Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter,maker,artist…
I decided to stop working in hotel business about 10 years ago in order to have more time with my children. Nevertheless I wanted to have an activity and decided to run my own business from home.
We are a big family with a lot of children, so I decided to get an interest in this area, listening to mum’s needs. I started first with toys coming from overseas and not so much distributed in France (found companies in the UK, the States, Belgium…). I also found a partnership with a crafter in the Netherlands who was creating personalized pacifiers for children. When she had to stop her business, I took over creating my own models.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I used to sell on 2 french shops A Little Market and A little Mercerie. Those entities were sold to Etsy and my shop transfered to Etsy
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 am mainly selling all materials for creating pacifiers, teethers… but also creating some for selling.
When I started mums wanted only product hand made but in wood (more natural vs plastic). Now, they are preferring silicone material so I had to adapt my shop and my creations. For the product design, I always go to specialized children shops to see fashion and it helps to orientate the design. Also, some mums are contacting me with the ideas they have and ask me if I can do the same. To stand out the products you need to listen to your customers and the trend market.
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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
The person from Holland gave me some guidelines over the phone and her suppliers. At the right beginning, I was not very confident at the beginning for safety reasons so I have asked members of my family and relatives to test the products and to give me feedback, helping me to improve. You are satisfied with your creations when they are well selling – for the others, I ask some of my clients what they don’t like and what could it be changed to make people like it.
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?
Opening a shop on Etsy was extremely important as Etsy is an international selling platform so I was certain to sell abroad, get known overseas.
As it is my full job and my only income I need Etsy to develop my business outside France.
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?
When I opened the shop with Etsy, my real concerns were the fact that it was a very big platform and that people will not find my shop among all the products sold. Also at the beginning prices were in dollars and my clients did not know how much it would really cost them.
If it was the case at the beginning, now it is over as I have a good place on the french market – what is the most important is the client satisfaction as a client happy will always come back
How long did it take for you to get your first sale? Did you ever thought you would make a lot of sales in the first year? What was a goal you were hoping for? How many sales an average you get per week?
The first sale came very quickly (maybe because the name of my company is known so it helps).
The sales are fluctuating: at the end of the month, sales go down and up again at the beginning of the month.
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?
This is my full-time job to sell online so I have to share my time between my daughter, the house, and some time for me also. It is important to have day scheduled : I always start by reading emails and messages, print orders, prepare them and then go to post office by 3:30 pm.
How does your manufacturing process looks 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 tools that you are using in manufacturing process?
To make difference with competitors I am working with an engraver who is able to personalized items – we usually make tests on 1 or 2 products try to sell them and see how it is sold on the market.
What is the biggest impact on profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
The profitability depends on products: finish products generate higher gross margin than selling a detailed product such as clips, beads. To calculate the final price I have to take into consideration the government taxes, the time for handcraft.
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?
To create a new product it depends on the seasons: you have to think ahead of products you will sell for X’mas already in August. Generally, going to professional fare helps you to see the new trend, also specialized magazines and network (mum chatting and exchanging ideas or needs)
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is 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 my product internationally but would love to expand more overseas. The French post office is easy to deal with overseas posting as everything is very easy and clear on the site. Free shipping is available for an amount from 70 euros.
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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 are part of the business – it obliges you to find new solutions, new products, evaluate price comparisons as long as competitors are declared, and are paying taxes if not it is unfair. What will make a difference with competitors is to find a product that others don’t have and have a very good after-sale service?
How do you deal with disputes or bad rating/feedback? How do you manage presale and post sale communication and customer satisfaction?
The disputes and bad ratings or feedback are for me very disappointed as it means I did not do my job correctly. I always contact the client to find a solution – being reactive helps and usually if it is my mistake I always put a little present or do a discount with the next order.
Unfortunately sometimes with get a bad rating because of the post delay or lost products and even if it is not your fault it has a negative impact on our shop. Again I always try to find a solution and ask the client to change his opinion.
Has selling on Etsy changed your life in any way? If so, how? Did you ever thought you would get this far with your shop? Have you ever been stressed dealing with customers and manufacturing products? How did you deal with that?
Dealing with customers has never been a problem for me as I was used to doing that in the hotel business where sometimes customers can be very demanding, so it is natural for me and I really like when buyers are happy because they will recommend your shop around them. Etsy is giving importance to high quality and service which I appreciate.
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?
Etsy helps a lot with marketing tools as it is not our job we may have a lot of ideas for creating but it is always hard to stand out your products.
Someone from Etsy took sometimes to train me on how to fill in the form with the tag words for example and try to give as much as possible information on the product. I did try to do ads outside Etsy but it did not generate any revenue compared to Etsy.
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 customers satisfaction?
There is one thing I would improve on Etsy it is the “vacation period” – we have to close the shop which means no revenue during that time (neither for you by the way) we should have the possibility to close or not and advise the client that you are away and that orders will not be considered before… such date.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
As far as I am concerned I would say that success comes from your after-sale service, your disponibility to reply to customers and listen to their needs.
the only negative effect I met was the fact that during holidays I did not close my shop for financial reasons and customers did not see my message that I was away which had a bad impact.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering to sell on Etsy? How can they avoid beginners mistakes?
I would recommend them not to worry because you have a team behind Etsy and you don’t have to take care of technical problems or set up of your shop.
Also to take time to create their product forms and fill in a maximum of information (tag words are important) – also it is better to post creation a bit every day than everything at once.