Home Case Studies Growing a Handmade Brand: One Family’s Journey from Etsy to Shopify

Growing a Handmade Brand: One Family’s Journey from Etsy to Shopify

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For ten years I ran a enterprise solely on Etsy. It was a facet gig, by no means carrying any strain to present. It funded my interest, scratched my artistic itch, and related me to a group of like-minded makers.

Each merchandise I made was distinctive and labour-intensive—it wasn’t an enterprise that was designed to scale. And I didn’t need it to. As I had no plans to rent sewers or outsource any a part of it, Etsy was the proper platform for my enterprise. 

For many different makers, just like the Polder household of Old World Kitchen, their craft and their livelihood are one and the identical. Scaling your handmade business into a bread-winner in lots of instances means taking the scary leap outdoors {the marketplace}.

For many manufacturers, just like the Polder household of Old World Kitchen, their craft and their livelihood are one and the identical.

While this submit is basically one lengthy argument for shifting from Etsy to Shopify, I need to be clear that I feel each platforms can play an vital function within the life cycle of the maker entrepreneur.

A platform like Etsy is a wonderful springboard for a new maker enterprise as a result of the shoppers are in-built. Etsy’s lively purchaser group is, reportedly, 27.1 million sturdy. That’s vital for the beginner ecommerce retailers. “If you construct it they’ll comeâ€� doesn’t apply to the web, and launching your individual store, say on Shopify, depends on actively driving your individual site visitors, considering SEO, and budgeting money and time for advertising.

When the Polders needed to take their door-to-door farmed and handcrafted merchandise on-line, they didn’t even have web service of their dwelling, not to mention know the very first thing about search engine optimisation. 

Loran Polder, daughter and enterprise supervisor, credit Etsy with making their enterprise attainable. In the early days, it helped them be taught ecommerce on a primary stage.

Two years in the past, although, the Polders folded their Etsy store and opened store on Shopify and haven’t appeared again. The change helped them develop up but in addition out, growing conversion, increasing to resale items, constructing an e-mail listing, and owning their brand story.

What’s the Difference?

Etsy is a market for handcrafted and classic items (and since late 2015, select maker-developed manufactured goods). Shops reside inside a set template on Etsy, and objects are searchable throughout the market. Communication with consumers is constructed into the messaging characteristic throughout the platform. Community is a highly effective facet of the expertise, permitting Etsy sellers to join and set up regionally.

Shopify is a commerce platform that enables retailers to promote on-line, in store, by way of social media, at a farmer’s market, and all over the place in between. Your Shopify store is your individual. It lives in your area, displays the individuality of your model, and permits the pliability to select a plan and worth tier that greatest helps what you are promoting wants. We sit quietly within the background, powering your gross sales and letting you shine. 

Many present Shopify retailers made their break on Etsy. How have you learnt when you’re prepared to make the transfer? I spoke with Loran Polder about her personal family’s resolution to develop their model beyond Etsy.

This is their story.

Meet Old World Kitchen

Eight years in the past, whereas dwelling in a Florida lakeside group, the Polder household determined, with no expertise, to develop into farmers. Dad was in the midst of a profession change, and slightly than take a new function that might ship him travelling away from his household, he determined to do the other: construct a enterprise with his household. Their property on the time was solely a quarter acre, however afforded them the area to breed rabbits and chickens.

The family—Mom, Dad, and a gaggle of kids—made canned items like jams, jellies, and relishes, and bought these, together with tomato seedlings at native farmers’ markets.

“We simply went for it chilly turkey. We definitely weren’t getting wealthy doing it, but it surely was enjoyable to do as a household. It was shifting within the course of our goals. We began creating some model concepts. We known as it Old World Market. Initially we have been planning on moving into a massive number of quaint expertise.â€�

The household thought-about basket weaving, blacksmithing, and leather-based work, but it surely was when Dad began woodcarving that the household hit its stride. They started promoting his handcrafted spoons on the markets, garnering nice suggestions.

“They began promoting very well, and folks have been asking us, ‘Do you will have a web site? You really want a web site.’ We knew completely nothing about promoting on-line. I constructed this terrible, terrible web site on Vistaprint, which was actually a flop. We knew nothing about advertising. It simply appeared to us, sheltered as we have been, that you just put up a web site and folks obtained to it by some means. Of course, we realized that that was not the case in any respect.�

It simply appeared to us, sheltered as we have been, that you just put up a web site and folks obtained to it by some means.

