Success Stories ~ JooJoobs

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JooJoobs is an amazing business run by Bibi, her husband, Kelly, and her father, Noi. Together, these three are making the most beautiful leather accessories.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

In a lot of ways, JooJoobs was created by accident. Like most kids, you don’t really expect to follow in your parents footsteps or at the very least, you want to try something else as your career, to form your own identity.

But when you grow up, living, sleeping and eating in a leather workshop, coming back to it later in life just seems the most natural thing to do.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

Shipping! International shipping has the extra hurdle of clearing customs security screening, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage to domestic craftsmen. To assist with this, we’ve been able to strike a great deal via Fedex to offer expedited shipping for a just a little more.

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Leather iPhone Wallet Case

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

This is an easy question, we even know the exact date. On July 12, 2013, Gearmoose.com featured our wallet. While this article didn’t go viral in the normal, social media sense, this article was syndicated virally. Which means, other websites, also featured it. And they kept featuring it, in multiple countries, and multiple languages.

This one blog post was our tipping point. The previous 6 months sales were matched in 2 days.

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Not really. Leather is one of the most versatile materials to create things with and its popularity never wanes.

We love talking to our customers and we do our best to listen to their feedback, both good and bad.

Most of our designs were suggested by our customers.

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Men’s Leather Satchel

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

JooJoobs has three creative minds always looking for new things to make. We take turns, keeping the ideas fresh.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

At this stage in life, work is our life. We try to leave a little time for ourselves in the evenings but most days and nights are filled with JooJoobs related activities.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Etsy.

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Red iPhone Clutch

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Take pictures. Take more pictures. Keep taking pictures.

When you sell online, you not selling products, you selling pictures.

If you don’t follow this mantra, you won’t be successful. I’m always trying to improve our pictures.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

This is a question we struggle with. We ask ourselves this question all the time. Each time, I think we find the most happiness comes from just living in the now and not worrying about the future.

We love our customers and we love putting smiles on people’s faces. For now, if we can accomplish that consistently over the next 5 years, I think we’ll all be happy campers.

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Leather Money Clip

You can find JooJoobs online at:

Her Etsy shop – JooJoobs

Her online shop – joojoobs.com/

On Facebook: facebook.com/JooJoobs.store

This is Why I Want You to Make Your Dream Come True

 

 

 

this-is-why-I-want-you-to-make-your-dreams-reality.jpg

I  just got back from spending 2 weeks travelling around Cambodia.

I have been to South-East Asia before… but I’ve never spent so much time in one country, travelling around on the ground between towns and cities.

It was an experience I wish every single person who lives in a developed nation could have.

Why? Because you will realise, in a visceral, fundamental way that you never have before, just how good you’ve got it.

I never truly valued such simple things as clean air, clean streets, and clean waterways before spending time in a country that doesn’t have any of these things.

Truly. I know I’m pretty lucky – and I work hard – to have the life and lifestyle I enjoy. But you know what? A huge part of my success simply comes from being born where I was… and taking advantage of that.

Most people in Cambodia are still so focussed on survival, that they will never get the chance to follow a dream. It is getting better there, slowly – but they face so many fundamental challenges. After all, over 20% of their entire population was killed in the 1970s during the reign of the Khmer Rouge.

I don’t know where you’re sitting as you’re reading this. However, given that you are here, with a internet-connected device, with leisure time and the curiosity about handmade business that has driven you to spend a few precious minutes of your life reading this article… I’m going to assume you are most likely in a developed nation, with a comfortable life. You have clean, safe water. A roof over your head. Healthy, clean food on your table and in your fridge. You have a supermarket nearby. You can walk outside and breathe clean air (I hope!). You’ve probably had a good education. In short – you’re one of the lucky ones, blessed to have been born in a clean, safe, wealthy country – and you’ve got endless possibilities in front of you if you would only reach out and take them.

Are you reaching out and taking them?

Or are you wasting your life just dreaming?

Don’t get me wrong – dreams are vital. Without hopes, dreams and ideas, we would never grow, change, evolve, or strive.

