In this episode, we talk with Toni from UnderTheVeil. Toni is a singer, seamstress, and Etsy seller extraordinaire. She talks with us about selling on eBay before Etsy was a thing, her live handmade boutique, legal issues with copying by one of the largest wedding companies in the world, and her pivot from aprons to weddings to teaching! And as we sometimes do, the
pre-conversation for this Jam rolled right into the actual Jam conversation. So hold onto your hats because we’re gonna drop you right into it! Enjoy!
Toni has been on Etsy since 2009. She migrated over as an eBay power seller where she was making handmade products. She says this was the worst, since eBay is like the Walmart of the internet! Ha, we find this hilarious and an accurate description. A friend who was an Etsy seller told her she really needed to try Etsy out, but Toni wasn’t totally sold on the idea. But after watching her friend have success, she decided to take the plunge.
Etsy free for all
When Toni started on Etsy she says it was basically a free for all. There was no SEO on Etsy at the time and the SEO tactics she’d learned on eBay didn’t work on Etsy. It felt somewhat like shooting in the dark. She’d post listings over and over again trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. She finally landed on what worked for her and things steadily increased from there. Toni also began making wedding veils that she shipped out once a week.
When everything changed for Etsy in January and February of this year, however, things started to drop off. Toni had no idea what was going on and started to get scared. She tried everything she knew to do, but her shop on Etsy kept tanking. It was at this time that she decided to open a brick and mortar boutique in her local downtown area. She really was concerned that Etsy was no longer going to work for her. This felt somewhat like going backwards as she knew brick and mortar stores were trying to follow online store sales.
Back to the drawing board
At this point, Toni went back to the drawing board. She found Clickfunnels and decided to try it out before she gave up on her Etsy business. Toni knew she didn’t want to sew for the rest of her life since she’d been doing it for the past twenty years. She thought about teaching others how to use Etsy…but this only led to conviction about how her store was doing. Toni couldn’t teach something, say it was awesome and promote it, when it wasn’t working for her! She knew that her Etsy store in the past had allowed her to do amazing things, so it was time to get serious and figure out why it wasn’t working and what she needed to do to fix the problems she faced.
It wasn’t long after deciding all this that Toni stumbled across Marmalead. After watching several of our videos on Youtube she knew Marmalead was exactly what she’d been looking for. Toni started working her way slowly through her 250+ listings, cleaning them up and correcting her SEO. It’s been a slow process but she says this has literally tripled her revenue stream! She also pulls the right customers in now which helped her conversion go from ten percent to thirty percent. Toni says this not only saved her Etsy shop but also her boutique, as her Etsy shop pays the rent for her boutique. She had to recently hire someone to help her sew and is selling more than ever!
Toni says she definitely uses Marmalead to check all her new listings. She will post a listing and then run to Marmalead to see if she has an A+! Toni loves being able to check and see how each listing is doing and improve where she needs to. She definitely recommends Marmalead to anyone not currently using it.
Toni says Etsy changed her life as well. She was a college career counselor and never saw her daughter. She feels very fortunate that her Etsy shop allowed her to have her time back with her daughter most of all. Pushing through the hard times and figuring out what worked for her on Etsy was one of the best things Toni ever did.
What she’s known for
Aprons! The idea actually came to her in a dream. When she was first married, she was on the hunt for a sexy apron, but couldn’t find what she was looking for anywhere. Fast forward years later and the apron from her dream came back to her in a flash! She decided to try making and selling the apron she’d seen in her dream and within twenty-four hours, it had sold!
At the time, no one was making “sexy aprons” which gave her a head start on the trend. Her big break came when Dennis Rodman’s best friend bought an apron. She was in magazines and calendars and pretty much everywhere, wearing one of Toni’s aprons! And just like that, her aprons took off! All over the world, people were fighting to purchase one of Toni’s famous aprons. She was even written up in a couple magazines and the paper in her town.
After selling like crazy, Toni suddenly experienced a slowdown in sales. She said she wouldn’t have figured why this was happening without the help of Marmalead. Apparently, her aprons were no longer being called “aprons” but instead were known as “pinafores” online. Her aprons are known mostly by this word in the U.K. which is where the majority of her customers are located. She added this word into her listings and just like that, sales took off once again. The value of knowing international keywords is huge and Marmalead is here to help!
From aprons to weddings
Toni’s transition to wedding veils and accessories came over the course of a couple years. She knew early on that she wanted to step away from making aprons and break into the wedding industry. When the vast majority of your income is brought in by the item you’re thinking of cutting back on though, it’s kinda scary! It took Toni a lot of time to learn the wedding industry in general, but after her experience with her own wedding, she realized she really had something to offer. What she wanted to make she knew cost very little up front. She was seeing a huge markup on these items when she searched for them online. She knew if she could offer the same quality at a smaller markup she might really be onto something. This is exactly what happened.
Toni always suggests that sellers look for things they can make quickly and sell fast. A one size fits all kind of product. She sat down and strategized different things she could make, but ultimately landed on aprons (and later veils) because they don’t normally have to be a custom size. Several can be made at quickly that will work for many people across the board.
She does think that having variations on the same products is very helpful. This is something we talk about at Marmalead also. For example, her top-selling polka-dot apron has several listings in her shop, the only difference being that you can choose different color trim on each.
