This is our last week for The State of Making: An Online Summit! It has been a phenomenal time and if you missed any of it, the replays are up... but only if you register! Make sure you don't miss the last two sessions, too.
With this summit, we are featuring the stories of maker and their years leading up to the summit. Today's post looks at the year for maker and #ahasmember Staci of Crafti Staci. She's learned a lot about niching, timing and listening to what the numbers say. Enjoy!
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
A: In 2010, with my kids nearly grown, my stay-at-home mom gig was ending and I knew returning to work for someone else was not right for me. I've been a maker my entire life, willing to try almost anything, but my heart and skill always lead me back to sewing. I started a craft blog, which went well, so I opened my Etsy shop. Within a couple of months I found a niche and was selling steadily.
Q: Overall, what did the last year look like for you?
A: I've come to understand what everyone means by "pivot." While mine was pretty minor on the face of it, the change behind the scenes was huge for me.
I've been selling camera accessories for years, but with the decline in DSLR sales came a drop in sales for me. Fortunately for me, I had started making vendor utility aprons last year, and their popularity was rising. This year has been about making that change with more intention.
I held a sale to clear out the ready-to-ship camera gear and now offer them only made to order, while adding more ready-to-ship aprons. I've retained a few other ready-to-ship items in smaller price points, and the balance feels good now.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you learned?
A: Listen to the stats. I'd love to say that I purposely changed the focus of my product line, but to be honest, I got lucky. I was digging in my heels, still calling myself a camera accessories designer and maker, when the market was leading me away from that. Because the aprons are at a higher price point, my income was still gradually increasing, so it was easy to feel like I was heading in the right direction. When I finally admitted the shift was happening, I sat down with my stats and dug deep. Numbers don't lie.
Q: How are you anticipating and making changes for holiday 2016?
A: Based on last year, I'm expecting my holiday season to shift back a bit. Late November and early December were always busy for me, but I think this year will be more focused on late October and November. A lot of craft show vendors buy my aprons, so my season will precede theirs.
Q: What about your 2015 holiday? Or are the holidays not your “big” season?
A: Last year (and the year before) I participated in some local craft shows. I really enjoyed getting out and talking to people, but I found the sales didn't support the amount of work involved getting ready and the time spent away from making things for my online shops. Part of me will miss it, but I'm happy to still attend as a shopper!
Q: What was your proudest moment of the last year as a business owner?
A: I've had a few of those this year, but one that really made my heart swell was a message a customer sent about one of my aprons she had purchased. She said it was worth every penny. It seems like a little thing, but for some reason that really hit me. My customers are typically vendors or teachers, and for them to feel like the hard earned money spent with me was a good choice is what it's all about.
Q: What is one business tool or product that became invaluable to your business this last year?
A: I feel like I'm a little behind on this one, but the If This Then That app has changed my life. When I post something new on Etsy it scatters it everywhere for me. Most surprising to me is the coverage I get on Facebook when it posts my Instagram photos there. I don't know what the magic formula is, but it's working.
Q: What business tool or product did you decide, “Nah, actually I don’t need to deal with this”?
A: I've realized I don't need to be everywhere, on every form of social media, so I've bailed on a few of those. Also, to be honest, I don't know how much longer I will stay on Handmade at Amazon. It feels so cold.
SIGN UP FOR THE SATE OF MAKING
We are looking back and looking forward at all of the changes that have happened in the maker industry this last year. From craft shows to wholesale to Etsy. We're talking with experts, insiders and makers alike.
Get all the details and sign up for the summit!