This week we are starting our new feature: Small Business Saturday. Throughout October and November, I’ll be featuring small businesses that are independently owned and which offer a variety of handcrafted items. It is my intention to encourage new entrepreneurs and to promote some of these great businesses.
Please feel free to add your own questions in the comments. Also, if you know a shop that would like to be featured, let me know!
Without further ado:
I love shopping small because I know how important it is to the owners of small businesses. I’m starting with a business that I personally love! Jeanine made me a custom banner, which I absolutely love and still have hanging in my son’s nursery. She is a hard-working young mom and owner of TheLittleDabbler.
WW: Tell me about your business. Why did you start? When did you start?
Jeanine: I started thelittledabbler blog in summer 2012, a few months before my son was born, as a way to vent during my pregnancy. I had been in the process of creating a baby one-piece banner for my baby shower, but I couldn’t find a free template for one anywhere on the internet. I decided to make one and post it on my blog for other moms like me who couldn’t find a free template. Overnight, after posting the template, I got over 3,000 views to that blog page. Soon after that, I learned about Etsy and decided to put a cleaner version of my template up for sale. The rest is history.
WW: What makes your product stand out from the competition? (You can give as much detail as you’d like)
Jeanine: My products aren’t too terribly unique from what other people sell. No one was selling “From our shower to yours” baby one-piece tags until I posted a picture of my baby shower favors to Pinterest and it went viral (over 13,000 repins to date). My husband came up with the saying to put on our bath product favors. Now you see them everywhere. It’s exciting that it went viral, but terribly disheartening to see people making money off of your idea. Oh, well. That’s the cutthroat world of online selling.
WW: Does your business have a motto or mission? If so, what is it and how did you decide?
Jeanine: “Celebrate You Little One!” I strive to make sure all of the products in my shop are geared toward babies and kids. I sell invitations, and certainly I could get into wedding and other special event invitations, but I find the most successful businesses are ones that don’t branch out into a bunch of sub-categories, but stick with one centralized theme.
WW: What advice would you give to others who want to start a small business?
Jeanine: Don’t open your shop until you’ve thoroughly researched the requirements for starting a small business in your state. Many fellow sellers on Etsy have no idea that they are in violation of the law by not registering their business with their state or by remitting sales tax. In Pennsylvania, the small business information website is www.pabizonline.com. I don’t promise the research process will be easy. In fact, I warn you it’s pull-your-hair-out confusing. But once you figure it out and square everything away legally speaking, you’ll be much more at ease entering into the business world.
WW: It’s tough being a small business owner. How do you manage your business time, free time, and home life?
Jeanine I’m a stay-at-home mom, so my business time, free time, and home life all flow into one another. I can receive an order, start on it, be demanded by my miniature human to make him something to eat, do that and get side tracked with some chore, and eventually come back to the order after a quick stop on Facebook. Yes, I would love an office with office hours and baby sitter.
WW: How has your business changed throughout the years?
Jeanine: The product lines I offer have changed. I started out selling physical baby one-piece tags and banners that I would hand cut and ship to the customer. After receiving one-too-many last minute orders of “I need 200 one-piece tags shipped tomorrow so I can have them for the shower on Saturday” I decided to (insert a flippant word) abandon that idea. Now I sell digital versions that the customer can print and cut herself.
WW: What is your favorite marketing tool?
Jeanine: My most successful marketing tools are my blog and Pinterest. Many people undervalue how effective Pinterest can be for advertising.
WW:How do you see your business in 10 years?
Jeanine: Honestly, I don’t know how long I will stick with this business. Ideally, it will pick up to become a full-time job. Unfortunately, Etsy isn’t exactly the safest basket in which to put all your eggs because they can kick you off for any reason they want or the entire site could one day go belly up. I’ll need to explore other avenues for selling if I want to ensure thelittledabbler will be around 10 years from now.
Check out our other #sbs features: