Happy Wednesday, everyone! Do you remember your first sale? How did you feel after hitting that milestone, and what have you learned since that you wish you knew then?
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Ecstatic! Since then, I have learned to:
- price my products what they are worth
- make better quality products
- and take better pictures
just to name a few things. ^_^ I'm still growing and learning and know I will continue to get better if I put the work into it.
Thank you so much! ^_^
I actually got the idea from another small business and loved it so much! I try to help promote other small businesses that I love on my socials, so why not my site as well?
Thank you for your feedback! 💖
My first day making sales was so exciting that at 63 years old I now own and run a small growing business from my home.
As most of you know starting a small business is no easy task. I put 30+ hours a week into my Artistry business along with working a 45 hour a week full-time job.
My business has gone from 5k to 125K in sales in 3 years.
It is a constant battle finding the time to work on my website and social media, finding help, keeping up on taxes and insurance, filing for a trademark, photography for products, research, sourcing and purchasing supplies, P&L statements, applying for markets, planning and preparing for those markets, (15-20 per year), tracking inventory, and then patterning, cutting, sewing, finishing, and marking my products for sale and so so much more.
Right now all profit goes back into the business. My business partner and I work artistrybylorihaley for no pay.
The research says a minimum of 5 years to build and see profit margins that are sustainable. Luckily I found square!!!! So much is streamlined by using the application.
Two more years to go and now with a recession looming it could be longer.
There is still so much I have to figure out, I will use this forum to to pick your brains and learn from you all. My online sales are almost nonexistent. I am horrible with social media. Can’t find the time to focus on it or know the right path.
I am not discouraged just tired.
Your story is so true. Startups are no vacation from work. My husband and I are doing the same thing running our business from home at after 65. He's the artist and I am the writer, organizer/promoter and producer of products. Not to mention the office detail you noted. It is beyond a full work with no profit to speak of as any sales go right into the business. We do it because we love it. We are working at balancing out the workload.
It's reassuring to hear your story and affirm this hussle is part of the road to success. In my experience and in speaking with partners whose artist partner rarely engages in the day to day outside of the art. Yet there are so many things the artist can also manage on their side of the isle. Prepping and getting art ready for shipping (size/weight); naming the pieces and as much of the inventory as possible and doing the heavy lifting. I find that while artists are creative, they are not often very organized or sometimes careful in storing the art. It is something that unfortunately needs to be introduced to them so they can carry it out themselves, learning to take on additional duties. Our relationship shifted from me supporting his art, to creating a business, learning to piece the responsibilities into manageable parts for each of us. So much more to say but I really want to thank you again for your story and creating the mental and emotional space to build confidence to grow this business, it's good to hear your story showing it can be successful.
What a wonderful reply. You are definitely an inspiration and I appreciate you giving your story as well. Please let’s stay in touch and keep each other up-to-date on what’s next in this Incredible journey.
Lori, thank you for sharing this. I'm kind of seasonal right now, so that makes things kind of hard because I'm not using my square but I'm totally intrigued by you running an online business and growing from $5K to $125K within years. Is that really possible? Do you have more than just a website? I'm toying with the idea of doing a bunch of things but know I must get more organized before I will actually have any kind of supplemental income moving into my own retirement.
I'd love to keep in touch. How can I see your site and product? Thanks very much. From one artist to another.
The Lady Coyote (TLC) Art (aka Lauren) TLCArt
You have this. It takes time but it will all come together. It has been a lot of trial and error and hard work getting my business to where it is today. I still have a long way to go. I could not have achieved this much without a business partner, supportive family and 2 1/2 years off work during Covid.
I have a website, artistrybylorihaley.com and a Facebook Meta account. I do about $3K in online sales right now. I used Square to create my website which has helped immensely. I am also a graphic artist so that has saved me a lot of money. There is so much more I could do to improve my online sales, but I don't have the time or the resources. My plan is to hire someone to help with that this year.
