Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I have always painted… furniture, canvases, and even walls, for my own satisfaction and to decorate my own spaces. Throughout my life, my occupation was far from this area, but even so, I never stopped creating or painting – this was always my special place where I felt I was doing what I loved the most. Going through the process of imagining something and in the end, seeing it in front of my eyes … makes everything special and unique! It was my dear husband who realized that I was in the wrong place and said to me “I only see you happy when you are painting or creating”! He gave me all the support and motivation to move on, as well as my dear daughter who is my biggest fan! And that’s how I started. I left everything I did and started to create, with the support of my family motivation and love, which are my great inspiration!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I had never sold anything made by me! And many times, some people showed interest in my pieces, but because I had done them for myself as a way of self-expression at some point in my life, I never thought of separating myself from them. When I started this project, my family’s confidence was total, but I still had little feedback outside of my close circle. My husband showed me Etsy when he decided to sell some vintage items, and I wondered that if I wanted confirmation about the value of my pieces Etsy could be ideal.
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?
The name of my store is Mixed Arts because I love the mix of different formats, techniques, and arts. Painting is my first impulse, that’s why I create painted pieces of furniture, lighting, and decoration. I am a professional makeup artist and when I graduated I immediately loved the brushes, the colors, and textures, but the makeup doesn’t last forever, except in photography or … in a face chart! A tool that makeup artists use to try on looks, colors, and more, which is about working with makeup but on paper! I had already done face charts but I decided to learn more, and I had the idea to do face charts on canvas. I loved the result and as I am not working as a makeup artist, I can, for my complete satisfaction, do makeup and at the same time create original and unique pieces of art.
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 am very curious, and together with my need to create, I was looking for ways to learn what I envisioned. Without any training in this area, it was and still is an experimental and challenging process that has always passionated me. When I decided to open the account and published the first item, more than selling I needed confirmation of my value, and the first favorites gave me that. People who didn’t know me appreciated my work, it was an amazing sensation! I felt I should continue!
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?
When I opened the Etsy account looking for confirmation, I decided to open a Pinterest account as well, and until today every post I make gives me that confirmation with views. And I already know that on Etsy the confirmation will be double, they will like it and possibly purchase. At this moment it is very important for me to see if people appreciate my work and this is a way to get that information.
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?
As I am still starting and my feedbacks are from people close to me, there was always doubt if anyone would really want to buy my pieces? Already with the account on Etsy, I published a picture on my Facebook and a lot of people liked it, and shortly after I received a message that said “how beautiful, what is the price?”. That day I was very touched I almost dazed! I didn’t sell the painting that day, but it happened a short time after, and it went to the UK! After opening the store, my fear became also the shipping because it is a part of the whole process that I do not control, and where anything can happen.
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?
I opened the store in February, and I listed my first item. At that moment the pandemic was already beginning to be talked about. My daughter was far from me and it was a very difficult time for me and my husband. But, even with some emotional stress, I decided that I should go to my special place and create, and that’s what I did. I worked on several pieces, and in May I published a floor lamp – 4 days later it was sold! The most expensive piece I listed yet! And we were in full quarantine, I couldn’t believe it! I continued to list items and I’m selling, I haven’t reached all my goals yet, but I’ve gone further!
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?
My sweet daughter lives outside the country. So it’s me, my dear husband, and our beloved dog Ali most of the time. This whole project happens also during a pandemic. My husband is the person who goes out and I stay at home. My time is spent between domestic tasks, managing this project, and creating! As my space is at home, everything is very easy to manage.
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?
I have many pieces that I bought and others that were offered to me with the idea of one day transforming them. Now is the time to dedicate all my attention and creativity to them. And these are still the pieces I’m working on, as well as the face charts. My creative process is still a little hard to describe, but the best I can say is that when I wake up I always know what I’m going to do that day!
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
My biggest cost is painted! They are difficult to find especially the colors I am looking for. I always have to order what makes everything more expensive. When I have to think about the price, I always take into account the type of piece, the materials, and the time I dedicate to them, the packaging and shipping, and it is also always very important for my decision the opinion of my dear husband, who helps me and supports me with these issues a lot.
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?
After so long I accumulated so many ideas about what I wanted to do or try and now that I can dedicate myself, they flow happily! I am very inspired by the possibility of creating, but the love of my daughter, the look and smile of my dear husband, the tricks of my beloved dog, those are my great inspiration and motivation to move forward!
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?
The entire packaging and shipping process receives the support of my tireless husband who does everything to help me with my goals. We pack the products in our house, and all the pieces are of different sizes and shapes so it is always a challenge We are still in the process of learning and adapting.
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?
I don’t think much about my competition. I think more about the impact that the category I belong to has on the public. That factor for me is the one that can have an impact on my work. Even if I work with the same type of object, it will always be different and unique, because I am different and unique. I love to see the work of other artists, but I think there is a place for each of us. It is our originality that distinguishes us, makes us stronger, confident, and even competitive.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
In the first sales, I did not receive feedback from the customers. It was difficult to separate me from my pieces, and not having any feedback was distressing. In the following sale, I ordered and received the worst possible feedback – the piece had arrived damaged! Fortunately, after many messages between me and the client, we solved everything, and even so, she told me that she loved my piece, the colors and that it was exactly what she had imagined, which helped to balance my anxiety levels at that time. While I answer this interview I am in the middle of a sale and the incredible thing happened, I just received my first 5 stars with a comment! And yet it is still like this. A roller coaster of emotions and discoveries where I learn to deal better and better with my clients.
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?
Will the public like and buy that piece that is so special and unique to me? Etsy has answered my great doubt and showed me that there is an audience who appreciate and buy my vision. And so I discovered that I have a place and a value – that fact has changed my life completely. Now I am a more confident and happy person! I worked as a salesperson for a long time and I enjoy dealing with the public. The big difference today is that now I sell my own products and this makes the whole process easier for me. The idea of talking to people who want and appreciate my work is fantastic and does not bring me any worry or anxiety.
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 started by creating pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and they all gave me very positive and motivating feedback. Pinterest and Etsy are undoubtedly the ones that provide me with the most information, feedback, and results. Having a marketing strategy is very important, and necessary. It is my next step!
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?
If I could talk to the CEO of Etsy I would sincerely congratulate him. Etsy is a fantastic place, which I never imagined could exist. For me it is perfect and I have nothing to point out. I sincerely feel that I am always accompanied by a team ready to help or clarify any doubts. I love it !!
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
What can have the greatest negative impact on the success of the store in the shipping process? I trust in Etsy and in my creativity. Shipping however keeps me awake at night! On the other hand, all the people who enjoy my work and the attention they give me fill me with the strength to continue and to deal with the obstacles that appear in front of me.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
I will give advice to those who are still in doubt as I have been. Take a chance! focus on what you want to convey and throw yourself in the head! You only live once, with ups and downs, but happiness can really be within your reach.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
It took me more than 30 minutes, but I loved answering the questions made me think a lot! Thank you