How PaolaeSaraMiniature 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?

For many years now—I think more than twenty—I have been a huge fan of 1/12 scale miniatures. This passion began during a trip to England, where I was able to learn about this hobby in-depth and buy my first materials. From that moment on, I did not stop and continued to create modern, styled dolls and outfits while thoroughly studying the rich history of costume.

My early creations were little personal treasures and were gradually accumulating more and more in the house; I think I even placed some in the most unlikely rooms until my husband suggested that it was time to "make room" and perhaps find someone who could appreciate them as much as I did. From this simple observation, my Etsy store was finally born!

At first, my dolls were completely porcelain, and it was an onerous task for me to look for suppliers and molds that would allow me to get the body I wanted that I could then paint, build, and dress. So three years ago, I decided to take over all the production, and with the help of a resin 3D printer, I can finally say that my dolls were totally created by me!

However, even though being able to get the bodies and poses I wanted was a big step forward, to this day, my relentless search for fine fabrics, antique lace, and embellishments that I use to create my characters continues. This remains the most fun part of my creative process; in fact, even just touching new colored silk, I can already imagine what doll I will create with it next.

Once I have the inspiration, I start by choosing the body parts that I will need, from the hand that maybe needs to have a particular pose to hold a bouquet of flowers to the shoe that can be modern or styled. Once the pieces are chosen, they have to be assembled and painted to give expressiveness to the dolls. The trickiest part remains for me in making up the faces, and I often find myself unsure at this stage, but once I get through it, I finally dive into the dressing up phase, which always gives me a lot of joy. I start by creating a model and making some tests. Once I am satisfied with the measurements, I finally create the dress and add accessories and decorations, and voila, the doll is finally ready to enter my store!

Favorite items

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

Personally, it is difficult to say whether or not there is a doll that I prefer among the ones I create, but if I really had to choose something, I think I would go for characters that are historical reproductions of people who really existed or outfits that reproduce period garments that can be found on museum paintings.

Recreating these "real" objects in miniature leaves me with a lot of satisfaction, as it is extremely difficult to find the right materials, and for me, these are the most technically challenging jobs. These creations are definitely among the favorites of my clients, who very often ask me directly to create a character dear to them or a historical figure they admire.

However, over the years, I have also noticed a preference for characters who perform everyday actions; in fact, among the many dolls I sell, you will also find many cooks, gardeners, and maids who fit in between a well-dressed princess or gentleman. I leave below links to an ad where you will find a Renaissance couple with period dresses made from existing models that could fit well at reception and also a modern gardening couple who are ready to prune the garden instead.

Doll for miniature dollhouse in 1/12 scale - posable | Material: porcelain and resin
Doll for miniature dollhouse in 1/12 scale | Modern gardeners

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 think my first sale came six months or even a year after I opened the store. Now things have changed a lot, and I handle around 15 orders a week, but this change has been very dependent on my management of the store and the activities I have undertaken to attract my customers to my online store. Over the years, I began to devote a lot of time to my social channels and also to take great care of the texts or titles of my listings, as well as to allocate a budget to advertisements that would allow me to have a constant flow of people viewing my creations.

Managing PaolaeSaraMiniature

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?

Right now, the management of my store is all on my shoulders, but fortunately, there are many tools to help me facilitate this task. To begin with, I arrange my photos with Canva, which also allows me to create interesting graphics for ads or even just for my Facebook and Instagram posts.

I also periodically check the Etsy dashboard to see what keywords my customers use in searches, and based on these, I always try to study the best texts or titles for my listings. Also, to stay on topic, among the tools that allow me to check new keywords, I use Google Keyword Planner (from Google Ads) and Semrush to compare what is happening in the world; specifically, I use these tools at least 2/3 times a year.

On the other hand, for managing inventory, invoices, and dealing with my accountant, I have found Fatture in the Cloud very useful. This software is also really important for keeping a list of my clients, evaluating changes in the European or international market, and finally analyzing the turnover to see if there are any products that I could enhance more in the future.

Finally, to manage shipments, at the moment I am waiting to take over a new project of Poste Italiane, the Italian national service for shipments, designed just for those who have an e-commerce site, which would allow me to manage my shipments from the comfort of my home.

In fact, once the details are finalized, I will be able to print my shipping labels and request a courier at home who will pick up the packages directly at my home without having to worry about long lines and waits at the post office anymore.

The future of PaolaeSaraMiniature

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

I have a very long list of dreams and hopes for the future, but to keep my feet on the ground, I will list the next three moves I plan to make:

Increase the budget of my listings between Etsy and Google Ads to get more people to visit and do their shopping in my store, so as to raise both the visits and the current conversion rate.

Create a showcase site with all my past designs; the current one was not created by professionals but by me, so that customers can conveniently browse through my creations and get inspired for their future purchases.

Devote time to choosing new materials to improve the pictures of the dolls.

Advice for new sellers

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

My first suggestion is to have patience; you will need a lot of it to create handcrafted items, to wait for the store to finally get going, to talk to customers every day, and to manage the big job you will be doing. Also, before you set out, try to have a clear idea of what you want to do and how to get there. Create a plan and figure out how to make it doable; surely there will be changes to be made along the way, but it is critically important to have one at the beginning. Starting out in the dark and hoping to get lucky often leads to nothing, so be organized and take it one step at a time.