Today, we have the incomparably fun Sarah Baumann of Signet Sealed joining us to chat about what to do when your business outgrows you. When packing up orders starting taking over her life, Sarah made the leap to bring in extra help with a fulfillment center who manages every single order in her shop. We’re talking about the logistical aspect of using a fulfillment company (it is MINDBLOWING, you guys!), and we’re diving into some of the strategies you guys can use for growing a product-based business without losing your mind.
Connect with Sarah:
How Signet Sealed Started
So can you just tell us a little bit tell us more about yourself and your journey as an artist and how you got Signet Sealed off of the ground?
All my friends had travel journals and blogs and I just didn’t really have the patience to sit down and write blog posts. Instead I would create these visual doodle journals.They had like the city and name in the middle and then they would have buildings and hotels and people we met and like things we did. And you know, I dunno. All of that kind of travel stuff that you want to remember and can so easily forget.
The people that were on my trip are really encouraging and really excited about my doodle journals, and They encouraged me to do something with them. So in January of 2015 I started my Etsy shop. From there, I ran my business part time until I graduated in 2016 and then took it full time. So that’s kind of the origin story, how it all got going.
Current Focus for Signet Sealed
Right now in your business, do you find you’re more focused on wholesale retail or are you juggling both?
So right now I’m kind of focusing on sustaining wholesale but not really growing it. Last year, I went to America’s Martin Atlanta, and It was a huge year for wholesale growth, which was wonderful. But now I’m kind of like, okay, I would like to just kind of stay here and focus more on the retail side. I’m actually just starting to sell on Amazon.
Selling on Amazon
So for Amazon, do you have to comply to like the two day prime shipping?
I basically have a two day shipping guarantee. A product will ship out in two days, but It will not arrive in two days. But everything is still moving really fast and they’re really strict with those. Like pretty much everything has a ship 48 hours from the time I get the order. And if you don’t do that, they will kick you off Amazon. So like they’re hard and fast with their, with their rules, which is then a little bit of an adjustment because Etsy is more like, you want to ship it in six weeks, that’s your decision. And Amazon like, no, we gotta get it moving.
So Amazon runs a little bit more like a “business business.” I would say it takes some adjustment after coming from an Etsy world, where shipping deadlines are more flexible, but that’s not a bad thing. I mean people want their stuff fast so it’s just getting used to it.
Fulfilment Center Logistics
So at this fulfillment center place where everything is magically happening for you? Is there like a portal where all your orders go into like one list? I’m curious about the logistics of everything. Do they have access to your Etsy site, your Amazon? Like do they have it all pulled up? How do they access the orders?
So I use Shopify for my website. And then obviously Amazon and Etsy. So I have basically three different ordering streams and they all go into Ship Hero, which is like the back end software. So the warehouse checks Ship Hero every day. And so basically it’s a matter of connecting using different softwares to connect Etsy and Amazon and ship Shopify into shipping.
So yeah, they log in and they check Ship Hero every day, and that’s kind of like the mother load of where everything is going. And so then they have this list that’s like, Hey, this is what you need to pack today. This is what you’ll get back tomorrow. Um, and then they pick it and pack it. Also,I can see all of the tracking numbers and everything on the backend.
I kind of feel like I’m running a tech company some days, which is also really fun. It’s not exactly what I signed up for, but I enjoy it.
Why Sarah Decided to Shift her Shipping Process
I want to know what was the breaking point when you sat down, cried, screamed, whatever it was and you were like, something has to change.
I don’t remember if there was one specific moment. I feel like there were like 80,000 little moments. I hadn’t really traveled much and I really loved traveling, and I took a trip that fall kind of like right as the calendar was launching and I was like, it’s not going to be a big deal again, who’s even going to notice this calendar? And it was really, really hard. Like I was very unfocused. Like I was in Morocco, which is amazing. I should be fully there. And I remember I was on a camel and I was trying really hard to send an email to my printer and I was like, it’s not going through. I was like in the Sahara desert and was like, what the heck? I’m able to be here on this trip. I should, but I like could not remove myself from the shipping and the work.
Then there were just a lot of nights in like November and December when I was just like up at 3:00 AM like prepping or packing or answering emails and just like kind of quietly also crying and being like, so many people are mad at me. So many people don’t have their orders done. If we’re not going to get their things for Christmas. Like I just was like, I want my brand to be like happy and colorful and joyful and like I want it to be a fun, easy shopping experience. Like I want to get to you faster than you think it will be better packaging when you’re expecting and like everything to like surprise and delight, you know?
There is a margin that you lose when you go into the fulfillment center. They cost money for sure. But I was just like, I would rather have that life and get rid of this stress and have it off my back and have people be thrilled with me. Then like maintain and grow in a different direction I guess. If that makes sense.
Sarah’s Tips for Growing Your Product Based Business
What are some tips you have for artists trying to grow their product business?
I feel like I’m trying to kind of find your own niche and style. Like I feel like there is room for everyone. If we’re all kind of doing our own thing and I feel like there can be a lot of people that are doing kind of similar things. But if you can find your niche, you’re going to like find an audience that loves what you’re doing.
Then, you know, Google everything and anything and you can learn whatever. Like I get DMS all the time that are like, how do I do this? How do I do this? How do I do this? And I’m like, I can tell you, but I just Googled it and I don’t know if this will work for the best for you. So, um, just don’t be afraid to try things and do things that make you happy and then like other people happy.