It’s coming up to 2 years from the start of my store. I started Quinn’s Pins in late 2018, not expecting for it to become a main income for me. Yet 2 years later I continue to make new products, grow my audience and just generally have a bloody great time! So I thought I would do a look back at my past two years as a business owner, talk through how I did it, thing’s I’ve learnt and my future goals. Hopefully it can help any of you looking at starting an online store!
Starting Quinn’s Pins
Some of you may have heard this story before, but in mid-late 2018 I created my first Enamel Pin. I’d started other businesses before that I never posted or spoke about and they never truly lifted off. I got a couple of sales here and there, but never anything for me to want to continue. I started collecting enamel pins at my Retail job, but only ever bought pins that related to me in some way, I loved cheese (still do) and couldn’t find a Cheese Enamel Pin that I wanted to buy. So, my entrepreneurial self decided to design my own! I created a mockup of what I would want it to look like and opened up an Etsy Store. I’d attended a Business School earlier that year that taught me to sell before I buy, so that’s what I did. I took a leap and uploaded my mockup onto Etsy, included a description, a few mockup photos and a random price that seemed to fit the market. I also originally wanted to make this enamel pin as something I could send my ideal design customers to grab their attention, but oops, it ended up with me starting an online store! (which is fab!)
My First Sale
After a couple of weeks I still hadn’t got a sale and was becoming quite disheartened. I had no full intentions of starting an online store at this point, but I just really wanted this pin to work! I then went on holiday to Cornwall with my Family and Boyfriend and received my first sale (I actually don’t remember this too well, I think I was just so shocked, but Dan tells me about it a lot). I was in a panic to get home and order the pins! The orders came in and by the end of the week I had around 8 orders, I had to message everyone and let them know the pins would be with me in around 3 weeks, luckily everyone was happy to wait! I went about researching Enamel Pin Manufacturers, compared prices and found one that looked the best.
My pins arrived 3 weeks later and I wanted to ship them out immediately. I had no pretty packaging or backing cards, even though I had 3 weeks to do this, I just didn’t think about it or know how! I was printing out my backing cards onto paper and cutting them out myself and posted them in bubble mail bags. (Tip: Backing Cards are just Business Cards, this may sound super obvious but I used to think you had to buy them specifically as backing cards!)
Starting a Brand
From there I realised that rather than sending these pins to my ideal clients, I could actually be starting an online store that could work! I originally tried creating a website for other pin designers to sell their stuff, but it was too difficult and I didn’t have enough knowledge to make it successful, so I decided to work on my own shop for my products. I named it Quinn’s Pins! I’d always wanted something with my last name in, even when I was younger I wanted to own a Café called ‘Quinn’s’, because I love my last name and it may change when I marry, so I wanted the family name to be included in some way!
By May 2019 I had designed 2 more pins, my Feather Pin and Blue Cheese Pin. I actually felt very lost at this point. I wasn’t really sure if this whole idea was going to work and what my future goals were. My feather pin sold a few but not many. I had a lot of ups and downs at this point on whether I should bother making more, but I picked myself up and started my own Instagram account, rather than posting it to my personal account, and started to get my products in front of people. I began to find other accounts and sharing their work.
By late summer I felt a lot happier, I even asked my boyfriend, Dan, to make me my own website (I only got a few sales on it, but it was a start) and created my own little character called Quinn (it was a phase and she didn’t last long!) I invested every single sale back into my business. I saved every penny and put it towards more enamel pins, I definitely was not in profit with my business, but that didn’t even cross my mind as I didn’t want to spend my money on myself, but to reinvest it.
The Blossoming of Quinn’s Pins
Now this is why I say I’ve been doing Quinn’s Pins for 2 years ISH. I started in late 2018 but I really started to push it as a store early-mid 2019. By this point I had 7 pins in total (including my pansy pins) and was really working hard to grow online. I started to stop caring what other people thought of me, which has been a huge life lesson for me and has made me so much more confident. I started showing my face on my Instagram, being myself and posting about my process. I started Pin Swaps with other creators, joined Pin Facebook Groups and started utilising Instagram Ads. I also worked on making my Etsy shop look nicer and worked on my tags and descriptions. My Feather pin started selling a lot more and became a Best Seller. I had to start reordering pins due to selling out (which was and still is an amazing feeling). I always went back to my Etsy listings to update them, as well as kept an eye on the favourites and total in baskets, this really helped me to see what was popular and why they may not be purchasing.
2019 was a huge growing point for me. I left my retail job in November 2019 to work as a Full Time Freelancer. I was able to spend a lot more time on Quinn’s Pins. I created a brand new website and started to gain website sales as well as Etsy sales. I also got to work with amazing clients as a Freelance Graphic Designer. From this point onwards I have expanded my shop by adding products that aren’t just Enamel Pins. I debated changing my shop name (still with Quinn in it), but after asking literally everyone I knew, they all said to keep it the same, and I’m very glad I did.
Looking to the Future!
Starting an online store is the best decision I ever made. I have a lot of future goals, some are huge, others smaller. I would absolutely love to have a Quinn’s Pins Subscription service one day. I’d love to open a Patreon, including how to start a business, design tips and sneak peeks etc. I even have a goal to open my own little store one day (but that is a huuge goal that I dont expect to happen any time soon!)
I’ve learnt a lot through my journey and let out a lot of sad and happy tears. I naturally really struggle to be proud of myself. I’m someone who believes they’ve never done good enough and can always do more. I like to spread the message of being proud of yourself for this reason (hypocrite I know) but I want people to be proud of anything they’ve achieved, no matter how small. It’s nice to look back on my past 2 years and compare my shop from then to now, which is something to be proud of I guess!
I hope this helps anyone starting their business know that it’s possible. I did shed a little tear or two writing this. I’m not the biggest shop out there, but I hope that I continue to grow and learn. Hopefully I inspire others to do the same too!
This was a longer read than usual. If you did make it to the end, thank you so much for taking the time to read it! Here’s to the future of Quinn’s Pins!!
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