Friday, November 20, 2009

Women Entrepreneurs Tips for Success

I've asked several women I've met through Etsy to share some of their best tips for success.  My plan is to feature each woman separately in a blog article over the next week, and then bring their advice together in a spotlight artisan feature on my website.This is the first in a series of interviews.

The first woman I would like to introduce is Lauren from Originals by Lauren and Originals by Lauren Too.
Lauren has been in various forms of business since 1981.  She started with doing craft shows, making children's dresses, and various appliqued items like bibs and potholders.
Over the years her business evolved. When  she stopped doing shows, she began doing alterations for a formal dress shop, and then alterations from her home (all while raising a family and working 20 hrs a week).  Alterations seemed to be her niche.
In 2008 she found Etsy and opened a shop.

Here are some of her tips:  

Treat Your Business Like a Real Job
Lauren schedules her appointments, and does all her errands during the morning hours. She sees customers after 2 p.m., which works for most people, and it keeps her in a routine.  She sews everyday, some days more than others.

Advertise Consistently 
She advertises weekly in 3 local Pennysavers, and finds the investment well worth it. She also gives each customer 4 business cards to pass on.  Most probably get tossed, but word of mouth has gotten her a lot of business.

Research Your Market and Find Your Niche  
When Lauren started on Etsy, She wanted to sell jewelry. But, after 3 weeks of browsing daily to see what was popular and what was saturated, she decided that there was too much competition in the jewelry category.  

She noticed that aprons seemed to sell well, and saw an opening for Plus size aprons. Her aprons are for Misses and Plus sizes, not for size 6.  A lot of shops offer the smaller sizes, and Lauren felt that people who spend a lot of time cooking are usually a little older, and a little larger.  As time went on she added other items to her inventory.

Ask for Advice
She found a mentor, from a list of mentors in the Etsy forums, who gave her a lot of tips.  She also contacted shops on a team she belonged to that were doing really well, and asked if they did anything to bring in extra buyers.

Network and Good Customer Service
Lauren recently opened a second Etsy shop selling clothing.  She spends a lot of time relisting items in both shops.  She has joined several teams, which help with business advice and exposure.  Two business cards from each of her shops are enclosed in every package she sends out. She sends a thank you convo the minute she becomes aware of a sale, and a thank you note on the invoice because people want to feel appreciated.   She also tries to ship within 24 hours. 

Keep Your Inventory Current
She deletes items that aren't selling well, and adds new ones. She joined a fabric co-op so that she can buy wholesale in smaller quantities.

Treat your home based business like a business, get in a routine, and do something you love, because even that can be tedious at times.