My Handmade Story – My Etsy Journey

This week starts a new series on the blog called, “My Handmade Story.” Every other week I will be bringing you the journey of different handmade artisans from around the globe.

We will be discussing their creative processes, how they got started, where they sell their crafts, along with sharing their best tips!

I thought in an effort to introduce myself a little more to all of you that I would share my journey first. With that said, I will be posting pictures of my work but not links to my shop because the goal is to share my story, not to garner sales. I know every shop owner and blogger out there reading this is going, “She’s lost her flipping mind!”, but my goal for this post is to only share my story and give you a better understanding of who I am.  Today I’m promoting the journey, not my shop.

So let’s get started.

1)      Tell us a little about yourself –

I live in North Carolina with my husband and son and our fur babies. I was born “Up North” and my husband and son still after all these years love to pick on my Yankee ways.  Every day and everything I do is for them.  They bring so much joy to my life that each goal I set or mountain I climb is for the happiness of our family.  I have learned over the past few years that for years I’ve been chasing goals to keep up with the Joneses and not to get to a place in life that would really bring us happiness. So, changes were set in place and we started to “build our happily ever after”.

2)      What do you sell?

I currently sell decals. People buy them for tumblers, laptops, car windows and all sorts of other things.  I started out selling ornaments and I did it only from August to December each year. It paid for Christmas each year.  Come January 1,  my store will have a new look and new products.

This photograph was the first picture I put on Etsy, the first item I sold, and they sold like hot cakes. This, of course, was in 2009 when no one else was making them. Now I look at this photo and think, “OH the HORROR!!!” This was long before I thought of Etsy as a viable business for myself.  Even though I do not have ornaments in my shop any longer, I still get messages today to make them from people who “favorited” the item years ago.

3)      Without giving away your secrets, can you describe a little about your process or the time that goes into making an item?

My process, now that I sell decals, is far less complicated than it was with the ornaments. I really love sitting down at my desk to design new decals. Each morning I start my day by going in and looking over the new orders. I send out anything that needs clarification and I print out all my orders.  I will briefly scan my analytics because growth is important and it always gives me a boost to see my business grow. Before I start cutting, I set up my stations. I put together everything I need to cut on one table and then pull out all my packaging and shipping items. I grab a cup of coffee and I start cutting. From there I “go go go” until the orders run out or the alarm says, “Hey, Lady! Don’t forget your son.”

4)      How long have you run your shop? Full time or part-time?  If part-time, when do you carve out time to dedicate to your shop?

I started making ornaments part-time in December of 2009 and just sold them locally. I opened the shop in January of 2010 and continued to run it part time until June of 2014 when I launched it full time so I could be home with my son.  I knew I had to bring in new products for it to be successful and pull sales year-round to cover my salary.

As for dedicated time, sometimes that’s tough.  If orders are heavy, I admit I have done days that were son up to son down, and I don’t mean the sun in the sky. However, most days I am able to drop my son off at school and work solidly from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. when I have to leave to pick him up. I had to commit myself to that time and say, “I’ll clean up the dishes when we get home from school.” It can be difficult to not get distracted by the workaround you that needs to be done.

 My ornaments used for a baby annoucement.  My ornaments used for a baby announcement.

5)      Your favorite part of running your shop?

I love meeting new people and seeing their spin on my product. Getting a picture from a buyer showing me how they used it or saying how much they love it makes my day.

6)      The least favorite part of running your own shop?

Taxes and paperwork. I do it…but man I sure do hate it!

7)      What inspired you to start your shop on Etsy? Did you have an inspiration or support that encouraged you to do it?

My husband. I’ve come up with some pretty hare-brained ideas in my life and every time my husband says, “Do it!” He is a constant support and was totally a glitter guru during the early days of my shop when I had more orders than hours in the day.  He is amazing.  When I made my first ornament and took it in to show him I said, “I think I can sell these.” He said, “I know you can!”

8)      What helps you to stay motivated and creating new products? Do you listen to podcasts or have any favorite Etsy gurus you follow?

My clients keep me creating. They always have new ideas they want to be done which really keeps my wheels spinning. My goals and dreams are what keep me motivated. They are my “why”.

Yes, I do have a guru! If you are a shop owner on any online sales platform for handmade goods, you have to listen to Dalia. You can find her under The Handmade Mastermind. She is an absolute wealth of knowledge and just like all of us in the trenches hustling each day.

9)      Your best advice for someone thinking of opening a shop on Etsy or for someone struggling with their current shop?

Just do it! Do not let self-doubt deter you. I’ve made and sold many items in 8 years that I thought no one would ever buy, but they did. Now, with that said, my tidbit of just every day business advice is “Research, Research, Research!” Always do your research before you start anything online. Do not jump in blindly and do not take one person’s word for something. Check multiple sources.

 At one point I even did wooden signs. At one point I even did wooden signs.

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