Monday 15 October 2007

Unique selling proposition

We are in financial dire straits. That is a fact that can not be denied.

When we came to Turkey ten years ago we sold the house in Amsterdam, we bought a house here with the half of the money and we thought, or I thought, my daughter was very young at that time that in time we would find a job or create a job of some sorts here.

Finding a job was very easy, we discovered. Getting paid at the end of the month is not, we discovered as well. In a country where the judicial system simply doesn’t work, the temptation for the bosses just not to pay the employees is often too great.

Creating a job was not that easy. The bureaucracy is overwhelming, the foot traps countless and I think I just miss the perkiness or fearlessness or what ever it is that takes to be an entrepreneur. The vision and feeling for the golden opportunity.

So, for ten years now we have been slowly eating the proceeds of that house in Holland. It was a nice house, but now the very bottom of our reserves is in sight.
When we started making and selling fashion jewelry, and loving it, we thought that we had found our niche. And that is of course so. We are proud of what we do and we try to get better at it. So is Estella, for instance preparing her admittance exam to study metal smiting and jewelry making at one of Istanbul’s universities.

But in the mean time we simply don’t make enough money out of it to be able to go on this way. We are thinking very hard what else we can do. Something less glamorous than jewelry making but easier to sell.

(lisa hurwitz)

The brilliant architect that builds extraordinary houses rarely becomes rich. The one that becomes filthy rich is the one guy with the cement factory.

In this spirit, we made a quick survey of what is selling well on Etsy. One thing is clear: you need to specialize, to find your thing, your UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION, to use that very helpful term from economics.

Shops that are doing well sell mostly one item in all variations. Digital collage sheets for scrapbooking, for instance, is a topper. Brilliant too that such a shop can do all the business from home. No shipping costs for the buyer and no queues at the post office for the seller. Mmm…

A single item, in many variations, very well made, is always good. So are, for instance the beautiful leather bound journals made by our friend Kreativlink.

Knitting and crocheting do well on Etsy too. But my bookbinding, crocheting and knitting days are over, not that I was that great at those anyhow, I always was a mere pattern follower, and know I can not muster the patience either.

What else?
Continuing our search on Etsy we make a discovery:
Other ‘power sellers’ make cloth sanitary napkins and…crocheted tampons.

Oh dear…

I am old enough to have used during my first menstruating year terry cloth sanitary pads. The raspiness of those and the following washing (by hand) is one of the most ecofriendly and disgusting chores there are.

The tampons are awfully colorful, though. And no worries about my neighbors gossiping if they sow those drying on the line. Nobody here would guess what they are and think they are some eccentricity due to our being foreign and weird. Mice for the dogs to play with, maybe.

Please, please, I don’t want to offend anybody here. I admire this lady’s commitment to the environment AND her entrepreneurship. Just not my thing.

What else?

We are not sure. We think we try something not far of what we already do and start selling jewelry and other supplies on Etsy. Not very original, maybe, but think ‘cement factory’.
Anyhow, because the place we live in, we have access to stuff not available in other countries or at a much higher cost, so we try to offer those in our new shop.

Also we have made some scrapbooking kits with a ‘theme’, vintage, Christmas or a color theme. They were fun to assemble and kind of creative too, with digital prints and so.

And now we’ll see what happens…


  1. Hi, it seems you have many many ideas. Hope you will be successful!

  2. It's seem like your new shop is doing well star:)

  3. So many questions, I ask myself, too... how to find this fragile balance?

    I hope your heart and nimble mind will find it out. I keep my fingers crossed for you 2 :)

  4. There must be a way. It would be a shame if you had to stop your beautiful work!
    But it's hard. After eleven years of self-employment, I know what I'm talking about ...
    Anyway, I see a very sucessful future for both of you! And the dogs!
    And just in case, I keep my fingers crossed too!

  5. While my shop is still in its infancy and will probably never be a full source of income, my husband has been self-employed for almost 7 years now so I know it's tough. Being creative in what you do isn't enough, "business creativity" is needed too.

    Sounds like you have many ideas to try though. :) I wish you the best of luck!

  6. Good luck, our two Stars :) My parents and my husband are all entrepreneurs, so I know how tough it is--but ultimately how rewarding too.