How One Passionate Home Decorator Got Her Entire Family into a Prosperous Business

Entrepreneurship can be infectious.

Jess, her parents, and her husband found themselves in Woodstock Rustic one by one. This home decor studio evolved from her garage part-time pastime into a fully equipped online business, with products featured in The Washington Post and HGTV Magazine.

We couldn’t help asking Jess to tell us about the metamorphosis. Let’s go behind the scenes to find out what worked and what didn’t for this family-first team on their way from zero to success.

Woodstock Rustic team

What’s your background?

Both my husband Joe and I are graphic designers (my specialty is in surface design, and he’s from an advertising background), so art in one form or another has been a part of our everyday lives from the beginning.

After having our daughter seven years ago, I quit my corporate design job and began freelancing. In my spare time, I started making art pieces for our home, and a new business idea was born!

What were your first steps in business?

I decided to test the waters to see what kind of reaction I got with my art by participating in several local art shows. It was a big leap for me to go public, and scary for sure, but I almost sold out the very first show! So that gave me some real momentum to keep going.

Related: Reasons to Consider a Pop-Up Shop

How did you move from art shows to an online business?

After doing a couple more local shows, I decided to open an Etsy shop and give online sales a try. I listed 25 or 30 pieces and waited anxiously for the sales to flood in.

Woodstock Rustic on Etsy today

But the site sat there for six or seven months with only a couple of sales a month at best. Meanwhile, I continued to do local art shows and added to my product line, often as a result of customer requests.

I have found that customers are a great source of ideas and inspiration!

Also read: How To Evaluate Product Viability

What helped you to fine-tune your online sales?

I got serious about trying to make the online shop work. In addition to expanding my product line, I did some research and learned a little about social media marketing and SEO — particularly, the importance of keywords and titles.

At that point, I brought my mother on board to help with both product creation and our Etsy website management. She has a background in marketing and some experience in SEO, so it was a perfect fit. We then added social media sites on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, and sales finally started coming in!

Learn more: How To Open An Online Shop on Facebook

Woodstock Rustic on Instagram

What made you move from your garage?

Space became the problem. I had set up our garage as our studio for my painting and for Joe’s carpentry — he was making the wood canvases that we use for most of our products on the weekends.

The garage served as our production space, product and material storage space, shipping area, and a little of everything else. With our increasing sales, the garage soon was overflowing!

Further, we worried about disturbing our neighbors with all the noise we made with our saws and hammers.

Almost like it was meant to be, my father, a retired home builder, found a three-acre property with a house that needed some renovations but had tons of potential and space, including a basement area that was perfect for our production studio and an upstairs area for the design studio.

The design studio

The acreage provided the space we needed to spread out and make all the noise we wanted!

So we took a leap of faith, sold our house, and moved. With that, the business continued to grow, and a year ago Joe made the decision to quit his advertising job and come on board full time!

long-time dream of having our own business was now a reality! My dad also joined forces with us, and we have now added our first employee outside of family members… a long-time friend from art school. We truly have a great team!

Related: Finding the Optimal Way to Store Your Products

So why create a standalone online store in addition to Etsy?

Given the competitiveness of online stores now, we felt it was important to expand our online presence and not be limited to one platform.

Having our own online store gives us more control and also helps build our brand.

Many people who buy products on Etsy think in terms of Etsy being the “store”. In other words, they tend to say, “I bought it on Etsy,” rather than “I bought it from Woodstock Rustic.”

And that’s fine. Etsy has been a great platform for us  with over 4,000 sales in just under two years — and we plan on continuing with our site there indefinitely. But we think an important step in expanding our business is to establish our brand, and that’s hard to do on Etsy.

Furthermore, we want to offer products that complement our own original creations but that we don’t make ourselves. This actually stemmed from customers asking if we sell some of the props we use as part of our photo shoots.

Etsy’s policies require that products either be handmade by the shop owner or vintage, and our props (for example, some of the wall decor pieces we use to create gallery wall displays) didn’t fit into either category. We realized we were missing an opportunity to sell products that didn’t fit the Etsy model.

