Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Hi there! My name is Anastasia Novikova, and I am the artist behind SoulSyncable. SoulSyncable is an online store that focuses on high-quality prints and custom art pieces. The idea behind the store hides in its name—SoulSyncable: each piece is created at the client’s request and is the artist’s intuitive response. My artworks are personal, but they are never about me. When I draw, I am only a mediator; my clients take full control of the artistic process. Such transparency allows me to build one-of-a-kind connections for which I am forever grateful.
SoulSyncable was created on impulse. I wanted to start something of my own and had three goals: to work on my own terms, to create value pieces, and to have worldwide access. A “Start selling on Etsy” button looked like it could help me try myself out, so I fearlessly joined the pull. And then it all began: SEO optimization, continuous online learning, first ads, orders, and reviews. It was so exciting that I still remember my very first clients by name! In two months, my store started to need a lot of time and attention, and I became a full-time seller. While my initial goals have now been met, I am still inspired to learn and grow. Every new client brings me pure joy and fresh inspiration to work harder.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
The buyer’s experience is my top priority, so I take full control of everything that my clients see and touch. I am solely responsible for the design, delivery speed and quality, customer service, marketing, and shipment. It’s a lot of work, but good planning, optimization, and attitude help a lot 🙂
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 most popular products are one-line portraits and classic couple portraits in color. Both items can be purchased as a digital file, eco canvas, or giclée poster. It may seem that the products are identical. However, they attract very different kinds of customers. Classic portraits are valued for their style, emotion, and alikeness. When it comes to one-line drawings, it’s a whole different story. Created in one continuous motion, the drawings symbolize eternal love, unity, and care. Such drawings never come without an extraordinary story behind them!
When starting a new work of art, my first step is to identify the customer’s needs and preferences. Once that’s done, we engage in the creative process. Although I have years of experience in the art field, I am not the boss when it comes to drawing. While my clients engage with colors, lines, and shapes, I carefully listen to their ideas and help their inspirations become a reality.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The most joyful and challenging part of being an entrepreneur is that you are in full control. You are the one who nurtures your creation and takes care of it when everything goes wrong. As an entrepreneur, you need to have a clear mind that allows you to calculate your next steps and possible outcomes 24/7.
In the times when everything goes south, and I am the one patting myself on the back, I prefer to think of the value that my shop brings, of all of the touching stories that I have heard, of how much I genuinely love what I do, and of my next creations. This attitude keeps me from giving up easily. No matter how bad the case is, I am likely to try a million and one solutions rather than give up on myself.
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 target audience is women and men between the ages of 24 and 40. Statistically, around 55% of sales are US based, and 45% are international. Because of the nature of my products and the audience’s interests, the best platforms to advertise my products are Pinterest and Instagram. I find it very useful to keep an active online presence and to follow seasonally plus any platform-related trends. While my products can be easily adapted to fit custom requests, they are carefully branded, and I follow a specific set of rules when uploading any content online.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Yes, I do! If you make a quality product that you could proudly own yourself, you are 40% there. Another 60% for me is hard work, dedication, and customer-centered decisions.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
One of the toughest moments for my store is happening live! COVID-19 related delays for fulfillment and shipping are a considerable challenge for me because most of my projects are time-sensitive. In the current situation, I do everything to make wait time exciting for customers: multiple sales happen every week, and special coupons and free items are available.
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 customers are an excellent source of inspiration. Many of them come to me with a wish to capture a special memory or to share something very touching. When I think of the stories that my clients share, I naturally come up with the products that they might purchase—feedback is a great tool to learn about products in demand.
When it comes to creativity, my rule is to allow myself unlimited options. If I need to build something new, I grab a paper and start doodling until there is no space left. Random and weird ideas are okay; there is no need to be critical. Once my mind is empty, I take a look at all of the new things I built on paper and try to see which of them have potential. This quick exercise is my go-to when I need quick inspiration or when I have too many ideas in my mind 🙂
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?
Soulsyncable offers free standard international shipping on all orders with an option to upgrade to express shipping.
The postage pricing is calculated based on the size, item category, and final destination. Because I offer two types of prints (canvas or poster), I have a pre-set rate for each country and category. The shipping price can go up to $60/canvas. All of the canvases arrive in double protection and a special box while the posters travel in hard tubes.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Based on my experience, it’s crucial to be ready to work hard and to be open to any outcomes. Success is not granted when you are starting; running an online business is a multidimensional task, and it’s not enough to have a good idea. You also have to be inspired, well-rounded, objective, dedicated, patient, ready to learn, and many other things.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
If you are thinking of starting a business, start it.
Let yourself learn from experience, be on the watch for any feedback, and do not expect quick success. If you are inspired and your eyes light up when you think of your idea, it’s worth it—I am with you!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I think the definition of business success changes with your level of achievement. At my current state, my business success is the freedom to be myself and do something I love full-time. However, I already feel that this definition changes to become more philanthropic.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
As I like to be in full control of my business, I start my day by checking emails/tracking numbers/replies. Usually, it takes me around 20-40 min to follow up on all of the updates. As I am reading through, I set goals for the day—everything that can be done today is done with no delay. The mornings and the evenings are my busiest times because I work with international orders, so I am always online. During the day time, you can find me drawing outside with a bunch of cords around me. If I am not drawing, I am fixing something online, and if I am not online, I am probably on the phone talking about the order. My days are quite busy, so if I have free time, I allow myself to get a good rest and do something fun.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
There are a couple of updates that will happen in the nearest future. I am working on adding more products that do not require customization, and some of them will be educational! These updates will allow me to be more flexible and earn more with fewer working hours.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I learned that failure is not negative; it’s just another chance to learn. If you take your time, you will figure out how to do SEO and improve any other selling aspects for your shop. If there is something you absolutely cannot figure out, it’s still not the time to give up. You can always hire a professional or ask for help! No questions are stupid, and many people are wondering the same thing all over the world.