How OrnamentDesigns 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, I'm Alyx, owner of Ornament Designs. I’m an American expat living in Yokohama, Japan. I teach Kimekomi ornament making and sell digital tutorials in my Etsy shop. Kimekomi was developed in 18th-century Japan as a doll-making technique. The word kimekomi means "to tuck into a groove." A pattern is drawn and cut onto a surface, such as smooth foam, wood composite material, or resin. Fabric is then placed over the cut pattern and tucked into the grooves.

I’ve enjoyed making Christmas ornaments since I was a teenager, and when I moved to Japan and discovered kimekomi, I quickly adopted and adapted the technique to make Christmas ornaments. I started my shop in 2010 to supplement my hobby. In those early days, I sold finished ornaments and supplies. Ornament Designs has changed and grown organically over the years, and in 2020, due to international shipping disruptions and my growing family, I pivoted to only teaching online.

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 are the Harlequin Tutorial and the Circle Picture Window Tutorial. They are both beginner-level designs and are a great entry point for anyone interested in learning Kimekomi. Harlequin is a bestseller because, though it’s a simple design, it can look complex to the untrained eye. The maker can customize the colors and embellishments to make something unique in their own style.

Harlequin Tutorial
Circle Picture Window Tutorial

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?

It took almost one year to get my first sale. At that time, I didn't understand how to drive traffic to my shop, had no knowledge of SEO, and didn’t even have my titles and tags done correctly. Currently, most of my customers find me via YouTube and my website.

Managing OrnamentDesigns

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 manage my business entirely on my own, and because my products are digital, there is no need to worry about shipping and fulfillment. My favorite tools and apps include:

  • Adobe InDesign: For creating my tutorial documents.
  • Paper and Spark’s Etsy Sellers Spreadsheet: The perfect bookkeeping solution for a small seller like myself. It's an excellent value.
  • YouTube: My business would not be where it is today without YouTube. I drive most of the traffic to my shop from my videos.
  • Canva is the best, easy-to-use, all-in-one graphic design solution, and it keeps getting better every year I use it. The pro version has been incredibly valuable for my business.
  • Grammarly: Though I’m not a terrible writer, Grammarly ensures my writing is polished and professional

The future of OrnamentDesigns 

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

As a busy mom of two young children, I have a very laid-back approach to my shop. Since my first child was born six years ago, I’ve had to be particular about my priorities. My main goal for 2023 is to publish one new tutorial and finish updating all of my existing tutorials to include videos. It takes 4-6 months to complete just one new tutorial, so this is a very reasonable goal for me. I hope to maintain the slow, steady growth I’ve enjoyed so far, and perhaps someday in the future, when time allows, I would like to offer kits to complement my available tutorials.

Advice for new sellers

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

Be patient, and do not expect instant success. Slow and steady really does win the race. It will take time to develop a strong reputation in your niche. YouTube is a great way to get your name out there and help develop a rapport with your target customer. Don’t be afraid to put your face on camera. People want to see the person behind a product and will be more loyal to your brand if you put yourself out there.

Some sellers really get inspired by hearing numbers. Feel free to share these if you like.

Question: What is your average profit margin?
Answer: About 50%

Question: What is your shop’s conversion rate?
Answer: 0.7%