How For The Love Of Seeds 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?
I lost my job March 16, 2020 due to Covid layoffs. After spending a few weeks thinking the phone would ring any minute calling me back to work, I finally accepted that call was never going to happen and I needed to find something that would keep my mind business and possibly generate an income.
For years, with the help of my husband, we have grown a vegetable garden. It started with a few tomato plants about 10 years ago and now we have about a quarter acre plot with a large variety of vegetable plants. We add a new feature every year. Last year we created a green bean teepee and this year we added a large sunflower garden that includes 12 different varieties of sunflowers.
Quite frankly, gardening or as I like to say “farming” is part of my heritage. My grandfather Ford had a beautiful rose bush garden and my granddaddy House raised black angus cattle. I spent my summers running around my grandparent’s farm in Rineyville, KY. Those are some of my best memories from my childhood.
So when I lost my job, I found myself throwing all my time into creating the best garden I ever had with a special little person by my side, my granddaughter. Her daycare closed due to Covid. She spent several days a week with me last spring and summer. We started almost every plant by seed. And as the days went by we ran straight out to the garden when she got to the house to see what was new growing in the garden.
I guess I woke up one day in the middle of that and thought, how can I apply my 20+ years of hospitality sales and marketing experience to a new career. The hospitality business was completely shut down due to Covid.
I’d bought vegetable and flower seeds on Etsy myself for several years. I like growing vegetables that you traditionally do not find in the grocery store. I can always find unique and different vegetable seeds on Etsy.
It also dawned on me that since most stores were closed due to Covid, online shopping would be at a premium. So I started researching wholesale seed vendors and bought a variety of vegetable and flower seeds that were really interesting to me. I wanted to sell varieties in my shop that someone could not find at a big box retail store like Home Depot or Walmart.
I joined several garden social media groups too. Those groups were full of information. And I learned there were many new gardeners. People wanted to grow their own food due to the impact of Covid. The virus was spreading. Growing your own food is much safer for your health than buying from a grocery store. Vegetables are touched by many hands before they even make it to your shopping cart.
The key things that helped launch my shop and has made it successful include:
1. Customers - determine who will be your customers?
For me - new gardeners, experienced gardeners who are looking for new and unique seeds to grow, international gardeners who can not find seeds for their garden in their country and most importantly - repeat customers, I wanted customers that would keep coming back for more seeds
2. Identify Competition - what are they doing well, what could they improve on?
Review pricing and shipping policies
3. Pictures - it’s important to have good pictures and robust descriptions for all items selling in your shop
4. Inventory - I frequently add new inventory so my customers keep coming back
5. Customer messages - reply promptly - I have the Etsy app on my phone - I can reply any time to my customers and they really appreciate a quick response
6. Reviews - it’s really important you have positive reviews and if you receive a negative review Etsy gives you the opportunity to reply. Many customers will read your reviews before purchasing.
7. Shipping - stay on top of shipping schedules - I ship everything with tracking as well
8. Sales - Etsy’s sellers platform makes it easy to run sales and Etsy’s customers love sales. I run sales often.
9. Something Extra - I give every order a free package of seeds with their order. Customers are thrilled to receive a small package of sunflower seeds with their order.
10. Test your product - in my case, I grow a lot of what I sell in the shop in my own garden. I want to make sure the seeds I am purchasing from wholesalers are the best quality.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
Sunflower seeds are my best sellers. I have a large variety of sunflower seeds in my shop. I have a “Try It” size, which is 10 seeds and “Just Right”size that is 30 seeds. Most people buy several varieties of the “Try It” size to create a mixed variety sunflower garden. For less than $10 you can purchase 5 different sunflower varieties.
I also offer a large variety of Pumpkin seeds. People love to decorate with pumpkins. It’s a fun family project to grow your own pumpkins and then showcase them on your front porch.
I absolutely love my green bean teepee. I sell quite a few varieties of pole and bush bean seeds. My green bean teepee this year has Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans, Purple Peacock Beans and Rattlesnake Beans.
The Superfood Garden Seed Collection is a favorite as well. The collection is 15 different Superfoods that are easy to grow for a Spring or Fall garden.
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?
My first sale was from my husband, which I think is super sweet. He was so proud of my effort to start a new career after the traumatic experience of losing my job during Covid.
Etsy actually does a really good job of helping market shops. I used Etsy’s marketing resources to launch the job and attract customers.
Managing For The Love Of Seeds
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?
I used the Etsy app on my phone to manage my shop 24/7. It is a priceless resource. I can restock inventory, run a sale, respond to customer’s messages and much more all from my phone.
In the beginning, it was just me managing and running the shop. When my sales started picking up my husband started helping. Then a couple months ago I hired my 3 retired aunts to help stock inventory and package orders. They love coming over to help me run the shop. They have different professional experiences that really have a positive impact on my business.
I highly recommend shipping with tracking. When I first opened the shop I did not ship with tracking. It was not a positive experience for my customers. Everyone wants a tracking number. They want to know when their package will arrive.
The future of For The Love Of Seeds
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
My 1 year anniversary opening the shop on Etsy is August 10. I set a goal of over 20,000 sales and 1,500 five star reviews. I have exceeded the five star review goal and should reach my sales goal before July 31.
Year 2, I want to increase my sales by 150% - 30,000 sales. I also want to add 50 new varieties of vegetable and flower seeds. Right now I sell 200 varieties.
Improve my conversion rating by 1.5%. Current conversion rating is 5.7%
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
Sell what you love and don’t be afraid of making changes to your business plan as you learn what works and what does not work. Also, make sure you are running a profitable business.
Some sellers really get inspired by hearing numbers. Feel free to share them if you’d like.
How much is your monthly revenue?
My revenue is seasonal. The peak season for my business is Jan - April. My 1st year’s annual revenue will be over $75k.
What is your average profit margin?
My profit margin is 62%.
What is your shop’s conversion rate?
My full year conversion rating is 5.7%