This post is part of our Best Next Step series, where you will hear from creative business owners like you, who are wondering what to focus on next. The background stories and questions are from all kinds of businesses in various stages of growth, and I share my ideas for how to proceed forward most efficiently and ambitiously. Today we’re hearing from Red Staggerwing.
Business: Red Staggerwing
Owner: Lisa DeMio
Site: Red Staggerwing on Etsy
Below is a screenshot of Lisa’s Etsy shop.
I create colorful women’s accessories that are meant for everyday use. My intent is to create a brand with a strong personality that speaks to the individual women who use my products. While I have a broad base, I can usually tell fairly fast if a woman is going to carry a RSW bag or not. I started Red Staggerwing five years ago and have doubled my sales every year! I currently sell at shows and online, with a small wholesale business as well.
I began in 2009, selling at small art fairs and have grown into larger national shows and will be at the American Craft Council’s flagship show in Baltimore in 2015!
In 2012, I hired some friends to help me rebrand as I felt that I wasn’t putting my best foot forward online or at shows. I had always struggled with booth design for shows and had no real logo or identity. They did a great job and I really think that’s the kick in the pants my business needed at the time. Right now I am looking to do that again, with a focus on website building. I don’t feel that my online presence reflects where I actually am in growing my business – I need to look more professional and also want to provide an online shopping experience for my customers beyond Etsy. I have very little experience or confidence in that area so I always end up feeling overwhelmed and confused – what the heck am I supposed to do with hashtags? :)
I would like to focus on a website and a marketing strategy after the holiday madness is over. Ideally I would have a new site in place by spring of 2015. I also need to look at pricing as I feel that at the moment I am at capacity for production if I continue to be a one-woman show. I think I will have to hire people and/or raise my prices to take my business much further financially.
I am currently on Facebook and Twitter and really don’t utilize those as well as I could. I mainly use them for announcements vs promotion. I could definitely use guidance in that area. (See hashtag question above)
I have had just over 11,000 shop views on Etsy this year and 134 sales. Some of those shop views are probably repeat browsers and the shop was virtually closed for 2 months this summer, but I am very happy with my online business. Of course, I would love to see it grow. Right now the majority of my sales are in person, at shows. I love selling in person so don’t want to change that too much, it’s just a cool thing to get real time, in person, feedback on my designs.
Red Staggerwing’s Best Next Step
Thank you for entering our Best Next Step giveaway – hoorah, you’re a winner! My thoughts follow (read them with a grain of salt, since I only have a brief outline of your business and challenges right now).
Firstly, wow, your bags are just beautiful, the photography is great, and makes me want to buy (I kind of need an Urban Tote now), and the high quality is apparent. It sounds like things keep growing steadily for you, which is great, and that you are quite certain of who your target customer is. Wonderful job so far!
Raise prices or hire help?
Since you are so busy that you are just about at capacity with how much you can make on your own, you are considering hiring help or raising prices. If you feel that you’re currently undercharging, by all means, raise prices. If you think your prices are pretty reasonable, hiring help will be a smart move. This is also a handy way to double check your pricing. Will you be able to pay someone (whether this be a single employee or a factory) to produce your bags, up to your standards, and still make the same profit? If not, you’ll want to build more labor cost into your bags, so you’re paying yourself fairly, and your new employee.
Moving from Etsy to Shopify
It sounds like you sell primarily at shows, with your online shop on Etsy providing some sales. Without decreasing the amount of shows you do, it’s time to step up the online side of your business with your own shop website. Your work almost looks too high quality for Etsy, so moving away from there and setting up your own shop takes you away from a marketplace environment where people may be comparing your pricing to others, and into your own realm, where you can make something in your style, that you control, and that is as high quality in appearance as your bags are.
Of course, we would be thrilled to create a custom website for you in the new year, with your beautiful logo. If you’d like a site by spring, know that January is our busiest time of year, and be sure to get on our schedule early on.
If now is not the time to budget for a custom shop design, you will be able to easily add your logo to a pre-existing design theme on Shopify.
Promoting your business online
It sounds like you are promoting your work at shows, but beyond the shows, you are not making an effort to promote your business online. Pitching to blogs, magazines, and press is vital, and my best advice if you’re unsure of how to start is to purchase our Pitch Kit. Jena on our team created this for her clients, and the $44 will be the best money you ever spent on publicity once you start getting all the blog mentions and other press. You can learn more about that and purchase it directly here:
Jena also offers invaluable one-on-one marketing consults, focusing on media outreach or social media, and we would love to discuss that more when you’re ready in the new year.
Best wishes for building your business online!
Thanks for the chance to learn more about Red Staggerwing. I hope this all makes sense, and I encourage you to get your website in shape, and then tell the world about it.
Are you ready for the next step?
If you’d like the power and experience of the Aeolidia team behind you, please get in touch! We would love to untangle your business priorities and take a few tasks off your hands so you can do your work. Contact Aeolidia – we never bite!