There's something special about having a product created by human hands. It's the feeling that there's something intimately unique about what went into that very product you hold in your hands. It takes us back to the days of the past when we lived in villages, ate what we killed and wore what we made.
This passion for handcrafted fashions is the story behind Three Bird Nest.
Three Bird Nest is a bohemian fashion apparel and accessories company started by Alicia Shaffer. Alicia launched her company while also running a brick and mortar boutique. "I had made a few headbands from my boutique and they were selling great in the store so I wanted to get them online. Since my store didn't have a website I decided to start an Etsy shop just dedicated to my crafted items."
In the last 3 years since opening her shop on Etsy, Alicia's business has skyrocketed to success. According to Handmadeology.com, Three Bird Nest is the second bestselling handmade products shop on Etsy with over 86,000 sales.
Alicia Shaffer is the face of a growing trend in business. It's the rise of the Internet entrepreneur. Without any formal fashion design training or education, Alicia has managed to build a thriving fashion business, proving that in this day and age, there's nothing stopping you from being what you want to be, doing what you want to do and earning a living while doing it.
Icanbesociety.com chronicles the stories of Internet elite's like Alicia Shaffer, who have turned their passion into a successful enterprise. I had the opportunity to interview Alicia, where she shared her story and encouraging words of wisdom for aspiring artisans and entrepreneurs.
What's the meaning behind your business name?
"I have a tattoo on my arm I got in New York that is symbolic of my three children. It's three little birds in a nest. When I was thinking of a name for my Etsy shop I looked at my arm and it kind of just popped up as a name...and it's stuck!"
Your products are beautifully designed and artfully handcrafted. Do you have a background in fashion design?
"Well, thank you! I do not have a formal education in fashion design, simply a love for textiles, mixing textures and styles that I love together. I've worked with leather for years so the love for working with leather was started when I was young and watching my uncle craft furniture from leather, but with soft goods it's all been trial and error!"
How have sales compared between your website and your Etsy site?
"Initially we ONLY were on Etsy and we only sold on Etsy for the first year. We added our website as a way for non-Etsy customers to find us and as a way to grow the brand and have more of a presence. Sales between the two are very different. We do most of our wholesale business through our web site because it is easier to manage wholesale on our own site (than on Etsy), but we still focus a lot on Etsy sales. If a customer is on Etsy and finds our shop without knowing about us, that is the exact customer that we want, they get us. They get the brand and what makes us different. Sometimes on web platforms they don't get the story behind our product so for me that is what I see as the difference.
We have a lot of work to do to build our presence on our Web site, to drive new traffic to the site. This is the catch 22 for a true Etsy shop...Do you stay on the platform that has given you success or branch out and grow on your own? We are still figuring out the answer for us to this question and how much work we put into each platform.
Currently because we do heavily favor Etsy in organic traffic and when we do marketing our sales are about 70/30 with 70% being on Etsy."
How do you promote your business?
"100% organically, we ask our customers to recommend us, we offer amazing quality photos and amazing quality pictures that deliver our brand image. This has been the #1 thing I believe that has helped in promoting our products. We have a VERY loyal fan base and they are active on our social media outlets, pin our items, and wear our items out and about! We have an email database of customers that we also market to."
If Etsy or a platform like it didn't exist, how would this have impacted your ability to pursue your passion?
Oh goodness, Etsy really gave me the opportunity to start Three Bird Nest. They allowed me to get in front of customers that were looking for products like mine so I honestly feel like I do owe this success to them. I truly believe in that and it is why I am so passionate about Etsy and encouraging others to start selling, or shop on Etsy!
What interesting things should people know about you?
Let's see. I am human and still take it personally if someone is not happy with their product. I have three kids and an amazing husband. I have 8 tattoos. I love my customers and no matter how busy we get each time my Etsy app cha-chings I smile. I have had businesses that failed in the past, which is why this success is so much sweeter to me, and I will not give up on seeing this brand grow.
I am not a fan of the color red so you will see that I have almost no red items in my shop (sorry red lovers it's just really hard for me to work with colors I don't love!).
To review the full Q&A interview with Alicia Shaffer, visit: icanbesociety.com/3birdnestdesigns
Michael Price is an entrepreneur and author of What Next? The Millennial's Guide To Surviving and Thriving in the Real World endorsed by Barbara Corcoran of ABC's Shark Tank. An advocate of ideas for radical change, he has received critical acclaim for his lessons in education, career, entrepreneurship and personal finance.