Christy describes herself as very normal housewife with two children.
However, most normal housewives don’t usually end up on the top sellers for their country list on Etsy, so we think there’s a little more than meets the eye.
Christy shared that she studied fashion design back in 1996, but what got her crafting handmade bags on Etsy was simple: she was just looking to earn some side income.
In 2008, the e-commerce market was nowhere near what we have now, and unique handcrafted items were rare and hard to find. This was the scene that Christy joined, with the goal to make items that she herself would like.
ChristyStudio is home to specially designed and handmade bags. The prices range from about RM35 for pouches, with the most expensive bags going for RM277.30.
Back when she first started, Christy found that people weren’t as likely to buy things online as they didn’t think it was reliable.
“At the very beginning I was just thinking small, until the first order I received.”
That order came from the USA, and Christy said, “It was a surprise that I managed to receive a FIRST sale from an international online-based website. We didn’t expect my crafted bag could go the other side of the world.”
Being able to appeal to the international market was the final push she needed to continue to expand her business.
Today, a main bulk of her customers come from USA, but she’s had wholesale customers come in from Japan, Australia, and Canada. On the local front, you might have seen her at bazaars and handcraft events.
“By attending events like these, customers get to feel the real product. Then and only then will customers be convinced.”
And the customers have spoken.
ChristyStudio has made around 27.7k sales on Etsy itself, and has sold over a total of 30k handbags across different platforms. They’ve estimated a revenue of a million ringgit so far.
From the beginning, it appears that the high quality of the bags is their major drawing factor (and the extra pockets and compartments, definitely).
With a 5-star average rating out of 8,704 reviews on Etsy, a quick browse through the customer feedback showed very positive comments in general.
We put the question to Christy about how she gets her products to stand out in what is now a saturated market, and she replied, “The only chance we have to get an online customer’s trust is to use photos, texts, and products to communicate with customers.”
“Putting an effort to take nice photos that present the product’s functions as well as writing descriptions does help a lot.”
According to her, the topmost priority is to keep their material genuine.
“We will only use genuine material to make our products. A genuine product has its own features and practicality. The craftsmanship will speak for the product itself.”
She also admitted that it took a lot of research and experience to know what suits the customers best, especially the overseas market.
“Analysing the overseas market is relatively difficult compared to the local market. A lot of surveys are needed to grasp the outline of the customers’ expectations.”
Another obstacle was shipping her products overseas. She had to work to keep the shipping fees reasonable, and also experiment to find out what was the best shipping method, be it locally or internationally.
“ChristyStudio has came a long way. I worked alone from the very beginning, from scratch until finish.”
When she started out, she handled everything from designing to crafting, packaging, shipping and advertising. Once the orders started piling up, she recruited a team to help out.
At the moment, she runs a 4-person ship, heading designing, shipping and sales. She has a helper for production and employs two professional seamstresses.
Her plans to go even further include setting up a proper website.
“An individual website for the shop is more versatile, able to attract customers, and is also a better way to present ChristyStudio. Another plan is to elevate the overall quality. Good quality is an important factor to grow a business.”
They’re also on the lookout to find new material to suit current market demands.
Finally, they are also going to reorganise and engage in a new system of working, to boost its production from current standards.
“Of course, quality of the product will not be compromised, as it is an important factor that keeps our business running.”
Feature Image Credit: ChristyStudio