Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
My name is Tatiana Shoemaker, and I am an owner of TShoe Designs on Etsy.com. Since I was a little girl, I always enjoyed doing things with my own hands – holiday and birthday cards, cross-stitching, papercrafts, and other fun stuff. My parents and friends always were excited when another holiday or someone’s birthday comes to receive my new piece of craft. The one thing that I liked the most was sawing. I had dozens of little dolls that I dressed up with a new dress almost every week. When I got older, I decided to apply my skills into more useful gadgets such as totes, grocery bags, kitchen decor stuff, and a lot more. Through the years of experimenting and finding my niche, I have decided to share my finding with the world.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
As a business owner, my primary responsibility is to make my customers satisfied with the quality of the product. Making sure that they are happy with the purchase is the main key to a successful business.
I am new to the online selling business, so I am exploring new things and trying to use any available tools to make my store catchy for the buyers’ eyes. I update my store daily to make sure that my best selling products are always available for costumers to explore. From time to time, I add new items to refresh the store and introduce my recent creations.
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?
I very much dislike plastic bags and the fact that we have trashed our planet with millions of tons of plastic that it will take thousands of years for decomposing or cleaning it up made me think about more eco-friendly materials that can be reused. That is how I came up with my best selling product – a reusable grocery tote bag. The tote is made of sturdy 100% canvas cotton and trimmed with 100% cotton twill tape ribbon. The bag is very spacey, and the fabric is pretty sturdy that it can handle heavy books, tools, or other heavy loads.
While creating the tote bag, my main goal was a simple design, convenient in use, and quality! That what makes the product stand out!
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What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The things that I enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur are the ability to manage my time on my own and the possibility to apply my prominent skills. The hardest part of it is instability; one day, I might make a few sales and do not make any for a week. In tough moments like that, I try to stay focused and resupply my store to make sure that I have products to ship quickly when sales start coming again. Also, I like to explore trending things to stay in touch with the market.
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?
Because I am still new to online selling business, I try to find the best marketing tools to boost my sales. I have used Etsy Ads for a while. It gave me some boost at the beginning but not satisfied enough because I used all my profit to pay for advertising. So, I turned them off, and now I try different strategies, such as applying as many tags as possible to my products that buyers can find them easier in the search. Also, I try to use Instagram to share my products with potential customers. I think I should put more effort into using social medial to advertise my store.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I believe that my winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur contains three main ingredients – keep a positive attitude, belief in your product, and provide high-quality goods! Those three components can bring success to my business!
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Because my store provides fast 1-3 days shipping, I always try to keep my “warehouse” full. The tough moment is when I spent a lot of money on materials to resupply my store, but I do not make sales. Basically, spending money without a return. At that moment, I try to slow down on the production part and look at on marketing part.
The biggest challenge right now is uncertainty. It is tough to start a business in the middle of the pandemic because you do not know what the next day will bring. Staying positive and try your best are the best things that you can do right now.
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?
Daily routine things are inspiring me for creation. Walking from the grocery store with a full of goods paper bag that breaks in the middle of the road makes me rush back home and start my creation of a reusable tote bag that can handle all my purchases. I never could find cute looking and at the same time heat resistant pat holders, so I created my own. Every piece of my work comes from daily experiences.
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 my products internationally. Since I have started my online sale, I had one international order from Europe. It took between 2-3 weeks for the package to be delivered. Deliveries in the U.S. are usually fairly quick, not more than 5 days.
I provide free shipping on orders of $35 and more because it is not a secret that customers like free shipping. There is indeed less revenue from those orders, but I can balance it with other orders to make sure that I do not lose money.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
I believe that key elements for starting and running a successful online business are knowledge of the market and confidence in your product. Good if you already have a great product and believe that it will sell! But, if you want to start a business, though, you do not know what is going to sell, it is crucial to research the market and learn what is trending. Keep your store updated, and do not forget about pictures!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
It is possible that when you start your online store there are already people that sell similar products. To make your product stand out, make sure to add some of your personality in the product, something that will identify your product from many similar ones. Never disregard pictures! People like to see what they are paying for. Every product is unique, and to make sure that the world will see your product find your own personal way of promoting your store.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
The journey to success can be long and tough but, at the same time, it can provide freedom and confidence. My personal definition of business success is confidence in myself and my skills. Money is a huge part of it; however, I am a beginner, and I am happy with what I am doing, and I am glad when my customers are satisfied with my products.
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Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Every day begins with checking and updating my store. There is a time in the day for production, and there is a time in the day for my family. I find it pretty easy to manage work and home at the same time. I have heard that a person cannot be successful at the same time in both – work and family. So far, It is not a challenge for me. Maybe because I do not have kids yet?!
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
At this point, it is hard for me to predict what is going to happen with my online business since it has been operating for less than 2 months. I would like to grow and expand my product line, and when I find out what are the most selling products, I would like to focus on their production. After all, I am not a manufactury and can produce only at a certain capacity. I put personal attention to every piece of my product, and I want to keep it that way.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
Some things that I do daily are I try to keep my store updated, make sure to increase the quantity of a product that it is not shown as sold out. I try to use all possible tools that Etsy provides for succeeding in the online selling business. I always look at the stats to see how my products are getting found.
The thing that I learned in a hard way is not to send a message asking for feedback to the buyer immediately on the day when they just received the package. It may show in the system that the package was delivered, but it still may be out-for-delivery. Or, the buyer might not get a sense of the product yet and may leave not a positive review.