Joining the Creative Peeps in Etsy

Ever since I picked up the skills in Adobe Illustrator, I became obsessed with trying out with different designs. I started off with designing artworks for T-shirts under my brand, Conceptitude.

I actually opened an Etsy store some time last year to sell my T-shirt designs. I decided against selling the physical T-shirt because the postal charges by Malaysia National Post has increased over 200%. Besides T-shirt designs, I also put up some business card designs. Months have passed after I listed my designs and my sales was zero, so I closed the online shop. I thought to myself that I should just stick to my Zazzle store for my T-shirt designs, which is doing very well.

Last month, I was itching to start designing and making things that matter. I want to make something people can use and be happy about it. Then a thought came to me. I’ve been designing and making rubber stamps locally, so why not sell it worldwide? Rubber stamps are light and small so it wouldn’t cost a lot to ship it to my customers. They will think it’s reasonable to pay for it.

My partner suggested that I re-consider Etsy and so I did. On June 23rd, 2014, I opened my Etsy store which is specializing in custom-made self-inked, pre-inked as well as index rubber stamps. I named the store after my online paper and stationery e-commerce store, My Paperclip.

MyPaperclip

 Then I started spending time working on some designs and uploading it to the store. I barely had 4 products listed as I was still working on providing information on the shipping and return policy as well as coming up with more designs. On June 29th, 2014, that was when I heard my first “Ka Ching” from Etsy app on my smart phone. I mean, I’ve been hearing that sound from my partner’s smart phone but this is the first time I heard it from mine so I was pretty excited.

My first sale on Etsy was from a lady in Canada. She’s probably a handcrafter as she wanted her stamp to say Handmade with Delight. In July, more sales came in. One lovely nurse practitioner from Australia who ordered pocket stamps for her work use. After that, I received a custom-made order from a business lady from United States who wanted her stamp to be similar to her business card. It took me quite a while to re-trace the sunflower logo from her business card but it was all worth it because she loved it!

Another person from Australia ordered a wedding stamp and a baker from United States ordered a stamp that says Baked with love. Just two days ago, a lovely mother from Japan ordered two name stamps for her kids and one for her friend’s kid. Japan! I have never dealt with anyone from Japan before. I love Japan a lot. Their culture and technology just amaze me.

I’m sorry I took the time to talk about these first few customers but these are important people that trusted me even though they could see my store  was new and I had no sales and no reviews to prove if I’m trustworthy and reliable. First few sales are always the hardest and most people have no sales for months after putting up their store, just like what happened to me when I first tried Etsy.

Yesterday, my first customer told me that she has received the item and it works great. That was a happy moment for me and I look forward to more happy moments from my customers. It really pushes me to provide the best for them. Nothing means more than putting a smile on someone else’s face with your product or service. That’s precisely why I always tell myself that customer experience is my utmost priority.

If You Need to Fake the Web, Put it to Good Use

UPDATES: This website that I wrote about is no longer functioning. I think the creator realized that people have been misusing it big time so he shut it down.

A recent article on “The Most Dangerous Website in America Is Also the Easiest to Use” appeared on Time regarding a website, ShrtURL, where it allows you to customize any content on the web with the general look of the website remaining the same, thus allowing you to fool people into thinking of it as a genuine site. Picture speaks a thousand words. Here’s an example and if you can’t see it clearly, click on the image to enlarge it:

fakeforbes

Get it?

Unfortunately for me, I’m not a Forbes contributor and my article wasn’t published in their site but by using ShrtURL, I can fake it. So many people have been conned into believing stories that aren’t true because of those trolls who faked the stories. If you don’t check the URL properly, you’ll be conned too. Some stories might be harmless but they pose a big threat to businesses when it involves rumors of mergers and acquisition or business losses.

Anyhow, I prefer to use “invention” like this and put it to good use. I’m currently working on an assignment that involves online ordering for food delivery service. I’m hoping a more complete write-up with references will earn my team extra credits, so I wanted to design a mock-up e-commerce website for this. However, I don’t have the luxury of time to create this from scratch. That’s when I found ShrtURL rather useful for this purpose.

There you go! Use it to draft a website mock-up for your school assignments, business projects or just for fun as long as you don’t misuse it to fake serious news. I mean, I might one day try to fake a news that I’m named the Entrepreneur of the Year but well, my friends would know it’s a long way to go. So yeah, it’s pretty harmless when you use it this way.

Thanks for the great invention, Alexander Griffioen.

Admitting Mistakes When You’re Wrong Gets You Respect

mistakes

Image credit: earthangel7777. Buy this T-shirt.

Today, an incident that happened at my store prompted me to write about this. An admin clerk from a legal firm, Mina*, came to the store and was making a big fuss about the rubber stamps she ordered with us two days ago. She claimed that we made a mistake. I quickly attend to it in order to solve the problem as my priority is always to simplify things for customers to minimize the inconveniences on their side especially when we did make the mistake.

Upon checking, we realized that she was the one who made the mistake. Of course we don’t point fingers at the customers so we politely explained to her that we have made the stamps as per her instruction and even showed her the piece of paper in which she brought and wrote the information down when she placed the order. But she didn’t want to listen and kept saying it was our mistake. On top of that, when she collected the stamps yesterday, we did allow her to check the details on the stamps but she could have overlooked it or she didn’t have a clue there was a mistake until she brought the stamps back to her boss.

For almost five minutes, Mina was going on and on about how we missed that and not realize that there was a mistake in the details. Logically speaking, if she works in a legal firm and if she could overlook the mistake, how can she expect my team to be able to spot it when none of us understand the legal terms? She even raised her voice at me, demanding me to replace the stamps free of charge, then she stormed out before I could say anything.

Prior to this, Mina came to our store twice before since I took over the business and she was always so pleasant. I even enjoyed servicing her myself. But the fear of admitting one small mistake and went to the extent of accusing someone else without checking properly is just too low for me. My respect for her just went down the drain.

I tried to be understanding. Who knows her boss is strict and shouted at her for the mistake and for the sake of escaping, she pushed the mistake to others without realizing it? I, for once, was always a victim of those people who were too fearful to own up to their mistakes. So, the easiest thing to do? Blame Jackie. She hates confrontations so she would just accept it.

Well, yes it’s true I don’t like confrontations but that doesn’t mean I accept all blames that come my way when it’s not my fault. I respect myself too much to allow myself be the punching bag of others. I don’t argue or try too hard to explain myself because I believe when people think they got away with mistakes, it always come back to them when they least expected it. Also, when you want to avoid the responsibility, you’ll be forced to lie to save your ass somehow. And you know what they say about lying? Definitely not pretty. You lie even more.

So, the safest bet to earn respect and most importantly, gain trust from your bosses, colleagues, friends and your beloved family is the admit your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. People can be very forgiving if you’re willing to make amends for your mistakes. They respect you even more and they know they can rely on you because you won’t lie to their face just to run away from your faults.

I have no idea why Mina reacted the way she did but I could never look at her the same way I did. Oh, by the way, I called her boss to verify the issue and he was a reasonable man. He even agreed to pay for the replacement stamps in which I told him I would only charge at cost price.

*Name changed to protect individual.

I learn from my success as much as I learn from my mistakes. Lessons from mistakes prove to be more powerful.