From Etsy Startup to 7-Figure Success with Michele Ferron, Once Upon a Tuesday (episode 470)

Michele Ferron is the founder of fully bootstrapped Once Upon A Tuesday–selling calendars and planners for design lovers. Founded in 2020, Once Upon A Tuesday now sells via their Shopify store, Etsy, and Wholesale. They’re on track to hit £1,000,000 in annual sales this year, and have a growth rate of 100% year on year.

Michele Ferron Once Upon a Tuesday on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in:

[03:37] Successful calendar design led to a successful Etsy business.
[08:12] Challenging process, but created reusable acrylic wall decor.
[09:20] How they create products that stay on-brand.
[13:30] Selling seasonal products and dealing with inventory concerns.
[15:47] The importance of both negative and positive reviews.
[17:00] Doing things right in the business, and not just on the sustainability side.
[18:39] Listen to Michele’s top eCommerce tips.

Michele’s eCommerce Journey

Michele’s journey into eCommerce began accidentally after she grew up watching her parents build a retail business in the Caribbean. Moving to the UK, she started an online store with no prior experience, learning through experimentation and failures. 

She then worked for a marketing agency, where Michele managed projects for various eCommerce brands. During the 2020 lockdown, she serendipitously started Once Upon a Tuesday. She designed a birthday calendar and found success on Etsy, prompting the realization of a viable business. The unexpected popularity led Michele to invest in Shopify, moving away from sole reliance on marketplaces and focusing on building the business independently.

Diversification Into Wholesale

The business ventured into the wholesale market, recognizing the changing landscape, particularly with platforms like Faire. The positive response to their products on such platforms motivated them to embrace wholesale further. Michele’s partner, with a background in wholesale, joined the team to lead this aspect of the business. 

Michele notes that their decision to engage in wholesale was not only about revenue. It was also driven by a desire to support and collaborate with independent retailers, fostering a business that aligns with their values.

Handling the Evolving Stationery Market

Michele says the stationery market is evolving. There’s a shift towards functional yet beautiful stationery, aligning with eco-conscious and durable buying habits. Once Upon a Tuesday embraces this trend by marrying practicality with environmental considerations. Introducing acrylic wipeable planners presented challenges but aligned with customer demands for reusable and stylish items. 

Maintaining brand coherence involves collaborative efforts. The emotional resonance and personal utility of designs drive product creation, even for niche items like co-parenting calendars. The business allows for testing and producing short runs, fostering creativity and risk-taking.

Dealing with Seasonal Products

Once Upon a Tuesday specializes in dated products, including calendars and organizers, despite the perceived risks associated with managing stock for such items. The business is well-equipped to handle this challenge efficiently, resulting in minimal overstock.

The synergy between wholesale and retail operations plays a crucial role, as unsold wholesale stock seamlessly transitions into the eCommerce channel. This strategy is effective for the brand, and even after the Christmas peak, the sales momentum for dated products remains strong. The post-Christmas calendar season is a significant period, which Michele says has both its opportunities and challenges, particularly in terms of managing ad space and potential overstock risks.

Collaborations and Customer Feedback as eCommerce Strategies

Collaborations and affiliates have become a significant part of Once Upon a Tuesday’s marketing mix this year. The brand has also engaged in partnerships with artists, expressing enthusiasm for bringing exposure to talented individuals and providing them with a platform. Michele sees collaboration as a key driver for the business’s growth, especially as a small business. The short-run focus allows them to experiment with collaborations without committing to large quantities. 

Additionally, customer feedback gathered through surveys and the abundance of positive reviews, plays a crucial role in product optimization and development. Despite a generally positive situation, Michele acknowledges the importance of learning from negative feedback to further improve products and services.

Working Towards Becoming B Corp Certified

Michele emphasizes the importance of eco-conscious efforts and sustainability. The decision to pursue B Corp verification is rooted in the broader vision of creating a business model that sets an example for others globally.

Considerations beyond environmental impact have to be made, such as prioritizing people, community, customers, and product quality. The motivation is to build a business that pays fair wages and adheres to ethical standards. B Corp serves as a valuable guideline in this pursuit, offering insights and lessons on how to improve, and Michele anticipates ongoing progress as they align with the B Corp framework.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Paid ads, specifically Meta and Google ads

Tool Top Tip

Carbon Top Tip

  • Integrate environmental impact considerations into every decision you make. Whether it’s purchasing, team-related choices, or daily operations, place environmental impact on par with other criteria like price and quality.

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • HoneyTree Bespoke’s Sebastian Galbraith-Helps discusses his personalised stationery business (episode 015)
  • Subscription Stationery Box. Chad Ettelbrick reveals 3 yrs of monthly growth at Scribe Delivery (episode 170)
  • Bootstrapping an illustrated homewares brand with Hepsie Goddin from Martha and Hepsie (episode 361)
  • Your B Corp Questions Answered with Hannah Cox (episode 430)

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