Take a stroll through the city and you’ll find streets lined with hand-lettered boards. Venture into shops and you’ll discover the various ways calligraphy has personalized a business’ brand. Chalkboards have become the norm for business advertisement.
Chalkboard signs have also entered the home as practical yet aesthetic pieces. Lists and sentimental messages adorn our spaces. Our maker, Chalkboard Chique, has tapped into this growing interest and has created us a superior product. I met with Rachelle, the founder of Chalkboard Chique, in her creative space in Kanata. We discussed the intricacies of starting a business, how she optimized her online presence through Etsy and why her chalkboards are probably (most definitely) the best chalkboards around.
Chalkboard Chique grew unintentionally out of preparation for Rachelle’s own wedding in 2014. A self-proclaimed Jill-of-all-trades, Rachelle decided to tackle most of the event preparation, including customized wine glasses, for her guests. As soon as Rachelle discovered that a level of mastery was required to evenly apply chalkboard paint to the stems of her wine glasses, a new business idea was borne. Several years later, Rachelle has a fully dedicated workspace in her garage and more than enough customers to keep her busy. So, how did she get there? It’s not as complicated as it sounds; Rachelle focused on the online platform that worked best for her: Etsy.
Etsy is an online solution for artisans around the globe. However, if you want your Etsy shop to do well, there are a few helpful tricks you need to start with.
Your images are your starting point. “If you don’t have reviews, your photos are EVERYTHING.”
Splurge, hire a photographer. It’s worth it.
Lucky for you, Etsy has powerful search engine optimization features built in, but this doesn’t mean all the hard work is done! It takes a bit of practice but learning how to use the best keywords will dramatically help others find your business. For example, using keywords like “chalkboard” may seem like a good tag but there are so many artists that sell chalkboards you’ll be competing against their posts. Using something more specific like “customized chalkboards” will help to make your products more searchable.
Bad reviews are easily given, yet good reviews require work. It’s important to start thinking how you can make someone’s experience so exceptional they are motivated to write a review. How does Rachelle have so many? She shared a couple things she does for Chalkboard Chique customers.
i. First, make an amazing product, obviously.
ii. Second, think of the “unboxing” experience. By the time your customer has received their product it may have already been several weeks since their purchase. Rachelle includes special tissue paper and a personalized card to make it a memorable experience.
You can build an online reputation through repeat business. What’s one way to do this? Offer participatory discounts. Rachelle gives 20% off anyone’s next purchase if they share their Chalkboard Chique product on social media - simple but effective. More business, more free advertisement.
In addition, to having a fully optimized Etsy site, there’s a reason Chalkboard Chique has consistently done so well. Simply put, it boils down to having a superior product. Rachelle’s boards are not like regular boards. They are not porous and have been built specifically to be used with chalkboard markers – no longer do you have to worry about permanent stains on your board! Chalkboard Chique boards wipe off completely and look like new every time.
This is what Rachelle calls “added value”. And wants you to ask yourself how you can provide a competitive advantage - this will separate you from the rest.
As of late, you can rent Chalkboard Chique boards for your business, events or special occasions. Not great at calligraphy? Rachelle has partnered with local letterers that will write your message for you.
For more on Chalkboard Chique and the products we carry, visit our meet the maker section.
Until next time maker-friends!
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