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The beauty of a handmade business is in its uniqueness but it poses its own unique set of challenges. Join us as we talk with Rosie Browning from Know the Rose as we talk all things business and marketing in the handmade world.

In today’s episode you’ll learn:

  • How to stand out at markets, and in business
  • Pros and Cons of Etsy as a marketplace and her decision to close down her Etsy store
  • The challenges of a handmade business and how to mitigate those challenges
  • The power of showing up on Instagram
  • And so much more


[00:00:00] Rosie Browning: I don’t enjoy. Putting my face on socials and speaking to the camera and all of those fun things. But I knew that I had to do it. Some people that I speak to, they’re like, oh, I just can’t, I just can’t do it.

[00:00:11] I’m like, well, why not? People will buy from you if you do. Why would you not try it out. Just test it out and see, what kind of response you get. And I would, in the beginning, I still do . Always making the audience and the community feel like they’re a part of the journey.

[00:00:27] Hi, and welcome to the bright minds of e-commerce podcast. I’m Dahna founder of bright red marketing, and after helping so many businesses in the e-commerce space over the years, I wanted to bring you the best advice from Australia and experts in e-commerce and e-commerce store owners. If you want to relatable stories and actionable advice and the latest Facebook advertising strategies, you’re in the right place.

[00:00:47] One help with your Facebook and Instagram ads. Remember you can always book in a free strategy session at Forward slash free dash strategy dash session will run through your ads. See what’s working and what’s not. And no sales pitch. I promise. So let’s get into today’s episode.

[00:01:06] Dahna Borg: Hi, and welcome to the Bright Minds of e-Commerce podcast Today we’re here with Rosie from Know the Rose. Welcome Rosie.

[00:01:12] Rosie Browning: Thank you so much for having me. Hello.

[00:01:14] Dahna Borg: Hi. It’s great to have you on the show.

[00:01:16] So can you tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started?

[00:01:19] Rosie Browning: Yeah, so my business is called, Know, the Rose, and I sell naturally dried flowers. So basically I buy all of my flowers fresh and I hang them to dry over a couple of weeks. Naturally, I don’t use any chemicals or preservatives or, synthetic dyes, which is very common in the floral industry these days.

[00:01:37] So yeah, it’s all just a super natural process. That I just do in my studio.

[00:01:43] Dahna Borg: Imagine your studio is beautiful

[00:01:45] Rosie Browning: It is, it smells. I, I’m told that it smells amazing, although I have to say, I’m used to the smell now, so unfortunately, yeah, I can’t, I can’t smell it much anymore.

[00:01:56] Dahna Borg: Lovely. Tell us a little bit about how you got started, what that sort of process of, of starting a business was like for you.

[00:02:01] Rosie Browning: So I started back in 2020. Like most people, beginning of the pandemic I was put down two, , I was put down to four days a week at work and I wanted to make the most of my day off, so my one day off. So I was working as a graphic designer at the time, so I was still in a very creative kind of industry, but I was sitting at a computer all day.

[00:02:21] And I was missing that creative element of using my hands to create something. So on my days off, I just wanted to be super crafty. Like each week I would try something new. And yeah, just one week I had a bunch of fresh natives and I was like, I’m gonna try drying these cuz I’ve never tried it before.

[00:02:37] And I was like what do you give to go try something new this week? So I hung them upside down and I just really loved the process of watching them change over a couple of weeks. And then they even though they’re technically drying out and technically dying, they take on a new life of their own.

[00:02:53] And it’s a beautiful process to watch. So, Once they were dried out fully, I started creating bouquets and I’d just buy more and more fresh flowers and then hang them up to dry. Eventually, my whole kind of garage was just a wall of flowers. I was taking over a bit, and then it yeah, just took off from there.

[00:03:12] So I’d. make ques sell them to family and friends. Not that they really had a choice. I forced my product onto them. I was like, here’s a bouquet. You need to gimme money now so that I can buy more flowers. But yeah, that’s kind of how it all, how it all started.

[00:03:27] Dahna Borg: Amazing. Other than forcing people to buy your product, how did you sort of get those first non enforced customers?

[00:03:35] Rosie Browning: After a while, it was, it was forced for a, for a while. I’m not gonna lie.

