There are riches in the niches. Have you heard that before? It means the better you know your ideal customer and audience, and can fine tune your offer to meet their needs, the BIGGER you can make it in your own little sliver of the market. Some entrepreneurs are so gifted at niching down that they actually invent and pioneer a market for something no one even knew they needed… And they totally own the space. Today’s guest falls into that category.
Christine Lucas is doing BIG things on Etsy as the creator of Lula Flora, the company that pioneered the mini piñatas party favor trend! She carved out a niche in the party decoration market in 2014 and quickly climbed to the top 1% of Etsy sellers, averaging over a quarter million dollars in sales the last couple of years.
I have so many questions for Christine — About finding her niche, about growing within it, about the Etsy selling experience, how she grew with a product so highly specific, and her advice for others excited about the idea of selling their products on Etsy. Let’s hit this podcast piñatas wide open right now, and talk to Christine Lucas about her super niche, super cute biz that’s growing like crazy.
Where It All Started
When Christine started making DIY mini donkey piñatas, it was because she couldn’t find them anywhere and she wanted them for her own wedding. Years after her wedding, her wedding planner got in touch saying she had another bride who wanted mini piñatas, and they still couldn’t find them anywhere. That’s what Christine entrepreneurial gears started turning… Maybe there’s a market in the mini piñatas world?
Christine told her husband she was going to invest in a paper cutter and list the mini donkeys for sale on Etsy. She was familiar with the platform because she had shopped there for herself and it required minimal start up and investment to get off the ground. The first night her site was live, she listed the donkeys for sale and went to bed. At her contract auditing job the next day, her phone made a “cha-ching” noise. Christine had just made her first Etsy sale without any marketing.
Within a week and a half she had left her contract position and was at home working full time on her mini piñatas, launching Lula Flora into a full blown business.
She leaned into the resources provided by Etsy, including the seller handbook, which was a wealth of information to get her going and growing. Soon, she was receiving enough orders to need outside help from her sister. These small to medium sized orders were great, but she wanted to grow bigger. So Christine started THINKING bigger.
Hashtag Strategies for Selling
Social media wasn’t the most popular avenue for marketing businesses like it is today, but she knew from her own wedding experience that a lot of planners and designers were on Instagram. Christine started a business account for Lula Flora to really start building a brand.
She started to experiment with hashtags on Instagram. Instead of tagging it with the obvious #minipiñatas or things like #madewithlove, she changed her strategy to tag photos with hashtags that matched her ideal client. Within a year, the influx of attention from bloggers, wedding designers, and brides exploded, and it landed her on Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart, and Instagram itself.
Lula Flora went from a few orders a week to 60-80 orders a week, all thanks to a careful Instagram and hashtag strategy that reached the right people for her products.
Christine clearly cracked the hashtag code with her mini piñatas business, so what’s the secret? Well, Christine just tried to think like her ideal client.
She stepped into the mind of brides and wedding planners, of moms and people planning birthday parties, and she chose hashtags that aligned with what they might be searching. The biggest mistake people often make is hashtagging just what the product is, or what the picture might show.
The platform has its fair share of misconceptions that come along with it, that maybe the shop owners are just someone doing DIY projects in their home, that it’s not a real business and therefore it’s not the same as walking into a store and buying the goods there. But for many serious shop owners, Etsy is very much a real business, as in the case with Christine and Lula Flora.
While Etsy is working on their own to change the image and perfect the messaging around what Etsy is and who it serves, Christine recommends just worrying about the perception of your own shop and the control you have over your own image.
Some shops don’t invest in professional photography, they don’t have properly written descriptions or titles, they may not stay up to date on the Etsy algorithm changes… But if it’s the platform you choose to run your business, these are all things to study and invest in.
“One of my pet peeves is when I see the words hobby, budget, or part-time in Etsy bios. No! That’s not what you want people to thing. You want them to think you’re pumping out orders, that you’re working in a studio not your basement. You can’t control what people think about Etsy, but you can definitely control your shop.”
How to Stand Out
If you want to start a shop on Etsy and stand out among the masses, do the research on your competition. Dive into the keywords they use to position their offerings. Keep an eye on how many sales they make in a day and what they’re selling (yes, you can see this info in most cases!) Peek at their reviews and see if there are any pain points for their customers that YOU can address way better.
Then, explore trends on social media. Note what’s on trend in your niche. If you’re designing products in the wedding category, see what is getting traction on social and what wedding websites are talking about. This will help you curate a product catalog and tailor your offerings to what people actually want to buy.
And the big one that you’ve heard me talk about before in different contexts, but research your ideal client. Christine felt that her ideal client was a lot like her: someone who is planning a big event with a lot of excitement, who enjoyed stunning visuals. From there, she researched how to photograph and position her products to speak to that ideal client.
More from This Episode
Christine shares her genius in the Etsy space, and also offers her advice for finding the right hashtags and keeping up with trends on Instagram to successful market her products. She also gives plenty of insight on finding the collaborations that can level up your business and that actually make sense for your brand. If you’re curious about Etsy and what it takes to grow a business on the platform, press play on the episode right now.