This is something that I always knew would happen, but I guess I didn’t realize the time had come until it was glaring me right in the face!
I started offering my handcrafted Magick Diaries on Etsy about three years ago, and at the time, it was a huge blessing to just add my products to a pre-established shop interface and take advantage of the fact that thousands of customers were already searching that platform for handmade goods. At the time, it was exactly what I needed.
But before long, it became an issue that Etsy automatically estimates all made-to-order items to be shipped out in a set number of weeks.
At first, I thought what I needed to do was just rush everything and try to stay within that time frame, regardless of how many orders came in. Somehow, I was able to keep up that insane hustle for at least 2 years, but in 2017, sh!t hit the fan!
Prior to 2017, I would guesstimate about 0.3% of my customers were super impatient and really put up a huge stink about the length of my waiting list. But in 2017, I feel like I had a much more notable amount of my customers actually get extremely pissy with me about my process. As each incident occurred, I would re-write my polices and item descriptions to be ULTRA clear about the fact that the process takes time and care, and that with my volume of orders, it could take months for orders to be filled… But somehow, time and time again, people would fail to read the polices and freak out when their order didn’t arrive right away.
My intuition kept telling me something was really wrong energetically, but I was so busy running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get everything done that I kept letting it slide. Well, as with all things, when the Universe couldn’t get through to me with whispers or shouts, it finally punched me right in the effing face!
In February 2018, in the midst of a ton of other stressful situations in my business an life, I managed to manifest a full-fledged bully on Etsy.
This guy ordered a product that was CLEARLY estimated to take about 3 months to receive, but didn’t bother to read any of the listing description. I even mentioned his estimated completion date more than once in the process of discussing the sale, and he didn’t bother to pay attention to any of it until about 2 weeks after the order was placed. He sent me a nasty message complaining that the order had not arrived yet, and when I politely reminded him that it wouldn’t be ready until April, he threatened to “leave a nasty review every day until I refunded his order.”
If you’re in business, you probably know perfectly well why I don’t offer order cancellations, especially on made-to-order items. Once the order is placed, that money goes to my living expenses and the costs to keep my shop running. The money would have been coming directly out of my pocket to return to him, and both mine and Etsy’s polices clearly stated that this was not to be tolerated.
The “funniest” part of this whole thing was that he was 100% in the wrong in every way shape or form, even by Etsy’s official polices. He was not even someone who’s completion date was extended beyond the date suggested by Etsy’s system. And of course, Etsy has a pretty solid seller protection policy that strictly prohibits customers from threatening sellers with un-warranted abusive reviews, so all I had to do was report him to their dispute resolution team, and he was blocked from any further action. (Whew!)
The whole thing was pretty upsetting, but I decided to look at it as a blessing in disguise (just like I do with EVERYTHING lol)!
I decided to look at it this way:
1. It was a blessing that this happened with an order that was 100% within Etsy’s guidelines so that I was elegible for seller protection. I realized that had this happened with an order that I’d extended beyond their deadline, I might have been screwed.
2. The fact that this particular incident was just the worst out of a series of recurring issues with customers misunderstanding my turnaround times served as an undeniable sign that my shop had outgrown Etsy’s capacity. Had this not happened, I might have continued tolerating this constant feeling of being rushed, which was not at all conducive to my sanity, my business, or my ability to give customers my BEST work.
3. This blatant under-appreciation and disrespect of my art form shone light on the fact that I had been using Etsy as a crutch. As helpful as Etsy is in connecting buyers with artisans, it’s undeniable that it has become a commercial platform. Unfortunately not everyone who shops on Etsy now-a-days actually understands or cares what goes into the artistic process, and I was dulling my shine and stressing myself out to keep up with consumerism.
Ultimate game-changing lesson I learned from this experience:
I was (to an extent) letting an outside entity run part of my business for me, and it was no longer serving my highest good or the highest good of my true ideal clients.
One of the pros of selling on Etsy was that part of the policies and client relations aspect was in their hands, so I could focus on marketing and crafting in the early stages of my business. But the down side of that was that it wasn’t in my power to fully curate the client’s experience in a way that genuinely resonated with who I am and the sacred art that I’m offering.
What’s really occurred to me is that I was allowing myself to feel ashamed that my waiting list was long… But when I finally paused to think about that, I realized how absurd that was!
The fact that I have an extended waiting list means that a large number of people value my work and are willing to wait to receive something crafted with my hands. This is not something to be ashamed of, but to celebrate and be extremely grateful for!
Things had gotten to a point where I had almost completely lost sight of what I’d once loved about this art form: creating sacred space around crafting a truly magickal tool for a kindred spirit who resonates with what I do and is thankful to be a part of this practice!
My sacred art form had almost become a chore, but I’ve had an epiphany on how to take my power back and have the positive energy to serve clients who truly deserve and appreciate it: To take all of my made-to-order diaries off of Etsy and open my very own shop page on my own website!
Now that the unnecessary stress of trying to fit a mold that didn’t suit me is eliminated, I have the space to breath and fully enjoy curating a magickal experience for customers who I truly desire to work with!
I’m aware that this will likely mean taking a huge drop in sales at first without Etsy’s search engine there to direct traffic to my shop, but the beauty of it is that anyone who finds my shop through my website will have a much better feel for who I am, what I’m about, and whether or not working with me is a good match for their needs.
In honor of connecting with the kindred spirits who resonate with commissioning ME for a work of art, rather than just purchasing an item off Etsy with no regard for what goes into the creation process, I’ve launched a fun and inspiring insider experience for people who purchase through my shop!
It’s kind of like an elite membership club where you get exclusive insider updates, sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes looks into what goes on in my studio as I’m working on these masterpieces!
I’m so excited to share this new chapter with patrons of my artform who are truly my soul tribe! I so look forward to working with you!
Here’s to the next chapter!
Hi! I’m Afura Nefertiti Fareed, your guide for taking your business and lifestyle from MUNDANE to MAGICKAL with magickally charged custom diaries, energetically aligned branding strategy and mindset coaching… Because artists, creators and dreamers are born to change the world! Click here to learn more about how I can help you step into your highest calling!