[00:03:39] Dahna Borg: we do what we gotta do.

[00:03:41] Rosie Browning: after a while I decided that I wanted to launch turn it into a website and kind of build something from it rather than just have it as a bit of a, a casual thing. I wanted to turn it into something bigger.

[00:03:52] So I decided to launch a website and that’s when. I start and, you know, building up the socials and all of that, and that’s when those kind of real customers started coming in. I also did local markets which were real customers as well, although my first couple were family and friends supporting me.

[00:04:10] Dahna Borg: That’s still nice. But I mean, the markets thing I think is a, a really nice way, especially for those more creative businesses

[00:04:15] Rosie Browning: Yeah.

[00:04:16] Dahna Borg: get out there, test your product, see what people like, see what people are interested in, answer all those questions and sort of get that live feedback. So I think markets is a, a really great way to sort of start businesses like that.

[00:04:26] Rosie Browning: Yeah. Yeah, the markets were amazing and although they were very, very time consuming and they were exhausting days, you know, you had to get up super early, pack everything up, head to the market before the sun’s up, and set up your stall before everyone arrives. Looking back, like I, I didn’t really enjoy doing the markets at the time because they were just such hard work.

[00:04:48] But looking back it was, it was, I’m very glad that I did them and I got a lot out of them. And, you know, some of the local customers that I still have today first found me back at those markets. So yeah, I’m definitely glad I did them.

[00:05:01] Dahna Borg: Do you have any like top tips for people that are thinking about going to markets to make the most of it?

[00:05:07] Rosie Browning: Yeah, my biggest hit would just be, Stand out with your stole design. So, you know, you just, you go to markets and I, I love going to markets. I go to markets all the time, and you just, you see the same thing over and over. People have a trestle table, they’ve got a bit of linen on the top of the trestle, and then they’ve just got their products on the table.

[00:05:24] That’s it. They have a banner behind them. That’s kind of it. And I went, I went hard with my stall design. Like I, I had to take two car. I had my dad’s ute, which we put all of my props in, and then that’s all that I put. I couldn’t fit my product in that car at all. It was just solely props. And then I had another car, which I took, so we took two cars every time.

[00:05:44] That’s why it was such a

[00:05:45] Dahna Borg: I wonder you were tired.

[00:05:46] Rosie Browning: Yeah. And then I had the other car filled with my product. So I had, rather than just, I still had the trestle with a bit of you know, fabric over it. But I also had vintage suitcases. I had copper tubs. I had lots of vintage props that I used, and I created something different that people automat and I hung things from the ceilings. People had to stop and they were like, whoa, what is this? This is, this is different. So that’s my biggest tip. Just create a bit of a wow factor because people go to markets just to stroll through them and they, they just mindlessly walk through them without really stopping to look at things properly.

[00:06:23] But when you create that wow factor, people. Have to stop and look at what you’re doing and what you’ve got to offer.

[00:06:31] Dahna Borg: I love

[00:06:32] Rosie Browning: yeah, just stand out.

[00:06:33] Dahna Borg: I think that’s just great marketing advice in general. I think people do that with their websites, they do that with their Instagram. Everything looks the same. I think having that, that wow factor in changing things up, whether it’s your markets, your Instagram, your TikTok, your website, any of those things can sort of make a huge difference.

[00:06:49] Rosie Browning: A lot of people just stopped and admired and, and said, I absolutely love your stole. Like they didn’t, they didn’t have to buy anything for me, but they always stopped and told me how much they loved my stole, so yeah.

[00:07:01] Dahna Borg: That’s amazing. So when you went online, you said that you’ve launched your website at Etsy at the same sort of time, sort of what advantages and disadvantages did you find to doing both at the same time?

[00:07:12] Rosie Browning: Yeah, so I decided to launch my website and Etsy at the same time because I just thought, why not? I wanted to, I was still, it was still very new. I didn’t have a big following. And I just thought going on Etsy as well was just another way to reach people that I might otherwise not have. Like people were able to discover me through Etsy, through the, you know, marketplace platform that.

