Tell us something about yourself, how did you get started, do you consider yourself a crafter, maker, artist…
My name is Wilma Boekholt. I’m 35 years old and live in the Netherlands together with my boyfriend and our 6 year old son. I have always been a maker. I love to create and design different things. So it was only natural for me to start my own business. I did a lot of different things like interior design and of course Etsy shops. But after my pregnancy I was left with some physical problems and I couldn’t do the work I did before. I looked for a way out and that’s when I started Tattoorary.etsy.com. I wanted to create tattoos for people who didn’t want to commit and at the same time I needed something that wasn’t physically to hard to do. I design most of my tattoos myself, a few are vintage images. A few years ago I also started MyFairytaleDoors.etsy.com. I really wanted a shop where I could show what I am able to make. Tattoorary are only images and drawings. And I love fairy doors!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you have any previous experience in selling handmade products? Why did you start selling online?
It’s a long time ago that I first heard of Etsy, so I’m not really sure how I was introduced to it. The only way I have ever sold handmade products is online. I love the fact that you can sell all over the world instead of only to a few people at a local market. And I do love the process of creating a brand and a website. I’m kind of a nerd, so that helps ;).
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 ?
In my Tattoorary store I sell temporary tattoos, nail decals and biodegradable glitter mixes. I make drawings by hand and then finish them in Illustrator or Photoshop. I don’t print my tattoos myself anymore because my printer can provide me with a really high quality I could never make myself. I make all my pictures in the same style so my shop is really cohesive. I like to think that I stand out with the way I present the tattoos. At MyFairyTaleDoors I sell fairy doors and accessories for fairy gardens. I design my doors in Illustrator and I try to give each door it’s own personality. That’s also why I give them names. Since a few weeks my boyfriend works for me and he makes them out of wood. I love how my doors are realistic little colorful doors. They are really high quality and I love the way they look in a forest. That’s why I make all my pictures with the door in front of a tree. Those pictures and my style are also how I stand out from other sellers.
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 was self-taught. I have been making things all my life, and always got many compliments. For my it was a natural thing to start selling my handmade products. I am my own worst critic. Sometimes I’m satisfied very easily but many times my product designs (or even shop ideas) are not being used because I don’t think they are up to my own standards.
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?
I wanted to make a living from it and after a while I also wanted to be able to also employ my boyfriend. My Mom and sister are also working for me now. I started because I wanted to be independent (I was getting benefits from the government because of my physical problems back then).
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?
No, I didn’t have any fears or reservations. I think it’s a great way to start selling your handmade products online. I always make calculations before I start selling products because I need my products to be profitable. If I can’t make them profitable I will not sell them.
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 made my first sale within a day with Tattoorary and two days for MyFairytaleDoors. I never thought it would grow this big, I didn’t really dare to dream back then. At the moment I have around 500 sales on Tattoorary each week and 50 on MyFairytaleDoors.
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?
No, I don’t have another job. I do however have my own websites where I also sell my products. My days are never the same. I always try to do what I think is needed that day. My boyfriend makes the doors, my sister ships the tattoos and does customer service and my Mother ships the doors. So I have time to be creative and do the marketing of my products.
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?
I don’t print my tattoos myself anymore, so I have a lot of them in stock. I have lists that (try to) predicts what I need to order. If something is a bestseller I sometimes need to order sooner, but most of the time the lists work. I don’t customize the tattoos anymore because that takes to much time and isn’t workable with the way I print them now. For the doors we try to make them ahead of the orders, but my shop has grown a lot so we struggle a little bit there. Especially because our son was home a lot lately because of the quarantine and needed to get home schooled. We always try to make things easier for ourselves and are constantly improving the way we are making things. We own a laser cutter to cut the doors. We do customize the doors sometimes if we have the time. Some customers want a different color or size and sometimes it’s a different shape or style door.
What is the biggest impact on the profitability of your shop? How expensive are the materials you use? How do you price your products?
I always make calculations before I start selling something. It needs to be profitable, even if I would give someone a discount. I always use high quality materials but I buy them in bulk to save costs. I’m always looking for small ways to save time or money but it should never impact quality.
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 get inspired by so many things. I find inspiration everywhere. The world is an inspirational place you know 😉
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 ship all over the world. I ship in bulk and before Covid 19 it took 1 to 2 weeks for an order to arrive. I do use free shipping above a certain amount because I don’t want to loose my place in Etsy search and Etsy wants shops to give free shipping. I package my doors in boxes that fit in a mailbox and my tattoos are mailed as normal letters.
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 standout?
I do watch my competitors, of course, but I’m not worried. I believe in my own product and try to stand out with my designs and pictures.
How do you deal with disputes or bad ratings/feedback? How do you manage presale and post-sale communication and customer satisfaction?
I always talk with customers and refund or resend if something gets lost. My sister does the customer service of the tattoos and I do the fairy doors.
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?
Well, I make a living from it and so is my boyfriend and my sister. So that’s a big change. And I can get stressed when customers are unreasonable sometimes or if I am behind in the manufacturing of the doors. I just keep going. Everything will work out in the end 🙂
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 should use it more, to be honest. I do use Facebook ads and work with Instagram influencers sometimes. I have been so busy lately that I struggle to find the time to manage social media. But Pinterest is something I use a lot, and I get a lot of sales from 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?
It’s hard to communicate with Etsy, I would like that to be easier. And I think it’s harder for a seller outside of the US to make a living from Etsy then within. It wasn’t like that when I started with Tattoorary, but they are promoting local sellers and the market in Europe isn’t as big as the US on Etsy right now.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I love branding: cohesive pictures, a nice logo, good communication with customers. And I think a good quality product gives you good reviews to build your shop on. I learned the hard way that you should scale up rather sooner then later. With my tattoos I was a little to late. I was still making all the tattoos myself and I got problems with the quality of my paper. I didn’t have enough stock and I needed a solution fast. I found an amazing printer but in the meantime my products where selling out. It took a long time to recover from that. I scaled up a lot faster with my fairy doors. I also did investments earlier and it paid out big time. I would have never been able to create this many doors and send out all of the orders I get today if I wouldn’t have done that.
What piece of advice would you give to new or established sellers or those considering selling on Etsy? How can they avoid beginner’s mistakes?
Make sure you get your profit margins right: don’t work for free. I see so many sellers making that mistake. I also would spend a lot of time on pictures and branding. Show your style, not only with your product but also with your pictures. I think it’s important to be recognizable. You should also take your customer service very seriously, even if people are unreasonable, I try to stay kind. You should also spend time on SEO and especially for new shops advertising is a great idea (that makes your profit margins extra important).