I sell handmade paper jewelry that fits in the tradition of giving a paper gift for the first anniversary.

I started making paper jewelry at age 10 when I read “Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes.” For years, I had a small hobby of selling my handmade jewelry online and at craft shows, but it wasn’t until I switched to Shopify that my hobby morphed into a living, breathing online boutique. After 3 months of starting my Shopify store, I was able to quit my day-job as a speech therapist, rent a studio in Montreal and hire a team of amazing individuals to work alongside me.

The key to building my successful Shopify store was to know my customers and tailor to a narrower niche. Years back, a customer told me, “I’m so glad I discovered your jewelry – I’ve been having the hardest time finding a first anniversary gift that follows the tradition of giving paper.” A light bulb went off in my head, and my path was illuminated clearly: I would create a site devoted solely to helping spouses find perfect first anniversary gifts.

After our initial success, we’ve just launched a second Shopify store (http://theanniversary.co) that is devoted to providing the perfect themed gifts for every anniversary.

How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

We generated our first sales by collaborating with people in the wedding industry. We bought a few ads on their site, and the traffic started coming in. We also started advertising on Facebook, which has been very profitable. We’re thinking of starting an affiliate program for people in the wedding niche.

Right now our most profitable channel is contacts within the wedding industry. We get them to contact their customers 10 months after their wedding and mention our product. The combination of a personal recommendation from someone you have worked with and the right timing works really well for us.

Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?

For shipping and fulfillment, we use ShippingEasy. Our “warehouse” is actually still my parents’ house back in Wisconsin, where my Mom, Laurie “The Eagle” Van Tuinen is known to drive 40 miles to the airport so that a last-minute order can be flown out for next-day delivery.

We’ve found that fast delivery is very important for our customers, so shipping from the USA is a huge advantage.

What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?

Listen to your customers! Generating honest reviews is the most powerful feedback. No matter how spectacular and cutting-edge you think a new design or product is, that gets you nowhere if it's not what your customers are looking for. Let the customer be your guide.

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