Welcome to episode 12 of Etsy Jam! In this episode, Kathleen from HerJoyfulStudio shares some great experiences with us. Not only was she was able to leave her day job and work full time on her Etsy shop, but she was also able to help her family purchase their first home from her shop’s profits. Kathleen has a lot of great tips to share about getting started, balancing work and home life, selling wholesale, product photography and more!
A Little Background About Kathleen
She opened her studio in 2013. It started as a hobby at first and shortly after that, she discovered she was pregnant. Then she made it her goal to turn her shop into her own full-time job so she could move away from her corporate job that she had at the time. In the summer of 2014; she made it happen. Fast forward to 2015, she was able to use her income from HerJoyfulStudio to buy her first house!
How did you do that in such a short period of time?
Honestly, it is just hardwork and I really do think if you are willing to put in the work, the time, and you are willing to be flexible – anybody can be successful in Etsy.
What do you sell on Etsy?
I sell headbands for babies, toddlers, and adults.
What is your secret in product photography?
At first I started taking photos of one of my daughters. It was much easier when they were babies because they don’t move around a lot and then when they became toddlers – forget it; it became impossible, But luckily by that time I was starting to get traction on Instagram and I had several photographers who bought my headbands then post them on Instagram and I would kindly ask for their permission.
How do you identify the things that are really worth your time and the things that you feel you don’t really need to worry about?
It may be different for everybody but I did work in marketing so I have a background on how important SEO is. If you don’t have a good SEO, there’s no way for anybody to find you and that was my main focus. Some people say pictures are the most important but my pictures weren’t that great to begin with and I did my best but that was something I didn’t dwell in. My focus was in getting good SEO.
It’s fantastic that something like Marmalead exists now because 2 years ago when I started – there was nothing like that. Just to see the growth on Internet Marketing and the tools that are available now – it’s amazing.
What was your process on doing SEO?
I used a little bit of Google Keyword Planner and I was very unaware of how many headband sellers there were. My two girls were growing up and my mind was so preoccupied and I didn’t have time to overanalyze what my competitors are doing and who my competitors were. I thought it was just as simple as going to Google and finding competitive keywords.
When you opened your shop, how long did it take before you got your first sale back in 2013?
I remember the exact day. It was a Sunday and it was a week or two after I opened my store. I started in May so my first sale was at the beginning of June. I hit 100 sales in January 2014 and it took me to September 2014 to hit 1,000 sales.
What made you decide to pivot from doing keychains to headbands?
I was so excited to welcome my twin girls. I was excited to be a mom and do all the girl things and I wanted somehow to incorporate that into my life because I felt like I would be putting a part of me into each of my creations that went out. It’s really important for me to have that customer connection; I’m so thankful for my customers because I know without them I would not be living this life right now.
Is there any piece of advice that you’d give to someone who’s on the fence about making a transition like you did from a different product line to another?
I would say nothing is permanent. Try it and if that is the way you feel the direction your store should go but you are hesitant yet you really feel that’s what you should do – then do it. If it doesn’t work out and you see traffic go down, you can always put it back in the way it was. Nothing is permanent.
Have you ever messed with doing any kind of e-commerce before?
Etsy was my first. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur although I wasn’t sure how. But once my husband and I got married in 2012 I did a lot of different crafting aspect for our wedding and I knew I wanted to do something with that. I just wasn’t sure what and how but Etsy became the vessel to get me there.
Can you tell us more about the wholesale part of your business?
Somebody contacted me out of the blue through Etsy and that was the first time I did a wholesale order. Then about a year ago I joined Etsy Wholesale and that made it so much easier to get your line sheets ready and available to wholesalers because you can do it through your listings and put the wholesale price there as well. So from there I got about 1 or 2 wholesale orders which is really great because June and July are usually slower so it helps me to have a steady income.
How big is the portion of wholesale to your business?
I’d say it probably makes up about 20% – 25% of my business right now.
Is it pretty consistent throughout the year?
Yeah. Right now I have 4 or 5 wholesale orders and I think that’s great to help balance the slow months because people right now are out with their kids and/or on vacation but wholesalers and boutiques are getting ready for fall and winter so they’re the ones looking to buy.
Any advice for sellers on the fence about offering wholesale?
If you’re able to do wholesale, I’d definitely recommend walking into it. You’ll be able to make your income much more steady than it would be without the wholesale.
Do you solicit reviews from your customers?
I don’t believe in reaching out to customers to ask them to write reviews. Etsy already does that. Also, that was something I learned in my previous company about building online reputation. You run the risk of reaching out to somebody that may not be happy and I don’t want to risk that. Those things are rare but Etsy already does that, and I don’t want to nag somebody. I think they send an email out or message via the app to remind people to leave a review. So if they’re doing that and you’re doing that – I feel like it is too much.
What are some goals you have for your business?
I think a major goal is to keep that personal touch but maybe in the next 6 months, I might hire somebody to help me with sewing to alleviate some of that. That’s probably the main thing right now. Then to get more items that are ready to ship would be even more great.
Do you have favorite resources online you go to?
I think Marmalead is amazing and I use it all the time when I put up new listings. I also joined different Facebook Groups like TheJoyfulEntrepreneur and Flourish. They helped me tremendously. Also, just paying attention to other things that people may suggest in those groups. For photo-editing, I use FotoFuze to help me turn my backgrounds white.
With wholesale, does that help you extend your reach for the brand?
Actually I had a couple of customers say “Hey I bought a headband from this store and I came to your site to see if do you have some more?” I think an aspect that I like is if somebody contacts me and they need something right away, I was able to recommend them to one of our retailers near her location. It’s also great when you have some retailers overseas like in Australia so if they buy from me, we know shipping is going to be super expensive but I can point them to a store near their city that carries some of my items.