But in the words of the great philosopher + psychologist…

 

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ~  William James

 

If you have a dream… don’t ignore it. MAKE IT REALITY.

Turning my own dreams into reality has been the most rewarding part of my life. This is why I’m so passionate about helping YOU do the same. I want you to feel the joy, the strength, the freedom, the fulfillment, the self-esteem, and the power that comes from turning the dream to run your own business (or whatever else you dream) into a reality.

Putting yourself out there and taking the risk to do this is scary. For sure. But as Susan Jeffers says: “feel the fear and do it anyway”.

The more often you take action, the more courage you feel. The more confident you become. Because you realise you CAN do it. You DO have the courage, the smarts, the get-go, and the information you need.

The internet has created a world where no information is farther away than a Google search. Don’t let lack of information hold you back – go out and hunt for it. Search the hills, valleys, and deep ocean trenches of the web until you find what you seek. It’s out there.

Once you have the courage, the passion, and the knowledge… you can make amazing things happen.

Don’t squander this amazing chance you’ve been given. You are one of the lucky few who has the freedom and opportunity to actually follow your dreams.

Don’t live a life of ‘If only’s’.

Live a life of ‘I did’s’.

 

Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE. ~ Joss Whedon

 


If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…

Image source: Robin Benad

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Success

 

 

 

 

5 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Own Success

Over the last few years, I’ve taught, talked with, and watched many hundreds (perhaps even thousands!) of people who have the shared dream of turning their handmade hobby into a thriving business.

Unsurprisingly, they all share many positive things in common.

A passion for making something. A love of being creative. A drive to evolve. The desire to make real dollars from their craft.

All of those things are vital if you want to reach your goal.

That being said, I’ve also noticed commonalities in those who are struggling to move forward.

These are the people who dream the dream, but just can’t seem to turn it into a reality.

Sometimes, there are outside factors that hold us back, for sure.

But very often, these people are actually getting in their own way. They’re holding themselves back, or sabotaging their own success – and they might not even realise it.

 

I want to share 5 ways I see these people sabotaging themselves – because becoming aware of the issue is the first step towards moving beyond it.

 

1. Giving up too soon

Let’s just get this out of the way straight up. If you’re starting a handmade business expecting to be making a 5-6 figure profit in the first year – or even 3-5 years – please don’t bother.

Even those people who seem to be an ‘overnight success’ usually have many years of experience behind them – whether that’s years of doing their craft professionally (like an illustrator) or as a hobby.

Unless you are in the infinitesimal minority who have an absolutely brilliant, unique idea, AND know how to run a brilliant marketing/advertising campaign to get your brand off the ground, it is going to take YEARS before you’re making really decent money from your handmade business.

YEARS.

Obviously this will vary on umpteen factors, such as your cost of materials (for me, silver is pretty expensive and eats into my profits, but if you’re a graphic designer, you’ve probably got all the tools you already need, and you don’t buy ‘materials’ as such), the time you have to devote to your business, whether you have another job, and so on.

Too many times to count have I seen someone open an Etsy shop, chuck in 10 or so badly-lit, badly-photographed items, and then throw their hands in the air after a month because ‘they’re not making any sales’.

Of course you aren’t. You’re competing against other makers who have been not only honing their craft for years – they’ve been honing their branding, photography, marketing, etc.

You need to up your game.

Not only that – you need to go into this thing with patience and dedication.

If you’re not in it for the long haul, don’t start.

 

2. Focussing on the negative

The perfect place to see this in action is on the Etsy forums.

There is some great advice in there, but it’s more often than not buried amongst the masses who are moaning about some change Etsy has made that’s apparently caused their sales to suddenly cease. Well, honestly, I haven’t been in there for years apart from the very occasional and quick dip in, so maybe things have changed… but I’m guessing not. (Also, just a case in point – I’ve been selling on Etsy since 2008, and not once has a change they’ve made so far had any real noticeable impact on my sales. You know what has? Me – working on my photography, titles, tags, descriptions, marketing and customer service.)

