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Joining me in this episode is Debbie Hatumale-Uy, founder of Only the Sweet Stuff. Debbie shares her journey from a creative outlet to a thriving crafting business and how she blended her marketing and crafting expertise to transition into coaching for e-commerce success. We had a fantastic conversation about leveraging social media, niche targeting, and analysing metrics as well as tips on work-life balance and mindfulness.

And Debbie offers listeners a special offer so make sure you listen to the end to find out how to access that.


In today’s episode,  you’ll learn:

  • Creation of Only the Sweet Stuff
  • Key metrics for eCommerce success
  • Navigating TikTok for business
  • The importance of community building
  • Daily habits for business success
  • Special offer for listeners.

Links from the show:


Community Building Strategies

[0:00] Everything that I do is tied back to the community. And I think there’s not enough community building strategies out there.
And whether it means that you do one video a week or one post a week that will be helpful to your target audience, then that’s already community building.
So I would say there’s all these different tactics out there.
There’s always a business influencer that will tell you, okay, run this campaign or try this on your ads.
But I think it all goes back to people buy from people and they don’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. So let’s build trust first.
Hi, and welcome to the Bright Minds of E-commerce podcast. I’m Dana, founder of Bright Red Marketing, and I created this podcast because I wanted to bring you the best advice from Australian experts in e-commerce and e-commerce store owners.
If you’re wanting relatable stories and actionable advice and the latest Facebook advertising strategies, you’re in the right place. So let’s get into today’s episode.

Origin Story of Only the Sweet Stuff

[0:56] Hi, and welcome to the Bright Minds of Ecommerce podcast. Today, we’re here with Debbie from Only the Sweet Stuff. Welcome, Debbie. Hello.
So good to have you on the show. So do you want to tell us a little bit about how Only the Sweet Stuff started?
Sure. Only the Sweet Stuff started as an accident, if I’m completely honest.

[1:13] Basically, what happened was I was pregnant with my second child and I was dying, basically, with hypermesis garadium, however you say it.
The one where you’re just sick all the time and it’s just not pleasant.
I think I lost six kilos or seven kilos in my first trimester being pregnant with my first.
So I knew it was going to be an issue for the second pregnancy.

[1:34] And then I was like looking for something to keep my hands busy, if I’m honest. And I came across this fan-doggled machine called the Cricut machine.
And I said to my husband, I was just watching these YouTube videos, as you do, you go down the rabbit hole of these videos.
And then my husband bless him went out to buy one and we yeah it was love I paid for it but he went physically to go and get it because I was like I was bedridden and it was a horrible horrible time pregnancy is an amazing time but being sick all the time is not that’s fair yeah he went to get this machine for me and then I just started making and started creating and to be honest I didn’t know I was marketing it because all I was doing was sharing my journey and all I was doing was taking photos and videos and sharing with people that were my friends telling them that oh look what I made and then I just kept doing it and then all of a sudden people were messaging me saying hey Debbie I want that bottle or I want that bag or can you make me one of these for pickup tomorrow because I have a last minute birthday present and I was like sure why not so then I was just making creating and sharing what I was learning right and the thing with this machine and any other crafting, right?
There’s no manual. There’s no kind of instructional booklet to tell you, okay, if you run into this problem, do this.
So I found myself like Googling and YouTubing and TikTok and all the things trying to figure out how to use this machine.

[2:56] So then I found myself making orders. And I think in that first period, it was probably Christmas time.
So people were like, okay, yep, I’ll take that. I’ll take. And I just found myself having these orders.
In the middle of all of this, I was messaging a whole lot of different companies and being like, hey, I want this bag, but do you have it in pink?
Or do you have it in purple? Or do you have it without the zipper?
And they basically said, no, we don’t. But if you want it, do you want to order 500?
Because then I can get it for you. and $500 for a tiny business is not possible, right?
I don’t have budgets of thousands to make these bags and also I don’t even know if I’m going to sell $500.
So I found myself in this weird place where there were these items that I wanted but I couldn’t get them and the current companies that I was talking to couldn’t get them either unless I wanted to have the $500.
So then I realized that there’s a market for this. There’s a market for a craft blank supplier which is what we call the unfinished item them.
And there’s a market for that to build a community around it of creating this lovely kind of place where it’s safe for people to learn and ask the stupid questions because you don’t know what you don’t know, but also get the items that they want.
To this day, I only bring out products that people have asked me for, or I know that there is a need for.

