The third installment of the Etsy Seller Spotlight is Kimberly, half of the Simple 66 Stuff shop on Etsy. Here are the answers to my questions all about her shop and process.
Etsy Seller Spotlight: Simple 66 Stuff
What do you sell? Do you make everything or find it somewhere else?
Simple 66 Stuff is just two good friends sharing their passion for making simply handmade stuff . (It even says so on our business cards. *giggle*) We specialize in hand crafted & stamped jewelry, hand knit goods, and repurposed items. The story of Simple 66 Stuff began in late-2011, when I began knitting custom orders for friends. I was struggling to keep up with demand by the end of 2012, so I asked my former-classmate and long-time friend, Joyce, to join me as co-owner and designer. Joyce eagerly agreed, and we announced our new partnership in January 2013. Everything we sell is handcrafted, excluding items listed in the “Vintage Finds” section of our Etsy shop. (See www.etsy.com/shop/simple66stuff .)
What made you decide to open an etsy shop vs. selling in a brick and mortar shop?
My partner, Joyce, and I live 54 miles apart now (after MHH accepted a job an hour away from “home”), so a brick & mortar shop is not an option. We also both liked the idea of a “limitless” reach via an online store. That, and we were both already big fans of Etsy, so it was a natural choice for us. I’ve dreamt of opening a local knitting shop (that would feature all our Simple 66 Stuff designs, of course!), but potential relocation for MHH’s work prevents me from taking that leap. One day, perhaps. *sighhhh*
Do you do custom items, and do you prefer ready-to-sell or custom (sell then make) orders?
All of our designs are a combination of custom orders and ready-to-sell. We love being able to tailor-make a piece to perfectly fit with a customer’s vision, life experience, or need. Anyone can buy retail; we want to do something different with Simple 66 Stuff! And we must be doing it well, because we receive many messages telling us how special it is to have something designed that perfectly fits what they had in mind. There is no greater feeling than knowing something we so lovingly created is appreciated. We love custom orders!!
What advice would you give someone thinking about opening an Etsy shop?
My primary advice is to have patience! Whether we’re talking shop views, getting browsers/customers to “heart” your listings and/or shop, converting “Oh, I can’t decide what I want” custom order fence-sitters to actual sales, or getting customers to leave feedback after a sale. It all requires patience. Additionally, listing a new item is a fairly lengthy process (but there is a nice “copy” function for listing similar items), and of course, there are Etsy fees and PayPal fees involved.
Where there any surprises, things you didn’t expect when you opened your shop?
I can’t say there were really any surprises. I – we – knew there would be a learning curve. The waiting for things to get off the ground is the most frustrating part. Of course, we probably aren’t “doing” Etsy to the best of our ability, but we’re both stretched pretty thin, so we haven’t given it our full attention, or committed as much time to researching how to improve our shop as perhaps we should. There’s always more you can learn and do better, isn’t there?
How did you decide on pricing?
We generally use a x3 pricing formula (multiply material costs x3). We may have to adjust based on how time-intensive creating the piece was (knitting a cowl with a complicated pattern versus a simple shawl), and of course size and weight affects shipping costs (which we’ve learned to incorporate a portion of into the pricing, so shipping costs don’t appear so high (because the USPS just isn’t real cost-effective nowadays, ya’ know). You can spend a lot of time researching comparables on eBay, in other Etsy shops, retail, etc….but in the end, you have to evaluate what you think a fair profit is on each piece and be confident in that.
All in all, Etsy has been a great experience for us. We have broadened our customer base, and think it is a valuable selling tool to be associated with a site known for showcasing quality handcrafted products. We would definitely recommend Etsy as a proven sales tool for any handcrafter. Like anything, it just takes patience and a little creativity to find your niche and make a name for yourself. If you choose to pursue Etsy as an alternative to a brick and mortar operation, I think your efforts will be rewarded! Good luck to you!
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