Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
I always loved making things. If I learned how to make one it turned into a thousand. I love mass production. My goal is to have a converse belt someday.
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
I found Etsy through my on-line customers that purchased from our web site. I use to sell homemade teddy bears and jewelry in the mall at art and craft shows.
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?
We sell feather boas. We were making the Angel Wings used in TV and in the Movies. We lost our suppliers for the wings, unfortunately. The feather boas are used for trim on clothes and crafts. Tutu dresses are made with the 65-gram chandelle. Hair bows are made with our curly ostrich.
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 normally learned from others but I always did my best, so I was always satisfied.
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?
Our goal was just to reach more people. That we do on Etsy. We use to sell more from our website and now we sell more on Etsy. It’s been a full-time job for us for 25 years now. We started our website back in 1996 when the internet was just starting. I went back to school to learn graphic design and how to build websites.
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?
Our biggest fear was if the site worked well. We had been on Sears, New Egg, and some others that were a nightmare to post to. We have had a few glitches but nothing major. It just keeps getting better and better. Profitability wasn’t a worry.
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 really don’t remember. Probably a month. I didn’t think we would get a lot. We didn’t have any goals. Our sales have been going down due to losing our suppliers. Most of the colors people are needing are no longer available. So sales have been slowly going down.
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 job is my web sites. We have three. I work from 8 am till 11 at night. I work around doctor appointments and other things I need to do. Laundry gets thrown in and I start in.
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 use to do custom order angel wings. We worked from photos people sent to us.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
We do 100% markup.
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?
We use to go to gift shows before Covid hit. But the LA Gift Show slowed down and didn’t attract the people it used to overtime.
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 have shipped all over the world. Our items get measured and weighed. Postage is calculated on the web site. We do offer free shipping over $35.00. It attracts new customers. We ship everything ourselves. We have sold items on Amazon and found when we shipped items to them they destroyed them on a regular basis with forklifts.
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?
Competition doesn’t scare me. We always try to have great photos. You should always do your best. I don’t care about what others are doing. If they are doing something better I want to see what it is. If they are doing something worse unfortunately it hurts everyone.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
We try to answer everyone’s questions. Unfortunately, most people don’t read the descriptions. If they did most of their questions would be answered.
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?
Our other web site has done very well due to Covid this year. We got overwhelmed by orders and then I broke my elbow on Thanks Giving Day. No matter what we just kept shipping as fast as possible. Never break your funny bone, it hurts way too much!
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 am not a social media person. I don’t understand it or get it.
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?
The biggest problem I have is the descriptions get hidden. Customers want me to walk them through the order process and it won’t let me do that. It blocks me as I try to see what they are complaining about. Also, people don’t understand how to write a note or mark items as a gift. Plus people don’t see options for shipping when they check out and then are writing me how do I get it there quicker. Also, they don’t see a place to write in the delivery address. It seems to auto-fill so much of the time people screw their orders up. I can’t tell if the person is shipping to themself or someone else.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Take great photos. We learned to take the largest photo and adjust it and save it. Then make smaller ones. Otherwise, as the photos keep getting better and bigger on-line you have to keep making new ones.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner mistakes?
Take great photos.
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Whatever you do always do your best!