[4:15] And so many people message me like, hey Debbie, I’ve got a market in two weeks.
Can I have 20 of these coin wallets? And And do you do a wholesale discount, that type of thing? And I’m like, yeah, for sure.
Because I want to get that volume, but I also don’t want to make it really hard for customers who are business owners themselves, get the goods that they need.
It’s such a unique way of doing business, but it’s so much more common sense than the way most people do it.
Yeah, yeah. And the owner of the Swiss shop would not exist without the community.
And everything that I do is all because of the community. So all these conversations that I’m having with people, what color is it? What blank do they want next?
That’s how this business was born. And people just do not, they discount the need for people to feel like they belong somewhere, right? And that’s all I want to do.
I just want to have a nice hub of people that just make to make and share and help each other to get to make the things.
Yeah, I love that. You talk about this community, but for everyone listening, Debbie’s built a community of over 15,000 people.
How do you do that? What are your tips? Because everyone’s complaining about group engagement being down and it’s really hard to build communities now.
I feel like there was a really sweet spot of it’s easier to do that, but it’s never easy.
What sort of your tricks and tips for those wanting to build such an engaged community?

[5:36] So it’s going to sound really hard to begin with, like overwhelming, but it’s content, right?
It’s content, it’s consistency in content, but also it’s, giving people what they want, right? So there’s so many, when I get a question, I turn that into a video or I turn that into a blog post or I turn that into a post in my Facebook group.
When you say 15,000 people, yeah, there’s 15,000 of us just making and creating and all this stuff, right?
But they’re also split over multiple channels, right?
There’s 4,000 people in my Facebook group. There’s 5,000 people on email.
There’s like nearly 10,000 on Instagram.
Like everyone is dispersed, right? So when I say lots and lots of content, often I repurpose the content that I’m already doing.
So I only need to create one video and I’ve set up a system where it repurposes it to all my channels, right?
So I’m hitting everybody, everyone’s still getting their information.
And sure, if someone follows me on Instagram and follows me on Facebook, they might see the video twice, but that’s a good thing too, right?
Because it reinforces that relationship that I’m building with them and I’m trying to help them, right?

[6:41] And there’s no short way to do it, right? Ultimately, the end goal is is your content needs to be done in a way that it is useful and it’s transparent and all I want to do is help, right?
It’s a bit of a weird one. My hacks are I always create content as I’m doing something and the content creation that I’m doing is not really creating, it’s documenting, if that makes sense, right?
For example, right now me on this podcast, I’ve got a video going and I might turn that on and off and I might only get 10, 20 seconds of each snippet.

[7:14] But that will mean I have five TikTok videos that I can post.
Or if I’m packing an order, I might set up my camera on a tripod that I bought off eBay for 50 bucks.
And I might have a time lapse video going and I might stop that time lapse and do another video that I can splice together five seconds of this process.
But again, only because I’m packing that order already, I’ve got the content on it, right?
So I really encourage people to not be so overwhelmed with content.
And I have a saying, and I didn’t invent this, but I wish I did.
But yeah done is better than perfect right so I could spend forever editing this one video and then oh I don’t I don’t like the lighting in that let me take it again or I didn’t like that blank let me put it in another put in another but I could spend days hours weeks mulling over this one video but I don’t want to do that so often I’m on camera um in my pjs or my my hair is messy and I’ve just come out of the shower or something but I’m still on on camera so done is better than the perfect so then the same message still gets across to the person you just don’t look very.

[8:17] Polished but then again like people like that now like there’s definitely like a trend and I’m trying to get used to it because I’m very much oh I have to look perfect my hair has to be done my makeup has to be done like but like the people that I watch the most on TikTok and Instagram are not they’re they’re not polished and I really resonate with that and yet I still have this like weird standard for myself and I think that’s why you’re doing so well.
Oh thanks yeah no it’s relatable right and I if you know me you’ll know that I’m not that person I’m not that person that has makeup every day and does my hair every day literally I chuck my hair in a bun and that’s it for the day and so why would I do that yeah I know.
Both here with our buns. We’re just pointing at both of our buns like yeah so it’s interesting because people want to hear from people and and I think I think that my entire community has been built because of that.
And you know what? And I can’t be fake anyway. So I’m just going to be as transparent and as genuine as I can.
So when I’m on camera, you’ll get me. I’m not going to change that.

