I want to share an online business story from one of my friends with you today.
I met Suzanne online through her blog and some mutual friends invited her to come to The Netherlands to stay over. I have since met her more times in real life in Vancouver and New York.
It took Suzanne (50) a while to find her ideal online business, but now that she found it, it makes her really happy and fulfilled.
Suzanne runs the business Vintage by Suzanne, an Etsy store full of the best hand-picked vintage items.
This is her business story
You recently told me how happy your business is making your right now. Can you tell me a bit more about this?
I had a love of thrifting and vintage clothing well before I decided to open my Etsy store. Doing something you already enjoy is key to never working a day in your life.
Combining work with pleasure is satisfying. Environmentally friendly clothing choices align with my personal beliefs. It is rewarding making a difference to our planet even if it is on a micro level.
Knowing that I'm saving an item from the landfill and giving it a second life energizes me. Getting paid for that skill makes me feel valued.
I thrive off of the positive feedback I get from my customers. The earth is happier, my customers are happy and that makes me very happy. It is a wonderful circle of positive energy that fuels my days.
I know that it took you quite a while to find ‘your thing’. Can you tell me a bit more about the process of finding it and how you finally decided on your current vintage etsy store
It was another vintage seller and blogger that first encouraged me to stop shopping fast fashion and focus on secondhand items. It was a big wake up call. Finding my social conscience made me happier. Mass consumption and social media can be vapid and unfulfilling.
I began thrifting in earnest while trying my best to avoid shopping retail. I developed an admiration of vintage clothing a few years earlier but normally shopped at vintage stores. Through thrifting I discovered I was often able to stumble upon vintage pieces much cheaper than what I paid in the vintage stores. There is so much to love about vintage clothing, the quality, the history, the uniqueness.
Once I started acquiring too many great vintage pieces for myself I figured it was time to share some of my love of vintage with others through an online store. There was no "business plan". I wanted to do something I loved that made a difference to the earth while hopefully making some money.
What do you like most about this business model (online store, etsy store)?
My customers are all over the world. I've sent items to Korea, Japan, Australia, England, Italy etc. By sharing my love of vintage items with people worldwide I feel a connection with them. The world becomes smaller and more intimate.
Often in life we can put lots of effort into work or projects that do not yield results. With my shop however, the more energy I put into it, the more I am rewarded both through sales and positive feedback. It is a joy knowing that my customers appreciate the effort I put into my business.
What are the disadvantages of this business model for you?
Shipping costs are notoriously expensive from Canada and it deters many buyers from making a purchase. It is something I dealt with in my last business (wholesale scrapbooking supplies) as well. It usually adds an additional 30% to the cost of an order.
I've come to accept it as the cost of doing business from Canada but I know I would have higher profits and more sales if I lived in the US due to these shipping issues.
What are your favorite ways to promote the business?
I'm a blogger and use that as a platform to promote my business. Etsy does a good job of attracting my customers. I also post some of my items on Instagram. I haven't focused on additional marketing strategies because I feel that my business is already growing at a rate that is sustainable for myself as a sole proprietor.
I also participate in retail shows which are the perfect opportunity to market my business and sell directly to the public.
What is your mission with your business?
My mission is to help the environment by sharing my love of vintage with the world while making people happy.
What would you like to achieve further with this business and how will it be part of your life in the coming years?
I do not have massive plans for expansion or world domination. I'm content with a profitable sustainable business that helps the planet.
My goals are small scale which makes them attainable. I'd like to keep my customers satisfied while improving my inventory and growing my name and brand. Ideally, my profits will continue to grow as well. I would be very content if I could double my current income.
I hope you enjoyed this short interview about Suzanne's business. Suzanne only started her vintage business a few years ago and I think it's a great example of how you can create a fun online business. A business like Suzanne's is easy to setup through Etsy and a lot of the marketing is already done for you by Etsy.
However, it does help that Suzanne has an active blog too and a growing Instagram account and we will talk more about the importance of these in upcoming articles.
Do you have a business and want to be featured next? Leave a comment and let me know about your business!