In order to stay at home and spend time with her new daughter, Hee Soon of SkyDreams quit her day job and soon thereafter opened her jewelry shop on Etsy in order to make some extra income. It was soon thereafter she realized this rapidly growing business would be her family’s main income. Eventually her husband was able to become his own boss as well. They work closely together and have big plans to expand the business in the coming years as their daughter begins preschool. Keep reading to learn how one woman’s dream has turned into her reality.
If you’d like to ask Hee Soon additional questions after reading her story, she welcomes you to contact her via Etsy conversations.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
I quit my day job when I was 8 months pregnant at 39. My husband and I wanted to spend as much time as possible with our daughter Sky because our time with her will be much less than most younger parents. So I stayed home with her and started selling jewelry online when she was 6 months. Then I opened my Etsy shop after she turned 1. This February is my daughter’s 3rd birthday and Sky Dreams 2nd Etsyversary. When I first started selling on Etsy, I honestly didn’t expect much. I thought any extra income would be good and it didn’t take long to figure out that Etsy would be more than just extra income!
How long had you been on Etsy before taking the plunge into selling full time? What made you decide to do so?
Physically, it is still a part time job because I don’t have 8 hours to work on my business each day but, mentally, by four months, I knew I had to try. I don’t have any training or education in either art or fashion. So, I didn’t have the confidence in my design at first. I wondered how long people would buy from me and how long I will be able to come up with new designs people would want. But by four months on Etsy, I was selling more than I thought was possible and that gave me courage to try my best and see where it would take me. I still remember that day. I woke up at 4 am to make jewelry and found out that one of my Etsy customers had spent about $5000 in one order. I woke my husband and we celebrated! It is hard to believe but I make more money than I had hoped for and business is growing. My husband is taking the plunge into being his own boss and I believe my income helped him to give it a try without worrying too much about finances. Etsy has helped me to live my dream!
How did you originally get into jewelry making?
My husband is the one who is responsible for my business. I designed a ring for his birthday and had it custom made for him. A few years later, Cartier came out with the same design for women and called it ‘Tank Ring.’ After seeing that, my husband bought me tools and ‘how to’ books. I still didn’t think I had what it takes to be a designer so a few years passed by. Then in 2005, he took me to a bead show and the rest is history. Since that fateful day, I don’t think a day went by without me thinking about jewelry or talking about jewelry.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
I am very lucky to have full support from my husband. He believes in me and has never stopped supporting. He takes pictures of my jewelry and he thinks of it as his job. He even takes pictures after a big fight that was caused by me. 😉 With his support and vision, he saw it as a business from the beginning, and I was “a deer in the headlights,” as he puts it. I invested everything I made back into business in 2007. I am not good at setting budgets and my safety blanket was my husband. We already had a business license so that came in very handy.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
Being on Etsy and customer service. I tried forums but, I either kill threads or get ignored. I am invisible in the forums. I always miss my chance when Showcase goes on sale. I renew 2 or 3 times a day but I don’t know if it works any more. I tried networking sites but, I am not so social and am very limited because English is my second language. And most importantly, I don’t have time. It seems as though I get little traffic from flickr and trunkt. Etsy brings me first-time customers and I try to have them come back by offering the best customer service I can. I can’t write attractive descriptions of my jewelry and I am not witty enough to charm customers. But, I can be myself and true to customers and use materials I am proud of. I spend a great deal of time sourcing the best materials. That seems to be working well for me. I have customers who will spend over $1000 without ever seeing either pictures of stones or jewelry. I am very proud to have that relationship with my customers. I seriously don’t know how people find me on Etsy. I checked Google Analytics and more than 50% of customers come from Etsy. So thank you, Etsy!
What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion?
I haven’t tried any promotion seriously enough to answer this question. I plan on doing more promotion and spend more time on my business since Sky goes to pre-school this September.
Walk us through what a typical workday might entail.
Really tough question to answer because I would love to put more time into my business….. Last few months, with holidays and other opportunities coming my way, I tried to work as many hours as possible. I made more money but Sky was getting stressed. So this year, my resolution is to spend as much time with Sky as possible. My typical day is mostly spent with Sky, cooking with her, taking her to gym class, dance class and the children’s park. And the three of us spend time together in the evenings as family. Right now, I work after she goes to bed, which is often after 11pm till as long as I can stay up. I still try to answer emails and do a few other things on the computer during the day, but I have to fight Sky for computer time.
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
I can’t believe that I have a business and I don’t have to go out the door to take care of it. I order most supplies from the internet, including shipping supplies. I print out shipping labels at home and I can have USPS come to pick them up. And I have customers from all over the world and they don’t have to leave their homes to receive their orders! I think it is a pretty amazing thing! What I enjoy the most about not having a day job is FREEDOM! Owning my hours is bliss! I love being able to spend every minute with Sky and watching her every “first time” is priceless! I get to make a living doing what I love and I do it in my favorite room in the house! What I miss about having a job is co-workers to gossip with and the excuse to buy nice shoes, purses, clothes and make up! Yes, I can still gossip and shop, so no, I guess I don’t miss anything about having a job.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?
Life may give us a second chance, but business opportunities don’t. I missed a few opportunities because I didn’t give them exactly what they asked for, thinking they would ask me to make changes if what I gave was wrong. They moved on to ones who could supply the exact thing! And believe in myself. It took me a long time to believe in myself and have confidence in my work. Now I am finally a professional jewelry designer and I act like one! And I believe it has made a huge difference in my business! And Etsy gave me that confidence. I have a few very good wholesale accounts through Etsy and right now, I am very picky about wholesale accounts. Surreal!
What goals do you wish to accomplish in the coming year for your Etsy business?
I am very looking forward to next year because Sky will be in preschool and I will have more time to devote to business. I have so many plans and ideas including learning new skills and being more active in the community.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you to the Etsy community for sharing your knowledge so selflessly. Every time I have a question about either technique or supply, I ask in the forums and get answers in minutes. And truly, my business wouldn’t be where it is now if it wasn’t for Etsy. Joining Etsy was the best business decision I have ever made. I have had some very good exposure through people who found me on Etsy. And what I cherish is the friends I have made through Etsy, both customers and fellow sellers. They make my journey more joyful and I believe we sellers truly support each other. I guess in that sense, they are my co-workers. Yes, we gossip together. 😉 Etsy is a very interesting community. It makes us care and get emotionally involved. I get excited and sometimes mad at Etsy, both because I care and love! If anyone is missing the social aspect of a day job, I would recommend joining a Team. And thank you Etsy for giving me this opportunity!
Thanks to Hee Soon 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.