Toni loves Marmalead! We love that she loves us so much. As a fairly new customer, Toni has been trying to listen to a Jam episode regularly to catch up and hear them all. She’s doing absolutely everything she can to be on top of her SEO for her shop and all the other tips we give. Three months ago she was freaking out about where her shop was at, but now she’s more excited than ever about how it’s all going!
What she loves
Toni is so excited to be able to offer what she does at a lower cost. Most of her wedding veils would normally cost around eight hundred dollars. Toni sells them for around one hundred and twenty-five dollars. The funny thing is she’s already raised the prices several times. We talk often about pricing your items correctly and this is a perfect example of that. Toni’s veils were priced so low buyers didn’t trust what she was selling. So she raised her price (even though they’re still much lower than most) to accommodate the price range her buyers were looking for.
She also received a couple notifications from Etsy telling her to raise her prices so that her work would be listed in the correct quality level. She does have a two week processing time and says she doesn’t mind being paid a lower amount as long as she can keep her turnaround time where it is. It’s important to her that she doesn’t have to rush through the process and be stressed about it.
Toni actually has a Youtube channel. She says she drives a ton of traffic into her Etsy shop through her Youtube channel. You can check out her Youtube channel here. When she looks at where traffic is coming from most of the direct traffic she’s receiving is coming from her Youtube channel. She does unboxing videos and tutorials, which are very helpful in helping brides know how to measure correctly and which colors will work best for them. This also shows them exactly what to expect when their package arrives. Another thing that’s important to Toni is the packaging she sends her products in. All of this makes a difference to her buyers and it’s fun to watch it all unfold on her channel.
Compare and contrast
Toni says when she compares her Etsy shop with her brick and mortar boutique they’re more alike than she ever thought they would be. One of the biggest similarities she’s noticed is that across the board, customers want to be “sold.” They want to know what the value of an item is. In both her boutique and her Etsy shop she uses a system called C.A.R.E. This acronym stands for Contact, Ask questions, Recommend, and Encourage. Toni says if you use this system every time you’re dealing with a customer, you’ll usually close a sale correctly. She talks in more detail about what each word really means below:
-Contact: The rule here is that within three seconds a buyer will make up their mind if they want to do business with you. They’ll decide in this time if you said hello fast enough and if you were cordial to them. On the internet, Toni tries to bridge the physical gap by sending lots of XOXO’s (hugs and kisses) since a lot of her clientele are women. She also uses lots of smiley faces when writing replies.
-Ask questions: Toni says she always asks open-ended questions like, when is your wedding or what are you wearing this for? She wouldn’t ask, is this for you? This would only require a simple answer. She wants her customers to open up and engage with her.
-Recommend: Toni always recommends specific instructions for her customers. This is one of the reasons she’s done videos on Youtube. They are full of examples of what she needs her customers to do in order to have a smooth buying experience with her. Most of her customers are already stretched thin with planning a wedding. Recommending that they do very specific things is a huge help.
-Encourage: Always be encouraging to your customers. Stay positive and this will help reflect back positivity to you from your customers.
Youtube really does help
Toni highly recommends that every Etsy seller do quick Youtube videos. Whether they’re informational or unboxing, whatever it may be, the more views you get the better. You can also look into monetizing your Youtube channel as well which can help with income. You can make a slideshow for your Etsy shop with Youtube which adds a lot. This is a great way to get pictures moving on your shop and is a simple solution if you don’t have a ton of video editing experience. Toni actually does everything from her iPhone.
Marmalead really helped
Toni says when she found Marmalead (which wasn’t very long ago) she was so excited she was almost hanging from the rafters in her house! She said it was exactly what she’d been looking for and helped quadruple her business. She wants new users of Marmalead to understand, however, that you have to go slow, make the changes a little at a time and don’t expect that things are going to change overnight. If you put in the work and follow the tips, she knows it can help anyone trying to sell on Etsy.
Our closing thoughts
Toni was a vibrant and hilarious guest on our Jam! More than ever we want to stress that you go and listen to her Jam. There is a ton included there and lots of tips I didn’t cover in this write-up. Also, make sure to check out Toni’s shop at UnderTheVeil. Thank you to Toni for being such a positive promoter of Marmalead and for being too willing to chat with us! We wish her the best in all her endeavors on Etsy:)
Happy selling everyone!
6 replies on “Episode 61: Pivoting to Follow Your Passion with Toni from UnderTheVeil”
I enjoyed reading about Toni’s journey. It was a well written article, however, using the word sow instead of sew makes the writer seem less connected with the person being presented in the article.
Sow: plant seeds, a farmer sows
Sew: to use needle and thread, a seamstress sews
The video has no sound from the boys 🙁
Thanks for the heads up Anna! Are you referring to the YouTube video? I scrubbed through the video and it seemed to work for me? Was there a certain spot where it cut out?
This was an excellent podcast – thanks! I have also increased my sales by using Marmalead. I love it!
Friendly PS: In the notes above, it should be “sew” and not “sow.”
I’m at a loss after listening to this podcast— an hour wasted. After listening to tangents, curiosity got the best of me and I looked at her shop. Confrontational is putting it mildly. I’m appalled someone would treat their customers in this manner. Shame on you Marmalead for not doing your homework.
WOW, you guys didn’t have to say much! LOL Tons of info, thanks!