{Young Writer} Ruby Waetchler: Starting an online shop as a teenager

Ruby Waechler is a 15-year-old entrepreneurial, home educated dynamo from California. Here she explains what it's like starting an online shop as a teenager.

Ruby Waechler: Starting an online shop as a teenager | hanging products on a wall

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By Ruby Waechtler | @nativefern

Hi everyone! Today I'm going to be sharing a few things I've learned while owning a small Etsy business as a teenager. I suppose I'll start by sharing how my shop, Native Fern, came about.

Ever since I was little, setting goals for myself and achieving them was really fun for me. When I was 11, I decided I wanted to buy a surfboard and learn to surf, so I asked my mum if I could open an Etsy shop to help earn money for my surfboard fund. She agreed, and hence... Native Fern was born!

I opened my shop selling flower earrings, rings, and hair clips. Later I moved on to painted peg dolls. Last year I finally found my niche, and am still making macrame plant hangers and wall hangings.

I’m not claiming I know everything about running a shop. But I’ll share with you what I’ve learned along the way, which may or may not work for you. My hope is that you'll be inspired to start your own business.

So let’s dive in!

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Starting an Etsy Shop as a Teenager

While a lot of things are similar for adults and teenagers in running a business, there are definitely a few differences. Being a teenager, you need to ask permission from your parents to advertise your business on social media (see next paragraph for more on that!).

Is it legal for a minor to have an Etsy shop? Yes! Just Google “Minors on Etsy – Etsy help” if you're interested in reading more.

Advertising

Ask your parents if they’re comfortable with you advertising your product on Instagram or other social medias.

If Yes... Awesome! Social Media can be such a great way to tell people about your shop! I don’t have any experience to share about any platforms except Instagram (this is what you get for reading an article written by a teenager haha!) but I’d be happy to share the top three tips I’ve learned.

  • Clean crisp photos with plenty of natural light and no distracting backgrounds is, I think, the one of the most effective elements for drawing customers in.
  • Conversational captions prompts your future buyers to interact with you, and hopefully form a relationship that will make them stoked about your business!
  • Using popular hashtags for buyers searching around Instagram is also a good way to get more eyes on your business.

If No...

Trust me, I’ve been there. Starting an online shop as a teenager has it's limitations. And it can be tricky without getting to advertise. My parents didn’t allow me to be on Instagram until I was 14, and I’m still am not allowed to say where I live or that I’m a teenager.

But your parents know what’s best for you, and there are other options! Asking friends and family to spread the word about your business is very effective! Also, have you ever considered going into a local shop and asking them to sell your product wholesale? Get creative, I’m sure you can come up with something that will work for you!

Finding Your Niche

So maybe you already know what you want to sell, maybe not. I certainly didn’t when I opened my shop. If your like me and all you know is you want to start a business, I’d suggest brainstorming a big list of ideas of what to sell. It can really help you think outside the box.

Okay, so now you have a list of ideas of what to sell. The first thing to ask yourself is “would I buy this?” This is such an important question! Chances are, if you wouldn’t buy it yourself other people won't either. I tried to avoid that question while I was selling flower earrings & little painted dolls because I knew that I would not be buying those things. But now I can confidently say that I would definitely buy one of my own plant hangers or wall hangings!

 

Staying Inspired & Keeping it Fun

I've gone through a lot of times when I just wanted to close my shop and be done with the whole thing. It can definitely be pretty frustrating! I'd say the best thing you can do is just take a break. Anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years. Or never if you decide it's not for you! One of the nice things about being a teenage business owner is there's absolutely no pressure to support yourself! Feel free to keep it fun and go at your own pace.

As for staying inspired, my favourite thing to do is brainstorm good strategies, exciting collaborations, and new products. It really helps me to get excited about my shop again! Another good way to keep my business moving forward is reading inspiring books- 'The E-Myth' and 'Craft Inc.' are two of my favourites.

Let's Keep in Touch!

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions/feedback, I would be tickled pink if you shot me an email! My email address is: rubygailw@gmail.com

If you’re on Instagram, come follow me @native.fern!

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Ruby Waetchler

Contributor

Ruby Waechtler is a 15 year-old-homeschooled girl living on the California coast with her mom, dad, and sister. She loves to surf, go on bike rides, and explore the beautiful town she lives in. Ruby also owns a handmade Etsy business, Native Fern, where she sells macrame plant hangers and wall hangings.

Grover Cleveland Jarrett - May 20, 2017

Go, Ruby, Go! It takes a lot of nerve to set out on a trip like the one you have begun. As I — actually, we– have watched you advance from just a little start to what now seems to be a major adventure into real entrepreneurship we have been sure that nothing can stop you; not even those niggling little self-doubts that sometimes wiggle their way into your thoughts. Maybe it is your “get thee behind me, Satan” , attitude that helps you to win when those doubts occur. I am well aware of your parents’ prompting in your life; that is so important. It gives you courage to start from scratch and to build toward your dreams. Now, I am just going to sit back and watch you grow, knowing that nothing can stop you!

Add us to your in-home support group. We love you and we are so proud of you,
Great Grandmother and Great Granddaddy

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