[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Personalized Design
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/CraftersCoveStudio
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/crafterscovestudio/[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Hello! My name is Melia. I’m almost 21, and I live in Florida but am originally from California. I have always been involved in different types of crafting since I was young, doing projects with my mom, such as making magnets, dyed pasta necklaces, puppets, and even scrapbooks. As I got older, I expanded my knowledge and abilities to embossing, scarf making, bead making, and jewelry making, with the help of my friends. In 2016, fellow crafting friends started an Etsy shop, so that got me thinking that maybe I could as well. Since crafting is something I enjoy doing, I thought that this would be a way to help support myself while also sharing my handmade creations so that people can enjoy them as I do. Because of health limitations, having a job in the mainstream workforce would be challenging for me, this shop can allow me to have a job to support both my physical and financial needs, whilst allowing me to do something that I enjoy at the same time. I love seeing people enjoy my creations, and seeing the bright and vibrant colors of the paper. The idea of canvas art started because I had been seeing all the different ways that scrapbook paper could be used, and I found pictures online where people were using it to create pictures or designs on a canvas. As I mentioned above, I had already been involved in making scrapbooks, so I had accumulated a nice little collection of paper. Not long after that, I found some pink 3-D shopping stickers that really reminded me of my aunt. After I bought them, I decided to take some pink scrapbook paper, glue to a canvas, and then use the stickers on top. Voila! That was the beginning of my own flare to making canvas art. Since I already had the paper, I decided to try my hand at making bubble sticker magnets after seeing a tutorial on YouTube.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I am responsible for making the products, taking the listing pictures, listing the items, responding to messages, managing the shop, packing items, and running my business Instagram, which includes posting, answering comments, and messages. Basically, I do everything, so I am the store owner, photographer, customer service rep, material supplier, shipper, and marketing manager.
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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?
The main material in my products is scrapbook paper. Because I would make scrapbooks when I was younger, I eventually amassed a decent collection with different patterns and colors. I keep it all neatly organized in a multi-level scrapbook cart. For my canvas art, I use scrapbook paper, stickers, and glue. For my magnets, I use clear bubble stickers, a one-inch circular hole punch that cuts the paper, and magnets. What makes my products stand out are the beautiful patterns and colors of the paper and how they go together. For example, in my canvas art, I try to match the paper with the stickers, so the design really flows and looks coherent and cohesive, or aesthetically pleasing. And everyone loves colorful magnets, so scrapbook paper is perfect for that. Some of my magnets are serene and calm, while others are bold and eye-catching. So this allows something for everyone.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
What I enjoy most about being an entrepreneur is being part of the small business community and seeing how much people enjoy my work. Being on Etsy as well as Instagram, I have come in contact with a lot of different makers and a lot of different shops, and it’s just amazing to see the talent that so many people have, and how they support one another. Especially on Instagram, so many fellow makers and artists will share each other’s work, tag each other in stories, and comment on how much they love what you make. Of course, nothing beats the satisfaction and happiness you feel when somebody receives your art and loves it and displays it in their home and/or tells others about it. That’s the drive of every small business owner to have people appreciate what you do and what you have to offer. On the other hand, the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur of a small business, especially selling handmade, is building up your clientele and getting your shop and items out there so that people know you exist. It can be a while before you get your first sale or you build up a steady following on Instagram, so waiting for that to happen can be challenging, especially when you see others who have already gone through that process and have built up a steady clientele and are constantly selling their items.
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?
I sell to anybody who appreciates my art. As far as marketing goes, right now, I’m paying Etsy to advertise my listings and to get my items higher up in search results. I’ve been doing that for a couple of months now and looking at my stats, my items have been viewed close to 25,000 times and I’m getting more favorites. Also, as I’ve mentioned above, I have an Instagram for my Etsy shop and I’ve finally reached over 200 followers, so I was happy about that. I’m happy with the results my marketing tools have brought because I’ve gained more exposure, but sometimes I wish it could be faster and I could have more sales.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
To me, becoming a successful entrepreneur it takes patience, dedication, and hard work. If you’re willing to put in the effort to build your business, build your clientele, and market your business, then you will be successful. But, you also have to have the dedication to keep going when things don’t turn out the way you had hoped or as fast. And you have to try and be as consistent as you can, and that can be hard, especially when life gets in the way and you don’t feel like doing it, or you have other obligations. But probably the most important thing to have is integrity. You’ve got to be trustworthy and give good customer service because you must make your customers feel like they want to buy from you and that you are really putting your heart into your work. For myself personally, I just try to be patient and take any success or progress I make as steps forward, and I try to be as consistent as I can and put customer service at the main core of my business.
