We’re pleased to bring you a brand new installment of the Rock Bottom T-Shirts Boutique Clothing Craft Series where we recognize the accomplishments of small businesses in the clothing craft industry.
Today we’re profiling Elizabeth Hitchcock of Baby Love Customs.
Founder Name: Elizabeth Hitchcock
Years in Business: Less than a year
Products Description: I specialize in custom embroidery for children including holiday, baby and everyday items at a price that fits into any budget.
Website URL: http://www.etsy.com/shop/babylovecustoms
Elizabeth, what got you started in the online clothing boutique business?
I have always loved personalized items for my children, but was never able to find anything in stores with their names (Judge and Zavier).
Most online boutique stores were expensive, and with only one income, we were on a limited budget. I talked my husband into buying my first embroidery machine so I could make items for our children.
I enjoyed it so much that I started making all kinds of other designs and decided to try selling on Etsy.
So initially your embroidery machine was just for embroidering things for your children and the business part of it was unplanned?
Right. We have all boys, so I wanted to be able to make items for little girls too. None of our friends had small children, so I made a few things to just see how they would sell, and it took off from there.
I see, so would you consider yourself self-taught?
I was for the most part. I have a friend with an embroidery machine, and had spent some time watching her, and even had her make a few items for my children. I learned the basics from her and taught myself the rest.
Speaking of embroidery machines, I had no idea that they were so expensive. But one day I happened to see a forum post where someone mentioned considering an embroidery machine that was in the 10K neighborhood-not including software. Is that what anyone getting into the applique business should expect to invest in their business?
The first machine my husband bought was a Brother PE 770. Including the machine, accessories, thread…everything I needed to get started, he spent just over $1000. I didn’t start with any software.
For my birthday my parents bought me some basic software, Embird, which is amazing! So, it really doesn’t have to take all that much to start out.
I have very recently upgraded to a Brother PR 650 machine, which is one of the $10K ones.
It’s good to know that this is a business where you can start off small and build up as you go. It also sounds like building your business has been lots of fun for you! Which experience would you say has been the most fun?
Yes, it really has. The most fun moment for me, happened back in November. A boutique owner in New York contacted me about a partnership.
That phone call resulted in me getting regular custom orders from her that I get to have fun designing. It also led to me doing orders for some of the moms and toddlers that appear on Teen Mom 2.
That’s wonderful! How long did it take before you made the transition from friends, family and word of mouth to running your business through Etsy and Facebook?
Since we don’t really have friends with small children, as soon as I decided to make things for other children I immediately began selling on Etsy. Three months later I added Facebook.
So you’ve pretty much sold exclusively through Etsy then, right?
In the beginning yes, it was exclusively on Etsy. Now I’m getting about the same number of orders off Facebook as well.
Do you find that customers are just as comfortable dealing with someone through Facebook as they are through Etsy?
It has taken a lot of promotion, but Facebook has been wonderful! I think customers are comfortable working with me through Facebook because I do have my Etsy store linked to it, so they can see that I am legitimate. It also helps that customers sometimes post pictures of themselves wearing my items.
Do you think that Facebook and Etsy eliminate the need for you to have a standalone website?
I’ve played around with the idea of my own website, but since my customer base has been well established on Etsy and Facebook, it’s not a top priority for me.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge for your business-so far?
My biggest challenge sometimes is finding time to get everything done, haha! I’m a wife and stay at home mom to a 2 year old and 3 month old.
How do you manage to still get everything done?
Multi-tasking! Moms have 8 arms you know, LOL! Other than that I’ve been blessed to have things run smoothly.
Right! There are so many other people out there in the same business as you. How do you manage to stand out from the competition?
When I first put items on Etsy, my prices were rock bottom. I did this to attract my initial customers. Since then, I’ve gradually raised my prices and have many repeat customers and referrals. My prices are still lower than most online boutiques and part of the reason is that I buy from suppliers like Rock Bottom T-Shirts.
We are happy to be there for you! So the “make them an offer they can’t refuse” strategy works?
Exactly! I didn’t make much my first month, but proving myself has been well worth it.
What’s the one piece of advice that you would give to anyone considering taking the plunge and starting their own Etsy business?
Like Nike says, Just do it! LOL. There’s an excellent market for it everywhere. If your quality is up to par, the customers will be there. I’ve gotten at least 2 others started with their own embroidery businesses since I’ve started.
Thank you for checking out this latest installment of our Boutique Clothing Craft Series. If you know of someone that you think we should feature in this series please let us know by mentioning it on ourFacebook Fan Page.