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Taking our creations to the next level

My mom and I have been on an Etsy adventure for little over three months now. We may not be off to a flying start, but hey, we’re selling! Although, defining ‘a flying start’ does of course depend on the goals you set out. And I don’t think we set any, besides making a sale as soon as possible. So from that point of view, our start couldn’t have been any better. ;) We even had our first custom order from our first return buyer! YAY! She already bought two giraffes for her baby twins, but also wanted to surprise her bigger kids. Only request was to make one for her son in boy-ish colours and no specification for the one for her older daughter. She trusted us on the fabrics, and that was such a great feeling! Especially when we sent her photos of the giraffes and she absolutely loves them! (If you’re interested in a custom giraffe plushie, check this listing ;) ) 

Comment by our lovely buyer: 
“they are absolutely beautiful the big kids are 
going to LOVE them thanks so much *^_^* “

But it’s time for a change, we know we can do better and dream bigger!

To be honest, neither of us has any marketing experience whatsoever but after spending the last few months reading on all aspects of marketing (branding, SEO, social media, ads… ) I think we’ve got the idea a little bit. Most important thing I’ve learned so far is to have a solid business plan, set goals and have a planning. Guess what we don’t have? Right. Bingo. 

Apparently we’ve got time for drawing up big plans now. I came across several blog posts and boards on Etsy about slow summer months and people already starting to stock up for the holiday season. Now I’m not sure about the slow summer months, I suppose not every shop experiences it and it all depends on your target market, but I image it holds for our target market. I mean, the weather is improving (hopefully) and the days are long, so why sit behind your computer when there are so many lovely activities in the summer. I know what I’d do as soon as summer finally decides to kick in here in West-Europe. ;)

A solid business plan, what does it entail? Well, according to the this blog (and there are many, many more examples to find) A business plan will:

  1. help clarify the purpose of your business
  2. provide a roadmap for your business
  3. help you focus your efforts
  4. provide a way to measure performance and track business growth
  5. help define your target market
  6. allow you to effectively compete in the marketplace 
  7. allow you to make financial projections and determine business profitability.”
The same blog posts actually guides you through writing a business plan, so we will surely check it out and probably give it our own twists here and there. After we’ve written our business plan, our main goal is to set up a daily, weekly and monthly planning, because this is where our mother-daughter endeavour is seriously lacking. 

We love spending weekend days together and designing and crafting together. But since we don’t have any goals, it is especially difficult to create things when we’re not together and even harder to determine what to make. Of course, we started by creating the things we love but to successfully tap in to the market we should also be thinking about what our target market wants. For instance, we’ve been playing around with the idea of making each of our items with the same fabric or combinations of fabrics (a Mippo, giraffe, small plushies, pillow covers, quilt, elephant .. and any new designs we might be sneakily developing). Every item in a unique style, but coordinated for e.g. a purple baby nursery. Wouldn’t you love that idea? Also, I’d love to create some Halloween or Christmas plushies or accessoires for the Mippoos!

But how do we make these goals attainable? Break them into smaller goals, write them down and set a planning. We both love to be able to cross something off a list, because it gives a feeling of fulfillment! So, business plan, goals, smaller goals, lists, planning! That should be it, right? We are definitely going to keep you up to date on our progress! For now, I’ve started writing down what we’ve already done and what we should be doing. A little summary of what should be included: 
  • New Etsy listings
    • Coordinated creations
    • New designs
    • Holiday season
  • Facebook (Ads)
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Stumbleupon
  • Other social media 
  • Blog
    • Writing
    • Promoting
  • Giveaways
  • Other promotional sites
  • Craft market in August/September

Once we’ve created a fully detailed planning, I’ll share the insights it gave us. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I love to read tips which are practical. E.g. spend 10 minutes on Facebook in the morning doing so and so, 5 minutes on Twitter doing this and that, so I’ll be sure to share those experiences too! We’ll be drawing up our plans in the upcoming two weeks.

I already know that the lists are going to be long, but I’d love to be able to make a daily/weekly/monthly planning and have repeating daily to do’s. By the way, another reason why planning is so important for me: I’m trying to combine running the shop online and managing my graduation project. I’m a biomedical engineering student and currently working on a one year project about children with autism, epilepsy and other disorders. I’m trying to combine urine data and mathematical models to better diagnose these kids but also to come up with better treatments and model the effects of nutrition and medicine. I don’t have any results (yet ;) ) but it does take up most my time of course. 
And I’ve started actually getting hands on in the creations recently. Still not doing the actual sewing, but mainly helping in designing and some other small tasks. My main focus is still on all technical stuff, although mom has finally admitted she wants to learn about social media! In exchange for sewing lessons. ;) But no sewing lessons for me until after my graduation, because I know I won’t be able to completely motivate myself to sit behind my computer when I could also be SEWING. ;) (OK, honestly, those are my mom’s words.. but she’s is completely right, hehe.)
So, how did you experience the first months of business? Did you start out with a business plan? Or were you just like us, diving right in? Please share your experience with us! We’d love to read and learn about other people’s experiences! 

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