Loran Polder

The success of the wood spoons at markets, nonetheless, prompted the household to pursue the enterprise in a critical method. The total clan packed their luggage and moved to a massive farm property in Tennessee. They added dairy cows and beekeeping to their farming repertoire.

True to their previous world strategy to their enterprise, their preliminary gross sales channel was additionally a throwback. The Polders packaged their honey and handmade items into reward baskets, and bought them door-to-door, a twist on the midcentury vacuum cleaner salesman.

“People have been simply enamored with it as a result of it was actually totally different. You simply do not see individuals bringing that sort of product to your doorways. We had individuals who would purchase a couple hundred {dollars}’ price of stuff from us at one time. We’ve been pioneers, simply developing with concepts that are not typical.â€�

It was a threat. But the old-fashioned gross sales tactic labored for a enterprise that prided itself on centuries-old craftsmanship. The Polders discovered stunning success with the strategy, but it surely was time-consuming, and never sustainable. It stored a number of the household away from the farm, away from their dream to work collectively.

That’s when a neighbour urged Etsy.

“We’d by no means heard of Etsy. We did not even have Internet in our dwelling on the time. I’m telling you, we have been utterly non-Internet savvy in any respect. We have been really going to the native library to test emails or to store for something. I look again and I feel, ‘How did we even make it!?’ We began establishing an Etsy store, and our footage have been horrific. I do not understand how we really bought something. Lo and behold, we had an order after three days. That was vastly encouraging to us.â€�

We did not even have Internet in our dwelling on the time. I’m telling you, we have been utterly non-Internet savvy in any respect.

Loran credit Etsy for getting their enterprise off the bottom, for introducing them to ecommerce. The market mannequin introduced them their first prospects with none advertising know-how.

“We did a lot of progress on Etsy. It’s the place we began actually studying, within the boards, concerning the significance of your pictures, good copy, and search engine optimisation.�

The household was approached with a pop-up partnership alternative. The ensuing conversations led them to notice that they hadn’t invested sufficient thought into their precise model. As they imagined their model introduced to life in a bodily method, it helped them outline their message and imaginative and prescient for the corporate as a entire.

“We have been ready to lastly decide on one thing straight out of previous world Europe, elegant however rustic. Italian butcher blocks which are 200 years previous, copper, low candlelight, and Venetian plaster. Just actually quaint gourmand rustic class. The pop-up did not work out, however we have been so glad we labored by way of all that as a result of it compelled us to really begin taking all these ideas and saying, ‘This is what we’re all about.’â€�

They renamed the enterprise Old World Kitchen, intent in honing in on the culinary market and specializing in spoons. The model continued to develop on Etsy.

Then, they got here to the crossroads frequent to the journey of many maker companies. They hit the height of their handmade manufacturing capability, and requested themselves: how can we scale?

They hit the height of their handmade manufacturing capability, and requested themselves: how can we scale?

At this level, they’d two choices. First, the household thought-about supplementing Old World Kitchen with a sister model. They mentioned investing in a CNC machine to create one other line of wood spoons at a lower cost level. The transfer, nonetheless, would contravene all the pieces they’d labored to protect and say about their model. The various? Increase their costs. Rather a lot.

“It was completely loopy and it was completely scary. I feel that a lot of crafters have this concept that you’ve to be the poor struggling artist, like there’s one thing fallacious with determining how to make what you are promoting worthwhile. Our costs at the moment are above what you’ll usually count on to pay for a wood spoon. But our prospects do not blink a watch. They benefit from the handwritten observe within the field. They take pleasure in understanding that our household put love and care into this and made it for them.â€�

I feel that a lot of crafters have this concept that you’ve to be the poor struggling artist, like there’s one thing fallacious with determining how to make what you are promoting worthwhile.

While their prospects are completely satisfied to pay the elevated costs for the merchandise, the backlash has come from different crafters promoting comparable merchandise at a fraction of the fee. While these opponents is perhaps struggling, Old World Kitchen thrives. Why? They’re not promoting a spoon. They’re promoting a lifestyle, their story, and an expertise.

