[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Personalized Design
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/KATSUSTONE
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/katsu.stone/[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I do not speak English very well, so I will make some answers through google translate. I apologize if something is not clear. I received classical Russian art education at one of the best universities. Of course, I am both a master and an artist. But of course, I’m more of an artist. I like to create a new product, describe it, and put it into production. It all started with small felt stones. Then the idea came to make such puffs. Then I met my husband. And he organized a great business out of my small hobby.
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How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I found out about Etsy on the Internet. I don’t remember exactly where. Before that, of course, I had experience in sales through similar Russian sites and through the site. Online sales in the modern world are, in my opinion, an essential tool for any business.
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 main product is soft felt poufs stones. We make the cover from natural wool, and the filling is a mixture of holofiber and cut foam rubber. When developing a new product, we carefully consider the cost of materials and the time of each operation. After that, be sure to draw up a technological map. And the product is ready for production. But, at the same time, our product is distinguished by the uniqueness of each product. This is not stamping. This is hand-made and each of our stones is made by a highly-skilled craftsman. We pay special attention to the training of masters. It is a product made by man and for man. H2H (Human to Human)
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?
My friends taught me how to felting wool. After that, I took lessons from professionals a couple of times. In two months I completely mastered the technology. Now we are constantly improving this technology.
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?
We opened a store on Etsy with the aim of expanding international sales. We did not pin great hopes on Etsy. It was an experiment that was very successful. Online sales are now our main source of income.
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?
We had no particular doubts or concerns about opening a store on Etsy. We didn’t think about profit and competitors. Although we were surprised to find one store that used our photos. Fortunately, this store was soon closed by the Etsy administration for copyright infringement. We had to try a new platform to see if it makes sense for us to move further in this direction. The main difficulty was in connecting payment systems and in our poor knowledge of the English language.
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?
We designed the store and forgot about it. We didn’t really hope for anything. The first sale took place three to four months later. It was a pleasant surprise. Since then, sales have grown steadily. We now have about 7-10 sales per 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 have sales on sites other than Etsy. But I have only one job, this is my KATSU brand. My husband is in charge of sales. My time is devoted to new models, quality control, and family and friends. How is my typical day going? I rarely use an alarm clock. We wake up, check the correspondence, have to breakfast, and finally plan who is doing what today. Perhaps we are just going for a walk with our daughter. I don’t have any special tools for time management. But my husband is just a time management guru.
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 have a small workshop. Our main product is soft stone-shaped ottomans with felted wool covers. First, we create a prototype and then put it up for sale.
In production, we use both standard felting technologies and tools, and our own know-how, which we do not disclose to anyone.
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 think the artistic value of our products affects the profitability of our store the most. We sell designs and looks, not materials. Although, the materials we use are quite high quality and expensive. To calculate prices, my husband annually uses data from the current cost price and revises prices using google tables. And of course, we include delivery in the price of the goods.
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?
You asked not to write short answers. But, the answers to this question are very short. I am inspired by nature. I am meditating. My only tool is my inspiration.
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 work through Etsy only abroad. Working inside Russia is impossible since PayPal does not allow payments between residents of Russia. And there is no other form of payment for sellers from Russia on Etsy. We make our stones on average 5-7 days. Then we transfer them for delivery. We have two types of delivery: 1. Cheap and long Russian Post. 2-5 weeks. 2. Expensive and fast DHL. 1 Week. It turns out that depending on the type of delivery, our clients receive their goods in 2-5 weeks. We include the cost of delivery in the price of the goods because it is more comfortable for customers. Our standard packaging is a branded plastic bag and a cardboard box.
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?
We invest our main efforts in the development of the KATSU brand, in improving the quality, and in working with the client. We do not have many competitors and we do not fight with them if they do not steal our content. They are needed. They shape our market.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We have practically no bad reviews. The main dissatisfaction of customers is caused by delays on the side of courier services and the size of customs duties. Although this is not our area of responsibility, we do not leave a single unanswered letter and try to solve all the client’s problems. A quick and competent response is very important in pre-sales communication. We often help our clients to find the most suitable solution. We try not to impose or use soulless marketing tools. Our post-sales communication mainly concerns quality surveys and requests for photographs of our poufs in the client’s interior.
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?
Of course, selling on Etsy has made a huge difference in our lives. Our perception of the boundaries of this world has expanded greatly. Our English has become noticeably better. We didn’t count on such a success. We endeavor to resolve quality issues before customer dissatisfaction occurs. Therefore, we regularly conduct surveys on the quality of products already shipped.
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 believe social media is very important for promotion. Our main tactic is regular, interesting, high quality, and highly artistic photo content. We spend very modest budgets on Instagram promotion. I don’t even know how we create hype .. Didn’t think about it. We are not very fond of soulless marketing such as promotions, giveaways, and the like. We adhere to the principle: do well and it will be good.
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?
Here I really have something to offer: 1. Connect additional payment systems with cards. For example Fondi. It is often not clear to customers that they can pay with a card through PayPal without registering on PayPal. 2. We spend a lot of time working with customers who are unhappy with customs duties when they receive the goods. It would be nice if Etsy showed the tax in the buyer’s country during the checkout process if Etsy does not collect taxes in that country. 3. As a seller, I just need to give my employees access to the store. It should be possible to add employees and assign them rights and roles in the store settings. 4. Provide the ability to add weight and dimensions to product variations and, based on these data, calculate the cost of delivery.
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What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We have always been ourselves and did not rely on anyone. Perhaps this is the success. We have learned from bitter experience that at the Christmas sales we need to do everything possible to keep production time short.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Do it your way and do it well. Be unique. Learn the language.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
EtsyPayment is enough for us in Russia.