[9:19] I love that. You did mention that you’ve got a system for repurposing the content.
Do you mind sharing that system? Are you using an app? Did you build something yourself? Share your wisdom.
Sure, sure, sure. I can send you a link as well. Repurpose is a website, but it’s basically a workflow.
So it basically, you create, you connect in all your channels and you tell it when you have a host platform. So say for example, my host platform is TikTok.
Every time I upload a video you up to TikTok, go to these places.
So then I’ve set up a workflow, one for my Facebook group, one for my business Facebook group, one for my crafters course.
And then I also have the same content, go to my Instagram and also like all of my channels, right?
So instead of me editing that video, posting it to five different places, which could take five, 10 minutes, whatever.
But if you’ve already spent 20 minutes editing a video and you spent an hour shooting, that’s adding on extra time that I just don’t have time for.
And especially when you do a time lapse, like I don’t do any editing on that anyway.
So it’s just much easier. So the system that I use is called Repurpose.
Is that the one? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I’ve dabbled into not dabbling to do.

[10:28] But it is a little bit buggy if I’m honest, if repurpose is listing, I have some tips and I have some user knowledge because it is a little bit buggy, but it’s a lifesaver because it means that I don’t need to go and download it and post it into five Facebook groups. It just does it for me.
Yeah. That goes into your done is better than perfect, right?
Right. It’s better for it to get pushed everywhere, even if it’s a little bit buggy than to not get pushed everywhere.
Exactly. Because I’m worse, like I have kids to deal with, right?
And if the kids need me right now, I won’t be able to check that until nine o’clock at night when they’re in bed.
So if all that, and if the video was supposed to go at 12 o’clock, that’s nine hours of my audience not getting anything from me. Right.

Key Metrics for E-commerce Success

[11:05] So I need it. I need it to be gone and I need to not think about it. So that’s why I use it.
Amazing. I love that. And now I know you’re also a data nerd, as fellow data nerds, what are some of the key metrics?
What are you paying attention to to be successful in the e-commerce space?

[11:22] So I don’t look at vanity metrics. So vanity metrics means likes, shares, comments.
I, yeah, okay. Once every now and then I might look at that and have a look at what the trends are telling me.
So if this video didn’t do very well in likes, then I won’t do that again. It’s as simple as that.
I look at traffic that comes to my website and I look at conversion rates.
So how many of those people went through to purchase?
And if it’s low, why didn’t they go through? Is there something wrong with my shipping?
Is there something wrong with my website? like can they not click through because the add to cart button doesn’t work which has happened to me um yeah but for example once i ran a free shipping day and it was a sunday morning and i was like okay things are a bit slow this week i’m just gonna do it and i did it and i launched it i sent a text message to my entire database and then someone messaged me like half an hour later saying why i i got a text message saying free shipping but it’s charging me free shipping because i forgot to turn on one of the shipping profiles and and it’s yeah but if i didn’t have have data.
And if I didn’t have, first of all, I noticed that, okay, half an hour, why isn’t anybody putting through something?
Like when I was checking everything, my poor husband was like.

[12:28] What’s going on with you? I was looking at testing something and I put through an order and it was fine.
But then I realized, hold on, I’m Sydney based.
That person was in WA, right? So I have a separate shipping profile for people that are in WA.
I didn’t know that she wasn’t able to put through.
And this was a customer that is literally waving her money around saying, hey, I want want something. I just don’t want to pay for shipping.
Yeah, exactly. And I promised it. First of all, I promised it, right? I promised it to my community that we’re doing free shipping today.
So I had to deliver anyway. So I guess the, the learning here is like the data will tell you one thing, but also the data in your community will tell you another thing.
And I, I have that testament to my community that they are comfortable enough to talk to me instead of just run off and and bounce and not purchase.
And that’s the worst. That is the worst, right? Because you don’t know that there’s an issue.
So I’m really thankful for this community because I feel like I’m friends with them.
I feel like they know my kids’ names and they know what products I’m coming up next and all of that because I have a relationship with them.
So I would not trade that for anything.
Yeah. I love that so much. Now, I know that you are like lots of businesses dabbling, playing, growing on TikTok.

