Contributor post by Alicia of AliciasFindings
#EtsyCIJBusinessExpo – RareRusticCrafts
1. What item in your shop drives your Etsy business and what makes it special?
Coconut Sea Salt Hair Spritz
Our best seller on Etsy is our Coconut Sea Salt Hair Spritz. There are lots of different sea salt sprays on the market, and certainly plenty variations in grocery stores and drug stores. We really wanted ours to be stellar, and not just because we make it ourselves. I had worked with a hairstylist and makeup artist in the Buffalo area (Elizabeth Dugan) on other projects, and I decided to get in touch with her and see if she could test out the products and offer her feedback. She’s well-known in our area and has a great reputation with customers in our market (this is so helpful when I’m selling locally). I designed the formula and sent it to her, and she was able to use it on some of her clients and give me a lot of great feedback so that I could really perfect the formula. It’s important to me that our products are perfect, and I really think we achieved that with the Sea Salt Spray, and it shows in the sales for it.
2. How would you like to see your business evolve?
I really want to work on boosting our online sales in 2016. I’ve been in business for 3 years; the first year our sales came from in home parties, the second year came from Etsy sales, and this year our sales are coming from big local markets. As we move into 2016, I want to manage my schedule better so that I can boost sales in all three avenues at the same time. I think part of my uptick in online sales last year was due to my participation in Etsy teams, so I’ve worked Team participation back into my schedule. I’m trying to get a head start on my goals for next year.
3.How have your peers influenced your work?
I work as a freelance Graphic Designer, so between that career and my soap business, I’ve met a lot of other women locally who are also entrepreneurs. I have two friends that are photographers and graphic designers at Onion Studio in Buffalo. We’ve been friends for a long time, and they started their business in 2007. They were really the driving force that gave me the confidence to go out on my own and start my business. I’m inspired by the other Buffalo women who work to make their businesses thrive while managing second jobs or families (or both!). We have a great network in Buffalo and it really helps me stay motivated, even when I’m feeling worn down.
4. What business class(es) have you taken that have impacted your business?
I’m mostly self-taught. My degree is in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. We learned a lot about the freelance world which helped me get a baseline for myself. I worked in Customer Service for a while and got myself into a small manufacturer where I picked up the other skills I needed like Purchasing and Accounting. Those jobs really helped me to structure my business model and become a better contact for my customers. I follow a lot of newsletters and blogs like Handmade Magazine, Entrepreneur, Inc, Freelancers Union, Fast Company and Marie Forleo to help me fine tune skills like time management, balancing home and work life, setting up a home office, and more hands on skills like taxes. I also spend a lot of time doing research on subjects I struggle in. I spend a lot of time on the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance website, as well as at the library researching skin care and the ingredients I want to use in my products. I use Lynda.com to fill in the gaps on any software training I might need.
5. Have you achieved Brand Awareness?
In my community in Buffalo, I am finally starting to generate some repeat business and a solid brand identity. I’d like to broaden this reach online and get a niche following. For now, we have that kind of relationship with our customers in Buffalo.
6. What is one unique idea you came up with to market your business?
I can honestly say that I don’t feel like any of my marketing techniques are totally unique to me. We do most of our local marketing at the markets and through our community on Facebook. Our website does a lot of legwork for us too.
7. What are your social media sites?
or on our website at www.RareRusticCrafts.com. Our blog is managed directly on our website.