[00:07:34] If they were just doing a Google search, you know, my SEO wasn’t good back then, I didn’t know what I was doing with all of that. So they wouldn’t have found me if they’d just done a Google search. But when I was on Etsy, they, they were able to discover me. And the, the great thing about Etsy is the way that you can optimize your listings with SEO means that you know, you can come up first on that search page when they put in key keywords like dried flowers.

[00:07:59] I was going, you know, I did a lot of research into the kind of ways that you can optimize that SEO on Etsy, and so I always ended up landing on that first page when they would search it, so, so I think that kind of played a big part. And the benefit as well was that when I was having the slower, slower weeks on my website, Etsy was there to keep me on track and at least orders were coming through on Etsy when my website was slower.

[00:08:27] So, yeah, I definitely think it was worthwhile.

[00:08:30] Dahna Borg: Wonderful. You’ve then since decided to close Etsy, is that right?

[00:08:34] Rosie Browning: Yeah. If you have

[00:08:35] Dahna Borg: What sort of made that decision? How did that come about? Are you happy with that choice?

[00:08:40] Rosie Browning: yeah, I am. I am happy with it. So in the beginning, I’d say , Majority of my orders were actually coming from Etsy because of that discoverability. But over time that kind of shifted and it eventually got to the point because I was pushing more on socials to people to go to my website. , I never actually marketed that I was on Etsy.

[00:09:00] I didn’t tell anyone I didn’t have a link anywhere. I didn’t I didn’t push it at all. No one, no one really knew. Only the people who searched on Etsy knew. And so because I wasn’t pushing it and because my following on social media started to grow and I was pushing people to my website, that kind of, that shifted and more and more people, Were buying from online to the point where it got to like 99% of people were just buying online.

[00:09:28] And then I’d get a, an order from Etsy every now and then, and it got to the point where I was, struggling to maintain like a high quality on both platforms, so I was just concentrating on my website basically. I wanted that to be. The, you know, where I put all of my time and energy. And then Etsy I found was I, I just kept pushing it to the side.

[00:09:49] I was like, I need to update listings. I need to, I need to add new products. I didn’t even get around to adding, you know, some new products on there. And, you know, you do need to stay on top of the SEO cuz you know, keywords change and stuff like that, which I just wasn’t doing. And it got to a point where I thought I’d rather just.

[00:10:07] You know, remove that. Cuz I was always feeling a bit guilty about it. I was like, oh, I really need to work on Etsy. I really need to update Etsy. And it was just always on my mind. And it just got to a point where I was like, this isn’t worth my energy anymore. And then almost, you know, when orders did come through from Etsy every now and then, it was almost like, oh, I’ve gotta, I’ve got an, I’ve gotta do this Etsy order now.

[00:10:27] Like I’m so concentrated on the ones that I know that sounds bad, but it was taking, it was taking my mind off of the important things. So I just decided that it wasn’t worth my time and energy updating it, it, you know?

[00:10:39] Dahna Borg: Sounds like a, sounds like a good

[00:10:41] decision. I think there’s, look, I’m a, I’m a big fan of simplifying business. Like I think it sounds like Etsy was amazing for you and probably amazing for a lot of small businesses in that getting out there, getting your first sort of customers. The SEO component of that sounds really.

[00:10:57] Helpful. But I feel like when you get to the point that you were at, you know, simplifying that down and working on the things that are working best is always gonna be the best decision.

[00:11:04] Rosie Browning: Yeah, definitely.

[00:11:06] Dahna Borg: So obviously your product is completely handmade. You are buying flowers, you’re drying them for weeks on end.

[00:11:12] What are some of the sort of challenges that you face with having a, a purely sort of handmade product?

[00:11:18] Rosie Browning: I’d say just my time, time management is my biggest struggle. The pieces that I create are very labor intensive, especially the bouquets. Sometimes I wish I just had a product that I could just pick off a shelf, pop in a satchel, and send it off, and then do the next one.

[00:11:35] And it would be so quick and I’d get so much done throughout the day. But then I remember that the fact that they’re handmade is what sets my business apart. It’s what, it’s my unique selling point. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s what makes my business what it is. So I would never change that, but it is. Time management is my biggest struggle for sure.

[00:11:56] Dahna Borg: Yeah. Is there any sort of ways that you sort of mitigate those challenges, make things easier for yourself?

