Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Hey :)) I just recently launched my Etsy store- so it’s not that hard to remember how it all started. I always loved creating art in any possible way. And at the beginning of this year, basically, during quarantine, I should’ve been studying for my final exams, but I couldn’t concentrate while my brain produced an abundance of art-related ideas. Time passed and after my graduation, I felt like a (jelly) fish out of water. Everything I knew was gone. And I had the urge to fill this hole, by expressing my thoughts through art. “Quallig”, my Etsy shop, gave me the opportunity to do so. Its name is the German adjective for jellyfishes. Honestly, I don’t even know if this word actually exists. However, it sounds beautiful and has this very unique touch of unsteadiness. Which is not the way I run my business, but an important lesson I’ve learned so far. However, there isn’t that one steady concept of my store. I guess it’s constantly evolving alongside my personal growth.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I manage my Etsy store all by myself, which can be complicated sometimes. Especially when I’m not at home, unable to be packing and dispatching orders as fast as I possibly could. Which makes me feel bad for not giving my all, but that’s a personal thing haha. My actual biggest challenge is an inner conflict between creating something by “wasting” resources for something decorative, without solving the problems I want to highlight with my stickers for example, and just not doing it because of the use of resources. Because of that, I see my responsibilities in creating my products as environmentally friendly as possible. I achieve that by using recyclable materials, not using any plastic, or simply reusing all the waste I am producing during my creative process. In points of sustainability, my tote bags are probably the most exemplary. They are made of organic fair trade cotton, are fully vegan, and were certified with a seal for sustainable textiles. Because of a sustainable online shop, I was able to receive them without wasting packaging materials and with carbon dioxide compensation. The yarn I used for the embroideries is actually over 30 years old and was about to be thrown away! So they do have a vintage touch as well haha.
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?
My best selling products are probably my fish stickers. I illustrated them embodying human activities for example bowling or riding a bike to symbolize the equality of life on earth. By accepting that they’re living creatures as well as humans are, there is a chance people will stop eating fish and our oceans will recover from overfishing. It took me a lot of time to figure out the matching art style for these Lil guys, but there they are! Printed on weatherproof sticker paper my fish stickers even survive fish likely environments. Maybe that’s what’s making them stand out. In the end, it’s your decision to make not mine 😉
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What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I probably don’t take it all too seriously because I’m privileged with not financially depending on my Etsy income. But it still is a struggle to keep going sometimes. Especially because it’s mostly virtual until you package the final order, which makes it easier to stop keeping track etc. What I most enjoy about entrepreneurs is that everything that’s coming out of it is a result of your own efforts. And that’s motivating me. Showing myself that I can do it. On top of that, there’s nobody telling you to do something a particular way, which is the best thing that could possibly happen at least for me.
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?
By now I don’t really have a strategy yet. I have an Instagram account where I daily upload content and will expand my reach through Pinterest soon. (highly recommend you to follow @storepreneur on Pinterest ;)) Additionally, I’m thinking about doing Tik Toks, but I don’t like the app so it’ll take me a lot of time to get into this Tik Tok world.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I don’t think there is. Except for always being yourself and doing everything you do with your whole heart. Don’t let trends etc. influence your way of creating. Never stop! Time will pay off. Sounds cheesy, but that’s it.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
I didn’t have a tough moment yet because I’m still at the beginning of my Etsy career. Hopefully, I’ll get through it. Fingers crossed!
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’m constantly inspired and actually need to step back to not create a new product every day. Honestly, I don’t know where all these ideas come from, but I’m glad they do. The only thing that I can tell you about the process of creating: Don’t be scared. For me, the most difficult part of creating is probably to decide whether people are going to like/buy it or not. Or if I even want the idea to be sold. I haven’t figured out if there’s a formula for that. So I’ll be trying new things in the future until I found my niche/place. Which I will probably never do haha. There’s always something new to try out.
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, but I never had to yet, unfortunately- It’s your chance to be the first person!!! :)) The postage pricing depends on the country it will be shipped to, which is why I don’t use free shipping. First of all, because there are different amounts of Carbon dioxide emitted, depending on where the order will go, which need to be compensated separately. Secondly, because I like the transparency of showing how much I will be paying for shipping and what’s going into my (+Etsy’s) pocket. As I mentioned sustainability I package my products in recycled envelopes from atlas misprints. Depending on the size I also use grass paper envelopes.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
I wouldn’t consider my online business successful yet, but I would say courage, fun, and passion. Haha and a lot of time of course!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Stop overthinking and just do it. Every day you hold yourself back is wasted!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I’d say business success can’t just be defined by freedom, money, influence, innovation, or creative expression. Business success is defined by your needs and aims, which will change over time. In my case at this point, it’s a place where nobody tells me what to do.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
As mentioned I recently graduated and I’m currently a full-time student so there’s no work and home, especially not during the quarantine. Most days I’ll prepare Instagram posts before my courses and post them afterward. And if there are any open orders I pack them before going to bed and dispatch them the day later. For creating new products I’ll find some time in between or on the weekends.
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How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I’m currently planning on growing my Instagram account to gain more reach. And my tote bags are slowly running out so I’ll design some more + I’m currently thinking about embroidery on thrifted clothes.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
As Mentioned I just recently launched my shop so there is no experience I could be referring to.
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Thank you so much for the opportunity 🙂 I’m beyond grateful!! Emilia