Britton and Matt have grown the success of their bath and beauty line, gloilocksandbody, as a team with a plan. With experience in both the back and front of the house in the restaurant scene, they had the business know-how and customer service savvy to make a success out of their venture. This creative couple now enjoys the freedom of scheduling their job around their life, instead of the other way around, and the comfort to dress any way they please. Read on to learn about the steps this duo took to ensure an effective leap into self-employment, how to work well with a significant other, and their best-kept marketing secrets.
How did you originally get into the business of making things?
I’ve always, always wanted a creative job and Matt has always searched for a way to capitalize on his crafty skills. I think running our own business was inevitable. Matt and I are both Aries (yes, it’s a loud and obnoxious household), and independence is a huge thing for us. Plus it just feels awesome knowing that all those seeds you planted, sacrifices you made, and all that hard work has really paid off — we’re self-employed! Sometimes it is still hard to believe.
Tell us about your previous working situation.
Britton: I used to sling the grease! I cooked in and out of high-end restaurants for a while. I liked it because I got to release a small form of creativity on the job and it was a generally fun atmosphere to be in. The rush of an overflowing restaurant made it exciting and, at times, extremely stressful. The last restaurant I worked at here in Portland was horrible and left a really bad taste in my mouth, to say the least. I quit toward the end of March back in ’09. In a way it was kind of a blessing because it gave me the perfect opportunity to dive into starting a business! Not a bad deal. You have to be willing and open to change while running a business…
Matt: I managed a small pizza chain here in Portland. While I didn’t mind the job itself, I could see real problems for the company in the future. I’ve lost jobs this way before and didn’t want to be a victim again. I saw Etsy as our best way to take the reins for ourselves.
When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams or goals of eventually quitting your day job?
Totally! And back then you would usually find me reading the Quit Your Day Job series and keeping my shop as fresh as possible. I was constantly taking new photos and trying to flesh out the brand feel we were aiming for — basically looking for any way to improve.
Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?
We started really thinking about Haus Of Gloi when the economy started to go sour. We knew there was a good chance that one or both of us might end up out of work. Our first step was to pay off all of our personal debts — this allowed us to streamline our cost of living and put more resources into the business.
When Britton decided to quit her day job, we cut our budget down to what we could afford on my Matt’s salary. We took some of our savings and used it as “seed” money for the Etsy shop. For the first 6 months we spent all of our profits on the business and lived off of my income. Things just kept growing and when the business was fully equipped, I quit my job and the rest is history.
What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed your Etsy business? What’s your best marketing tip?
Word of mouth has been our biggest form of promotion, so I would have to say having stellar customer service is an unquestionable MUST. If a customer has a great experience with you and likes your product, they will likely share it! We also blog and use Twitter. I don’t blog as often as I should but I keep up with Twitter pretty consistently. The blog, however, is where we engage our customers and give sneak peeks into our seasonal product releases, which is an exciting time. I always try to use rich photo content as well. We’ve also been featured on a few high traffic beauty blogs, which never hurts!
What have you found to be an unsuccessful promotion? Have you made any business mistakes you regret?
We’ve done a few ads here and there, without much success. We get hits, but no spike in sales. Mistakes? Not really. If we did make any mistakes we’ve learned valuable lessons from them, and I can’t regret that. Sometimes the hard way is the only way! I’d like to advertise on some of my favorite high traffic blogs — that’s something we haven’t tried.
Walk us through your typical workday.
- We wake up about 6 to 7 a.m. Matt usually goes out for a long bike ride and I’ll spend the morning having an energy drink, checking convos, relisting from the previous night of sales and catching up with my Google reader. The cats (Toki Wartooth and Pistachio) are in “crack mode,” running around the house like mad.
- The major portion of our day is spent packing orders (Matt’s job) while I work on creation of product to either stock up or fill orders. We cram in some soapmaking, and lunch is usually amazing vegan cart food from Los Gorditos (a gem amongst Portland food carts!).
- The evening consists of soapmaking and working on more orders or general business stuff. We usually wind down between 5-7. I’ll be firing up the World of Warcraft (Troll/Hunter, if you wanted to know!) and raiding with my guild some nights, and other nights you’ll likely find us cracking out on weird British sketch comedies. 11 to 12 is bedtime!
What do you enjoy most about not having a day job? Is there anything you miss?
Matt says he likes being able to schedule our job around our life. There is greater flexibility doing this, but running a business can take a lot out of you. Personally, I like being able to look like what I want; I love that freedom. There is no big boss asking me what’s wrong with my hair!
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Sometimes I kind of miss the structure an outside job can have. For example, when you leave work, you’ve left work! When you live and work in the same place it can be challenging to know when to stop, or start. Adapting to growth and change can be difficult as well, like implementing a new system of doing things for the sake of efficiency. You have to be willing and open to change while running a business.
If you work with a significant other, don’t expect it to be sunshine and tea cakes 24/7: you will have disagreements. Like any job, communication is key to have a good working relationship!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else?
I think I would have told myself that there are certain parts of the business that I will have to give up. For example, I don’t ship orders anymore — that is Matt’s area. Giving that up was hard! I felt like I had to do everything at one point. Now I put my focus and devote more time to creating new products, keeping up with our stock and the visual side of the business.
What goals do you have in store for the future of your business?
We’re looking to move into a bigger work space next year so that we can expand. I think we would like to move into more wholesale. The space we’re in currently is just big enough for a handful of wholesale and stock for our shop.
Have any favorite Etsy shops we should know about?
- MidwestAlchemy — I want ALL of her rings! They’re incredible and I cant wait to get my hands on one someday.
- paintboxsoapworks — I love the concept of her shop, plus her fragrances look yummy!
- joodito — One of the first shops I found on Etsy. I love her style and how it has taken so many different shapes over time.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
- Have a plan for success! It could possibly be the best thing you could do. Being unprepared can often be like shooting yourself in the foot.
- Be optimistic. It might sound silly, but if you have a vision and pursue it with everything you’ve got, you’ll likely be a success.
- Love your customers and show it, as they are the backbone of your business.
- Really utilize the tools Etsy has to offer! It is a very fun and supportive community.
- Matt and I would also like to take this moment to thank Etsy for this amazing creative venue and our customers who support our dream. Thank you!
Thanks to Britton and Matt for sharing their story. You can see some of their work below.
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