Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I always had a passion for weddings! It was a dream of mine to get married and once I did, I wanted everything to have that extra touch! Being crafty (and on a budget) I created my bridesmaid proposal boxes and other details for my own wedding. Once the wedding was over, I just knew I had to keep it going! Happily chic was born in April 2017 from the guest bedroom of our first little apartment.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I was already an Etsy customer and loved supporting small creative businesses. My best friends owned a shop together so I became familiar with selling through them! One day my bestie was swamped with orders for her shop and being as crafty as I was I offered to help! I told myself that night that I could do this for myself and began researching the ins and outs of selling on Etsy. At the time, I was working in a job I was not passionate about and I thought If I just replace my income… I can quit and work for myself! That was my real motivation!!
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?
Happily chic started with personalized bridal mugs and wine glasses and now offers a variety of personalized gifts from shirts, baby bodysuits, pajamas, tumblers, and more! Our best selling items are our engagement/bridesmaid proposal gift sets! I use high-quality vinyl, HTV, and adhesive foil and have recently expanded to using a DTG printer for our shirts! I design each and every product I offer from within and do my best to stand out by providing high quality and unique items at great prices!
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
I crafted a lot with my mom and grandma growing up. My grandma use to sew, cook, bake, paint, and was the queen of DIY. She passed that on to my mom and my mom to me. It took me a few tries to perfect my craft enough to even consider selling it but once I did… I became ADDICTED to making cups!
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?
As I mentioned above, my main goal was to replace my income so I could leave my 9-5 job! I started off working nights and weekends after I got home from my job. I would just make a bunch of new items at night then wake up in the morning to take pictures (because natural light) and then I would add the listings during coffee/lunch breaks at work. It was really hard and I rarely slept but within 4 months I had replaced my income! My husband’s support was all I needed to impact my decision on going full time and he always believed in me!
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 am going to be honest. Failing never crossed my mind. I knew it worked and it had to work. I had to make it work! The only question I had was HOW? The market for personalized cups on Etsy was INSANE! I was worried about how people would find my product, how my pictures would stand out, and how to even price them! I didn’t know anything about running a business and felt lost most of the time! So I started looking at other shops and what they were doing. I would read blogs and watch YouTube videos. And it helped that I had friends selling on Etsy also! Having a community of sellers and other makers has been a significant key to my success.
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 took me two weeks to get my first sale! It was a life-changing moment for me when I heard that “cha-ching”! I’ll never forget where I was and how I felt!
After the first one, they kept coming in…. slowly. I would get on average about 5-10 sales a week in the very beginning and eventually, that number got to a lot more. By my first year, I had done 5,000 sales! I was so proud, in shock and just completely grateful.
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 left my full-time job to be a full-time business owner. It was my passion and once I was able to work for myself, I realized it’s a lot more work than I expected. Lol, I also had a baby which has made a huge impact on my life and managing my time! What started from my home is now run out of a small office in Miami Lakes, FL and we now have a team of 8 amazing ladies (+gentlemen)!
My days are hectic and consist of customer service, marketing, creating, designing and fulfilling orders with my dream team!
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?
We make every single item to order since each item is personalized! Once we get the order we first design it using adobe illustrator. Then we upload the file to our cutting machines where we then cut the design on vinyl. Once it’s cut, we weed out the names and or designs and prep it for adhering to the product. We then assemble our gift sets and add a gift message (if desired)and then send off the item to shipping!
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We started off buying cheap ceramic mugs and wine glasses but with time I wanted to offer better quality products.
With that came a price increase but it also brought in more clients and returning customers!
My mugs went from being $1 to be over $2 each! We then add the cost of the vinyl and labor. We did consider what similar items were selling for and also the cost of shipping the item. These are all important factors in how to price a product.
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?
I get this question a lot and the truth is… I create products that I’d want for myself or for a friend. I love giving gifts to family and friends and always use my own creative designs to make any new product. I am constantly thinking of new ideas (usually on my drive to the office or at night while I’m in bed) I have learned it helps to write down these ideas so you don’t forget them!
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?
I do ship internationally and charge the customer whatever postage is according to the weight of the product. Last year, Etsy suggested offering free shipping on orders of $35 or more and our shop was totally on board! I have found that most people want free shipping and have placed bigger orders in order to qualify.
I ship either first class mail or priority depending on the weight and time frame the customer needs the item by. I also offer overnight shipping! Since we ship fragile items, we wrap our items with plenty of bubble wrap to avoid damage in transit.
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 standout?
I would waste a lot of time worrying about competition. My market was so saturated and I felt like there were 20+ versions of what I was trying to sell! So I would try my best to think of a new way to portray what I was selling or think about how I can stand out especially with my pictures! Then I learned that other sellers would just straight up copy my work. It was disheartening and I lost a lot of time worrying about it but The truth is…when other sellers copy you … you are doing something right! However, It doesn’t affect your business! There are customers for everyone and encouraging and supporting another small shop is a beautiful thing.
To stand out, I’d say to perfect the picture of your product. It’s the very first thing a customer sees and they will favorite your shop and click on your product and around the shop if your images are clean and crisp. Sometimes I get lost in some Etsy shops because I just want to see more! I end up buying something I happened to stumble across because it was so cute.
Another key to standing out is your customer service! Answering questions quickly and professionally really makes you stand out!
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We always put a customer first! If something is our fault, we replace it. If something gets broken in shipping, we fix it! We also include a flyer in each package explaining how to leave a review or leave feedback .
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 has changed my LIFE. I am grateful everyday to have a business I love so much and be able to share my creations with the world through Etsy. Even on my most stressful Of days… I am grateful for each and every 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?
I think having a social media following is super important in any business. I use Instagram a lot to promote my products and share behind the scenes with my customers. I feel that it has helped Generate a solid returning customer base! Usually, when I post a sneak peek or product photo… people immediately respond! That’s important!
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 have no complaints with Etsy truly! I guess what I would really love is a way for my employees to log in to see our orders without being able to see our financial or personal information.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I worked really hard on getting my photos right and learning about SEO. That is literally the formula for a successful Etsy shop! I also like to always include my processing time, sale info, and social media platform on Etsy.
One lesson I learned the hard way… ALWAYS leave a very detailed item description. Colors, measurements, material, and how to order.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
My only advice would be to never give up! Work hard and you will see the hard work pay off. When you get stuck, reach out to the amazing community of sellers and make sure to always perfect your SEO, update your photos, and keep your customers happy! They will come back 🙂