How lil threadz 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?
lil threadz was started at around 2am on a sleepless night in the summer of 2011. My 18-month old son was still waking up throughout the night, and while attempting to fall back to sleep, I turned to my husband and said, "I have an idea. I'm going to make kid's shirts". "OK honey", he mumbled as he turned and continued to doze.
At the time, I had no design background and no clue how to use a sewing machine. But I was always up for a challenge.
Rewind a few years - I graduated from law school and entered the workforce. My last job was with a finance company on Wall St. I was laid off during the economic crisis, right before I found out I was pregnant with my son. As difficult as it was financially, I made it a priority to be a stay at home mom after he was born. Being the type of person who can't sit still and needs to constantly be occupied, I really wanted to find a way to bring in some extra money. There was no way I could return to my previous work life and spend my weekdays away from my family. I decided to literally get creative.
While growing up I had loved crafting and working with my hands. I was always drawn to design and aesthetic beauty....textures, colors, shapes and the way that finishing a project and sharing it with somebody always made me feel so good. I so badly wanted to capture that again. Being a new mom, my new found appreciation for all things children seemed to fit perfectly. That night lying awake in bed it all clicked and lil threadz was born.
Once the idea had taken hold I couldn't stop thinking about it. I moved full steam ahead. I searched high and low for super soft, eco friendly blank children's tees and fun fabrics and started putting my ideas to the test. In all honesty my beginning creations were pretty awful, but if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. And I tried over and over (and over) again.
My husband could have told me this was a complete waste of time but instead he helped find more efficient ways for me to create the shirts. He helped me find supplies and my first sewing machine. Once I had a few designs that I thought actually looked good I posted them on etsy and it was off to the races. One sale turned into many, and before long I was wondering how I was going to fill all my orders. I had a little basement studio which over time took over a big part of my living space.
Fast forward to today - my husband, once my biggest cheerleader, is now an important part of the company. We had a studio outside of our home in NJ for a number of years. We got to share the growth of our business with some wonderful employees. In 2019 we decided it was time for a change. As our children grew older and a little more independent, we decided to move the business and our lives to Austin, TX. We arrived in Austin in September 2019 and we absolutely love it.
We run lil threadz from home and Makai and Deanna still continue part time work from home in NJ. We will spend the school year in Austin and return home to NJ for the summer months. It's been a wild adventure but we feel very fortunate.
What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?
My favorite design is my Sneaker design, as it was my first vision. I made it for my son and it was one of the first designs I posted. I soon learned it was quite an arduous task, so we didn’t continue selling it, but it’s my fav!
My current favorite is our Hipster Santa. I absolutely love Christmas, and it’s so cool to put a modern twist on my favorite day of the year. We have been doing this design on tees, raglans and pajama sets. It’s a lot of fun!
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?
I received my first sale the first week my shop was up and running. We have been selling on Etsy for over 10 years, and have a very loyal following, so our main way of attracting customers has been through word of mouth and Etsy ads.
Managing lil threadz
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 personally manage the shop. It’s a 7 day a week, 365 day a year job. I handle all of the emails, customer service, supply ordering, order reports etc. I also piece together all of the shirts. I do have 3 great part time employees who assist with cutting and sewing the designs. There is also some graphic design work that needs to be completed and I have assistance with that as well.
The future of lil threadz
What goals do you have for your shop in the future?
To keep serving my customers and be able to keep filling custom requests. The past 2 years have been strange and challenging. Supply issues and juggling life with all that is going on in the world has presented so many hurdles. I just want to keep our customers happy and navigate through the ever changing terrain of made to order products.
Advice for new sellers
What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?
Power through. If you have a vision and you are passionate, be patient and stick with what feels right for you.