Recently, I was reading an article called “Change Isn’t Cheap” that discusses why Chefs can’t afford to pay minimum wage in their kitchens to the sous chefs and cooks. The reason is really simple: if you pay everyone $15 an hour for an 8 hr shift with breaks not only do you need more workers to cover operating hours but with that come Social Security and other benefits most small restaurants can’t afford. Recent culinary school grads migrate to hotels and restaurant chains that can give them these benefits and we all know they come to a cost to the consumer. What would you prefer though, to eat cheaply or to pay a premium so that others can have a higher quality of life? I personally vote for the latter.
The problem with supporting hikes in minimum wage for all industries is that we need to pay for the offset costs. Until I make money again, I can’t financially support the initiative. The sad part is that my unemployment benefits pay more than what I would make in a traditional minimum wage job. While I continue to search for a high paying engineering job, a lot of my friends suggested that I capitalize on the DIY ideas and sold a few items to tie me over.
There are no get rich quick schemes, and the few available usually make someone else a millionaire. I’m so used to making a living with my brain that I had forgotten what it felt like to make a living with my hands. One thing is certain, neither is an easy thing to do.
So, I opened an Etsy store! I see it as a hobby, and very far from becoming a full time endeavor. The materials I use are all upcycled or recycled from items found around my house, like soup cans and wine bottles, and are intended for decorative use. Here are a few examples of my work:
My goal is to make at least $500 dollars selling items on MrsEnginerdsShop, enough to cover Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty Black Ops III and the holiday gifts for my family and friends. If the articles don’t sell by February, I will give them to my friends as gifts, and I am sure they will appreciate the gesture. Listing each item cost me $0.20 USD to list and by far the most difficult task has been to price the items and shipping correctly. The least expensive way to ship takes at least 5 days via the United States Postal Service and thanks to Amazon, everyone expects their items to arrive promptly for a couple of bucks, which is unrealistic. For my store to be profitable, I am using packaging materials from past orders, but if I had to pay for those, each item would have to sell for over $15.00 US to make a decent profit.
Consider this though, on average the consume goods industry reports earnings in single digits! My husband calls it investing billions to make millions. At this rate, my business would need to make over 200% profit for me to be able to take it seriously. My current pricing strategy is almost giving away the goods for free! The only way I can justify the value of this enterprise is solely based on the experience that I have gained tracking down marketing strategies, pushing my products on my social media outlets and figuring out how to word and tag items to sell. Venturing into designing banners for websites and logos have helped me rediscover my creative side, which as a design engineer it is a blessing in disguise. With all that I have learned and applied, as of Oct 22nd, 2015, I have had at least 150 combined product and store views. The advertising campaign is definitely working, but I still have had no luck selling any of the six listings. My first official sale will be to a close friend who volunteered to put her money where her mouth is; she was the one that told me to open the store and sell. 🙂 My second sale will most likely be to my mom, but she wouldn’t be my #1 fan unless she also put her money where her heart is. 😉
Ever the optimist, I have to believe the store will be able to meet my goals by 1Q 2016. There is some apprehension though and I blame the introvert in me who is scared about the criticism and judgement of the internet masses. Although my ideas are not novel or unique, I pour a lot of soul and effort into the items that I handcraft, which equates to putting a part of me out there for others to accept and patronize. Every piece that I produce is a gift from me to the buyers, and I hope that my creations make a lot of people very happy.
When visiting the shop please like or favorite it and its items; I need to build some street cred! hehe
Amazon just got into the handcrafted goods market with their new division. If I play this well, with a little more marketing and research, I could build an empire out of a little Etsy shop. One can dream!