[00:12:03] Rosie Browning: Yeah, so in the beginning when I, when I launched my business, I was only really doing bouquets and wreaths, which are both the bouquets. You know, they take time to, to make up a really beautiful bouquet. But the wreaths as well just took hours to create one single product, and I was like, this is, this is not okay.

[00:12:24] I knew.

[00:12:25] Dahna Borg: This is not sustainable.

[00:12:26] Rosie Browning: need to switch things up. So, yeah, so I very quickly realized that I needed to introduce different products that were much quicker for me to just pick and pack. So I, I introduced a, a kind of collection, which I call bunches, which are just basically a one singular species of flour, like daisies or lavender.

[00:12:44] And all I have to do is wrap them up and pop them in a box. So, I introduced a lot of those as well as vases. I introduced a new collection of vases, which I crate cuz that’s something I can just pick off a shelf and wrap up. So I love that. But yeah, just introducing those new products. Definitely helped , and I found a lot of people love them.

[00:13:05] They love the simplicity of just a bunch of daisies rather than, you know, an elaborate bouquet. So I do sell a lot of those, which is, is good. And then when the, when the bouquet orders do come through I have gotten quicker as well over time. So that’s definitely helped.

[00:13:19] Dahna Borg: Amazing. I think. A lot of businesses can benefit from sort of adding those extra pieces. I think even if someone’s buying a bouquet from you, they’re more likely to buy a VAs while they’re there. Or they might be like, oh, I’ll buy this for me, and then I’ll buy like a cute little bunch for a friend while I’m there.

[00:13:35] So I think anytime you can do those sorts of things, that’s always a, a really good idea.

[00:13:38] Rosie Browning: yeah.

[00:13:39] Dahna Borg: So we’ve sorted a little bit about how you marketed your business at the beginning. How has that sort of changed to how you market your business today?

[00:13:47] Rosie Browning: Like I said in the beginning, I was definitely doing a lot of markets to get, to get the name out there and build awareness. So I was doing markets, I’d say probably once a week, otherwise maybe once a fortnight. And like I said, it was a whole big thing. Like it took a lot of time and energy just to do that one market.

[00:14:06] And the thing with local markets is they’re just, They’re just for a couple of hours, like all that time and energy. I spend an entire week prepping for a market for just a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday. And so, even though that was good at the time, you know, building up that awareness, I got a lot of followers on Instagram from it and, you know, a lot of online sales from it too, cuz people would take a card and then they’d go and you know, buy online eventually.

[00:14:34] But now what I do, I’ve, I’ve now what I do is I do, I still do markets, but I do the bigger ones and I do. I do the markets that go over a couple of days. So I do like the big design and finders, keepers, you know, those much larger scale markets that I can still spend all that time and energy prepping for them and leading up to it.

[00:14:58] But at least I know I’m gonna get a solid couple of days return for it. And, you know, you can set up, put all that, all that energy into setting up the stall and. You can just leave it for a couple of days. You don’t have to pack down at the end of the day. You can leave it for two or

[00:15:13] three. Yeah, no. Oh, I’ve got a van now, luckily, so I fit it all in the van.

[00:15:19] But yeah, that’s, that’s the, that’s what I do now, is I just, I do, I do bigger markets, but not as many, and that’s working much better for me.

[00:15:28] Dahna Borg: Amazing. I love that. And I know that’s something that you are really good at and something that you do in addition to the market to sort of build in those relationships on Instagram. I know that’s something a lot of businesses find really hard. What are you sort of, what have you found that sort of works best for your, your business?

[00:15:45] Rosie Browning: So I, I honestly find that every time I show up personally, like on Instagram stories, I show my face, I show behind the scenes, that sort of thing. It, the, the difference in engagement from say compared to just a, a shot of a bouquet or you know, a product kind of post is, is crazy. You get so much more engagement when people can connect with you and you know, put a face to the brand and see what you’re doing.

[00:16:13] So yeah, I just, I just put myself out there, even though I didn’t enjoy doing that at all. , I don’t enjoy. Putting my face on socials and speaking to the camera and all of those fun things. But I knew that I had to do it. And, you know, some people that I speak to, they’re like, oh, I just can’t, I just can’t do it.

