all kinds of coffees from there and from Africa. The ultimate dream is to own a cafe where local artists can freely sell their arts, host events, and have people try coffee they never tried before. But We all must start somewhere. I’m very happy with my progress thus far, thanks to Etsy I am one step closer to the long journey.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I am a one-person army so I go from sketching out a design for coffee packages or stickers, having them printed and hand-cut, to have the final product and then do the photography by myself. It is something that I find fun because of the exact vision I had of my coffee and a stationary little store and coming to fruition.
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?
My best selling product on the platform are my plant stickers set for scrapbooking. First, with the idea of plants, I look at plants that I would want to recreate as stickers and size them up in little doodles (Most of these stickers are based on my own plant collection). Then I redraw them digitally for print, have them printed with my printer, then my cutter machine cuts the shapes around the stickers. They are then sorted, packed in recyclable paper, and shipped.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
In my specific field that I chose, I enjoy the art aspect of it. I enjoy making art, creating stickers, and just being in total control of things. What’s the hardest in those days where you don’t make a sale and I can leave you pondering a bit sometimes, but I try and never let temporary moments like that affect me, I’m still on the journey to my ultimate goal.
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 main customers are stationary and gift lovers. I would like to lure more coffee lovers on the Etsy platform as well. I used the Etsy ads to bring in some traffic and It has helped tremendously with sales.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
As long as I am consistent with quality, attention to detail, and the theme, I and the customers are happy! But if there was a winning formula, even if it wasn’t instant, I know it would be that consistency is the key. I live by that. Persistence is also important and confident that everything will work out.
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 moment was running out of materials. It happens when there are huge unexpected orders. I hate this huge sticker order once and I just so happened to run out of ink that day. It is tough to have to wait until you get the supplies but It can really slow things down because some orders are made to order (like the Halloween stickers set) and I like to have things sent out within 1-2 business days. I bought ink the next day, and we were back on the groove!
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?
First, I brew myself some coffee, early in the morning, think of what to add next what ideas I’d like to have in the store, then from there start the process of elimination. What would make more sense to introduce onto my virtual shelf. I tend to sketch next to the written idea so visually understands what I would need and what I wouldn’t need.
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, I ship all over the world. For the stickers, the postage price is added to the overall price because it is such a small light item. For the beans themselves, there is shipping calculated at checkout. For US orders, it’s free shipping after 35USD worth of coffee is purchased.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
I would say the key elements are being driven, ambitious, lots of planning ahead, and lots of patience! Without having any direction it’s hard to have any sort of success that isn’t luck-based.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
My advice is, it’s hard but don’t get discouraged by not having a single sale on your first week. Out of nowhere, they will all come at once and you will be so proud of all your hard work!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
For some it would be money, for me, it’s the creative expression aspect of it. I get to fully design and create a product and watch people enjoy my creation, it’s the little things as such that deeply excited me to pursue even harder down this new career path!
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I will wake up at 7:30 am, set up the station, check to see that the machines are functioning, checking ink levels, check the cutter’s blade, make a test print and cut, and then, of course, brew some coffee. I will sketch ideas of products I want to introduce in the future, then wash up and start packing the overnight orders and send them off to the post office in the morning. If any new orders come throughout the day, they are handled and brought to the post office again at night (it’s open until 9 pm), then personal time in the evening.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I plan in growing the business by introducing more products and giving it that “favorite gift store” next door feel. I want customers to visit the shop and feel like they’re looking at virtual shelves of products and items.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
If you don’t have a visual theme, customers won’t be interested. I had no sales at some point on Etsy. When I realized that I needed to visually change things, from composition to color theme, I felt so satisfied and proud, and I managed to get my first customer, then!