In her downtime as a stay-at-home mom, Kasie Chapman makes unique hand-stitched products for her growing tribe of Instagram and Etsy followers. Her experience selling at craft fairs and online has helped her develop her own personal style — and stay true to it.
We recently talked to Kasie about her experiences with opening an Etsy store and building a following of loyal customers who can’t get enough of her so-called “cozy goodness.” Plus, read on to learn more about what she's hoping to learn next from *you.*
Name: Kasie Chapman
Business: The Minted Evergreen
Started: October 2015
How did you create your awesome job?
I sell hats, scarves and cowls. Back when I had my first child, I found myself making things for her during nap times. Having that kind of creative outlet helped me relax and do my own thing.
I started out knitting, but I wasn't crazy about it, so I taught myself how to crochet instead. People wanted to buy the scarves and other items I was coming up with, so it really just grew from there!
I opened The Minted Evergreen just this past year, but before that I ran another store called Anchored Restoration with a good friend. When we found ourselves in a situation where we were both getting ready to move houses and selling together at markets and online would have become more difficult, it made sense to split up into two sister businesses.
That's how The Minted Evergreen was born, and I'm so blessed that people like what I do.
Who was your very first customer?
I don't know her name, but I do remember she was from California!
She was going to a Halloween party as Jane Fonda and thought a braided fabric headband I had made would be perfect for her costume.
At the time, my Etsy shop was so small that it was really lucky she found me at all. It was so exciting and encouraging, though, that I still remember it today.
When did you know your business was going to work?
The exact moment was actually at a winter market my friend and I were selling at. People just kept pointing out how unique my scarves and cowls with handmade wooden buttons were and how much they liked them.
I think I sold all but two or three of the 20 or so scarves I had made for the event. That's when I knew I should keep making them and focus my efforts only on my most successful products. I started thinking more deeply about the colors I was using, and my sense of style kind of just clicked.
What has been the biggest surprise so far after starting your own business?
I think the biggest surprise has actually been how much support I've had, especially since I struck out alone and opened my own shop.
I didn't start an Instagram account for The Minted Evergreen until around January, but I already have over 4,000 followers. It's such a blessing that people are interested in me and are supportive of what I make. It has really helped boost my confidence!
How do you price your products?
Most of my products are crocheted or knitted, so they can be pretty time consuming to make. Taking that into account, I try not to stick too closely to an hourly rate because if I do my items will become too costly to sell well.
I usually start with the materials, then count up how many balls of yarn it took to create the product and multiply that by the price I pay for the yarn. So, if an item takes 2 1/2 balls, I'll round it up to 3 and multiply that by how much the yarn costs in order to figure out a base price.
From there, depending on how intricate or how long a piece takes to make, I'll multiply the base price by 2 or 3 to get my final price.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If I have an Instagram post prepared, I'll publish that during breakfast at around 8am or 9am. My normal working hours are typically between 1pm and 4pm when my kids are napping.
I’ll look to see what orders I have outstanding and I'll also check to see if I need more yarn for any pieces I need to work on. I'll finish off those items and prepare them for shipment once they're done. I also use naptime to photograph my completed products either for Etsy or Instagram.
If I have a lot of orders that need to go out right away, my husband might take over for me and spend time with the kids after he comes home from work. I'll pull out my crochet hooks for a new piece, complete orders or write out a list of what I need to get done for the next day.
If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you would do differently when starting your business?
I think I would have been be a little more confident in sticking to what I like to make and deciding what I wanted to sell.
It's intimidating when you first open up a shop because you wonder what people want and whether they’re actually going to buy what you create.
Now, I'm more comfortable going with my gut and selling what I enjoy crocheting. I focus my efforts on creating what I love and what I would wear instead of constantly trying to please a faceless audience.
What would you like to learn today from a community of other small business owners and self-employed professionals?
I’d be interested to know how other small business owners decide to price for wholesale.
I've looked at guidelines, but because some of my products take so much time to make, selling them in bulk would really cut into my profits, to the point where it might not even be worth my time.
Where should I start and how do I price if I decide to go the wholesale route?
Calling all those who have experience with wholesaling!
How do you balance pricing with retaining a sustainable profit margin? Do you have any tips for Kasie on how she can speed up the process of creating new products if she decides to sell in bulk?
Share your ideas with us in the comments below. :-)