Navigating TikTok for Business

[13:40] TikTok is something that still scares a lot of people. Do you have any tips, strategies, what’s working for you, things you’ve noticed don’t work?

[13:48] TikTok scares me too. But I see the value in it because TikTok is very top of funnel.
So your content gets pushed out to new audiences every time if you know who your audiences are, right?
So in the first month or so, I was dabbling in TikTok and I was just like, let’s post everything.
Let’s post crafting stuff. And then let’s post a small business video of me giving tips and then post a packing video, right?
Or in TikTok algorithm, my understanding is that those three subjects are completely different.
So I might be trying to get into the feeds, the for you pages of crafters, and they would want to see small business tips and they would want to see shipping, packing video.
But if I have three different pots, it’s not hitting the right audiences and then your videos aren’t being served to the right person.
So then I changed my niche. So I niched down all the way crafting.
I was like, okay, let’s just do a whole lot of making videos for as long as I possibly can.

[14:46] And only then did I start to see a bit of an uptick. Not so much in the likes, shares, comments, because that’s not what I follow, but the views.
And because the TikTok algorithm is very top of funnel focus, as I mentioned, it’s getting to new audiences and TikTok wants you to spend more time on the platform.
So they will put the video in front of you if they think it’s relevant to you.
So yeah. So I would say with TikTok, I’m not an expert at all and I’m still learning, but I would say niche down as much as you can.
If your niche is health, then only do health.
Even if you’re doing other subjects, make sure that your content is centered around whatever your niche is. Yeah. Yeah. No, I love that.
Are there any other sort of marketing strategies that are working really well for you at the moment?

[15:27] So I would say, and I’m a real big believer in that, and all of my marketing comms will be centered around that.
So if it means I send an email campaign out, then what am I giving them in order for them to to exchange with me.
So is it a tip? Is it a free SVG? Is it a, I don’t know, here’s a YouTube video on how to personalize your leatherette.
I don’t know, whatever it is, I have to give something to them before going in for the sale.
So it’s very much selling without selling. And I’m a very big advocate of that.
Yeah. Look, I’m in the marketing space and I still think that selling without selling is really nice because especially in my industry, there’s a lot of very good, I’m doing lots of air quotes, salespeople that are just sleazy and slimy, and I don’t like it.
And I think you’re right. People buy from people and they don’t like sleazy and slimy.
Sometimes they’ll fall for it. It doesn’t mean they like it.

[16:21] Yeah, totally. And there’s so much content out there that’s so much –, noise, if I’m honest. Having the space in news feeds or having that interaction, it’s up to the customer or the potential customer to choose to spend that time with you.
So if I’m going in as that, I like to call it as a used car salesman, and I come in and I tell you my car’s the best and I’ve got leather seats and this color is the new trending color, that’s educating or not really educating, but telling you about how good my process is or my product is, which I don’t agree agree with, right?
Because who wants to be sold to? No one, right?
So you change that message to be about how can I help you?
Things will, yeah, things will change. I love that. Now, not only have you built an incredible e-commerce business, you’ve then turned it into a coaching education business as well. Can you tell us what that journey has been like?
Sure. So I’m a bit of a split personality, if I’m honest.

[17:17] Like sometimes I feel like, okay, I’m business Debbie and sometimes Sometimes I feel like I’m corporate Debbie, but I realized, and it sounds really stupid because it’s common sense, but I’m just the same person, right?
I always thought of myself as, okay, I’ve got to be consultant Debbie right now.
So therefore I’ve got to go over here and do my corporate thing and do the change management and helping marketers and all that stuff.
But then I realized, hold on, I’m the same person. I’m still a crafter.
I’m still, I still want to build communities and I still want to help.
So I mushed them together. It’s as simple as that. I started by launching a course, and this course was targeted specifically to crafters who want to grow a side hustle or to grow a business.
And I taught all of my marketing experience that I’ve gathered through 20 years of corporate and banging my head against the wall when corporate won’t listen, right?
To bring that and package it in a way where crafters will understand.
Because, again, because I’ve got a foot in both camps, again, split personality.
But there is an opportunity to make all of that marketing knowledge simplified so that somebody can run it off their phone while they’re putting their kids to sleep for example yeah yeah so we go from there start off as a course now it’s a community.

