independent yarn shop

  • Faces of FiberCrafty: Alicia Baines of APLCrafts Handmade

    We hope that you enjoy this series featuring interviews with FiberCrafty shop owners. Our goal is to give you a little peek behind the scenes and a chance to learn more about our talented business owners.

    Today's post features Alicia Baines of APLCrafts Handmade based in La Vergne, TN.  I learned a couple of new things about Alicia and hope you do, too!

    Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from, what crafts do you enjoy, what is your background, do you have any pets, etc? I'm originally from New Haven, CT and have been living in middle TN for almost 14 years now. I've always enjoyed crochet as my first love even though knitting has kind of taken over for now as it's still pretty new in my life. I enjoy gardening even though I'm not very good at it.

    Romantic Endeavor is a fingering weight polwarth with 437 yards.

    What is the name of your shop? Is there a story behind the name? APLCrafts. It is named so because I have no talent in names so as many small business owners do, I chose my formal initials.

    How long have you had your business? I've had APLCrafts for 3 years. I've dyed yarn for 1.

    What kind of products do you specialize in? Hand dyed yarn. I love working with Merino, and Polwarth yarns.

    Every story has a beginning, how did your business get started? My story begins at the end of 18 years as a professional baker and food service worker. It's rough on your body and I found I couldn't do it anymore so I turned to the one thing that has always been with me. Yarn.

    Mysticxian is a rich blue DK weight superwash Polwarth with 246 yards

    Do you have a favorite pattern that shows off your products? I recently made the Susan Scarf for my best friend using For the Love of a Mermaid. I think it worked up beautifully.

    Blue Christmas is a gorgeous new colorway with sparkle! Fingering weight in 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon and 5% Lurex. 437 yards

    What else would you like to share? I've dipped my toes into crochet design and have a few patterns available on Ravelry. I've also this year started a podcast. It's very new but it's my own little corner of the world and I'm enjoying the process.

    What's your favorite feature or part of FiberCrafty (as a shopper or shop owner)?  As a shopper I like the many filter options in the search bar. As a shop owner I love and appreciate how easily I can adjust my inventory, and keep information if I'm out of stock so I don't have to re-write my listings.

    Alicia, thank you for sharing about yourself and a glimpse into your life! I didn't know you had crochet designs and enjoyed looking at your patterns. The Dragonfly Meets Butterfly shawl is exquisite! Alicia's products can be found for sale in her FiberCrafty shop, APLCrafts Handmade.

     

  • When you own a business, you are in sales.

    Do you consider yourself to be in sales? You might say no but if you are a small business owner, the reality is that you ARE in sales! You are also in customer service, marketing, product design, and a host of other roles but today let’s talk about wearing that sales hat.

    I know what you are thinking. Salespeople have an undesirable reputation. Some salespeople are definitely less ethical but that isn’t the norm. When you boil down the basics of sales it is helping to connect people, based on their wants or needs, with the right products or services. That’s not such a bad thing!

    I have to put myself out there, too! This is me! Hi!

    I spent over 20 years in a successful professional sales role before I started my business, fibercrafty.com. I learned a lot selling software and while software is completely different from hand-dyed yarn and fiber, the basics of selling are the same. In this post, I’m sharing two of the most important rules to consider and practice in the sales efforts of your business. These are relatively common sense but often hard to remember to do.

    Rule #1. Be yourself. First and foremost, if you are a single business owner, you ARE your business. You are what sets your business apart from other people. You bring a unique perspective to whatever your product or offering is and you need to let that shine when talking to customers or prospects. Tell your story! Why should people buy from you? What makes your shop special? People buy from who they know and trust. If you have a hard time with this, ask a close friend or family member to help you. Or maybe even a wonderful customer that you have an established relationship with. Ask then what about your business stands out, what makes them buy from you.

    Rule #2. Make it easy for someone to buy from you. This, my friends, is where the rubber

    From a shop on FiberCrafty.

    hits the road. When selling online, people can’t handle your products or see them in person so you need to help them make a decision while online. And you want it to be an easy decision. To make this even more challenging, you have only a matter of seconds to capture and keep their attention. Research is showing that the amount of time you have is gradually getting shorter. In the year 2000, you had 12 seconds. Now, you have 8 seconds. The more steps the customer has to take before buying, the less likely they are to buy. For example, if you didn’t include some information in your listings, such as the size of your bag, a shopper might have to send an email to ask. That is an extra step you don’t want them to take. The good news is, you can anticipate and answer most questions before they are asked.

    We are going to dive into this idea in more detail with the next few posts but for now consider:

    • Are all the details of my product included? Are the attributes complete?
    • Are the pictures clear? Are there pictures showing multiple angles? Are there pictures showing an item to scale?
    • Does my item have variations - if so, can they be selected with a menu choice or do they have to contact me separately? In some cases they will need to contact you, but if there is a way around it - make it easy! (FiberCrafty is adding an internal messaging system in the update to help with this.)
    • Did you proofread your listing for spelling? This can affect products showing up in searches.
    • Did you check your listing for accuracy? (especially if you have copied an existing listing)

    Take a look at your listings and your shop through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Maybe you have a friend who can help you by reviewing it. Are there unanswered questions? Are there ANY barriers that would make clicking “add to cart” a step away? This is truly a situation where over-providing some information can be helpful.

    From a shop on FiberCrafty.

    How does it feel to explore your shop? Does it feel well curated? Are the photos of products on similar backdrops? Or does it feel like a disarray. Think about walking through a brick and mortar shop. Some shops are a delight to browse and walk through. And there are others that feel cluttered and disorganized. Online shops can create these same feelings.

    Working to create a shop that feels curated and like it was built with care will make it far more likely for shoppers to browse. Well written listings with anticipated questions answered, will make it far more likely for shoppers to click Add to Cart and Checkout, which is the ultimate goal.

    If you are not a FiberCrafty shop owner and you want to continue to learn how to curate your online shop for the fiber community, let me know! Not all posts in this series will be posted publicly on the blog. 

    What advice would you give someone about how to help their customers say yes? Comment below and share! In the yarn and fiber industry, we are fortunate to all benefit when we put community above competition.

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