Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
We wanted to help low-income artists in developing countries earn income. We helped start the Fair Trade movement in the United States in 1992 and then created a business to buy and resell these crafts.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I and my wife do everything. Buy, sell, accounting, etc. We hire many professionals to help with advertising and other services.
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?
On Etsy, we can only sell supplies since we did not make the items ourselves. Our best selling items are several different forms of worry dolls. Customers use them to make other items.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
We enjoy most the independence. We are our own boss. The hardest part comes when we can’t pay the bills.
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?
On Etsy, we sell of course to Etsy customers. We purchase advertising on Etsy which has tripled our sales. We also sell on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites. We only use online ads connected to the venue.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Yes – keep trying different ideas until you find the ones that work. Do not give up.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Several years ago we made so many mistakes we could not pay our bills. We finally found a source for a loan and fixed our problems. We are OK now.
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?
Since we do not make the items ourselves we search the website of the Fair Trade Federation for items. We pick items based on what our experience tells us will sell.
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?
We do not like to ship outside the US. Too many problems – taxes, stolen items, etc. We do sell in Canada via Amazon but only because of the items are shipped from an Amazon warehouse in Canada. We offer free shipping in the US because it increases sales.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Get advice from someone who is successful. There is a lot to learn.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Plan on spending more money than you planned and more time than you planned to get your business going.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Mostly the freedom, then the money.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
In the morning we ship orders and email customers. In the afternoon we do projects like listing new items or shipping many items to a fulfillment center.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
We plan to grow our business by adding more items, and new places to sell them online. We also plan to go back to doing crafts shows when the COVID19 has passed.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Advertise your items. Etsy is very good at this. Your sales will be double or more.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
You need to take responsibility for everything. If this is hard for you, do not start your business.