“In conjunction with elevating our costs, we stated that we’re going to make our packaging the very best it may be. We’re going to make our customer support the very best it may be. We’re going to join with our prospects greater than we ever have earlier than, and we’re going to increase the bar for ourselves and be the very best that we could be.â€�

As their model grew to become stronger and extra outlined, and their costs grew to become extra aligned with a luxurious model, they discovered much less and fewer that Etsy might meet the wants of their rising enterprise. With the elevated give attention to their story, the restrictions of a market and the Etsy store template grew to become evident. Loran felt that the standard Etsy shopper–youthful and extra funds conscious–grew to become more and more out of line with their target market.

The Polders started to develop their social channels in an effort to construct prospects outdoors of Etsy. They additionally tried different marketplaces and platforms earlier than touchdown on Shopify.

They upgraded their digital camera and realized picture enhancing software program, launching the brand new pictures in tandem with their Shopify store.

“People simply commented over, and over, and over once more that it appeared like Williams-Sonoma. It appeared so massive all of a sudden. We have been simply completely blown away as a result of our conversion price went up a lot. We knew we have been doing one thing proper.�

We have been simply completely blown away as a result of our conversion price went up a lot.

The conversion leap, Loran thinks, is that although the identical quantity of site visitors was coming to their Shopify store, the visits have been extra deliberate. A market setup leads to a lot of looking, and stumbling by way of pages of comparable merchandise and types.

“There’s a enormous quantity of distraction on Etsy. It’s extra like strolling by way of a crafts honest and simply going from sales space to sales space slightly than deliberately driving up to a brick and mortar store. You’re ready to construct a lot extra model loyalty with Shopify. We’re ready to create precise followers of our model as a substitute of individuals which are similar to, ‘Oh, I really like Etsy and it is not likely about you in any respect.’â€�

Old World Kitchen held agency with the brand new costs and continued to develop a following. The new pricing mannequin allowed them to scale whereas staying true to items made by hand. Each yr, as they proceed to hit the ceiling of their manufacturing capability, the household regroups to resolve how they’ll proceed to discover the expansion and whereas sustaining model integrity.

Last yr, they determined to broaden on Old World Kitchen’s choices by partnering with different complementary manufacturers as a reseller–one other progress technique that might not have been attainable with Etsy. The household took a distinctive strategy to working with different distributors.

“Everything that we promote is unique to our store. We will not promote something that every other store is promoting, together with the crafters themselves, in order that they have to develop one thing totally different for us. We’re asking for a product that possibly is increased finish than what they’d promote by way of their very own model, so the costs are a lot extra. We stored the monopoly on the wood stuff, however now we have classic European copper and ceramics, effective handmade knives, and candles.â€�

The further work meant shuffling a few of Loran’s duties round, however the household nonetheless operates as one massive well-oiled machine (and with none precise machines).

Loran now handles all the duties concerned with conserving the web store operating, and all the pieces from social media to e-mail advertising. Her youthful sister manages the delivery and packing, whereas many of the household makes up the manufacturing crew, with Dad—Master Woodworker—on the helm. And mother? She’s the glue.

“Mom simply retains us all in line—she’s our main high quality management particular person. If anyone’s slacking, she makes certain they understand it. During the vacations, she tries to make it as party-ish as attainable. She will get a lot of snacks and sizzling cocoa, and simply retains the workshop stocked. We reduce up and hear to music and have a blast as a lot as we probably can whereas stressing to the max in order that we will get all these orders out for Christmas.â€�

The Polder household has constructed the enterprise to assist generations to come, with room to incorporate future spouses and youngsters into the combination. Forging out into the web unknown and taking a stand with their model helped them notice their dream of working collectively.

When to Make the Switch

Loran credit Etsy for getting the family’s enterprise off the bottom. The platform was a excellent place to experiment with ecommerce, study coping with the nuances of on-line customer support, and produce their product to an present viewers.

Eventually they outgrew it.

When to graduate from Etsy to Shopify to your personal store will depend on your objectives, and whether or not the restrictions of Etsy’s product or viewers start to have an effect on progress.