The bulk of my sales come from attending markets. I have spent all of my profit over $78K the last three years on payroll, tents, banners, tables, stools, signage, uniforms, squares for employees, shopping bags, gift wrap and ribbon, storage bins, a storage unit, truck and trailer rentals, website hosting, advertising, travel, team meals, licenses, taxes, and production materials.
I have a business partner and a team of 10 that help me load, unload, setup and sell at the markets. I pay them well. I do not always need all 10 nor are they all always available, so I have a pool to pull from but am constantly looking for good help which is difficult to find. I also just started selling on Amazon this June 1st. That is a whole other story, thank goodness my son runs that side of my business, it is a beast and I have not yet seen the sales I was hoping for.
There are markets that I attend every month in the spring, fall and winter. They are tried and true, usually bring in $4K - $6K on a Saturday. I hired 2 ladies to work on production and at the markets with me. The two of them along with my business partner and myself are all in our 60s. The three of them are retired, which means they are more reliable. They also are available to do some traveling with me for weekend shows that are farther than an hour away. We usually spend the night at a Airbnb for those shows. They are good shows where I make between 8K and 15K a weekend. Smaller shows I prefer to do closer to home because of travel costs.
We don't do outdoor summer markets July - end of September as well as Jan, and Feb. It's just to cold in the winter or hot in the summer and the sales do not support the time nor the cost during those months. We use those months to re-stock and prepare for our shows in the spring, fall and winter.
I look at what the attendance will be at any market or show before signing up. I have found that it pays to spend more and attend better markets, especially holiday markets. Good promoters are key! Get to know your promoters and make a good impression! In turn they will give you a better location.
Talk to other vendors at those shows and ask them what shows they attend and have had the best success at.
I would recommend that you find a niche and work hard to grow that part of your inventory to sell at those shows.
You are right, organization is key. I have a spread sheet I use to track all of my inventory. I will have over 2,500 items ready to sell by my first show on September 23rd. My goal is to have all of my inventory on Square before that show.
I also have a spreadsheet that tracks
Pryor year actuals
Current Year Projections
Actual Gross Sales
Net Sales / Profit - (I add in all expenses)
I use this to set my goals and track where I am at at all times. I know when I need to make up sales that I was counting on but did not meet the goal, when to celebrate achievements with my team and when I need to backfill inventory.
My goal is to have my business support my retirement in 3 more years. Here's hoping.
Oh and I learn new and better ways to do things all the time. I have made plenty of mistakes.
Check out the pictures below of my first booth in 2018 and my Christmas booths in 2021. I have come a long way.
Please send me your email through my website and lets stay in touch.
I've been in business for 3 and a half years. I ran across a holiday market and it took a couple of days and self-convincing to pay and signup. I bought all of my display hardware, but I had no idea what I was doing- lol.
I was nervous. I was excited and terrified. The first couple of sales felt really good. I remember standing there thinking, "People want to buy my artwork?"
It's helped me hone my skill and style. It's also helped me believe that you should make what you want to make, because the movie line, "If you build it, they will come" is 100% true.
To this day, the thought that people are actually buying what I make occasionally enters my mind at events. I kinda hope that never changes, because I want to remain mindful and thankful for the people- customers and event organizers- who have allowed me to continue being successful.
The thing I remember most from my first few online sales is to always, always specify shipping prices. I did not expect to have any international orders and set my prices just for domestic rates. I think I profited $2 off that first international one.
Fine Art Portraits
My first sale was someone in my husband's family it was my aunt in law she was the first person to invest in my business and now I'm up to $54 and sales as people to invest in my business was my church they have a vendor sale and asked me to be a part of it some of the members even bought some of my jewelry but I took a break for a while due to mental issues now I'm back and I just got to showcase long story short I am very proud of my first sale because that kicked everything off and one day I hope to be thriving with a brick and mortar store like a boutique.