This is just one example of how people are sabotaging themselves by focussing on the negative.

If you catch yourself doing this – stop.

No-one is responsible for the success or failure of your business but YOU.

Stop blaming, stop complaining, stop obsessing over your competitors, stop focussing on the negatives, and start focussing on the positives.

If you stumble across a product that looks suspiciously like yours… click away and forget about it – after all, how do you know you came up with the idea first? (Exact copies of art and photography obviously exempted here.)

If your venue makes a change you’re not happy with (for example, I disliked that Etsy moved from a 3-choice rating system to a 5-star system, but I never once thought of leaving) – either stick with it and see how it affects your business in the long term, or start building your own shop on your own dot com.

Don’t focus on the sales you don’t get – focus on making the customer experience for the sales you DO get absolutely fricking amazing so your customer raves to all their friends about how amazing you are and how gorgeous your product is.

Focus on how you can grow your business in the right direction. See every challenge as a way to grow and evolve.

 

3. Split focus

I’ve made this mistake myself – starting too many new things at once, and not being able to give any of them the attention they truly deserve because I’ve spread myself too thin.

It’s an oh-so-common pitfall amongst creative types, because we have so many ideas, and we get bored easily.

So, instead of starting that yoga clothing business… we start that, and a dog-walking business, and a web-design business, and maybe work as a barista on the side.

Which is, no doubt, fun and challenging… but there’s no way we’re going to give each and every one of those ventures the time and attention they need to grow truly successful if we’re trying to do them all at once.

Sales follow your focus.

That’s not to say you can’t do them all – just do them sequentially rather than simultaneously.

Give yourself a timeframe to focus on one only (say, 12-18 months) before you’re allowed to start a new venture.

Nick banned me from starting anything new in 2014, because of my habit of doing this very thing. (I jest… sort of… I banned myself, too).

Make sure, however, you’re not falling into the ‘giving up too soon’ trap I discussed earlier.

Give it true, 200% effort in the time you devote to getting a new business up and running.

 

4. Too much ‘research’ not enough action

You’ve done the courses. You’ve bought the ebooks. You’ve checked out every single related book from the local library.

You have all the theoretical knowledge… but you’re yet to do anything about it.

You know I am a HUGE proponent of consistent investment in your own education – both personal and professional. I teach courses, I write ebooks.

That said… there is definitely such a thing as too much research.

There comes a point where you just have to take the leap.

Stop planning and start doing.

Yes, you will fail and fall down.

Yes, you’ll make an embarrassing mistake (or 20).

Yes, you’ll undercharge on postage at least once. Badly.

But until you actually step into the arena and start failing and succeeding, you’ll never make real progress.

 

5. Waiting for perfection

This is closely linked to number 4. Too often, people hang back from taking action because of fear.

They’re afraid of not being perfect. Of not having a perfect product, or perfect packaging, or perfect photography.

Nothing is ever perfect.

Get it to the stage of ‘pretty darn awesome’ and get it out into the world.

You can evolve. You can work on it, you can make it better.

Don’t hide your light from the world – let it shine.

 

Now it’s over to you – do you recognise any of these traits in yourself? What are you going to do about it?

 

Image source: Elisabetta Foco


 

If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…

C&T Q&A – What Do I Do When A Parcel Goes Missing?

 

 

 

What do I do when a parcel goes missing

Today’s question is from Bronwyn, who writes:

Hi Jess,

Long time reader, first time emailer 🙂

For the last 12 months I have operated a (very!) modest Etsy fabric shop.

I received notification last night regarding a sale that was made in late January. Bottom line: the customer didn’t receive it. To keep my postage rates low (and appealing) I quote regular mail in my listings, and offer registered mail upon request. No customers have taken up the extra registered postage, so for most of the time I’ve been in business, I’ve taken a photo of every unregistered parcel that I’ve sent, and the photo shows the customers name, and where possible, the postage stamps on it.

But I find out that this single parcel, out if 50 sales and 12 months of operating does not arrive at the destination.