[00:16:30] I’m like, well, why not? People will, people will buy from you if you do. Like, why would you not do, why would you not? You know, try it out. Just test it out and see, and see what kind of response you get. Always making the audience and the community feel like they’re a part of the journey.

[00:16:48] So getting them to help me name different bouquets, you know, getting them to cast a vote with what do they prefer, this or that. You know, just making them feel like they’re on the journey with you and they’re helping you gives them purpose as well. And it, you know, creates this sense of community.

[00:17:05] Just, really engaging the audience and bringing them in and sharing, sharing random fun facts. It doesn’t always have to be product or brand related. You can just share fun facts about yourself. You know, my community knows that I’m obsessed with my nephew.

[00:17:19] Everyone actually thinks he’s mine because I post about him so often. But I have to remind people, he is just my nephew. . And yeah, just little things like that where it’s, you don’t always have to talk about your business or your product.

[00:17:30] Dahna Borg: Yeah. I love that. And I think, I think your point is right, it just why not? Like,

[00:17:35] yes, it’s hard, but starting a business is hard.

[00:17:38] Rosie Browning: if you know it works, then why not give it a go?

[00:17:41] Dahna Borg: Yeah, exactly. I know we’ve covered a lot of different things. Is there anything you think that we’ve missed in terms of big business lessons that you’ve learned, things that you’re really good at, that you’d like to share?

[00:17:52] Rosie Browning: My biggest tip would just be to give it a go. I know that sounds really simple and it’s probably been said before, but. If you don’t try, you’ll never know, and you may as well just, just give it a go.

[00:18:05] Just launch that product that you’ve been making in your spare time. Just put it out there on Instagram. , see what happens. You know, don’t be afraid , to try. , just put it out there and see where it takes you.

[00:18:18] Dahna Borg: I really love that. Well, I’ll go into the last couple questions we ask everyone. Do you have any strategies or habits that you follow each day to help you stay on tracking business?

[00:18:27] Rosie Browning: Yes. So. Every morning I read for at least half an hour. Usually they’re business related books as well. So I’m learning, doing a bit of self-development while I read them. And then sometimes I’ll treat myself and read something that’s not business related.

[00:18:42] And then as well, when I get into my studio, every. Morning I just pop my bags down and then immediately sit down and meditate just for five minutes. So I’d just like to clear the kind of energy and space and start the day with that mindfulness that I try and carry out throughout the rest of the day as well.

[00:18:59] Dahna Borg: I love that. I’m also a big reader and I tend to read another, a lot of business books. I’m a big fiction nerd anyway. Do you have a favorite business book or one that you’ve read lately that’s been particularly powerful?

[00:19:12] Rosie Browning: Yeah. One that I’ve read lately, which I know has actually been recommended on your podcast before is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It’s the Nike story. It’s incredible. It’s, I, I’d highly recommend reading it. It’s just crazy to hear how they started from. Absolutely nothing and the insane obstacles that they had to overcome to get to where they are today.

[00:19:33] You wouldn’t have thought like such a huge company has gone through so much, but they, they haven’t. It’s definitely worth the read.

[00:19:39] Dahna Borg: It has been on my list for a while. Cause you’re right, it has been mentioned

[00:19:41] Rosie Browning: yeah. Yeah.

[00:19:42] Dahna Borg: still haven’t read it. Do you have a favorite podcast?

[00:19:45] Rosie Browning: Yes. The diary, the, what’s it called? The Diary of a c e O by Stephen Barlett. It’s a really, really interesting one. Lots of life lessons and insights into entrepreneurship, but also just, just life in general. It’s, it’s a really cool one.

[00:20:01] Dahna Borg: I love that. And if people want to visit you and have a look at your amazing and beautiful flowers, what’s the best way for ’em to do that?

[00:20:07] Rosie Browning: They can head online. Just know the au. They can also follow along on Instagram and TikTok, which is just at Know the Rose.

[00:20:14] Dahna Borg: Wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.

[00:20:17] Rosie Browning: Thank you so much for having me.

[00:20:19] Thank you for listening to the bright minds of e-commerce podcast. As always, you can find the show notes at forward slash episode 41. Thanks for listening.

Dahna Borg

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