Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I was born and grew up in Kyiv. I always wanted to have quality things, but the choice was always limited to what was available at the local market and by the family budget! In 1989 I entered university. Just like everyone else in that difficult time for my country, I studied while working to earn some money. During these 5 years, I’ve met successful, energetic, and wealthy people who were wearing really quality goods. Those nice and quality accessories left a strong impression on me. After that, I went on a free voyage. Having obtained my diploma, I decided to start a business in 1995. I tried on a few different niches. Starting with each one of them I was telling myself: if you want to achieve a goal – act and stay on track. That’s how my story began with my working and developing my basic assortment of leather goods. And people were happy to contact us and order something. We have never been afraid to take on something new, and so our range of products has expanded into the “we can do ANYTHING” territory. Over time, it became even clearer to me that my work brings me pleasure. Then, 20 years ago, I was creating the business of my life but now my business creates every new day for me.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
A few years ago I decided that I was ready to take a step forward so that my goods can finally cross borders and gain demand on a global scale! And Etsy became the first and my favorite market place!
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 ?
My team and I are a small workshop. We are all different but we work with one goal- to create! Each product in my store is of different shapes and different colors like all of us! With a cut of details, Sergei unfolds a sheet of leather and already sees the product in it. Tanya sews all the pieces of leather and the details take shape! Eugene puts buttons, locks, rivets, and zippers making the product practical! Our mood, communication, ideas – everything is displayed in our handmade products!
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
In 1989 I studied while working to earn some money. During these 5 years, I’ve met successful, energetic, and wealthy people who were wearing really quality goods. Those nice and quality accessories left a strong impression on me. After that, I went on a free voyage.
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?
Our goal was to produce the best leather goods in Ukraine. When I achieved it, I decided to take a step forward to the global market. Etsy is my 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?
I tried on a few different niches. Starting with each one of them I was telling myself: if you want to achieve a goal – act and stay on track. And now I know what is a quality product and how it should be produced.
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?
It’s always hard to start. I’ve got my first sale within 1 month. Now I have more than 100 sales every week.
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’m a manufacturer. I have my own workshop and operation office to make this business good. When you are a small business, you should make a lot of things by yourself 🙂
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?
Every product is made to order. I have more than 20 different items. Each of them can be made in different colors, sizes and a customer’s personalization as well.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I use full grain and top grain real leather. It’s hard to compete with mass-produced Chinese or similar products. So, I have to get a minimal profit to be competitive with mass product prices.
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 best inspiration is my family 🙂
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 internationally. Usually, a customer gets an order in 2 weeks after the date of the order. My shop offers free shipping.
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?
Online market is a very specific environment! You should be fast, resourceful, and creative! Competitors are always on the alert!
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
The best way to solve any issue is to listen a customer. That’s all 🙂
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 gave me the opportunity to become an artisan, not a mass product manufacturer! Every business is stressful I think! The best way to solve any issue is to listen to the customer.
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?
Unfortunately, I don’t use social media for now. It’s needed some knowledge, time and lot of investments
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?
I do not like the feature of Etsy when a customer goes to my shop, Etsy shows other shops products on my pages. I think it’s unfair
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Good photos, quality products, fast shipping
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner’s mistakes?
Never give up and find your own path!