How MosesDesignHouse 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?

Hi, my name is Tilaina, and I am the owner and founder of MosesDesignHouse on Etsy. One day I was searching Etsy for a birthday invitation template for my son’s birthday party, but I couldn’t find anything that matched what I was envisioning, so I thought, maybe I can make the design myself. And so I did. I realized while making that first design on my laptop that I really enjoyed coming up with an idea and making it come true. After craving a creative outlet since leaving my company position in 2018, I had the wild idea that I could start a shop and create beautiful, affordable, meaningful designs that could be cherished for years to come. In 2019, my Etsy shop opened as Tilaina Rinkel Designs.

I originally started with customized digital downloads, like that birthday invitation, but as time passed, I slowly offered more designs. From there, I worked on adding designs for nurseries, children’s playrooms, and/or bedrooms. I wanted to make sure that my designs were affordable and that anyone on a limited budget could still afford to buy artwork for their kids’ rooms. As a parent myself with four kids (three boys and one girl), it can become quite expensive to decorate rooms according to my children’s interests and personalities. As a result, it has remained a priority for my shop to offer affordable designs, not just for kids but for the entire family.

In 2021, I rebranded from Tilaina Rinkel Designs to Moses Design House after the passing of my mother. Moses is a childhood nickname given to me by my mom, and I found myself wanting a way to honor her and keep her on this journey with me, even if it was just in spirit. I started with Moses and added "Design House," since that was the goal of my shop. To help decorate houses. From there, Moses Design House was officially born.

Favorite items

What are your favorite items? What makes these so special? Why do you think these items might be selling well?

My favorite items would be my Flower Garden printed listings. Specifically, my B&W line art flowers, my colorful designs, or my single flower designs I think they are all so beautiful once framed, and they make the perfect gifts for a loved one or just to treat yourself. I love the designs so much that I have ones for my own children hanging in my house.

These are by far my top-selling designs and favorites in my shop. I have many clients who order a gift for a loved one and then come back to order an additional design. It’s one of the best feelings to get a message that they love it so much they need one for themselves. I think these designs sell so well because they are customized for the individual or family. I offer different fonts, flowers, and multiple design layout options. I try to ensure the design can be customized (to a degree) to what they are envisioning. I’ve noticed that simple, minimalistic designs have really become a trend in the last few years. Sometimes, less is best when it comes to designs. My colorful flowers have more options in terms of flower colors, which offer a more custom and unique design in the end.

Unframed Printed, B&W Birth Month Flowers, Gift for Mom, Grandma's Garden, Valentine's Day, Grandparent Gift, Mothers Day, Unique Gift
Unframed Printed, Colorful Birth Month Flowers, Gift for Mom, Grandma's Garden, Valentine's Day, Grandparent Gift, Mothers Day, Unique Gift
Single Birth Month Flower & Name, Gift for Mom, Grandmas Garden, Christmas, Mother's Day, Anniversary, Unique Gift, Minimalist Decor

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 wasn’t immediate. It took a few weeks for it to happen, but once it did, it was and remains one of the best feelings. When I first opened my shop, I underestimated the amount of work it would be and how to make it the most visually pleasing to attract clients. I made a lot of mistakes when I first opened my shop, such as not utilizing all keywords, not understanding trends and SEO, and not ensuring my listing photos were pleasing and catching the eye. Since those first few years, I have worked on all these things, and I attract most of my clients through SEO, Etsy searches, and excellent customer service. I’ve found that a lot of my clients turn into repeat buyers who spread the word.

It’s crucial that I provide the best service possible. So aside from the visual aspect, I think it’s equally important to mention that good customer service helps ensure I have repeat buyers. From the moment someone orders a print, I message them and explain my process, so they know what to expect from the beginning, as every Etsy shop is run differently. From there, I always send a proofing image and a mockup of their design so they have a better idea of what it could look like framed. They have a chance to make any small changes and corrections, and once they approve their design, it’s either uploaded to Etsy (if a digital order) or I print and ship it within 1-3 days from my home. I try to ensure that prints are packaged with the utmost care for my orders, and if one is damaged in shipping, I reprint and ship it out of my pocket.

