How Blue Cotton Designs got started
Introduce your Etsy shop and tell us your story. How did you begin and decide on what to sell on Etsy, and how do you create your products?
Blue Cotton Designs is a customer-centric, quality ribbon and craft supplies shop. My mom actually started Blue Cotton Designs in 2015, but was originally named Trees and Things.
She made Christmas tree toppers and fully decorated trees that customers would buy from all over. As she needed more and more supplies, she started to research to try and find who the distributors were for the products she’d been buying, so she wasn’t restricted on the amount that she needed and she could find additional designs.
She has a background in manufacturing and retail, so for her it immediately made sense to sell the excess to cover the cost and make a little extra money. We had talked for many years about opening a business together and this seemed like the perfect opportunity; except we lived almost 2 hours away from each other and the business was in my mom’s garage.
We’ve continued to design and sell Tree Toppers, but once she started selling the ribbon and picks, the sales quadrupled. There weren’t as many selling ribbons on Etsy just yet, but more than that customers loved the decorative picks and sprays she carried for unique designs.
From there, it grew over 100% - 200% year over year. It was exciting, but even with my Mimi going to help fulfill orders it was outgrowing her ability to work it part time and she wasn’t ready to go full time just yet. I wanted it to stay in the family, so in 2019, I moved operations to Lafayette, LA and expanded the product line and it has continued to grow to over 40,00 sales completed.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
It is hard to choose a few. We have over 400 items in our shop at any given time. The fun thing about our business is that the product changes based on the season, which means we see fresh designs and global trends throughout the year. That keeps it exciting and fresh!
Getting sales on Etsy
How long did it take for you to earn your first sale and how do you currently attract customers to your Etsy shop?
We received our first sale within a few days of having the shop opened. It was near Christmas and people were looking for that special item to top the tree with.
We do a lot on social media to promote the business using ads and different content like color scheme posts and interactive posts.
We also take advantage of Etsy’s marketing tools. We have a resounding amount of return customers and they are always sending new crafters our way.
Managing Blue Cotton Designs
How do you manage your shop? Are you running solo or do you have any team members? What tools or services do you use to run your shop and how do you handle fulfillment?
Currently, Mimi, Lynda Clower, who is 73 years young, fulfills orders and helps customers daily. She loves it! It keeps her mind sharp and her body moving.
When we hit busy seasons and we get too many orders for one person to fulfill, then we will both fulfill orders. I manage all other aspects of the business, including making our Tree Toppers that everyone loves so much.
I use QuickBooks and Webgility to manage the sales and accounting aspects of the shop.
The future of Blue Cotton Designs
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
I have a few goals:
- To continue to keep working towards growth both in e-commerce and local retail, so that I can give senior adults who may want something to do to keep active or need something that is fun and easy going to earn income an opportunity.
- For my mom and I to transform the business together by adding service lines and using our imagination to create something magical and uniquely us!
- For the shop to be profitable enough for my mom and I to work with my Mimi full time at Blue Cotton Designs, making it a 3-generation operation.
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
Find a mentor, especially if you're not tech savvy. I mentor individuals all the time on how to start up on Etsy and how to navigate around the site
Learn about Search Engine Optimization, join different online communities that share their Etsy experience.
Most of all, don’t shy away or give up because you don’t get it right away. Algorithms take time to work and every seller’s experience is different.
Some sellers really get inspired by hearing numbers. Feel free to share these if you like.
How much is your monthly revenue?
What is your average profit margin?
What is your shop’s conversion rate?