We chose Wix because I had used it to create a portfolio site years ago, and I liked the easy set-up. For our new site, I tried out their e-commerce platform, but felt a little limited, especially in not being able to offer calculated shipping.

Our products are heavy and the shipping price varies, sometimes greatly, depending on where we are shipping to. We found a recommendation for Ecwid in a Wix forum and discovered that it was easily integrated with our Wix site.

Related: A Wix + Ecwid E-Commerce Website: the Benefits and 10 Beautiful Examples

Woodstock Rustic online store on Wix + Ecwid

Setting up the site was very straightforward, even for me  and I have very little experience with the tech side of website creation. In fact, adding products on the Ecwid platform is a breeze.

I especially appreciate the number of options that are available for each listing, such as size, color, customization text boxes — the list goes on!

We are limited to only two options on the Etsy platform, which is often not enough for the type of customized products we sell. So we end up having to email back and forth with customers to get all the necessary information. This has all but been eliminated in our Ecwid store.

Another great tool is Ecwid’s chat feature with their technical gurus. After we got the site set up, I wanted to tweak the design and the way the integration with Wix worked.

Even though I usually didn’t know the correct terminology for things, the Ecwid tech folks were able to understand me and help with whatever I was attempting to do.

We are always discovering new tools to help manage the site. For example, from a recent chat I discovered the Storefront Label Editor. With this free app, I was able to change a display setting from “tax shown for” to “GET SHIPPING COSTS”.

Checkout customization with Storefront Label Editor

Our customers now have a quick way to see the estimated shipping costs prior to checking out. This helps us be more transparent with costs prior to purchase, and we’ve actually seen an increase in sales since customizing this wording.


Open a free online store

How are you getting more eyes on your products?

We have been very lucky to have been featured by several major publications. Both The Washington Post and HGTV Magazine contacted us to let us know one of our products was being used in an article.

We were also included in a gift guide in Travel + Leisure Magazine online.

I wish I could tell you what we did to get discovered, but truthfully, we don’t know. Maybe just some good luck!

But we aren’t planning to rely on luck as our major marketing tool. In the coming year, we are ramping up our marketing efforts, especially for our Ecwid store.

To this end, we have started a blog in order to share a little about ourselves and to help promote products and specials.

Related: The Importance of a Blog and How to Start One for Your Store

The Woodstock Rustic blog features gift guides

We also try to stay active on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. And we are exploring the idea of starting a YouTube channel to feature videos on decorating ideas and the modern farmhouse style we sell.

It’s an ongoing and ever-changing process!

We are also making good use of Ecwid’s discount coupons. For example, we offer a 10% discount coupon code for signing up for our newsletter, which is another new marketing effort we are implementing. It’s a win-win… We get to add to our marketing lists, and our new customers get a deal!

Woodstock Rustic newsletter

Related: Ecwid Promo Toolkit to Power Your Black Friday Sale

Home is where you hang your hat — and wear many others

Jess shared that the biggest challenge they face is finding time to wear all the hats necessary to maintain the business, from creating new designs to production to managing inventory to shipping to doing photo shoots to maintaining the websites and social media.

But all that pays off: “I think you have to be really passionate about what you are doing, and we truly are!”, Jess confirmed.

***

To sum up, here’s what home decor sellers can learn from Woodstock Rustic’s winning tactics:

  1. Test your products at art shows and fine-tune your product line.
  2. Test your assortment on Etsy. Don’t forget to take beautiful product pics!
  3. Think about the size of your workspace beforehand.
  4. Create a standalone online store to develop your brand.
  5. Break down your products into clear, understandable categories. This helps press easily discover them to feature on gift guides and product collections.
  6. Work on SEO-friendly product descriptions and titles.
  7. Set up accurate shipping costs if you sell large and heavy items.
  8. Add your products to social media.
  9. Start a blog.
  10. Offer discount coupons, e.g. for newsletter sign-ups.
About The Author
Kristen is a сontent creator at Ecwid. She finds inspiration in sci-fi books, jazz music, and home-cooked food.

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