Rebecca of Replicca worked an office job for years before she finally decided stop daydreaming about sewing and actually take the plunge into working for herself, thanks to Etsy. (She makes a point NOT to work in her pajamas.) Keep reading to find out her best marketing tips and what she would tell herself if she could go back and do it all over again.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
I had dreams of quitting my day job long before I started selling on Etsy — in fact, long before I even had a proper day job. I just didn’t know when they might come true until I found this forum and realized the possibility of selling online and internationally. I had sold by consignment and wholesale to a handful of stores over the years, and in the summer of 2007, I cut my full-time hours in half to design more on the side, but it was hard to make a profit and dependable income from it. I began selling on Etsy in November of 2007 and by April 2008 I handed in my resignation at my day job.
What was the deciding factor resulting in pursuing Etsy as your full time job?
I was working for the municipality, doing customer service for the tax office and daydreaming of my sewing machine. Years had gone by like this, so I felt extremely bored and creatively stifled. I always knew it wasn’t for me, I just thought it was practical. When I realized Etsy could be my transition income, whether or not it would work, I quit as soon as I could to salvage what little sanity remained.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
The business was registered years before, and I was running things on a much smaller scale than I am now, but it made it easier to take the plunge. I felt comfortable jumping in because I had already done a “practice run” of the company. I managed my own bookkeeping, I was aware of costs and time factors, and since my only safety blanket was access to credit – I knew I would be motivated to make money, not spend it.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
Someone said it before, and I’ll second it: the best marketing tool is posting new items or designs. It works every time.
What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?
I’ve found it to be more satisfying to work out a new design than to purchase blog ad-space or a virtual table in hopes that it will generate customers. It’s not that I think the methods don’t work, I just don’t see the proof as clearly. I’m still on the fence about the mailing list because I worry that I use it too often for some people and not often enough for others!
Would you walk us through what a typical workday might entail?
- Every day starts with coffee. And I absolutely must be dressed for the day. As nice as the stereotype sounds, working from home in pajamas doesn’t feel right, especially since I’m making clothes.
- I always check my email first to see if I’ve sold anything overnight.
- I work on cutting and sewing most of the day and prepare sold items to ship last.
- I’ve spent a few entire days shipping things only to realize the day flies by before I’ve had the chance to play.
- If I’m lucky I work on a new design or go fabric shopping, and if I’m even luckier I spend a couple of hours doing a photo shoot.
- Uploading and posting the photos is always fun — it usually means new feedback and new customers.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
I love working from home, listening to my own music, being paid to be creative and not reporting to anyone. I miss getting paid for sick days and to surf the internet (and unlimited access to Post-It notes and all the other goodies in the supply cabinet). Every once in a while I miss the mandatory social interaction, but the voices in my head quickly remind me I’m not alone.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?
I would have done it sooner. My life feels legitimate now. I’m living as ME, every single day. I’m no longer waiting for the day when I can live my dream. Lucky for me, I didn’t realize the possibilities until now, when I feel I can handle it. A few years ago I might have been too impulsive with everything.
My advice to my previous self would be to believe in yourself, and give yourself more credit. Insecurity slows you down while you wait for reassurance. Also, accept help when it is offered. I’ve lugged many a heavy box around because of my stubborn independence. And my advice to anyone else: you know if I’m talking to you, you know if you’re supposed to do this, you dream about while you’re awake and asleep. You don’t need me to tell you to: just DO IT.
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year?
My main goal is to maintain the momentum and grow, without getting in over my head. I hope to do more menswear and be able to keep a wide range of designs in the store. And, I’d love to supply to the stores that have contacted me, who I once thought would be my main outlet.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Etsy for giving office-going daydreamers like me an escape. A place to run to, to be free and among like-minded artisans and conscious consumers. Thanks to your existence, Etsy, I can breathe again. Oh, and props to the internet, too.
Thanks to Rebecca for sharing her story and business with us! Check out the related items below to see some of her work.
You can find some of our previous Quit Your Day Job posts here.