I lodged an enquiry with Australia Post, but since there was no tracking, not much more assistance they can provide, which means one of two things:

1) I lose, or
2) The customer loses

(Neither of these scenarios are appealing to me.)

What I want to know in this case, has this ever happened to you (in early days maybe)? What did you do (what would you do)?

Should I offer refund less postage (even though I decline responsibility of lost/damaged items in my shop policies)?

Or should I offer replacement (but insist the customer pays for registered post)?

Any advice you could give would really help me out 🙂

Thanks,
Bronwyn

 

Ahh, lost parcels. If you sell online for long enough, I can guarantee that it WILL happen to you – especially if you ship internationally.

It’s definitely happened to me – both locally and internationally – a few times over the years.

This is one area where there are definitely shades of grey, BUT you need to be aware of the rules you are operating under.

First – if your customer has purchased using Paypal, you need to be aware that according to Paypal rules, YOU are responsible for the parcel until the customer is holding it their hot little hands.

What this means is that if the customer opens a dispute with Paypal within (I believe) 45 days of purchase, you can pretty much guarantee that Paypal will find in their favour and refund their money. Tracking or no tracking.

Second – if you’ve sold your item via a venue like Etsy or Madeit, the same rule pretty much applies. If your customer lodges a complaint, chances are the venue will find in their favour and force you to refund them.

Third – even IF you sell on your own site, and the customer pays via direct debit… well. Let’s put ourselves in the customer’s shoes for a moment. If you bought something from an online shop and it didn’t arrive – what would you expect the seller to do? I’m betting you’re thinking that you’d expect the seller to make it up to you – either by re-sending or refunding for the item that never arrived.

 

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Yes. Long story short – YOU as the seller are responsible for that item until your customer has it. I have to admit I always cringe a little when I read someone’s policies and they state they ‘aren’t responsible for lost parcels’. Because you ARE. You can say you’re not all you like, but it’s not just up to you – when it comes to that particular issue, you’re operating under the rules of the payment gateway (Paypal or Credit Card) and the venue you sell at. Know their rules before you start selling with them.

That means you are going to need to replace or refund for an item that never arrived.

In my mind, the only possible exception to this is when you have sent an item using some form of tracking, your postal service tells you it’s been delivered… but your customer then claims to have never received it. This is where things get sticky.

Either the post office has made a mistake, your customer has made a mistake, or – in very few instances – they’re lying to you. Thankfully, the latter is very, very rare in my experience, and I always give people the benefit of the doubt.

Having a tracked item arrive/but not actually arrive has happened to me (once or twice in my whole business career) I have done my best to help the customer play detective. Ask them questions about the delivery address. Is it possible someone else at that address has the parcel? Did it go into your neighbours PO Box? Could it have gone next door? Is it a place of business and lost in the mailroom? Did you leave it too long to collect the parcel and it’s been returned to sender? Etc. It is worth following this up with your postal service, even so, JUST to make sure they haven’t made an error somewhere along the line.

However… in this instance, I have NOT automatically refunded or replaced the item, because I have physical proof of delivery.

So. When you send without tracking, you are taking the risk that you will be liable to replace or refund. Frankly, I think it’s just good business practice, because the cost to replace or refund one item out of hundreds is pretty minuscule in the long run, and it will result in a customer who will sing your praises, rather than one who will complain about you at every turn.

I personally have a price rule about what items get tracking and which items don’t.

You see – I send the vast majority of my items as ‘large letters’ – both within Australia and internationally – which keeps my postal prices very low. That means they have no tracking. If you sell larger items and ship within Australia, parcel post now has tracking as standard, which is a new and brilliant thing (thanks AusPost!). So, any parcel you send within Australia should be tracked – it’s only when you’re tricksy like me and use the large letter option that it isn’t. Of course, international letters and parcels still don’t have tracking as standard, no matter what size they are.

Therefore – I send all items over a certain value via registered or parcel post within Australia, so I can keep track of them. And yes – the customer pays for this. I simply have a different postage rate for items under that $$ value and items over that value.

