When things weren't going so well, what was the one thing that gave your business a boost?
I started my business in 2010, so this has happened many times along the way! It has always been a bit of a roller coaster ride, which I think is important to remember is normal in this business.
My general rule of thumb now after going through this a few times is to shake things up. Customers get bored too – even the most loyal ones.
My best bet is to come up with some new ideas during these times to get them interested again (and to attract some new ones as well)!
If you don't have new design ideas, a fun giveaway that forces them to interact with your business is helpful too.
How did you know it was time to hire someone and what was the first thing you outsourced?
This is one thing I still haven't done and may never do. I have always done everything on my own which is both a good and a bad thing.
The nice thing about owning a business is being able to do things your way, whether that means hiring out or not!
What steps did you take that really helped your business take off? What helped your business grow?
Initially I had no plans of even starting a business. I was a big Etsy fan when it was new and worked a day job as a graphic designer. I have always loved
handmade jewelry – both buying and making it, but never took it seriously.
I decided to try to come up with a new idea I'd never seen before as a hobby/personal challenge and really took my time coming up with a medium, my own techniques, researching to make sure my idea wasn't already out there, etc.
I genuinely had no expectations and did it for my own personal enjoyment.
Once I had a few designs completed, I listed them in my new Etsy shop.
I eventually started making regular sales, and started taking my business more seriously.
I thought about pricing my items correctly and implemented policies from day one (both of these things were tweaked many times along the way as well).
My growth was organic on Etsy and I think that stemmed from my idea of simple glitter and resin jewelry being something that people hadn't seen before.
At the time it was new and I searched the market to be sure no one was already doing this. My business has steadily grown throughout the years, and I've been doing it full time for about 5 years now.
I do still have an Etsy shop with a few items for sale, but I've been selling 99% of the time on my own website for about two years now.
Incorporating wholesale accounts into my business also has been very helpful at times when retail is slow, and something I recommend to seriously think about doing if you aren't already. Having my work in stores has lead to sales on my website.
In my case, my business stemmed from an idea and genuine desire to make jewelry that was unique, rather than to start a business or make money. It turned into a business over the years as I worked a full time and then part time job while it grew.
I think I can attribute my growth to a combination of many factors: starting with a unique idea, continuing to create new ones, a passion for what I do, hard work, always striving to be better, treating my customers well, and putting my eggs in a few baskets (my own website, Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, and wholesale).
How do you grab people's attention and get them to buy?
This is never easy, and I'm not even sure how to answer it!
I would say my photos grab attention initially, and I try to come up with new, limited pieces to keep my customers engaged.
I frequently do limited edition pieces that can only be made in small batches, so my customers know those will not be coming around again and tend to buy them quickly (of course, you do need that initial customer base in the first place).
My ‘Staple Collection' offers more affordable options and both pieces that are available at all times and pieces that are only made in small batches.
My customers have lots of options, and new customers can try one of my lower priced items before they commit to spending more.
Another thing to note is that a unique style will naturally stand out. Don't try to make things you've seen made before just to make money.
You won't have the passion for what you do, and your items won't stand out. Be who you are and make what comes naturally to you. If you can fill a void in the creative market, your people will likely find you too!
I also try to frequently mention what makes my items special – whether that be that I'm the one who started glitter resin jewelry, an item's OOAK nature, the fact that I make everything from scratch down to the resin molds, or the precious metals I use which work well for sensitive ears.
How did you get consistent sales? What other income streams do you have?
I started my business on Etsy and sales happened slowly and organically for me in the beginning. Throughout the years, sales have been somewhat consistent but of course not always as consistent as I'd like.
One thing I've noticed with not only my own work but the work of others, is that a unique idea and passionate maker tends to stand out. If new ideas come naturally and your style is unique, eventually people will take notice!
Of course, there's a LOT of hard work and trial and error in there too, your photos do need to be well done, and success takes time. I work much more than I would if I still had a 9-5 job.
I’ve also fine tuned a lot of things such as my photos, jewelry making skills, policies and item descriptions along the way.
Many of my customers have carried over to my website, Instagram and Facebook accounts, found me in brick and mortar shops that carry my work, on Pinterest, etc. I think in my case, consistent sales came over time through word of mouth and the above mentioned gateways.
My business is my sole income stream, however sales do have high and low points throughout the year.
My sales of course were not immediately consistent, and it did take a few years to get to the point of taking a chance and being able to do this full time.
I have retained a lot of the same customers throughout the years as well, who have told their family and friends about my jewelry.
I think wholesale business is important during the down times, and also as a way for customers to find me in stores.
I have had many customers order from my website who have found me in small shops. Not all of my jewelry is available for wholesale, so this also gives customers a reason to purchase directly from me if they like my work!
How long did it take you to make a living wage and what resources helped you make it through the beginning years?
It took about 4-5 years to make a living wage.
I did have a full time job when I started out and no intention of starting a business, it was more so a hobby and a little extra income.
I was laid off from my job and at this time, was selling a decent amount of jewelry and knew I could make it work with a part time job.
About a year or two later I was laid off yet again, and decided maybe the 9-5 stuff wasn't for me.
I had much more time to focus on my jewelry, and picked up a few wholesale accounts.
A good balance of retail and wholesale accounts has been working well for me in the last few years.
A lot has changed since my beginning years.
When I started out in 2010, I was featured on Etsy often which lead to blog features, which would lead to more sales.
I am very happy that I moved most of my business over to my website tinygalaxies.com about two years ago when Etsy made a lot of changes that started to affect my business negatively.
You must be willing to work hard and long hours, to switch things up when they don't seem to be working, and to adapt to many changes in the online marketplace.
Though my journey to full time has been somewhat unintentional, hopefully some of what I’ve shared can be helpful for those trying to make their creative business a full time job too! It is not always easy but I truly believe I am doing what I'm meant to do.
Sara, is the face and ‘brain’ behind Tiny Galaxies jewelry. Her adventure in resin jewelry began in 2010 when she was looking for a creative outlet after her day job as a graphic artist. She has always had many interests in arts and crafts, began painting at a young age, and would look for any reason to create something.
Sara did not want to make something that just anyone could create. She wanted her pieces to be original and exclusively made by her, starting from the bones of the piece to the finishings. Sara's pieces are all crafted by hand in her home studio, with her four cats supervising!