Today, Jac & Elsie LLC — and pretty much anyone who sells anything that could be remotely considered “gift” ever — is in the midst of holiday sales. It’s over-whelming. It’s anxiety-educing (which is saying a lot — I don’t really get stressed out). It’s completely, 100 percent humbling. Monday, which was Cyber Monday, saw one of Jac & Elsie’s best single-day of sales in its 4 1/2-year history. And that is dang awesome.
Over those 4 1/2 years, which is longer than college, which is crazytalk, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve succeeded more than I feel I have any right to. And I’ve made stupid, stupid mistakes.
And I want to share them. Maybe if you own a shop, you can learn for them. Or maybe you can just get a giggle at my expense. Either way, I’m cool with it.
- Ding-dong moment No. 1: From Black Friday through Cyber Monday, I offered free shipping on everything in Jac & Elsie.
Including the “5, 10, 15 sale” section. Which means I could sell a $5 item and pay for shipping. Now, my domestic shipping costs aren’t too bad. International, however, runs more than $6. Maybe 10 percent or fewer of my sales are international. Now what are the chances … Oh, yes. Of course, it has to happen once. A woman in Australia bought a pair of $5 earrings with free shipping. So basically, I lost money on the transaction. Lesson learned: Don’t frickin’ mark items as free shipping if the shipping could possibly be more than the item. (It only happened the once, and I let it go. It was my bad, the seller shouldn’t have to worry about it.)
- Ding-dong moment No. 2: Most of Jac & Elsie’s best-sellers are made-to-order items. They’re friendship necklaces or bracelets that I put together whenever they’re ordered, primarily because it’s easier to store spools of chain, piles of jump rings, mounds of charms, than it is full put-together necklaces that could easily turn into a giant knot of sorrow. From January through mid-November, this is absolutely not a problem. During the holiday season, though, my nights turn into a one-woman assembly line. I know it gets really bad when I get poor Jeff in on the slave labor (he’s a masterful bubble wrap cutter and address label extraordinaire). But sometimes, especially on ridiculously high sales days … oy vey. Lesson learned: At least have the chain portion of the necklace ready ahead of time. October and November really needs to be spent making more necklace chains than I think I’ll ever need … doubled. Just in case. Also: Invest in more jewelry holders with as many open spots as possible to keep necklaces tangle-free.
- Ding-dong moment No. 3: Buy copious amounts of supplies in October. I actually ran out of things I use a lot last Christmas. (Like L’s. I swear, anyone who wanted a necklace or bracelet with an initial was named either Lacey, Lindsay or Lauren last year.) Lesson learned: This year, I stocked the crap up on common supplies, and I’m keeping an eye on them, ordering more–if necessary–long before I’m down to my last three scissors charms or cobalt blue Czech glass beads.
- Ding-dong moment No. 4: Last December was a busy one for me. We traveled to Boston so I could see my Stephen King speak
(which I would never ever for a million dollars take back). I traveled to Cincinnati so I could see my second family. We went to my parents’ in Illinois for Thanksgiving. That’s three weekends during the busiest sale season of the year, gone. I’m not saying I would have done a single one of those weekends differently — I wouldn’t. However … Lesson Learned: When I’m planning my Decembers from here on out, I need to be slightly more mindful of what leaving town does. I got so stressed last year, I actually closed up shop for a few weeks.
Fellow shop owners: What’s your biggest ding-dong moment of running your shop? Anyone who’s bought handmade: Ever run into a seller’s ding-dong moment?