Outside of Australia, I don’t include tracking with any orders. The cheapest international tracking option we have here – Pack & Track – is over $20. For the one order in 500 that goes missing, I’d rather charge my international customers $4.50 for shipping and get more sales, than charge them over $20 and lose out on sales to US, UK, or other sellers who can charge a lot less for tracking.

It’s a bit of a risk… but so is every single part of being in business! The trick is thinking about it, and coming to terms with the level of risk you’re willing to take with your shipping. Cheaper shipping options mean more sales… but also no protection for you if things go missing.

I hope this helped, Bronwyn, and I’m sorry to be the bearer of costly news!

Thrivers – I’d love to hear how you deal with the lost parcel issue. Share with us in the comments. 

 Image source: Sylwia Bartyzel

How to Create a Killer First Impression with Your Website

 

 

 

How to create a killer first impression

For every online visitor you receive, your shop has approximately two seconds to capture and keep their attention.

After two seconds, your potential customer is either going to click to browse within your shop or click away altogether.

 

This is the sequence of events that feed into the customer’s overall first impression:

The first key element customers notice: Can I immediately make sense of what I’m seeing? (Cohesion)

The second key element customers notice: Are the photographs mouth-watering delicious, leaving me hungry to click? (Presentation)

The third key element customers notice: Is it a strong brand? Is this a professional business? If I were to make a purchase, can I trust this shop to deliver what I expect? (Branding)

I want you to read over the above sequence of events and realize that, if ever the answer is “no”, the next subsequent event will not occur. A winning first impression is vital to your handmade business’ success.

 

The Ingredients of Good Shop Cohesion

When visitors come to your shop, can they immediately make sense of what they are seeing? You’ll need good product photography, a uniform look (matching backdrops, style, and theme), and professional branding to create strong shop cohesion.

I prefer to leave an online storefront with a clear understanding of the seller’s style, and to become a paying customer, I have to feel that the shop’s style matches my own. When I’m hired to help clients perfect their shop’s cohesion, I start our session by asking:

If you created a Pinterest board of images that realize or remind you of what your shop represents,what would it be composed of?

If you don’t already have a shop-related board, please start this exercise right away! It will not only help you clarify your brand identity, it will also attract like-minded people. Follow the link to my Energy Shop Pinspiration as an example. Everything on that board is magical, true, or Energy Shop-related. And since I’m already hanging out on Pinterest, it takes no extra effort on my part.

Strong shop cohesion creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for your storefront. The customer can more easily admire your wares, and the ambience you create helps build trust and admiration of your brand.

 

How to Create a Solid Look to Your Shop

  • Pick a style and stick to it. By that I mean, if you’re selling kitschy, country-cute items, don’t try to sell mod decor in the same shop. Go with your favorite style, and stick to it. Like-minded customers will appreciate your passion and authenticity.
  • Show products as a collection. On occasion, make the collective shot the main listing picture. I often feature armfuls of bracelets when I’m only selling just one in the listing. Not only are collective images more share-friendly and pin-able, many customers like to see what a collection of your products would look like. When I buy artwork, for example, I fear that it’s going to be floating alone in the room, mismatched and unnatural-like. A picture of a collective gallery of artwork above a dining room table helps me understand the character the paintings would add to my own home, and invites me to purchase more than one!
  • Create helpful categories. Don’t get too clever with listing titles, and be sure customers can navigate through the shop without becoming confused.
  • Be sure the products you list compliment each other. Boutiques can be done, but they’re not easy to pull off because everything has to match. Make sure every product you list matches your overall theme: Are you a cozy knitted goods store, or a flashy jewelry store? Do you sell vintage books or felt supplies? Pick your favorite type of product and go strong.
  • Pull the customer in by creating an atmosphere. Make sure your profile matches the storefront, the banner matches the listings, and the listings compliment each other. For example, if you sell pillows of all different sizes and fabrics, use one uniform background for every listing – the fabrics are already adding the variety. If you sell dainty jewelry, use a few different backgrounds that match.

 

Image source: André Spieker

 



Brand Your Craft Banner Wide Final

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