SaffaDesigns – Exclusive High Quality Art Prints

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message]Niche : Personalized Design
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Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

We sell art prints, framed artwork, and personalized gifts. As we were starting a family, our key priority was having a work-life balance that allowed us to focus on family first. Mel has always been artistic and passionate about home decor and Kris wanted to utilize his digital marketing background in a more hands-on way, so we set up Saffa Designs to join these two passions.

What are your responsibilities as a business owner?

Mel designs all of our prints. Kris manages our website, Etsy, and other online market places as well as all other business functions and marketing.

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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?

Mel designs our prints, mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Our nordic prints are our best selling products. We use 200gsm museum-grade archival art paper and our specialist printers provide a 100-year color guarantee for all our prints. Our frames are all hand-made to order with FSC regulated wood and the same goes for our mounts.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?

The business has allowed us to spend valuable time with our son and work around our family life, so we work a lot of late nights but they’re definitely worth it! I love the amount of learning I get to do trying to provide the best user experience and make all aspects of our business perfect. To be honest, we don’t really suffer from any hardships as such. Challenges provide an opportunity to learn and we are constantly reviewing how we do everything to see if there’s a better way it can be done. I guess as we work for ourselves, we never switch off. Mel always tells Kris off as he’s obsessive and really struggles to put the laptop down, so rarely takes time for himself but that’s something we’re working on.

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?

We sell to customers all over the world and offer free delivery for our prints worldwide. Our main selling platform is definitely Etsy, which has opened us up to a world of customers. Etsy’s advertising platform is great and has proven to be successful. Other than Etsy, we work with a digital marketing agency to help our website rank organically with Google and other search engines. We also do a lot of social media and social media advertising.

Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?

There is no alternative to the tenacity and hard work! It took a while for the business to grow and I think a lot of other people may have quit during this period. We really believed in our products and their quality, so knew it would take off, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. We do everything the right way and strive to provide amazing customer service, which makes a huge difference. We offer a no-questions-asked return policy as we want everyone to love their artwork, which gives customers a feeling of trust.

What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?

When COVID-19 hit, there was a lot of uncertainty but we were really fortunate. As everyone is stuck at home, the demand for our artwork exploded and we are smashing records every month. Now, with Brexit looming, that has again caused a lot of uncertainty and we have to rethink all of our international delivery and business processes.

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?

Mel keeps a keen eye on current trends and creates designs to fulfill what customers are looking for. We love creating nature-inspired artwork so there is no shortage of inspiration. We also offer a custom design service, which gives us ideas we may have never thought about and some of those custom designs have ended up being our top sellers.

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, we offer international delivery, most of which is free. We charge £3 for orders to the USA that is less than $30, and we charge a small fee to orders from Australia and New Zealand as shipping costs to these countries are considerably more than to the rest of the world. We think free delivery is important as the last thing a customer wants is to be surprised by an additional fee when they get to their checkout. Our processing time for prints is 1-3 days and framed prints are 3-5 days. Delivery times vary per country, but we tend to use express services so you should receive your order within a week at the most.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?

Understand your target market and provide products with outstanding quality! Don’t scrimp on quality to save a couple of bucks, as this will be reflected in your reviews. Provide amazing customer service and a good returns policy so that customers feel safe ordering from you. Then, have strong attention to detail and WORK HARD!!!

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?

You are the product of the people you spend most of your time with, so cut out the people who don’t believe you will be successful and replace them with people who are already succeeding in a similar market or business. They provide amazing advice and you can learn from their mistakes. They will also change your mindset and once you’re in business, you’ll start finding it’s all you want to talk about anyway, so you will naturally find you start developing social circles of like-minded people. Starting out can be extremely tough and lonely. Keep focussed and try to do things now as you would imagine you would do them in 5-10 years when you are successful. Think big and do everything right and success will come.

How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?

Business success for us is building a business that provides for us financially, whilst allowing us time to spend with our family as they are the reason we do what we do. We have the freedom to live life as we choose and catch up in quieter times or evenings. We have built a brand that people love and can trust and we love the fact that our artwork is brightening up people’s homes all over the world.

Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?

We ensure orders are processed during the day so they can be dispatched as quickly as possible. Then, we mainly spend time with our young son during the day. While he’s napping and when he goes to bed is when we pick up the laptops and work on developing the business, whether that’s building on our product range, doing advertising and social media, building the website, book-keeping, etc.

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How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?

We are constantly adding new prints to our portfolio, but we are also now looking to branch out into homeware and personalized gifts. We constantly review international delivery prices and look to streamline all our business processes regularly.

What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?

We did a lot of research around how best to create product pages on Etsy, from how to format your product title, to making sure you use all available and relevant product tabs and providing as much information as possible about our products so customers aren’t left with unanswered questions. Sometimes things haven’t worked as planned so we’ve had to review and then amend all of our listings, which is a lengthy process but it’s important none-the-less

Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion

Our environmental footprint is something we feel strongly about. We have recently partnered with a company called Ecology who works with the Eden Reforestation Project, so we contribute to monthly tree-planting all over the world. This partnership has allowed us to become carbon positive, which is so important, especially with current climate problems and we feel this is an important aspect for our customers when ordering. Our wood and mounts are FSC regulated and we use very little plastic if any at all with our packaging.


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