Why Social Media is Her Sweet Spot. Meet Etsy Seller Anne Smith
After a blip in her career, Anne Smith decided to harness her creativity to produce ‘80s-inspired goods from recycled materials. Soon after, she began selling her fun retro designs on Etsy as Sweetgyrl Designs.
We caught up with the Seattle-based artist to chat about how social media has been effective in helping her business grow and how next she wants to tackle balancing her busy work schedule with an active personal life.
After the retail store I managed went out of business in 2010, I decided to go to back to school. I took on a full-time academic load, which left little time for a traditional job. So, that's when I decided to try Etsy and see what I could do while working from home.
When I started, upcycling was a new thing and I really liked the idea of turning discarded items into new, functional and fun things!
When did you know your business was going to work?
Just recently, actually!
Up until October of last year it was just a hobby. I was making a little money, but really just enough to buy supplies and pay for expenses. Last November I suffered a complicated hand injury that forced me to take a leave of absence from my regular job for approximately six months.
During that time, I really focused on growing the business and started vending at shows and conventions. By the time I was able to go back to work, it dawned on me that my husband and I were making it work financially (with his income and my increased business revenue), so I gave myself permission to resign and pursue my personal business full time instead.
Right now, how are you getting most of your customers?
I discoveredInstagramalmost a year ago and it's done tremendous things for growing my customer base. I think that’s because it's visually oriented and, as we all know, a picture paints a thousand words.
I sell quite a variety of vintage trading cards, so I frequently post reveals, like pictures of me opening the cards. I also like to throw up shots of my thrift store finds and whatever new craft project I'm working on.
Occasionally I post images of my dogs, just to cast the net a little wider to those who are outside my normal audience.
How do you price your products?
For the vintage or resale items, I research what they sell for online and go from that, although I'm not out to gouge anybody. I would rather sell an item at a lower price point and make someone happy than charge an outrageous amount.
For my handcrafted items, it's a bit more complicated. As with most artists, I tend to undercharge, but I want my prices to be fair and reasonable for my customers.
What has been your biggest lesson learned when it comes to pricing?
Starting out too low and not being able to raise my prices without a lot of backlash because people have gotten used to what I charge.
Case in point: I designed a whole new line of products recently and I know that I could ask for more money for them, but it would look odd when I put them up for sale alongside my older, less expensive products.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, I'm not an early riser, so I usually start my day around 10am. Typically, I’ll check my emails and look at any orders that have come in overnight. Then I go about processing and packing the items and set them aside for my 3pm post office run, which is to ensure I can ship out any urgent orders that come in during that day.
After that, it depends! A large portion of what I sell is ‘80s vintage, so I may go out to the thrift stores in my area or look online for trading cards.
I'm also always looking for vending opportunities, doing admin work or working on promotional and marketing materials for my husband's graphic novel. I don't really have a set schedule, I guess!
How do you juggle other responsibilities and interests outside of your business?
Good question. I do have a master calendar with everything that needs to be done, so I will take that into consideration when planning my day.
But I also struggle with time management so it can get difficult at times, especially if I really get into a project.
Do you have any employees or people on our team?
Does my husband count? No, I don't have any paid employees. At least not yet!
I'll admit I'm a bit of a control freak, but at some point I know I will have to let go of some things in order to keep other things from falling apart. Having someone else take over some of the work would be a relief.
If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you would do differently when you were just starting your business?
I’d become friends with an accountant. Trying to get my books together and keep them that way is difficult for me. If I could go back in time, I would also set up a better inventory system.
What would you like to learn today from a community of other small business owners and self-employed professionals?
I would like to learn how to create a better balance between business and personal life. I can't seem to just turn out the light and leave the office sometimes.
I would also like to learn how to continue to drive and increase sales to reach that next level of success!
Let's all help Anne out!
Do *you* have some fail-safe tips that can help Anne leave her work firmly at work, so she can enjoy her time outside of her business?
If you have a story to share about how you're managing work-life balance in your own small business, tell us below! :-)