It’s not unusual to get an email or a call from a Mompreneur that feels stuck in her business. When you finally make the steps to start a business and then things just kind of…fizzle. Your passion may die down or your sales might not be as strong as you hoped. And doesn’t it seem like everyone else is going so well and their businesses seem super successful? Well, truth be told, we all have dry spells. What’s awesome about this post is that Jessica Hipp, Raleigh Etsy Shop Owner, was bold enough to write about her business concerns for all of us to see and I then brought in two different experts to give some insight about her situation. Here’s Jessica’s story, be sure to read to the bottom and I’ll tell you where Jessica is today!
You know the type, the person that can throw a themed party with all the bells and whistles; the person that can see something and recreate it with little difficulty; the “crafty” type. Well, that’s me. Deciding what type of crafts I enjoyed making was certainly a journey though.
I started by making things for our wedding a few years ago. Centerpieces, invitations, save the date cards, pretty much anything that I saw in the store and thought, “That’s nice, but I think I can do better.” A number of people commented about how much they loved the things I made, and said “you should start a business!” I already had a career and was recently married, so it wasn’t something I seriously thought about, but I definitely had fun creating.
That same cycle continued with our Gender Reveal party, Baby Shower, Christmas Parties, and even my husband’s birthdays. I’d spend hours making decorations, invitations, cakes, party favors, and even setting up food presentation. The response was always the same though, “you should start a business!” If I had a dollar for every time I had heard that, I may have more money than what I have now that I’ve actually STARTED a business.
After being home with a newborn, and having some pent up creative energy to release, I started to make a few things for our home. There were wooden signs, monogrammed plates, and a few other items that I put a lot of energy into, and that everyone said they liked. They just didn’t like it enough to buy anything! It felt like a huge failure, and was honestly not nearly as fun to make. I decided to give up and went back to making random items with no plans of starting another business. I made a few items for my son, a few friends saw them and then, you guessed it “You should start a business!” came flying out. With that, Jessica Hipp Designs was born.
When I started, I had little to no dreams of it becoming big and making sales. I decided to go into this venture as a “see how it goes” type of journey. I wanted to make fun things that kids could play with, and were also easily maintainable, and wouldn’t just break after a few uses. I made a few sales, tried to remain calm, and then the sales started to dwindle and the disappointment set in again. When they say starting a business is hard, I don’t think they are being truthful. Hard, isn’t the right word, and in fact, I’m not sure there is a word for what starting a business actually is. It definitely takes persistence, and you have to work with the expectation that you can make ten different things and nine of them don’t sell. Luckily I have great testers for my products, and since everything is done by hand I don’t necessarily have to create a giant inventory. I simply take orders and fill them as I go, which is a great schedule to have with a small child.
There are always moments of frustration, and I’m still learning about what works, what doesn’t, and what can be done better. I know my way isn’t perfect, and I may not make millions any time soon, but I know that I’ll never succeed if I don’t try, and I never want to regret not trying.
Gaye Esser, coach at Redefine Balance offers Jessica some insight:
Thank you so much for sharing with everyone in such an honest fashion! You are so creative and I can tell you really enjoy that part of your job. Kudos to you for finding what you are great at and what you love to do! Any new business can bring about challenges and obstacles so I want to help with some of the frustration you may be feeling. I think having a clear picture of what your want your business to look like will really be helpful. If you understand the direction you are heading, it will be much easier for you to track results and be able to handle tasks and build goals that support your vision. Would you get in your car and drive around without knowing where you are going? No, you would have the address and directions so you could get there the fastest and easiest way. The same is true for your business. Your ideal business can be exactly what you want it to be, but in order to create it the way you want, you have to know what you want first.
Here are some questions to get you started.
- Why are you doing your business? For creativity, money, acknowledgement, or something else?
- What is the dream you have for your business?
- What does your ideal business look like? (hours worked, products, income, etc.)
- What results do you need in your business so you feel like you have accomplished your vision? How will you know when you are successful?
- What goals can you create for yourself so you begin to create your ideal business?
- What do you need to work on each day to help you reach your goals?
Everything you have been through and everything you will experience in the future are building blocks for you to use to create your ideal life. You are exactly where you are meant to be and when you take everything you have learned and apply that to your business, you will find the success you are searching for!
You have to see it to be it! Enjoy the journey!
Etsy expert, Hunter Forstchen of Katiebug Bows gives Jessica some tips:
Wow! You really hit the nail on the head! You verbalized thoughts that so many of us have felt. And this is just one more reminder that being in business is HARD! BUT – don’t get discouraged! First, I want to applaud you for taking the leap and getting on Etsy so quickly! It took me 8 months after I started my business to get the courage to try it! Second, I think your photography is great which is something I really struggle with! I like your consistent background!
Here are a couple of tips that have helped me with my Etsy shop :
- Until you gain more sales online, encourage EVERYONE that wants to order something from you to place their order through your Etsy site! The more sales you have the more credible you will appear to potentialbuyers.
- Pick a listing and play around with the tags until you start to see that item come up closer to the top when you search. Remember that it can take more than 30 minutes for the changes you make to your tags to be evident in searches. This will give insight as to things you can change that will help get your items in front of shoppers.
- Increase the content in your item descriptions. Tell people all of the great benefits of pretend play for young children. Are your felt toys machine washable? If so, tell them! Explain why your felt items are a better choice than plastic or wood painted play items that are from a store.
- Take time to search through the Etsy blogs and read the e-mails thatthey send out. I find great encouragement reading the stories of people that ‘quit their day jobs’ and there is a lot of great information about marketing your items.
- Study your competition! I just did a search on Etsy for ‘Felt Play Food’ and over 3000 items came up. Take the time to look around at shops that are selling similar items. Check to see what is selling in their shop, compare prices, read their descriptions. Find shops that aredoing well and work to be like them.
In my first year I had weeks that were great. I also had times when I would go weeks and weeks without a single sale but I’ve have great growth through my three years selling! January is a tough time to get started because it is, traditionally, the month with the lowest retail sales as people get bills from Christmas spending and resolve to save more in the New Year. Don’t get discouraged!
Not long after I received Jessica’s email she found a new home for her products at Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique in Raleigh, I’ve seen some mention on social media from other businesses like All Wrapped Up Parties, and she’s attended a Vend meeting and planning to attend more Vend Raleigh events! Make Vend Raleigh part of your business development plan, too! Come find support, direction, answers while connecting with inspirational Mompreneurs!