I meet so many amazing and creative people at my store every day. About two years ago, Chandler walked in… ready to invest in her creativity, and her dream to be a stay-at-home mom. Her story is so inspiring, her products are beautiful, her style brings new meaning to the term “boutique baby”, and her Etsy sales records are the proof.
I caught up with Chandler, to find out about her story… and hopefully we can get some tips from her success and how she turned a hobby into a full time profession.
Chandler Sykes , a native to Boulder, Co started her Etsy shop, BoCo Baby in May of 2010.
How did BoCo Baby begin?
Chandler: “In April of 2010 my son turned one year old. My husband and I had agreed that I would be a stay at home mom for a year and then start looking for a job. I didn’t want to leave my Owen. I heard about Etsy from a friend who had a shop and when I started looking at all the baby stuff I thought “I can make that”, even though I had never sewn before. I received a simple machine for Christmas, I taught my self to sew a few simple things, listed a few items and slowly… business picked up!”
Did it really make a difference to have a reliable sewing machine?
Chandler: Business really took off when I purchased my BERNINA in February of 2011. I was so fed up with the machine I had received for Christmas because it was constantly breaking and we had actually replaced it once and exchanged it another time. After buying my new BERNINA Sewing & Embroidery machine, the quality of my products increased overnight! And my business grew because I was now able to personalize baby items. I love my machine and the guidance and support I receive from Vanessa and the lovely ladies at Studio Bernina.”I know this sounds like a paid advertisement, but I'm really just in love with my machine. It had such a positive effect on my process and finished products that I would recommend it to anyone!"
I must have a reliable machine!
While many designers and crafters dream of quitting their "day job" and making a living on Etsy, Chandler and BoCo Baby have made that a reality. What would you say the secret to your success has been?
Chandler: I think the secret is that I am passionate about my business and my clients. I get really excited about fabric and I am constantly trying to improve on my designs. I love what I do and am pumped every morning when realize that I get to create for a living. This fire has kept me moving forward through exhaustion, frustration and the other natural challenges that come with running your own business.
Chandler: Boco Baby sells custom baby products. Etsy is such an incredible opportunity for talented artists because consumers are tired of having the same thing as everyong else. Etsy provides the chance for them to purchase exactly what they want, and one of a kind. I am able to both customize the colors and size of the blanket and embroider the baby’s name, all to my customers request.
What steps did you take to prepare for transitioning into full-time Etsy selling?
What are your best marketing tips?
Chandler: I haven’t done much active marketing. But I make sure to have the web address on the tag that is sewn onto every product. This way people can always find my store if they receive my product as a gift!
What technique has been the most effective in getting buyers to your shop?
Chandler: Two important things to get people to my shop are the tags I use and the photos;
1. Listing tags (at the bottom of the page) are very important. When a search result returns 10,000 items, a buyer will try to narrow it down by being a little bit more specific. If your product doesn’t show up in a search there is no way a buyer will find you!
2. Great photos!
Once the buyer has the search results, I want my pictures to catch their eye.
What are the most important things to pay attention to when listing your product?
Chandler: Photos and tags are the most important aspect of creating a listing! But you also want to have an accurate description. I want to include the materials, size and how it is made. Buyers aren’t able to hold the product and look up close, so your description and pictures have to take the place.
How do you keep up with the trends?
Chandler: I try to be both cutting edge and true to myself. If I wouldn’t buy it for myself, then I won’t list it. I LOVE fabric so I am always checking to see what will be coming out in the next six months.
Your photographs are always beautiful and so professionally done. Do you take them yourself?
Chandler: I do take my pictures myself. The best pictures use natural light. I have found that for my blankets a blank white background is the best. But other products may be best if they are shown how they will be used. I have tried taking pictures of my 3 month old with her blankets but she is having too much fun kicking right now. A convenient way to create a white background is to buy 2 pieces of white foam board. Then you can use one as the bottom and one as the background. It can be set up quickly and you can position it where the best lighting in the house is.
How do you determine your pricing?
Chandler: I want to keep my prices competitive while still valuing my time. A big mistake I often see is underpricing items to increase sales. If you have a beautiful and well-made item don’t be afraid to charge a price that reflects the time you put into creating it. I usually calculate how much materials cost as well as how many hours it takes to create, package and ship.
What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of Treasury Listings? I don't know? I dont have any experience with these.
I have read that listing an item every day is key to sales success, do you find truth in this?
Chandler: Listing an item everyday used to be very important because the default search was based on how recent items were listed. Now etsy has an unspecified algorithm to determine what items are most relevant to your search but it relies heavily on the title and key words.
What can we watch for in the future of BoCo Baby?
CHANDLER: My next goal is to continue growing the business AND spend more time with my family :)
Thank you Chandler for such an inspiring story! Many of my dearest friends have gotten custom baby things from BoCo Baby. They are always delivered so beautifully… even her packaging is done with care and time. You can find Chandlers one-of-a-kind designs here @ BoCoBaby or on facebook!