Aneta Okonek has been producing lovely gifts on www.uroczyprezent.pl for more than ten years. She has been creating and selling bouquets on various occasions. This is not about the ones with live flowers. There is a staff made of candies, lollipops, candy bars, buttons, cosmetics, baby clothes, banknotes, lotto tickets, and scratch tickets. Yes, it is possible to create bouquets from these things.
So how to run a small business online and how to start producing cute gifts? Aneta Okonek shares her experience.
Can you tell me how you started to run a small business online?
I’ve loved art and craft classes since I was a child. After graduation at an economics school, while I was working in an office and bringing up my children I decided to do what I want to. I started running a small business online with bouquets from baby clothes, but I realized that was not enough. In the beginning, I made gifts for my friends and then started selling them.
Did you have any worries that it would not work?
You bet! I had a lot of concerns. For example, I was wondering whether somebody would buy and like it or if it would be destroyed by the shipping process. I thought that the beginning would seem unreal if it was not for the support and motivation of my husband. He had not only praised me but also supported me.
Did you think that you could fail because of the competition in this field?
The number of competitors on the Internet is unlimited. But I cared about making unique bouquets for individual orders that will be remembered.
Are you a risk-taker?
Rather I am not adventurous. I knew very well that my clients were looking for something that would replace beautiful living flowers but less costly and impermanent. My bouquets are perfect substitutes in the shapes of flowers.
Did you have any entrepreneurial skills?
UroczyPrezent.pl was my first startup. I did not know how to run a small business online before. But I used to work in trading companies and I had very useful skills.
How old were you when you started the business?
I started when I was 43 years old. I am 54 now.
Where did you learn that?
Hum, I don’t even know…. I had a little bit of passion, imagination, patience, understanding my client’s needs, two hands, and materials. After that it created itself. I did a floristic course and learned which techniques and materials were used in creating bouquets, that’s all.
How did you decide on prices for your products?
The price of each lovely gift consists not only of the material’s cost but also of time of creation, fuel, electricity, packaging, taxes and intellectual property.
Did you involve any investment?
I invested my savings in a website, a glue gun, some tools and materials.
How do you advertise your business?
I have and manage fan pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I also post on Youtube and buy places for placing banners on the streets. Sometimes I take part in craft or wedding trade shows. After that, journalists always post some articles mentioning my products. From time to time I take part in charity events and put my rollup banner on other branch events.
Which promo campaign was the most successful?
It was the birthday competition. The only rule was to post on Facebook a photo with the bouquet that was made by me. The photo with the highest number of likes wins.
How did you get the first client for your small business?
My first client wrote to me ordering a bouquet of candies for her daughter’s 18th birthday. After that, I didn’t need to make any advertisements because her guests came to me looking for bouquets for their children too.
What main difficulties have you encountered at the beginning?
The hardest thing was to find a way to create a durable construction of a bouquet, then make glamorous photos and find reliable providers.
How long did a break-even take?
The biggest part of the orders I get is in the wedding season from April till October. During the remaining period, I do not have a lot of work.
How is the product being built?
The process starts with the client’s order. I have to learn more about the occasion, greetings, and preferences. After that step, we are discussing a bouquet. I pull up materials and create them. The execution time depends on materials and ideas. The quickest is the bouquet of clothes, the longest is one of the buttons.
What inspires you the most?
It’s definitely the shape of a bouquet.
What do you do when you are not happy with a result?
That is pretty rare for me. In such situations, I start work from the beginning. I will never show my client something that I don’t like or I am not happy with.
Do you manage everything by yourself?
Yes. I have technical support from my husband, IT support from my son, and graphical support from my daughter. Every bouquet I create by myself. Only accounting is managed by an agency.
What are the benefits of running your own business?
Flexible working hours, managing myself and work satisfaction.
What are the main difficulties?
An unstable number of orders, the temperature outside interferes with the possibility of bouquets made of chocolate bars being delivered safely.
What are the needs of your customers?
I try to create a product that could be taken on birthday parties, weddings, etc. and to make it remarkable. I want my clients to return. I’ve managed UroczyPrezent.pl for ten years and I have a group of regular customers who call me when they need a gift. They often tell me the holiday, budget and sometimes style and that’s all. They usually call to compliment me and tell me that everyone was excited and it is always a sensational feeling hearing them say that. I love that communication with clients and it makes me happy when they recommend me.
What does your brand’s reputation mean to you?
Each bouquet is marked with aesthetic tape with my company’s logo. I feel responsible for the product that I create. Quality, look and esthetic of them are really important to me.
Do you plan your working day/week/month?
My work depends on orders that are dynamic and I can not plan everything. I try to create everything on a regular basis and supplement all the materials. It allows me to fulfill the orders quickly.
Do you have time to rest?
I have a family of four people and a dynamic startup. Therefore, I do not have a lot of free time. However, I always find time for dinner with my husband, visiting a theatre, or meeting our friends. What about vacation? For instance, this year our plans changed but we will be compensated for it.
Does your family support you in being a businesswoman?
I’ve had huge support from my family since the beginning. My husband supports me the most. He was the first one who valued my talent and believed me.