Etsy wouldn’t be what it is without the shop owners that pour their hearts and souls into the craft that they love. Toiling tirelessly in their shops for countless hours crafting the perfect items to share with the world. With so many great shop owners, each has their own unique story to tell. We think it’s about time we started connecting with these sellers and sharing their stories. Today, we will be talking with Christine, the owner of CJWHandmade. Read on to hear her story.
Can you tell us in a few sentences about your journey into Etsy?
The short version is probably the same for many…we were selling our “crafts” at local craft fairs. We heard about Etsy and it grew from there. We opened a hobby shop on Etsy called CJWoodcrafts, while working full-time and selling at craft fairs. My husband, John lost his longtime corporate job at the age of 52. Having recently had a stroke the odds of finding a good paying job that he could be comfortable with were slim. So, the fire was lit. Together we learned to perfect our crafting skills, and we added more handmade products.
I learned what a keyword is and about SEO. I learned to take better pictures and so on. A year and a half later, I left my full-time job to help turn Etsy into a full-time gig.
How long have you been selling on Etsy?
Our first shop CJWhandmade opened in 2012. It went through numerous identities and names over the past years. We proudly carry a 5-star rating and have over 20,000 orders to date. Two years later, in 2014 we decided to open EMSalerts, which focuses on gifts for first responders. That shop also consistently boasts a 5-star rating and has over 13,000 orders. In late 2021, we opened our third shop, InAMomentOfTime which focuses on personalized ornaments. We are excited about the potential of this shop.
What is your shop’s niche, if any?
Our shops focus on personalized gifts. From personalized leather keychains and coffee mugs to gifts for first responders, and personalized ornaments for any occasion.
Do you sell on any other platforms?
No, we are currently an Etsy-only business, but we are about to launch our own website.
Do you have a website?
We are days away from opening our e-commerce store, IMTkeepsakes.com. This shop was built by a professional and will be a combination of all our Etsy bestsellers and new products. We have decided it is best to not keep all our eggs in one Etsy basket.
What would you tell yourself or a new seller when getting started?
Etsy or any online shop is not a simple list-and-go, get rich journey. You will work hard, you will work very hard learning things you had no idea you needed to know to succeed. It will be one hell of a roller coaster ride if you really want it.
The Etsy handbook is your best friend. If you can’t find your answer in the handbook and you need to post a question in the forums or on social media, remember for every question you ask you will get 10 different folks with 10 different versions of what the right answer is.
We all get bad reviews sooner or later. You simply just cannot make everyone happy, do not take it personally. Always address the buyer’s concerns in private before responding publicly. If you do respond publicly, keep your emotions out of it and never bad-mouth your buyers.
And the best thing someone once told me: if you treat Etsy as a side gig or hobby that is all it will be. If you treat Etsy as your business that is what it will be.
In a few sentences, how would you pitch your shop to a stranger
CJ (as we call her) is a 5-star gift shop on Etsy. We create one-of-a-kind personalized gifts that make people cry happy tears. When you place your order at CJW, know that every order IS made-to-order. We will add your favorite image and or your words of encouragement and love to create a unique one-of-a-kind gift from the heart.
Hearing the successes and struggles of shop owner’s just like Christine definitely puts it all into perspective. If there is one thing we can take away from this, is that patience is key and using the tools in front of you are important parts of making the journey. We want to thank Christine from CJWHandmade for taking the time to provide her story and insight. If you want to check out what she is offering, head over to her Etsy shop.
Do you have an Etsy success story to tell? Head over to our contact form and let us know you want to share your Etsy journey.