4. Manzanita Kids
Etsy Lesson: Constantly re-evaluate your business.Two years ago, the idea for Adrienne and David Minnery's Etsy business, Manzanita Kids, came after David lost his job and decided to spend more time at home, while Adrienne continued at her teaching position. "Manzanita Kids embodies a lifestyle change for us that began with the birth of our first child," David says. "Having our own business gives us the flexibility to work around our family's schedule." With David's background in sculpture and design and Adrienne's education experience, it ended up being the perfect combination for making quality wood children's toys -- at first made only for their son. "One of the amazing things about Etsy is that it is a platform for both hobbyists and craftspeople relying on their business for income," he says. While the market for their toys seems to be strong, Etsy sellers should be reminded of the old saying "you get what you pay for." "We work on our business all day, every day. We respond to conversations usually within an hour of receipt. We constantly work on toy design and our photographs," David says. "It's also about taking your business seriously," he says. "Etsy provides a great framework and access to a community but you still need to work, have a plan and be willing to change. We constantly evaluate our progress, our photographs, our designs and our marketing plans." Their effort is paying off. This year Manzanita Kids, the Spanish translation of "little apple," doubled their sales vs. 2011, David says. "With our toys, you don't have to worry about whether the toy contains toxic chemicals, whether it is part of a recall, whether parts will break off, where it came from and who you might be supporting," David says. "Pick up one of our toys and you can feel the weight of the wood, the smooth satin surface and you can see our hand in each piece. These toys are meant to be passed down to the next generation. We have many repeat customers, which is a good indication that we are on the right track."