Managing MosesDesignHouse

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 am a one-woman shop, so I run everything myself. It has turned from a side hustle into my fifth baby. I really love my shop and the clients I’ve gotten to meet along the way, and for my own shop, I feel like no one will love and appreciate it as much as I do. It has challenging moments, but it’s very rewarding in the long run. At some point, if I grow to the point of needing helpers, I will be open to that as well.

Here are just a few apps I use to help run my shop:

Adobe Acrobat: For my digital orders, I provide JPEG and PDF file types for each one. Acrobat allows me to save it as a PDF. Some print shops allow both file types, and some don’t. I included it just in case.

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator: I use both apps to help create and manage my designs, with PS being the top one. Without either of these apps, I would have a difficult time creating any of my work.

Canva: I use Canva to help create logos, flyers, and listing photos on occasion. I love having all my designs for this part of MDH in the same area. I do have a pro account, so there is a small monthly fee.

QuickBooks: I use QuickBooks for the accounting portion of running a business. This allows me to keep track of all expenses related to MDH.

When I first started my shop, it was just my small 13-inch laptop and my living room. Since then, I upgraded to a 17" laptop, and I now have a home office and my own Epson large format printer. My home office now consists of several shelving units with my various Epson and Canon papers, extra inks, rolls of paper (24" long), and everything I need to package my prints like labels, stickers, business cards, tissue papers, etc., my paper cutter, and boxes for shipping.

For my U.S. print orders, I print, package, and ship every unframed print order from my home in Papillion. I take extra care to make sure my prints arrive at their destination in perfect condition. If there are issues, I reprint and ship, and I keep track of which issues I’m having with which carrier and adjust as needed. Sometimes that means changing what products I use and how I package prints. 

For any international orders, I use a print partner who prints and ships from a location closest to where the client lives. Since I cannot manage how these orders are printed and shipped, I work closely with the company on any print issues and help ensure they are resolved quickly for the client. Currently, I ship to nine different countries outside the U.S.

The future of MosesDesignHouse 

What goals do you have for your shop in the future?

It’s my continuous goal to keep adding more designs and products to my shop. I think what is next for MDH is to find a company that has quality frames at an affordable price, so I can provide framed versions of my work for my clients. It’s one of the top questions I receive. Eventually, I would love to offer other home goods so that MDH can be a one-stop shop for everything home design, but for now, I’m happy to continue focusing on and improving what I currently offer.

Advice for new sellers

What’s your advice for a new seller starting an Etsy shop?

Accept that it won’t happen overnight. I had this notion that I would list something and sell it instantly, but it’s not really like that. Having an Etsy shop takes more time than a regular full-time job. I don’t think people really realize the amount of work it takes.

Be sure to have beautiful listing photos. You don’t have to be a photographer and own a fancy camera; you can invest in beautiful mockups from other sellers on Etsy or create your own. This is one of the first images a client will see of your work; it should be eye-catching. I view mockups as an investment for my shop, and they really are. Over the years, my mockups have grown with my shop. Find a style that suits your shop and has a variety of it; the result will be cohesive listing photos.

Utilizing keywords and SEO are huge things to understand and implement. It’ll be one of the best ways to drive people to your shop on and off Etsy.

For listings, fill everything out as best as possible: sizes, colors, options, details, etc. What my listings looked like when I first started verse now are night and day. Make sure your listings are constantly updated. Sometimes, how you choose to operate will change over time based on experience; make sure that your listings also evolve and grow as well.

Accept that not all designs are going to sell or be best sellers. Don’t let that discourage you; it’ll take time to find what sells and what you enjoy making. When you find a design that works best for you and your clients, offer variations if you can—not just sizes but colors, patterns, etc. Make sure you cash in on all its potential.

Make sure you are offering the best possible customer service experience for your clients. It’s what helps turn a single sale into a repeat client, and in return, they spread the word to their friends and family. Organic orders from word of mouth are one of the highest compliments I think you can get. My shop has set hours on paper; however, no matter where I’m, unless it’s an emergency or I’m asleep, I’m always answering messages as quickly as I can. I also try to be as clear and concise as possible with my clients about what I can, cannot, or am not willing to accommodate. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your clients, friends, or family; you deserve to be respected as well. Lastly, have fun, and I wish you and your shop the best of success.