How Pacific Sunset 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 Liana Carty and my Etsy shop is Pacificsunset. I began selling on Etsy in 2015 as a hobby, which added to my income as a part-time home hospice nurse. This was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But due to the pandemic in 2020, I was furloughed and turned to Etsy as my main source of income. Because I sell vintage items and craft supplies, I was able to source multiple online channels for inventory while I stayed at home.

I decided to focus on selling craft supplies since I could rely on high volume sales, without spending time creating items since I am a very slow creator/crafter! I prefer selling paper products, having also sold fragile teacups and larger items, which seem to take too much time to pack and ship. 

Favorite items

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

My favorites are the assortment of vintage cat paper napkins and cat scrap reliefs that are listed in the shop. I like them because they really capture the personalities and natural temperament of cats. I actually prefer dogs as pets/companions, while I respect cats from a distance.   

I also enjoy the variety of dia de los muertos sugar skulls paper napkins in the shop which are very special to me. They symbolize the remembrance of my Hospice patients and are a Mexican cultural tradition which is celebrated in my California town. They are top sellers with international and domestic buyers, maybe for the same reason I like them - they’re so cool!

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 on Etsy was several sets of paper napkins that sold very soon after I first listed them. I mistakenly overestimated the shipping cost to the UK, so I refunded the customer the excess shipping. She appreciated the refund, the quality of the product and the quick shipping. She wrote the first of many positive reviews.

Some tips for attracting people to your shop: post good photos, use all 13 tags, advertise, rotate your featured items, update your shop announcement frequently, respond quickly to customers, ship quickly and package items securely, and correct/update product listings if you see errors. 

Being accurate in your listings helps to avoid misunderstandings. Being friendly and offering custom options also goes a long way, since many customers are shopping around and will compare your items/customer service to other online sellers.

Managing Pacific Sunset

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 shop by myself, with assistance from such people as my USPS postal carrier who picks up daily shipments from the house. I use Etsy advertising and the Etsy dashboard to analyze sales and make improvements to the shop. 

I rely on QuickBooks Self-Employed to manage my finances and taxes. I don’t use social media myself to advertise my site or products. Several customers have mentioned my store on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube though. Since Etsy takes care of search engine optimization for me, I try to choose the best keywords, tags, and take good photos. I also read online articles in the Etsy Handbook which are always being updated so I can keep current. And lastly, I listen to my customers who have ideas about what inventory to stock and what new trends are arising.

To make shipping and handling easier, I have one dedicated work area for prepping packages for shipping. I print out customer orders/packing slips by date and sort by the oldest order, always shipping 2-5 days after the order is placed. I keep ample packing supplies on hand and I use a thermal label printer. I keep in touch with customers about the shipping time and assist them with any shipping problems. 

I use the conversation/messaging function a lot – I think that you can never over-communicate with a customer, especially if they have questions about package arrival. I also make a run to the post office with a second box of packages before it closes – I do this daily – after the mailman has picked up the first box of orders.

The future of Pacific Sunset

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

My goals are to continue to have fun with the shop and to inspire people’s creativity. I believe in the ideas of Recycle, Reuse, and Repurpose, so I would like to incorporate more recycled products in my inventory and to use sustainable materials in packing and shipping. 

My ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of plastic that I use for shipping.

Advice for new sellers

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

Start out small, but dream big! 

Customize, and if you can’t do that, then be unique and be real.

Be on time. 

Variety is best, but having one good thing is better than a bunch of “meh” things.

Your time is money, so value your efforts and the time it takes to do things.

The customer is always right! 

Use Etsy tools, jump on seasonal sales and offers, check on your progress using your shop’s dashboard.

If you’re selling non-digital items, be familiar with domestic and international postage rates, and don’t be afraid to ship internationally.