Hello! Joining us today, we have a special guest who has offered to talk about her business. I love the trays and shelves featured below. For a while, I fancied myself a carpenter and tried to make some things with recycled wood. It wasn’t easy. But I especially love how she’s build a presence for herself using Shopify. If you don’t know about Shopify, let me tell you. Its a one stop online store front that is incredibly easy to set up, and powerful to use. This post may contain affiliate links to Shopify. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission at not cost to you. In fact, if you use the links, you are directly supporting the creation of awesome content for the future. So thanks! In the meantime, if you’re wondering what its like to own a Shopify Store, or whether you should go with Etsy first, read this interview with the Owner of Infinite Abyss.
Hi! Who are you?
What is your side hustle, and where can we find it?
My side hustle is called Infinite Abyss, where I make rustic-inspired home decor from wood and reclaimed materials. It can be found at: www.infiniteabysshandmade.com, and on Facebook and Instagram: @infiniteabysshandmade.
How long have you done this side hustle?
I started Infinite Abyss in 2009 but really found my niche and started to focus on woodworking in 2015.
What drew you to it?
For years I did craft shows selling bags and purses sewn from vintage fabrics. I love sewing and still have the most ridiculous stash of fabric, but I was burnt out on it. When I moved from Pittsburgh to Wyoming, I gained access to a woodshop and created a few products for a craft show I was doing that summer. They did really well and the feedback was amazing, so I decided to pursue that and really take a break from sewing. I found a new niche that I really enjoyed and a few months later, had my biggest selling holiday season to date.
How did you study/train/prepare for this business?
To be honest, I didn’t really prepare much back then. I was new to Etsy and looking for a way to sell some of the crafts I had laying around for a few extra bucks. Most of it was jewelry I had created from old brooches and chains, and then it transformed into sewing, and now woodworking. In the past few years I really started to realize that it is more than just the creating – you have to market yourself and wear so many different hats. Now, I try to learn as much as I can, from growing an email list to troubleshooting my website and everything in between.
What is the best way for you to find clients?
I try to utilize all the different tools I have, such as email marketing, social media, Facebook groups, word of mouth, classified groups, etc. I still enjoy doing craft shows and really love to network with those individuals. When I moved across the country and had to start over, Instagram became my new best friend. I have found a lot of clients and shows from Instagram by looking for events around me.
Tell me about the platforms you use. What are some of the features that make it incredible to use? Does it have any downsides?
When I first started, I signed up with Etsy as my primary platform. But once my business really started to grow, I realized that I needed a site of my own. I still use Etsy and love the traffic I get from there, but it is nice to have my own space to promote myself as well. But I wanted something that was just mine, so I bounced around a bit before settling on Shopify a few months ago. And I am very happy with my decision.
Awesome. Tell me more about your experience with Shopify.
At first I was a little nervous about jumping into a plan that had a monthly fee, not that $29 a month is high but it was still something, but it has already paid for itself. Not only was it easy to set up, but there are so many templates and different apps out there that make running an online business a breeze.
Shopify offers shipping discounts and easy label printing, saving me time at the post office, and I love that I was able to set up a separate wholesale shipping area for my shops. One of the main reasons I chose Shopify is for easy wholesale ordering and it has been a great experience so far and my stockists love it.
I don’t have anything negative to say about Shopify so far, but it is a lot of work to drive traffic to my site without relying on the traffic within Etsy that I am so used to. It is a very rewarding feeling though when those orders do come in!
What would you recommend to someone just starting their business:
I would recommend having a business plan and some funds dedicated just to that. It is good to have an idea of what you want and how to get there, as well as some start-up money for a workspace or tools, depending on your business. Had I known what I know now when I first started, I might have done a few things differently. Then again, it was more of just a hobby for me that grew into something I never would have imagined, and I don’t regret taking the path I did.
How many hours a week do you think you spend on it?
Right now, I probably spend 15 hours a week on my business. Having a full time job only leaves a few hours after work and I have been spending most weekends catching up on orders and working on projects for my book.
What are your business goals for 2017?
I am currently working with a publisher to write a DIY book on projects to build from wood pallets, called Wood Pallet Wonders, so that is really pushing me to set goals in different areas. I would like to expand my product line to include more items like those in my book, build up my blog more with tutorials and projects, and eventually leave my full-time job to pursue Infinite Abyss as more than a hobby.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’m going to tie this question in with the best learning experience I have had. Back in August I was chosen from thousands of applicants around the world to join 35 others attending Etsy Open Call in NYC. We were able to pitch our lines to retailers both big and small and it was literally the opportunity of a lifetime. I got to speak with so many talented people from companies such as Macy’s and HGTV that had great advice and critiques, and for the first time I really felt like I could turn my side hustle into a full-time business. The Etsy team taught me valuable information about wholesale and marketing and it was just a ton of great information to take back home with me.
Tell me the greatest/favorite review/testimonial you’ve received?
I actually just got a review a few days ago that really touched me. A woman reached out to me for a custom order tray that had built-in handles and I was SO pleased with how it turned out; I couldn’t wait for her to get it!
She left me a review with this: “I wanted a mountain tray and I actually ordered it from another company. Big mistake! It just wasn’t what I was looking for so I returned it. I found Infinite Abyss and I loved their trays but I had one request, for it to have handles. Samantha was awesome and said she could do it and the tray turned out amazing! It was exactly what I was looking for. If you’re looking to buy a mountain tray I highly recommend Infinite Abyss! Amazing customer service and amazing work! Thank you!”
What is the best way to build a relationship with your clientele?
I think the best way to build a relationship with the clientele is to just be real with them. Customer service is often difficult but I try to convey the image that I am a one-woman operation, and every single item is made by hand when ordered.
Sometimes I am running behind when I’m swamped with orders but I just shoot out an email and my customers always understand. If it takes an extra long time to get an order out, I send them a coupon or another small item. I love to feature my customer and stockist photos on social media to show them that I appreciate the time they took to style and post an image with one of my products.
How active are you on social media? Do you spread yourself around or stick to one or two mediums?
At first I thought it was important to get myself out there across everything – the more the better. I quickly realized that no matter how hard I try, I just hate Twitter, and Facebook is very frustrating to me. Personally, I love Instagram, and being visual is a great way to promote my products since they can be styled so many different ways. I have found that to be the one outlet I concentrate most on, but am working on Pinterest and my email list next. I am trying to get better at blogging because I know that is important as well, but it has been a slow process.
If you could go back and make your start a little easier, what is one thing you would have changed?
I don’t think I would really change anything. As cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason and the choices I made up until now have given me some amazing opportunities. If I did something differently, I may not have traveled to Etsy Open Call last year. And I definitely might not be writing a book, so I am glad things played out how they did.
Any other advice, or stories to share?
Don’t give up! Starting a business is hard work, whether you use Esty, Shopify or something else, and there will be a point where you want to throw in the towel. Trust me, I’ve been there. In the end, there is no greater feeling of self-satisfaction than when you get your first client or make your first sale, knowing you worked hard for that.
Shopify Store: www.infiniteabysshandmade.com