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From Zero Sales to 500. A must-read Etsy success story.

Anshu, an active mom of 1 toddler, Now In Store user, and full time software engineer has been moonlighting as a successful girls costume seamstress for the past year. With 500 sales to boot this lady knows what she’s doing.

But, it didn’t always start like this, in fact it took Anshu a few years to find her voice and develop a marketing and business strategy that worked.

Anshu and I sat down for an interview – this is an Etsy success story you want to pay attention to:

When and why did you start your business? 

I started business back in 2010 – at that time, I was making  play clothes and day clothes for kids.

They were handmade cotton dresses and other cotton items.  I opened my shop – I thought I would sew the best clothes on Etsy and I’d price them a little a lower and they’d sell like hot cakes. That didn’t happen.

I also realized I didn’t have any means of promoting my business online or offline. So I started a blog, for the purpose of promoting myself. Then I thought about things to blog about – I could only think about sewing.

The blog took off. I started to enjoy blogging more than sewing. Although, the blog ended up being successful, it was attracting the worst possible clientele I could think of. At this point my store was pretty much dormant. I wasn’t enjoying selling on Etsy.

I am hesitant of using “worst” because I made so many good friends in the sewing community. Truth is, my blog audience wouldn’t buy handmade items because they wanted to make handmade clothes.

But I began to notice and develop a sense of what might work [on Etsy].

I restarted my shop 2013 June. Then it took off.

I realized “fancy dresses” are easier to make and people are willing to pay for them.

Frankly those 3 years blogging prepared me for having a good business.

Who taught you how to sew?

I picked it up in bits and pieces, my aunt sewed very well, and she was living with us when I was 7. My aunt was my role model when I was growing up. I did everything she did. When I was at home I was sewing 5-6 hours every day.

I have a funny story, this was when I was in India, we had a hand-cranked sewing macine; no power, one hand is always making your machine run. I don’t think I can go back to those old machines!

How do you promote your products?

I tried several different things, mostly online – I do very little selling offline.

Pinterest is good. Pinterest, brings a lot of people. They tend to be qualified leads, customers have told me “Oh, I found you on Pinterest”.

Facebook has been good too. Initially I had a fan page, but then, just as an experiment I started posting my items on my personal page as well. To show friends and family what I was up too. Those posts led to sales. People saw that I was making a really cool dress, and asked me about it.

What has surprised you the most about selling online?

The thing that surprised me most – how important pictures were, they are the essence of an online business. If the pictures are not conveying how great the product is, then it’s not going to sell. Being a good photographer means more for an online business than being a good maker. That was something I was not prepared for.

It was surprising, but looking back it seems like common sense.

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The best part to running my business has to be receiving pictures of kids in my dresses. When my dresses reach the girls they are meant for and the mom sends me pictures (and I get them with some regularity now) it’s a bright spot in my whole day.

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-Divya, with Now in Store