For the next few weeks, I’m going to be featuring Etsy sellers. They’ll be answering some questions about how and why they do what they do with their shops on Etsy. First up on the Etsy Seller Spotlight: Alma Boheme.
What do you sell? Do you make everything or find it somewhere else?
My shop is a joint collaboration of both my husband and I, our shop is full of handmade wool and wood accessories. In our shop Alma Boheme you will find unique handmade knitted accessories from bags to scarfs I mostly designed. I select only the highest quality yarns, mainly from Peru, Uruguay and South Africa.
The wood items my husband designs and crafts are rustic seasonal pieces for the home or garden. He carefully selects his wood from reclaimed pallets, mostly Oak, Pine, Fir and Poplar.
What made you decide to open an etsy shop vs. selling in a brick and mortar shop?
My husband and I both have created wood and wool items at home for our own pleasure for many years. I was taught to knit at a young age by my mother, but I only started to take it seriously after my children were born. Then I started to make gifts for friends and family. At the time I was a working full time at a corporate office. Anyone could find me knitting while I was on the phone or, any moment my hands were free, but it was never enough for me. Unhappy with the 9 to 5 corporate life (in reality 7 to 7 when you factor in transportation time), I decided to make a change and bring the once distant dream of working for myself to reality. Opening an Etsy shop seemed like a simple and easy way to start, and it was. I quickly became evident that the hard part would be the marketing and making connections online.
Even when I decided to open an Etsy shop, those initial weeks it was mostly for my friends. At that time I moved to a new city and having an online shop meant that not only could I take my shop with me – but I could easily take my customers too!
Do you do custom items, and do you prefer ready-to-sell or custom (sell then make) orders?
We both enjoy making custom items, we take it as an artistic challenge, as well as the biggest compliment for people to trust in our creativity. I encourage customers to choose their own color and a design variation of the item; make it their own. My husband makes many items with a personalized touch with customers choosing special wording, sizes, and colors. Many special requests have sparked completely new ideas for us, and forced us to think and create “outside the box”.
My shop has not reached the point where all my items are ready to sell since most of my knitted items are one of a kind and take time to make. However, whenever I am not completing orders I design and create new items and remake items so that they are ready to sell. I believe there are many people who like when items are readymade because they don’t need to wait a long time for shipping. We make sure that we have identified the items in our shop that are ready to ship, and have production times listed for the other items. When we do get custom orders we make it a priority to keep in contact with our customer to advise them of the progress and shipping of the item.
What advice would you give someone thinking about opening an Etsy shop?
My shop has been open for a little bit over year, but I can say I have learned a lot.
Before opening the shop ask yourself if you truly have fun doing it, and have a clear understanding of why you want to do it. For us our passion stems from the fun of creating not necessarily making a profit from it. We never want this to become a burden, but a way for us to share our creations. Ask what makes you “YOU” , what sets you apart and share your story. Customers like a personal touch and want to know more about who they are buying from. You are your ‘brand’, so your bio, your items, and your pictures need to be cohesive and styled to represent you correctly.
One of the most important selling tools on Etsy is to take a great picture, because it is the only way for customers to experience your product. The picture will not only show the customer what your product looks like but it can also convey your shop’s specific style. Look at catalogs from large retailers and see how the way the take their photos creates a consistent recognizable style.
Where there any surprises, things you didn’t expect when you opened your shop?
I was not expecting the shop to grow like it did in a year. I feel humbled by the friends and connections I have made through the shop. A nice review in our shop always makes our day, its a great motivator to keep going at it.
I was also surprise how big social media plays a part in getting your shop out there. It is a challenge to find ways to promote yourself online. The key, I think, is to get creative with it and ask your friends to help market it.
How did you decide on pricing?
Pricing is one of the most difficult parts of having your own shop. We continually struggle with putting a price on our items because they are completely handmade, there is no formula we use. To come up with a price we take into consideration the cost of materials, and the design and labor hours. We have tried to use the formulas suggested by Etsy and other sites for handmade items and the price is always comes up much higher than what we actually price it.
The true value of a handmade item is priceless, so coming up with a selling price is tricky, but we try to find an affordable price in the end.