Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My niche is the artists’ tools. Over the past 25 years of practicing art, I always found myself struggling to find an easel solution that was not only affordable but sturdy and practical. Around 3 years ago I started playing around with different easel designs. I created a few prototypes and finally landed on my space-saving Wall Easel.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
In the beginning, I quickly realized that creating my first product and listing it wasn’t the biggest challenge. I had no idea how much work went into becoming a business owner. After finally setting up my shop I sat stagnant for a couple of months with no sales. It was beyond intimidating to get my first sale. I casually made Instagram posts here and there to start spreading the word. It took 3 months and then I finally got my first sale! I run my shop by myself and do everything from going and shopping for supplies to packaging up each order. Corresponding with new customers has been amazing! Some have even inspired me along the way to create new items. R&D is a big one for my shop because I sell higher-end easels and I needed to create items that were more accessible for new artists! There is so much to do.
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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?
My best selling products are my Wall Easels and Mahlsticks. So far all of the products I have created are made out of a hardwood. The Wall Easels are made of hardwood and what sets me apart is how I connect and hold the wood together. They are mounted to studs in the wall and are beyond sturdy. I have special rubber holders that help keep art pieces still. My Mahlsticks quickly took off as soon as I listed my first one. They are made of hardwood, cork, and 100% leather. They are used to create beautiful lines and help keep a steady hand while adding details to your work. I think my products stand out because of the hard work I put in. Each piece is picked out, cut, sanded, assembled, stained, and sanded again. They all look unique and I am very proud of everything I have made.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
Starting Studium Art Club has been amazing. I love that I am able to create something that people can use over and over. Each piece is unique and I never get tired of seeing the finished product! I feel like I was pretty successful this year, but not enough to leave my full-time job. So the hardest part of getting this business started is not getting to spend a lot of time with my family. I have my beautiful wife and am blessed with 3 amazing babies. I can’t wait for this to become big enough for me to be able to do this full-time and spend more time with my family.
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 products are generally for ages 8+. I sell to artists and even aspiring artists! This year I have focused on marketing through Instagram and more recently Tiktok. Etsy places ads for certain items in my shop and I feel like that has helped with gaining customers, but I have also found many people through Instagram! I have been pretty happy with this year’s sale, but I am always looking to gain a following so I can grow my business.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
My products are very labor-intensive and very niched down. With that, I would have to say that believing in what you create and hard work are my biggest tips to my success.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
My toughest moment this year was when I had an almost $1000 large 5 piece order. I was beyond excited and explosively impressed with the finished products for this customer. I packaged the entire order and got it shipped out. 11 days after it was delivered the customer contacted me telling me I didn’t include 4 pieces of his order. You couldn’t imagine the horror I felt. This was my largest order and I would just not make and package 4 pieces. He ended up just asking me to create the pieces again and he offered to pay for them separately. While this order put me through so many emotions, I learned a lot.
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 am an artist. I have been drawing and painting since I was a little kid. I get new ideas for products by practicing my art and realizing what would help me be more efficient. I enjoy recreating typical artist products and make them fit a new design or aesthetic.
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?
So far I have only sent 1 product internationally and that was to Canada. The postage was really straight forward. I typically only ship within the US and shipping takes 2-3 days prior to the virus slowing delivery down. I use priority shipping through USPS. All my items are wrapped in foam and brown paper with jute. I have all my own instructions that I made and thank you cards that go in each package. The outside of my boxes gets my shop stamp!
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
A well-tested product and constantly utilizing social media to reach customers!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Just go for it! There is no better feeling than creating something for someone else.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
My family is my driving force. I am doing this so that I can spend more time with them. So in short, yes. The more successful I am at promoting myself and my business, the more money and freedom I will have to spend with them.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I work 40 hours a week at my normal job, but after that, I come home and continue work on orders that are already in production and then begin any orders that I received early on in the day. I look at what has come in and place orders for supplies that I need or go and stock up on wood from my supplier. Sometimes I have to go get new tools or replace items that begin to wear out. Then at the end of the day, I sit down and figure out what needs to be shipped the next day and get those orders packaged. And correspond with any new messages I may have received.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
The biggest impact on profitability is advertising and showing off your products. I feel like if I slack a single day on promoting my shop I will see a difference in the number of sales for the month. I plan on growing by doubling my self-advertising.
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What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I think I set myself up for success by knowing my products inside and out. I learned the hard way that you have to be very organized. The more the better.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
I want to grow Studium Art Club to it’s maxed and believe in always growing myself in the process. This has been a huge learning experience for me and I wish to bring my wife of next year for help.