- Ashley Bostwick started her Etsy shop, Wander and Lust Jewelry, in 2014 as a side hustle.
- Since then, she’s made $1.9 million in sales on Etsy and teaches a course to mentor Etsy sellers.
- Here’s how she scaled her jewelry business.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ashley Bostwick, a 34-year-old Etsy seller. Since starting her Etsy shop, Wander and Lust Jewelry, in 2014, she’s made $1.9 million in sales, which Insider verified with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
My HR job was just paying the bills, so I wanted start a hobby or a side hustle
I was on Etsy one day looking for bridesmaid gifts for my upcoming wedding and realized it would be an amazing hobby or side business to sell something on Etsy. If these people can make jewelry like this, I thought that maybe I could try, too.
I didn’t have a lot of money, so my fiancé gave me $300 to buy the materials. I did some research, bought materials and tools, and started developing a jewelry collection.
You have to be resourceful and have to lean on your friends and family in the beginning if you don’t have the money up-front to pay a professional. One of my friends had a nice camera that I used, and I asked her to model for my first photo shoot.
You have to have a mindset that you’re going to do whatever it takes to be successful. My goal was to ultimately quit my day job and make this a full-time thing.
The first year, I made around $20,000, almost half of what I made at my day job per year. I knew I had something going, but I waited one more year to quit my job because I needed to be on my husband’s health insurance.
Identifying a hole in the market helped me find my niche
In 2014, a lot of the jewelry trends had to do with big, chunky pieces. I never really loved that look. I always liked the dainty jewelry. So, I started developing dainty jewelry because I noticed that a lot of places didn’t have it. I developed something I knew people wanted that, maybe, they couldn’t get. Now, everywhere you go, you’ll see delicate jewelry, but at that time, it was hard to find.
From 2014 to 2017, I was making pretty good sales, but they weren’t life-changing. Then in 2018, I hit my first six figures, and I attribute this to really following the trends in my market and finding holes in that category. I made products that the market wasn’t completely saturated with that people really wanted.
For example, I came out with a moonstone ring, which is still a big seller. It’s a pear-shaped moonstone ring with a vine setting. I developed it because there weren’t many rings on Etsy, besides engagement rings, with genuine stones in them. It made immediate sales.
Then I used that information to make and test new products, duplicating what worked with something similar — but a bit differently.
In 2019, I more than doubled my business from 2018 when I got into personalizing and customizing my products
A lot of Etsy customers are looking for gifts, so making your products easily giftable and offering different options to personalize them is really what gets people to buy.
I developed cards that went with the jewelry. I didn’t even develop any new products; I just took my existing best-selling products and rebranded them to target specific niches.
For example, I had a moonstone necklace, and I got cards printed that said, “new mama,” with a blurb about how moonstones are the fertility stone and how this might benefit a new mom.
I targeted key words for new moms, and that opened the door for a new market of people looking for gifts for new moms. But I didn’t have to develop an entirely new product — it was just the way I merchandised it and branded it to the customer.
Etsy is all about what’s hot now — the company wants to promote people who are following trends
Look at what influencers are promoting, what’s hot on Pinterest, in magazines, in online publications, and on TikTok.
Trends on Etsy do last a pretty long time, depending on what category you sell in. The pearl trend has been going on for a few years now, and it doesn’t seem like that’s going away. Five years ago, everyone was wearing silver, and now gold is the thing. But if you sell T-shirts, which are really big on Etsy, those are going to come and go quickly because of the quotes or designs.
I recommend having trendy items, but also evergreen items that are always going to sell. The evergreen stuff is comprised of simple things that you can mix and match, and things that people could easily pick up as a gift.
For example, my simple cubic-zirconia necklace is always going to sell, no matter the time of year. I also sell a lot of bridal jewelry, so that is more popular from spring to fall, and not as popular during the winter.