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 for me personally with my business was when I could not handle the responsibilities because I got sick for a year back in 2019, so I had to put my shop on vacation and I didn’t really post on Instagram much either. Thankfully, after I got better, I reopened my shop and started slowly building it back up again. I also did a post on Instagram thanking everyone who stuck with me for their continued support and patience and that I was really going to try to be regular again. The biggest challenge I face right now is having patience and really striving to try to put myself and my items out there to get noticed by more people.
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?
When I’m creating, what inspires me is the joy and happiness I get when I make a product that I like and just the confidence of knowing that if I like it, others will like it too. And, as I said before, the small business community on Instagram is very supportive and very loving so when I receive comments from other artists saying how much they like what I post or what I make, then that means a lot. When it comes to new products, it’s really the scrapbook paper and stickers that inspire me. If I see a paper pattern or a sticker theme that I like, I’ll go with it and create a canvas or a set of magnets, depending on how I feel. I mainly buy scrapbook paper for my canvases and the magnets came along later, so I just look through the collection of paper that I have and decide which ones would look cute as magnets. So going along with that, it really depends on what I see in my materials. If I think they would work for my products, I go for it.
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 do ship my products internationally. I put the package dimensions and weight in my Etsy listings and they calculate the postage. I have yet to ship an order internationally so I don’t know the average delivery time. I use free shipping for my domestic sales. I have shipped locally and across the country and it usually takes about a week for local and two for cross country. I decided to make my items free shipping for domestic purchases because I found out that supposedly, buyers are more likely to purchase products that have free shipping. So, because I offer free shipping I try to add the price of the shipping cost into the item. I package my canvases using white wrapping paper and bubble wrap, and I package my magnets in a small white box and then wrap them in bubble wrap. For both, I use poly mailer envelopes.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
The key elements for starting and running a successful online business are passion, determination, patience, and integrity. You have to believe in yourself and what you’re offering and you have to have the determination to learn new skills in order to make it happen and to keep it running. You have to have the patience to build up your clientele and get your items out there, and you have to have the integrity to keep people coming back.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Believe in yourself and your ability, remember that it takes time, effort, and patience to grow and thrive, and make your business something that you enjoy and that you want to succeed. Also, think about what makes your product special and unique and use that in your marketing and presentation. Make it personal and help people to get to know the owner behind the business. And good customer service is a must. Be willing to go the extra mile to make your customers happy and answer their questions and messages in a timely manner. Take responsibility for any mistakes or mishaps, even if they aren’t your fault, like if an item doesn’t arrive or arrives damaged because of poor postal handling. And remember that you won’t become a success overnight. It takes time, and sometimes it can be months before you have your first sale or get your first review, but don’t give up.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I define success by how people view you and your products. If they give you a five-star review, are repeat customers, or if they share your shop with their friends and family, then you know you are doing something right. Just like a musician is nothing without fans, an entrepreneur is nothing without customers. It doesn’t matter how many sales you have. What matters is how people view your products if it makes them happy or provides them with a useful service, and if they’re willing to buy it, and better yet, come back.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Having an online business is nice because you can be your own boss and you don’t have to travel to an office or to work. However, you can also fall into the trap of laziness or procrastination. You know you need to list something or work on your photography or marketing, but you get distracted or you want to do other things. So, you just have to try and be consistent. And, for myself personally, I have health issues that can dampen my motivation, energy, and stamina. So, I try to take advantage of the times when I feel motivated to list something or take pictures. And I make sure to check my business Instagram every day and support other artists and their creations.
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How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I plan to just keep doing what I’m doing and do my best. I’ll make use of Etsy Ads, Instagram, and supporting others. I also make sure to use hashtags when I make my posts on Instagram and take advantage of opportunities that come to me for expanding my exposure like doing this interview. And I continue to create new products for my shop and am proud that I have things to offer for everyone, whether your a coffee lover, horse fan, or love the look of floral decor.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I made sure that everything was finished and looked as polished and professional as possible. I’m definitely a person who takes pride in proper spelling and grammar, so I really try to make sure that I don’t have any spelling errors and that I answer any frequently asked questions people might have. I also try to give them everything they need to know about my products. I also decided to make an About section and tell the story of my shop and what inspired me to start it. I also took advantage of promoting my shop on social media by starting an Instagram for it, and posting not only what I have for sale, but also behind-the-scenes stuff, things about me, and reviews of my art. I definitely saw just how much work it is running your own business, and how much effort and time you have to be willing to invest. And sometimes, it can be hard to not compare yourself with others and measure your success by their success. But, you just do your best and believe in yourself and what you have to offer.