Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Sometimes I think of myself as an accidental entrepreneur. I’ve worked in corporate companies as a marketing project manager my whole career and owning a business seemed like an impossible dream at that time. But everything suddenly changed when the Coronavirus began to spread and the world shut down for quarantine. Like many others, I’ve lost my job and had absolutely no plan for the future. I’ve always been an optimistic person, so instead of complaining, I’ve started to think: what’s next? Being unemployed at such an uncertain time made me realize that e-commerce is the best opportunity right now. One of my biggest passions has always been interior design and I’ve had professional experience as a graphic designer. Combining these skills together I came up with my business idea – minimalist wall art. In a few weeks, I’ve created my own collection of minimalist modern print art sets. Etsy seemed like the best sales channel to start and it was a great decision. I’ve never imagined that only a few months later I’ll have happy customers all around the world and 150 sales on Etsy.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
At this early stage of the business, I’m taking care of everything by myself. It became a full-time job and I’m spending every day creating new products, running my shop, chatting with customers, packing & sending orders, creating marketing campaigns. Being a small business owner requires a lot of multitasking, trust me!
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?
While creating wall art designs I always try to express my personal style and keep up with the latest trends. Most of my designs are inspired by the Nordic lifestyle and minimalism. I’ve been experimenting a lot with different kinds of art styles but I always add a personal twist. For example, I have noticed that Asian art is trending on Etsy and created a collection of modern Japanese prints. While it still has those traditional shapes and patterns, vibrant colors and minimalist designs make it more modern. These designs instantly became bestselling items. Another bestselling category is gallery walls. It helps to create a super stylish Instagramable interior at home. I use photos and graphic designs to create a perfect matching set of 5 prints.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
One of the things I enjoy the most is freedom. I just love planning my own schedule, spending more quality time with friends and family, or even going on a spontaneous trip to the seaside in the middle of the week! But the most important thing that keeps me going is feedback from costumers. It’s an amazing feeling getting those happy “thank you” messages from buyers all around the world. The hardest thing about owning a small business is doing everything on your own. I really miss having a team that helps to make important decisions and run daily tasks. Knowing that maybe one day I’ll be able to hire a team for my growing business keeps me motivated to work even harder.
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?
My ideal customer is a person that is styling a new home or redecorating, that likes the minimalist design and is looking for high-quality affordable wall art. Running a small business allows me to offer premium quality for a lower price. Currently, I am using Etsy ads and SEO to drive traffic to my Etsy store. Also, I recently launched another sales channel – my personal e-shop. Currently, I’m trying to master social media advertising and start getting more sales from my e-shop as well as Etsy. I believe it is best to combine different marketing techniques and diversify sales channels in order to achieve the best results.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I don’t think there’s a universal winning formula to create a successful business. In my opinion, the most important things are dedication to the product and lots of hard work. In order to succeed, you have to truly believe in your product and provide the best overall experience for the customer. Keep up the good work and sooner or late it will lead to success!
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
For me, the toughest moment was when I worked so hard creating products, setting up my shop, spending lots of money on advertising and… nothing. Zero sales in the first month after launching. It takes time to make sales and it’s very important to have enough patience. The first ones are the hardest. So don’t let yourself down and keep going! Sooner or later it will lead to success.
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 personal motto is “never stop learning”. We live in a world where all the information is only one click away. I find my inspiration in constantly reading and browsing the latest interior trends, design blogs and etc. It’s also very important in keeping up with new marketing tools, mastering advertising techniques. It’s a never-ending process in order to always be relevant!
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 offer international free shipping for all my products. Usually, I sell the artworks unframed and it helps me to lower the shipping costs. The local post office is handling all my shipments. I do the quality check and pack each order myself in a sturdy protective mailing tube. This way I can assure you that only the best quality products will reach my customers.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Having a good quality unique product, defining the right target audience, and using the right sales channels to reach your customers.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
My advice would be to work hard, keep up with the latest market trends, and have patience. Most of the starting businesses fail because people are expecting too much to fast. Focus on doing what you love and success will come sooner or later!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
For me, it is the freedom to do what I love while making other people (customers) happy.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Every day I start by checking my Etsy store and answering customer messages while drinking coffee. Later on, I spend a few hours either creating new designs, working on my e-shop, or setting up marketing campaigns. At the end of the day, I pack all my orders and deliver them to the post office. Evenings and weekends I spend with my friends and family. The most important thing for me is to keep the work/life balance. And most of the time I manage to do that! 🙂
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Social media advertising and influencer marketing are the tools that I’m planning to master in order to grow my business. I’m still in the testing and learning phase now, but hopefully, it will take off soon.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Great images are definitely one of the most important things that help to be noticed on Etsy. I spent a lot of time perfecting my product images and creating interior visualizations that perfectly match my wall art sets. Writing a good product description or choosing the right keywords is very important as well. When it comes to creating a good Etsy shop, I think it’s a never-ending process and there are always things that can be improved. Recently Etsy introduced an option to add videos in product pages. That is what I’ll be working on next!