Hey there! It’s Tess, Marketing Manager for HobKnobin. In honor of HobKnobin’s 10th anniversary, I sat down with owner Shyla Contreras to ask her 10 questions about the business. Enjoy!
What inspired you to start your business?
In 2009, my soon-to-be daughter was still in my tummy. Like most moms, I wanted her to have something personalized and special from me. Her white dresser needed some color, so I decided to take off the knobs and paint butterflies and flowers to match her bedroom motif. Up until that point, I didn’t know I had an artsy, painting side to me. I remember being so proud of the knobs I painted for her dresser.
Soon I had two kiddos, and I knew I wanted to be home with them. The compliments from friends and family really encouraged me to start painting and selling dresser knobs on Etsy. I am so thankful for their encouragement!
Have you always had a passion for crafting?
Yes! Ever since I was little, I loved coloring and creating things out of Legos, Lincoln Logs and Wonder Blocks. My true crafting skills came from watching and helping my dad in the garage. A jack of all trades, my father can do just about anything.
I love coming up with new creations, which is how my famous donut stands were introduced.
Any advice to someone who is just starting their ecommerce business?
I’ve learned so many valuable lessons along the way. It’s all about baby steps. Let your business gradually grow with you; don’t rush to be at the top. I always say to others, “If I would have started off where I am today with my busy workload, I would have freaked out!!”
In addition, making mistakes is inevitable and sometimes necessary. In fact, mistakes have often inspired some of my greatest creations. This was especially true at the beginning stages of my business, when I was painting dresser drawer knobs, light switch covers and dresser pulls.
Whether you are starting your ecommerce business to stay at home with your children or create extra income for your family, keeping your “why” factor front and center at all times will keep you moving forward.
Learn to enjoy not only the busy times, but the slow times as well. Being productive is key, even when business is slow. I use my down time to create new ideas, restock my shelves, clean-up my work space, take photos of new items, work on product descriptions or check inventory. Also, during these slower times I remind myself that it’s okay to have moments when sales aren’t constantly coming in. It creates the perfect time to reflect, and causes you to appreciate the busy times much more.
How long was it before you hired a team? Why was it time to bring in help?
Let’s be honest, there are only so many hours in a day for this girl! When owning your own business, it is important to spend your time efficiently, and to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. I got to the point in my business where I knew I wanted to start and maintain Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. I remember thinking, “How am I going to find time to do that?” I had no time to spare as it was, and I knew something would have to give if I was to take on one more task. In addition, maintaining excellent customer service is my #1 priority. I did not want to give up the integrity or high-level customer service of my business, and I knew I needed help to do so. That’s when I decided it was time for my first hire, my very talented Social Media Marketer.
I also hired my wonderful neighbor, Heather Haws, to paint my donut stands. Another recent addition to the HobKnobin team is an Ebay and Amazon specialist, who helps me maintain those two shops.
When I’m overwhelmed, especially during the holiday season, my husband, parents and family members have all been a huge help with getting me caught up. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
What is your brainstorming process for coming up with new products?
I like to look at magazines and the internet to see what the latest trends are, especially within the wedding space. It’s very important for me to stay informed on what my potential clients want. Also, a lot of my new product ideas come from client custom requests.
What is the most rewarding thing about running your business?
My clients and fans! I love when they share pictures of my wooden creations, or better yet when they incorporate one of my wooden pieces in a DIY project they made themselves. Their five-star feedback fuels my fire on the days when I don’t think I have much left in my tank. My business wouldn’t be where it is today without the faith and trust of my clients.
What does a typical work day for you look like?
I start the day by responding to clients, vendors, employee emails and client order requests. Since I sell worldwide, I’m a 24-hour business. My mail carrier comes earlier in the day, so it’s important that I ship out any completed client orders right away. Next, I prioritize orders to determine which ones get made first and which ones are ready to be sent to my painter. I’m constantly updating listing descriptions, taking photos of new products, reviewing inventory and corresponding with clients. Nothing is more important to me than making sure my clients are happy!
Roughly how many orders have you had to date?
Between my two Etsy shops, I have had 18,197 orders. On Ebay, Amazon and my personal website, I have had between 2,000- 3,000 orders. Wow… It’s hard for me to believe I’ve shipped out over 20,000 orders!
What is your favorite item to make?
Any new item is my favorite item to make. I love custom requests, because it puts my talent to the test. Variety is the spice of life!
What does the future of HobKnobin and Toying Around look like?
It’s hard to say where the crafting and DIY industries are going, but I hope to let my customers be my guiding force. I’d love to continue my success by creating new pieces to share with my potential clients.