We so enjoyed talking with Dana Kalatsky of the Etsy Shop, Apple White Handmade. Dana is a mom of three, two girls and a boy, plus a large golden retriever that is almost like another child to her! She has been selling on Etsy for three years, sewing her beautiful handmade items for women, children, and the home. A pillow of hers was recently featured in the July/August issue of Country Living Magazine! She gave us lots of good information, resources, and a laugh or two! Before the interview Dana said she was really nervous and was worried she would start “laughing and crying at the same time”, but the result was a wonderful interview full of great information and lots of fun!
How she got started:
Dana has been sewing since she was 5 years old. She learned how to sew from her mom and grandma. When she was little, she remembers sneaking out of her bed at night to make Barbie beds! As an adult, she made Irish step-dancing costumes for awhile and did alterations.
When her friend opened an Etsy shop, Dana said her eyes popped open and she knew she had to have a shop too! It was very inspirational to have a friend who had done it because she felt like, “Well if she can do it, I can do it.”
We love her Toothfairy cottage pillows, which were inspired by a drawing that her daughter did. How neat is that!
Getting work done:
Dana gets up early and has about an hour to respond to messages and emails before her kids wake up. All of her children are in school, so once she packs lunches and gets them out the door, she works like crazy during the day, once the kids are home from school the shop gets shut down for a while and she is back in mom mode, sometimes she works for several hours at bedtime if she’s feeling inspired, whereas other times she’ll just relax/read and head to bed early. “When the kids are home I want to be the mom.”
Working past a low point:
Last May (2013) sales dropped to half of what she expected and she couldn’t figure out why. Dana decided she needed to add some different strategies to the mix to see if anything would help. She applied to Poppytalk handmade marketplace – sales jumped back up and she hasn’t hit another low point quite like that again. The Poppytalk marketplace is currently on break now, but check back in later.
Lots of blogs will partner with you to do giveaways, most of them find her, but if she really enjoys working with them and things pay off, then she will make sure she stays in touch with them via social media, occasionally say hello to them, and then reach out to them when she’s ready to do another giveaway.
When she reached a low point she tried something different in order to get past it. A big push on social media when sales are low can also help.
Accomplishment she is most proud of:
Starting her business was a big accomplishment because she’s a little shy and it felt really overwhelming, just getting started, just taking that step.
Having her own income feels very successful to her. She knows there is a certain amount every month that she can contribute to her family while staying home and taking care of her kids.
How her income helps to support her family:
Dana's income pays for extras like Disneyland or movies and other fun things with the kids.
Listen to find out which of her children is already following mom's entrepreneurial footsteps!
Highest shop view sources (in order):
Tool that she uses most often:
Social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr
Best thing she did to grow her biz:
Scouring etsy for resources, being on teams and joining teams – they support you and they get your items out for the public to see through treasuries or through their team blogs.
System for listing something new:
As soon as she lists a new item she pins it, tweets it, and adds it to her Facebook page. It’s very simple to do, the 3 buttons are right there on the listing page. She loves pinning items that she likes so having her own Pinterest boards with her favorite things helps.
She always adds her new items Monday morning, she feels this time gets her the most leverage.
Lots of people are on Pinterest at night, so she pins her favorite things and builds up her Pinterest boards at night.
Success is defined by happiness and peace – feeling at peace with her marriage, children, business, and friends — this makes her feel successful.
Inventory management and cost cutting:
When she finds fabric on sale that she frequently uses, she buys a whole bolt or roll.
Summer is a slow season so she tries to make things ahead and put them aside so when Christmas season comes she won’t be overwhelmed
Her pricing formula:
Materials cost x2 then add your own hourly wage = end price
Pricing Advice from Handmadeology:
Ensure that you are paid for your time, the materials, and any overhead costs.
[(time x $per hour) + 2(cost of materials)] x 1.1 = wholesale price
wholesale price x 2 = retail price
For mother’s day, her 9 year old son wrote her this cute card:
Dear mom, I love you so, so so much You are the best mom ever. You are so nice, you are so kind, but you don’t like sharing your dessert when we go out to eat!
We agree that we don't like to share our favorite food with our kids either!
Are you looking to grow your Etsy shop? Take a look at our Get Found Guide to Etsy! The book and tutorial videos are filled with proven strategies to get you found in Etsy search!