[18:22] Now I’ve got a subscription model together where I have a group of business owners that are crafting, but also not crafting.
And we come together once a month and we do a teach session with them.
But I also have a business specific crafting community where all I do is help.
Like how, for example, when someone has a shipping question, like Australia Post right now is charging an arm and leg.
So how do you, what are the hacks there? Right. And I told them like, you know, go sign up for this account where they get, you get band free savings which i’ve got to find an updated code for that so if anyone knows please send it to me but like some of that information is not available anywhere else and you only know it when you’ve done it right so yeah that community is a hub and that community is actually quite new i only created that group like two weeks ago yeah yeah so there’s that and then there’s also i have podcasts on my own and i was interviewing a whole lot of crafters in the community that are experts in their own field and how to grow a business through that right and the podcast is a little little bit stagnant right now I need to get back into gear we’ve only done one season but all of that information is evergreen right so anyone can pick it up at any one time and learn from it and that’s again all I’m trying to do just share what I know and bring my two split personalities together to give anybody that’s a little bit lost in this space a little bit of direction on where to go yeah I love that so much before we wrap up do you think that we’ve missed anything and do you you have any like extra tips to share?

Offering Help and Guidance

[19:45] No, I don’t think we’ve missed anything, but I will open it up to everybody because I will say if you do have a specific question, whether crafting or e-commerce, like I am just an Instagram message or a TikTok message or a Facebook message away.
So just message me because I’m happy to help. And there’s so many things out there and I know what it’s like to be down the rabbit hole of overwhelm because there’s so much information out there.

Favorite Podcast and Business Book Recommendations

[20:07] So if I can help direct you to any way, just let me know.
Amazing. I love Love that. Now, the last couple of questions we ask everyone, do you have a favorite podcast?

[20:17] I do. My favorite podcast is The Diary of a CEO by Stephen Bartlett.
Lovely. Does everyone say that? Yeah, it’s definitely in the top.
It’s definitely in the top.
It’s a good one. It’s a solid choice. I learn something every time I listen and I would love to listen every day, but yeah, we don’t have time.
No one has time. Do you have a favorite business book?
Business book? No, I don’t. It’s because I think I’m borderline ADHD and I just can’t sit still still enough to learn.

Daily Habits for Business Success

[20:45] So I would much rather listen to a podcast or watch TikTok videos.
Perfect. Do you have any strategies or habits that you follow each day to help you stay on track in business?
I don’t, and I need some. So if anyone wants to give me some, please do.
But I’ve recently started just sitting for a minute, just before my kids come home or before I go to have to pick them up and take them off to swimming and all that stuff, just to sit for a minute because I feel like it just bubbles up up when I don’t.
So just taking the time that you need, even if it’s 30 seconds, it will do the world.

Special Offer and How to Connect

[21:15] Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. And tell us about how people can visit you.
And I believe you’ve got a special offer for our listeners. Sure do.
So I’m on every channel, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook groups, all of the above and old school email if you want to do that.
But yeah, again, send me a message and I would really get a kick out of anybody that messages me and says, oh, oh, I heard you on this podcast.
Like I would feel a bit famous.

[21:39] All right. You’ve heard Debbie, messenger. Make her feel famous.
And I do have a special offer. I have a special code for you guys. It’s BrightMinds10.
And that will get you 10% off any crafting products that you’d like off our store.
But also I’m going to extend it to anybody that wants to join our business group and business coaching.
So it’s subscription-based. It’s only $29 a month to join our business group.
And you can cancel anytime if you’re not getting any value from it.
But I make it my mission. to give value. So, yes.
Amazing. Well, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Oh, I’m glad. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Thank you for listening to the Bright Minds of E-commerce podcast.
As always, you’ll find the show notes at forward slash podcast. Thanks for listening.

Lyndal Harris

Author Lyndal Harris

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