I want to help you build a sustainable, profitable handmade business that makes you consistent income and sales. I only ever teach or recommend marketing, social media, pricing, production and branding tips that I’ve personally used successfully in my own 7-figure handmade businesses.
I'm Mei, from Los Angeles!
starting a business
get more traffic
running a business
make more sales
growing a business
mindset & productivity
pricing & money
selling on etsy
selling on amazon
There is no perfect business out there.
I’ve been in business for 16 years now, made millions of dollars selling my products and services, and even after all this time, I’ve still got so much work to do.
In this post, I want to share with you some key parts of my jewelry business, Tiny Hands, that were broken and how I fixed those issues to restore the business and bring it back on track.
This business now makes multiple six figures every year now in sales, but it wasn’t always that way, and there were many stumbling blocks that I’ll share with you, so maybe you’ll read this post and feel inspired that you can also tackle any challenges that come your way.
One of the biggest issues in the early days for many years was I built my website using self-hosted platforms.
My first official website was hosted on WordPress, which I then eventually moved to a platform called Prestashop.
A platform is self-hosted when you have to manage the hosting, develop the site, take care of security, and do backups, all by yourself. And granted, there are not many tools and services you can pay for to make this easier, but this was a huge frustration for me because I’m not a programmer.
At one point, I felt like I was spending most of my time putting out tech fires because one thing or another would break on my site. I’d update my site, and then a bunch of plugins became incompatible. And you’d have to fix that, get it compatible again or find new plugins.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I got attacked by malware. That took my website down for almost a week, which meant I couldn’t make any sales during that time, which is such a bad look.
And the trouble was that when you get malware, it’s really difficult to find corrupt files. You literally have to comb through every single file, read each line of code line by line to find the malicious code.
And if you can imagine, there are hundreds if not thousands of files that make up a website.
So I got some help from my host. At that time, I was using Bluehost. I don’t know if they still do this, but they could help with situations like this, but for a few hundred bucks and they guarantee your site will be malware free for like 30 days.
So out of desperation, I went with it and my site came back up. Unfortunately on day 31, my site got attacked by malware again, and I learned that when you become a target once, it’s common for repeated incidents to happen over and over again.
I was so fed up by then, reduced to tears and helplessness that I decided it was time to move to Shopify.
And once I did, I regretted not having done that sooner.
I’ve never had security issues like that ever again because Shopify takes care of all of that for you. So if you ever feel you’re spending more time tinkering with code than with making sales in your business, then, maybe it’s time for you to move over to something like Shopify as well.
Okay, the next big issue I struggled with for years was constantly getting feedback that my jewelry prices were too high.
I sell a scented cupcake necklace for $28. It’s entirely sculpted from scratch, it looks really cute, and I think that’s a fair price.
But see, at the time, the impression I was giving to other people with my branding was that I was a kids’ brand because a lot of people bought my necklaces as gifts for younger kids.
And they think $28 is a hefty price to pay for a little girl’s accessory. My logo was a whimsical cupcake illustration I made myself.
So I wasn’t sure if this would work, but I rebranded my business.
I didn’t make huge changes, but I went with something I felt was a bit more classic with muted colors and an overall style change to something more akin to like a French patisserie.
I went from being totally cutesy to slightly more classy.
The good news is that it made a huge difference. While rebranding, I also changed my product packaging to reflect my new logo.
To be clear, the new branding isn’t necessarily “better” than the old branding, nor is one good, and the other is bad. We’re not comparing that here.
The new branding is more effective at attracting the type of customer I want to serve in my business, and that’s someone with more disposable income.
Now let’s move on to the third thing that was broken about my business.
I have a team of three production assistants currently helping me make my jewelry.
If you can believe it, I went through more than ten people over the years to land on these three ladies that have worked with me for many years and who I know I can count on.
Everyone else was not a good fit.
What was broken was I would spend months training a new hire up in person, from scratch. I’d invest hours in a new hire, and prepare materials and supplies for them, only to have them quit or ghost on me a few months later.
Usually, this happened because I wasn’t doing much for sales at the time, so there wasn’t a ton of work for someone to do, especially during the off-season.
But most of these people needed a job to pay the bills, and that wasn’t the kind of job I could give them.
The best, ideal candidate for me would be someone who doesn’t need the money, but it would be nice for them to have.
That takes someone in a unique position in their life, like maybe their partner is the family’s breadwinner, and they’re a stay-at-home parent to an older child.
So it was super frustrating to waste all that time and energy investing in people when the turnover rate was high. I had to think outside the box for this, and no mentor or coach knew what to do about this either.
So what I did was something so unheard of but actually worked for me, and that is moving from training in-person to training online.
I do this all the time when I train a new customer service representative for my business, so why couldn’t this work for training someone how to make my jewelry right?
And since I started my coaching business Creative Hive, I’ve truly come to believe that literally anything can be taught. So I recorded how to make my jewelry in private videos and gave new hires special access to those videos.
This actually worked out in so many ways.
It’s not nearly as painful if a new hire decides to leave, and it’s actually a great learning aid for my team because they can rewatch certain videos over and over again if they need to.
And ultimately, it made the hiring process so much more scalable and easier for me.
I have now been using this new training system for years, and I can’t go back. It’s amazing.
Another broken thing in my business was hiring agencies to do paid ads management.
It can be a lot of work if you want paid ads to perform optimally for you, and while I knew how to do ads well myself, I just didn’t have a passion for it.
So for years, I spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to outsource this to ad agencies.
A few years ago, you could find ad agencies for $800 to $1500 per month, with a 3-month minimum contract.
These days, they’re charging more like $2-5,000 per month with a 3-6 month contract because it takes time to see results, right? Not only is it super expensive, but none of the agencies I worked with could ever do ads better than me.
What I ended up doing was something I avoided doing because it was more time-consuming, and frankly, I didn’t believe at the time that I knew enough about ads to do this.
But what has worked so much better for me is hiring someone who doesn’t know anything about ads, but has the aptitude for it, and train them from scratch myself.
So essentially, they’re in-house ads management.
They don’t work for any other clients but just for all of my businesses and can really focus on me, which is a huge perk for a fraction of the cost.
And I’m seeing my paid ads work really well again since I started doing this.
I hope this was eye-opening for you, and maybe you can learn from my mistakes.
Which was your favorite part, or was there anything I said in this post that you relate to? I’d love to read about it in the comments.
Thank you for reading! You can also check out my YouTube Channel for more tips and tricks on how to grow your handmade business.
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This workshop is for anyone who makes and sells a handmade or physical product, including jewelry designers, artists, paper designers, bath & body product makers and more!
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