I kept seeing Etsy being brought up on a crafting website calledCraftster.orgthat I follow, back in 2005, but had no idea what it was. When I finally checked it out, I knew I had to open a shop — but I didn’t know yet what I’d sell.
I started my original shop, Blossom Arts, in 2006 and settled on sewing handbags and making beaded bookmarks. My handbags often featured a large decorative buttons, so I learned how to make my own out of polymer clay. The buttons evolved into polymer clay pendants and after that I spent my time making jewelry.
I often used rubber stamps to make interesting textures, which started to get expensive, so I did months of research on how to make my own rubber stamps and molds. I was hooked! And, I got really good at it.
After becoming more confident with working in Photoshop, I decided to set up a little side shop, selling rubber stamps to supplement my jewelry sales.Blossom Stampswas born in 2008. I sold my last pendant in my original shop in 2011 when I was busy enough making rubber stamps that I could no longer concentrate on jewelry making at the same time.
I quit my part-time job as a naturalist and teacher at my city’s Nature Center in 2012 and devoted myself to making rubber stamps full-time.
Who was your very first customer?
One of my first customers came to me through Etsy. I'm not sure how she found me exactly, but I imagine it was through a keyword search. Her kindness and support made all the difference to the future of my business.
She was quite the rubber stamp expert and she kindly gave me feedback on all that was wrong with my very early rubber stamps. I learned from her that I should have reeled in my excitement over my new skill and studied more about the details that go into a good quality rubber stamp.
When did you know your business was going to work?
I knew it was going to work when, after investing in materials and designing, building my stamp-making apparatusandgoing through many failures as I worked out the bugs, I finally had my first batch of perfect stamps.
Then I made another and another with consistent results. I was elated and so glad I didn’t give up, despite all my frustrations.
What has been the biggest surprise so far after starting your own business?
I was already familiar with starting a business and all the work that went into it. What surprised me the most about this particular business was how quickly it grew in directions I’d never originally thought it would.
At first, I focused only on hobby rubber stamps for scrapbooking and card making. Soon, I was getting requests for business logo stamps. I never dreamed of all the creative uses for rubber stamps that have become a huge portion of my business, thanks to other Etsy sellers.
How do you price your products?
I came up with two formulas, based on the size of the stamp when pricing custom orders and stock rubber stamps. They have both been adjusted several times over the years, as I started getting frequent comments telling me the price was fantastic value for the service received.
I think what I use now is a fair price when someone contacts me with a stamp-ready image. I’m still learning how to price my custom work based on size, plus extra time spent with customers who don’t already have an image ready.
What does a typical day look like for you?
At 5:30am I make a list of new orders for stock stamps and answer questions. At 6am, I focus on my daughter until she leaves for school at 6:45am. I go back to work for an hour, hit the gym, then get my stock stamp orders assembled, packaged and mailed by 12:30pm. This entails cutting wood bases and making and mounting stamps. I package all the outgoing orders, then have lunch.
When all the packaging is finished, I take a quick shower and pick up my daughter around 1:45pm. I get back to work at 2:15pm, finalizing the next day’s custom order manufacturing, making stock stamps and answering inquiries. I work until 4:30pm, then catch up with my daughter and make dinner.
In the evening, I answer quick questions and inquiries, but nothing that takes much brain power! I watch TV or read until I go to bed around 9:30pm.
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently when you were starting your business?
I tend to be very focused on details and the task at hand. I have a hard time seeing the bigger picture sometimes. I wish I hadn’t been so focused at the beginning on the only way I knew of rubber stamps being used — in scrapbooking, card making and clay — and had thought outside the box, doing more research on potential markets for rubber stamps.
What would you like to learn today from a network of small business owners and self-employed professionals?
Since I produce relatively low-cost items, how do I price my time when asked for help in producing a unique image, such as for a wedding, a business or even for crafting purposes? Do I just say no?
Time spent can easily surpass the cost of the product, especially when I send an image I think they will love, but then the customer wants change after change.
Is there anything else I should know about the process of charging for my time and design skills?
Now, let's hear *your* pricing tips for Martina!
Calling all you pricing experts here in QB Community! Do you have tips that Martina can use when factoring in the time she spends on designs for her customers? How would you go about pricing for these types of clients if you were in her shoes?
We can't wait to hear all of your stories and experiences in the comments below!