How cactusandlime 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?
My name is John Celeste, and my Etsy store is Cactus & Lime, which sells digital download prints taken on road trips across America. The American West has always captivated me, and when I was younger, my mind would run wild and I would often daydream about visiting places I had read so much about and been in awe of on the big screen. Just being in the same place that was once the home of Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, and of course, the Gun Fight at the OK Corral still blows me away.
I had no idea back then that my passion for the American West, travel, and photography would serve as the cornerstones of my company, Cactus & Lime, which sells prints of those very locations. Cactus and Lime was founded in 2018. Even though, looking back, it seems as though everything magically clicked into place, there were some difficulties and learning curves along the way. I had to pick up a lot of knowledge really quickly to make sure the prints I sold were of the highest quality. I had to learn about aspect ratios, print sizes, and download formats. But I did learn, and I was so excited to share the photography from my road trips that nothing seemed difficult or laborious.
Having the privilege of others enjoying my photography through Cactus & Lime is what excites me, drives me forward to the next road trip, and ultimately makes me happy in life.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
It’s really difficult for me to pick a favorite print from our collections listed in our Etsy store, as each one has a memory attached to it for me. If I really, really had to pick a few favorites, I’d choose the following three prints:
The first is a picture of the Cabazon dinosaurs near Palm Springs. This is one of our best-selling prints, and I think the reason behind that is that they’re neutral and great for nursery and kids' bedroom wall decor.
This pink Saguaro cactus picture is one of my favorites and a best seller. It was taken on a morning hike in Saguaro National Park in Tucson, which is one of my favorite places to photograph cacti. The pink edit makes it really stand out, and it’s such a vibrant print.
What can I say... Tombstone is one of my favorite wild-west places to visit. Although it’s a busy tourist attraction, I still love the vibe and really immerse myself in the history of it. I love this print as it reminds me that boyhood dreams can come true.
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?
Cactus & Lime’s first sale was in April 2018, around a month after we opened the Etsy Store. It was a pretty exciting moment. We hadn't done any marketing at that point other than learning how to optimize listings, so it was a totally organic sale, and numbers continued to increase gradually. We currently use social media (Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook) to raise the brand's profile, connect with our audience, and drive traffic to the Etsy store. We’ve also tried and tested a few different things along the way in our marketing strategy, both free and paid. A good SEO strategy is also vital to the success of any Etsy store, and it’s something that you need to monitor and tweak constantly to stay ahead of the competition.
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?
Although I pretty much run Cactus & Lime independently, my wife Kerry and cat Simon also lend a hand from time to time. To prepare images for sale, I use Photoshop and Lightroom, and to research, manage, and optimize listings, I use Marmalade. As our products are digital downloads, we don’t have to handle shipping and fulfillment, as Etsy takes care of that for us.
The future of cactusandlime
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
I'm hoping that Cactus and Lime has a successful future ahead and that the prints I sell on Etsy continue to bring people as much joy as they do for me. I’d like to continue traveling and photographing in the Wild West, fulfilling a childhood fantasy. My dream is to see a Cactus and Lime print proudly displayed in a restaurant or hotel lobby, but I take great pride in knowing that we sell on Etsy, which is a global platform, so our prints are in homes all over the world, which is beyond amazing.
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
Don’t give up; Etsy (for most of us) is not an overnight success story. It takes time, commitment, dedication, passion, patience, and a little bit of luck. Believe in your product, believe in yourself, and be open to learning and trying new things. Do your research, monitor your competition, sell the very best products that you can, deliver amazing customer service, have competitive price points, get active on social media, and most of all, breathe and have fun!