Last week we talked about Etsy sellers and the upcoming Amazon Handmade. Those aren’t the only two names in the handmade game, however.
Today we are sitting down with Elizabeth from Forgotten Cotton. In this review, she is sharing her experience as a full-time seller on Aftcra, a site that specializes in handcrafted items made in the U.S.A.
What was your motivation to join Aftcra?
We are a husband and wife team who create and design handmade women’s fashion accessories. We search for exciting fabrics that are both comfortable and fashionable to create our items. We make everything from start to finish in our shop in Wyoming.
We started our business in 2011 and became full time in 2013. Our main goal is to create quality handmade goods with materials sourced from other small American businesses.
We had previously sold exclusively on Etsy while testing other eCommerce sites. We discovered very quickly that other selling platforms did not have the resources necessary for a handmade seller. We would be mixed in with sellers who were selling mass produced goods and these websites did not fit the brand image we have for our business.
We joined Aftcra this year to fulfill our search for a website that was specifically designed and curated for the handmade marketplace. We had many friends and customers who did not know where to shop to purchase actual handmade goods that were made in America. The buying process turned into a research project to assure your goods were actually being handmade. Aftcra is the solution to this problem in that is the first eCommerce platform that restores buyer confidence. When you shop with Aftcra you know you are supporting a small American business who is actually hand making the item you are purchasing We appreciated that we did not have to have our handmade goods displayed beside items that had been mass produced anymore.
Please share your success on Aftcra. Are you a full-time or part-time seller? Are you able to meet your income goals?
We are a full-time business and have been for 2 years. We see aftcra as a marketplace that is growing and gaining traction and are happy to be a part of that journey. Our sales have been slow yet steady so far on the marketplace. We understand that any eCommerce platform which is new will take time to grow it’s audience base as it gains the traffic necessary for full time buyers. We see Aftcra as a website to showcase our products in a way that matches with our core mission statement. We are proud to be able to be a part of this growing site and hope to see it continue to gain traction in not only the handmade selling community but also for consumers who care about where and how their items are made.
What’s the process like getting listed on Aftcra? What are the requirements?
The listing process is very streamlined and we found it very easy to have our shop up and running quickly. This was part of the appeal of having a shop on Aftcra as being a full-time shop can leave you with little time to set up and manage a second ecommerce website.
Aftcra has an amazing tool that I have not experienced successfully done with other websites in which you easily transfer your listings via CSV. I appreciated that there was no “pay wall” of how many items you could transfer. I had run into this paywall experience on another platform and it was very frustrating. It shows that Aftcra cares about their sellers experience and wants to help streamline the selling process as much as possible.
The only requirements to be a seller is to be a handmade business in America. Simple, right?
What’s the normal sale like in terms of product shipping and receiving payment?
The experience of having a sale is easy and streamlined. We receive payment via Paypal when an order is complete as well as a sale notification from Aftcra. We ship our Aftcra orders via Paypal multiorder shipping and enter the tracking information into Aftcra. The customer receives an email with their tracking information via Aftcra.
Does Aftcra take a commission of each sale or do you pay a flat listing fee?
One of the big selling points for getting started on Aftcra is that there are no listing fees. As a business which carries anywhere from 200-300 SKUs at a time it would have been an expensive leap to take when considering to join the website. There is no risk for the seller to open a shop. Only after the sale is there a 7% commission fee for Aftcra. There is also the Paypal selling fee which is 2.9% We ran the math prior to joining and with the listing fees on Etsy it amounts to about the same percentage per sale for us in fees.
What tips do you have for those getting started on Aftcra?
I would say- Go for it! Aftcra is growing every day. The appeal to customers grows every time a quality handmade shop joins. As with any business, you can not sit back and let the sales just come to you. I encourage those with quality shops to join and promote. Tell your family, friends, and customers that this is a website that aligns with your core business values and is the only place on the internet where they are guaranteed to be purchasing goods handmade in America. With no risk of upfront listing fees you are only putting in your own time to get set up. We have to help spread the word until Aftcra is a household name.
I would also have only the usual business advice that one should follow no matter what platform they choose to use. You need to have a quality product people want to buy, take amazing photos of your items, be fair and quick with your customer service, and have a reasonable turn around time on orders. You will want to have a fully fleshed out product line to start and continue to work and build your business. You cannot have just five items for sale and expect to quit your day job. A business is hard work, there is no getting around that, so be prepared to put in the time and effort. No one is an overnight success.
Tell us about your favorite programs or resources for getting started. Any must-have tools of the trade?
The best thing you can do for your business is to buy a quality camera. Do not use your cellphone to take product photos. I appreciate that cell phone cameras are getting better (leave the cell phone pictures for instagram!) but I feel very strongly in using a camera that is a camera. You do not need to go out and purchase a DSLR camera, but you do need one that you can take high-quality photos which can be transferred to your computer and edited. A little bit of editing goes a long way. Personally, we use Photoshop but in the understanding that not everyone has the knowledge or experience with such a program we recommend finding a free photo editing program to use to make your photos look outstanding. Make sure your photos are bright and clear and do not be afraid to crop, adjust lighting, and make color corrections. Use natural light when possible and use any online resources to research ways to improve your photography skills. A lighting setup can be purchased for as little as $100 or you can assemble a DIY that can be used as you continue to grow When we started we had a $8 dollar plastic mannequin propped up on a foam core box with clip lights from home depot. It is all a process so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Photos are the very first impression your customers have of your business. Think about your product photos as if you were the customer. Ask a trusted friend for their opinion if you are unsure to give you feedback and confirm if you are on the right path. Feel free to look at successful businesses and see the quality of photos they use.
The second item I always always tell people they need is a Dymo 4x6XL label printer. I promise, it makes shipping packages easy and quick. It is one of the best purchases we have ever made for streamlining our business.
- Pro tip: Our top 3 thermal label printers
There are so many online resources online to help you with questions you may have.You want to pick one that is knowledgeable and gives good quality advice. I love (love) Academy of Handmade who is a fantastic resource for new and growing small businesses on getting started and improving their selling game. They are so positive and supportive. I have learned so much from them as they are always posting great articles that give small business advice, tips, and ways to improve their business. If someone was starting out and looking for an amazing online resource of real advice for real sellers- this is the place I would tell them to go. They know what they are talking about and really care about small business owners.
Have you sold on Aftcra? What tips would you add?