Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tiny Tiptoes Boutique's 1-Year Anniversary!

Today, Tiny Tiptoes Boutique on Etsy has been open 1 year! I've had 120 sales in there to date. The time has gone by so fast, and it's hard to believe that a year ago, I had just decided on the name and opened my second Etsy account.

Why did I open a second shop? I started my first Etsy shop in July 2010, named it Chelly's Shoppe so I could sell a wide variety of things, and began selling a number of vintage sewing patterns I had been given and couldn't use. At this point, I had no clear direction for where I wanted to take my shop, or even if I wanted to continue after I 'got rid' of a current lot of 'inventory' I had acquired. I got my first sale a couple days later and was hooked! I began to add more vintage items and supplies and decided that was the direction I wanted to take my shop in.
   And then, for some strange reason, I picked up crocheting again. Someone had taught me many years ago, but it never took off. I began making baby hats and listed a few. When I sold my first two soon thereafter, and realized there was a market for them, I also realized it wasn't going to fit with the cohesive plan I had in mind for Chelly's Shoppe and began considering a second shop.

Why Tiny Tiptoes Boutique for a name? For a month, I brainstormed names with two criteria in mind:
   1). I didn't want the name to limit it exclusively to photography props, boutique clothing, baby headbands, or you name it! I had an idea that I wanted to sell all of those in the same shop, that they would go well together, and I didn't want to limit anything in that category by my shop name.
   2). I wanted the name to reflect that I sold children's and baby items without a potential customer looking at my shop name having to guess what I sold.
   I considered many shop names, but either they were too long, too cliche, already taken, or just didn't stand out enough. Inspiration came as I fingered through our volume of classic Beatrix Potter stories, looking at the pictures. I reached the end of The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes and studied the picture at the end of Timmy and his wife Goody with their little brood of baby squirrels. That's what they were! Tiny Baby Tiptoes! And from there, Tiny Tiptoes Boutique came easily.

Where do I see Tiny Tiptoes Boutique in the future? I am amazed and thankful for the way the Lord has blessed my business. Between the two shops, I've been so busy filling orders since New Year's that I haven't had time to roll out half the new designs I had hoped to by this time of year. I really can't complain, though, can I? :) For now, I have a vision of turning Tiny Tiptoes Boutique into a higher-end baby and children's boutique selling mainly three kinds of items:
  • Higher-end newborn photo props
  • OOAK children's boutique-style clothing and accessories
  • PDF crochet, knitting, sewing, and other related craft patterns
We'll see how things may change in the months to come!

And for those of you who may own Etsy shops, other small businesses, or may be aspiring to some day, I want to share five tips that have helped me in learning to successfully run a small business. If you find these helpful, or want to share any clarifications, I would love to hear from you!

  1. Let's start with the basics - It's a lot of work. In fact, it's more work than I ever anticipated it would be when I started out. Sometimes, it becomes easy for me to become obsessive about it and let it take over my life, but that doesn't work in the long run. I'm working on a schedule and trying to set out specific blocks of time for working on my business, and other specific blocks of time for everything else. It helps me to keep it from taking me over, and allows time for lots of other things in my day!
  2. Don't undercharge yourself. I started out doing that, and it doesn't help you at all in the long run. In fact, some advice I was given is that raising your prices will make shoppers on Etsy more ready to buy as they will be more likely to view the higher priced item as a higher quality item. Yes, I have lost some potential sales because someone found a cheaper item, but I'm not going to compromise on my prices just to get the sale. And besides, you'd be surprised at what people will pay for quality handmade items!
  3. Offer exceptional customer service. I know this is mentioned often, to the point of becoming trite, but I can't praise giving fast, courteous, and professional service highly enough. I try to answer messages as quickly as possible, and in more than one case, it has gotten me the sale. Even when I have had to turn down requests to accept a lower price, I try to do so promptly and courteously, and again, in more than one case, the person ended up buying the item anyways!
  4. This is one helpful little keyword trick I've used on Etsy which has helped my Title keywords immensely. Let's start with the sock monkey hat. I started out titling it as 'Sock Monkey Hat Newborn Photo Prop'. It was getting views, but I still wasn't happy with how it was doing. Go to the little search bar on top, make sure it is set to Handmade, and start typing in 'Crochet Sock Monkey Hat'. Notice how it will come up with a little box of suggested keywords? The closer to the top a keyword in that list is, the better and more-searched-for it is. 'Crochet Sock Monkey Hat' is pretty close to the top. With that it mind, I changed my title to 'Crochet Sock Monkey Hat Newborn Photo Prop'. Did you try that? And did you find my hat on the first or second page? Try that for your next listing!
  5. Don't be afraid to ask for help or opinions! The Etsy forums are a great place to start if you have questions about how something works, or anything Etsy or small business related. And there are Etsy teams specifically for shop and listing critiques. I've received much helpful criticism and advice from there. Oh...and don't forget little brothers...they often have the best ideas for new designs! :)
Also available as a pdf crochet pattern

I'm hosting a small PDF crochet pattern giveaway here on my blog too to celebrate! If you enjoy crocheting, or if you know someone who does, I'd love for you to enter!

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