You is perhaps prepared to transfer if:

  • Brand is integral to what you make—as in your story or the way you make one thing or who you might be. Port your merchandise to a web site that enables you to personal your model story and customise the expertise to your buyer.
  • You need to scale by changing your handmade manufacturing to a producer (outdoors of Etsy’s restricted manufacturing alternatives). Most manufactured merchandise will not be allowed on Etsy.
  • Your target market exists outdoors of the Etsy group. This stands out as the case in case your model decides to goal a extra luxury-focused buyer
  • You’re to increasing your model past merchandise you make your self. Etsy prohibits reselling, besides within the case of classic objects.

In a lot of instances, retailers elect to hold their Etsy outlets lively even whereas rising a Shopify store. Corbé is one such instance, sustaining their ties with Etsy to keep related to the maker group, and hold that gross sales channel lively. This could also be a good technique if you’ve constructed up a appreciable following on Etsy and need to preserve these relationships.

To sync the gross sales and stock between Etsy and Shopify, you should utilize an app like StitchLabs.

Shopify additionally integrates with different marketplaces like Wanelo, supplying you with the advantage of having your individual standalone ecommerce store and entry to a group of lively buyers.

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How to Migrate Your Products

Rather than beginning for scratch and recreating your product pages on a new platform, you may import a lot of your work into Shopify.

  1. From your Etsy Shop Dashboard, below Shop Settings, click on Options.
  2. Select the Download Data tab
  3. Click Download CSV
  4. After you sign up for Shopify, get the EasyImport Etsy Importer from the Shopify App Store
  5. Within Shopify, discover EasyImport below Apps
  6. Upload your CSV file and comply with directions to import your merchandise. You can assign them to collections throughout this step.
  7. Preview your merchandise earlier than importing. The course of will import your product titles, descriptions, variants and costs.
  8. Go to Product in Shopify to edit other information manually and add product photographs.

The Benefits of Moving your Handmade Business to Shopify

The freedom and adaptability of operating a enterprise on Shopify permits handmade companies to scale, and automates a lot of the commerce processes, permitting makers to give attention to what they do greatest: making.

More advantages:

  • Bring your model to new audiences. Target new prospects outdoors of Etsy’s group, and personal them. Your e-mail listing is a beneficial advertising instrument, serving to you construct loyalty and develop repeat enterprise. Shopify integrates with gross sales channels like Amazon and Houzz to show you how to attain area of interest audiences and sync gross sales.
  • Gain management over the design and performance of your web site. Chances are you’ve shopped on a Shopify-powered store and didn’t notice it. Our many theme options are designed let your model shine. You may even work with a developer to utterly customise a theme to suit your wants.

Chances are you’ve shopped on a Shopify-powered store and didn’t notice it.

  • Convey your model in a customized {and professional} method. Give legitimacy to your model with your own domain.
  • Resell, wholesale, curate, manufacture! Grow your model past the restrictions of Etsy by bringing on different curated manufacturers, including wholesale login and pricing, or shifting your manufacturing to a manufacturing facility.
  • Grow your content material technique with a weblog. As is the case with Amalie Beauty, a blog can be a huge driver of sales. Owner Megan Cox builds model belief by positioning herself as a magnificence skilled, and makes use of her weblog to clarify the science behind her product. She reaches new prospects by way of natural search by posting common magnificence opinions and driving readers to her store.
  • Run e-mail campaigns to drive gross sales and site visitors. Communication with prospects on Etsy is restricted to messages instantly associated to an order. Shopify’s integration with e-mail apps like Mailchimp permit you to communicate regularly with your customers and subscribers—weblog posts, gross sales bulletins, unique offers, and new merchandise.
  • Tell your model story, your method. Add a number of pages to inform your story. Maybe you will have a dropdown menu below “Aboutâ€� that hyperlinks guests to “Meet the Teamâ€�, “Our Storyâ€�, “Our Philosophyâ€�, and so on. Your dwelling web page may put your story first. Use apps like Snapppt to pull in your newest Instagram pictures. Use a lookbook app to share way of life photographs that give prospects perception into your fashion and inspiration.

The Polder family’s personal story is one and the identical with the model, and having the ability to inform it on each web page of their web site is vital to the survival of their model and the preservation their legacy.

The key is telling our story higher than different persons are telling their story. We need the product to be secondary.

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