When Stephanie Yap and Matthew Vrettas signed up for a pottery class, they were just looking to do something a little different than the usual dinner and a movie date night. They found that they loved collaborating and making things together. And soon, friends were asking to purchase pieces, which gave them the motivation to turn the date-night hobby into a business. They named their collaborations Ghost Wares as a little nod to the iconic pottery scene in the movie Ghost.
The pair launched their first website just about one year ago in July 2016. That first Squarespace site was a simple inquiry form placeholder, which may not have been the most beautiful page to look at, but it allowed people to get in touch. It was a strategic implementation of their just-get-it-going philosophy: taking single small steps toward a larger goal even if you don’t feel completely ready. It’s a strategy that seems be working. In a short time, they have managed to carve out a successful niche in a competitive space. We asked them to share some tips for how to get started for those harboring online shop dreams.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start an online shop?
Whilst it is not applicable to all businesses; I think that it is good to keep things as simple as possible in the beginning whilst you learn the processes. Even if you only have one product on your store initially, learning to market, package and ship that item will help solidify all of the processes, whilst keeping the risk low at the start.
What template do you use and did you experiment with others?
We are using the Wexley template at the moment. We played around with a couple of other templates, there are so many good options, but in the end we were drawn to the home page gallery in the Wexley template. This gallery gives us a place to try and describe the feelings behind our ceramics, but we were particularly drawn to how quick it is to update this page – we can quickly add and rearrange photographs and the template makes sure that everything stays consistent and aligned, but with enough variation for it to feel natural.
How long did you spend working on the site design?
Most of the time putting together the website was spent gathering the content. By the time we had the photographs and copy ready, it all came together very quickly. We ended up putting together the whole site within a couple of days and then going back to preview different templates for fun before launching the site.
If you were starting the business today, what would you do differently/the same?
Because we are in such an early phase in the business, it is still difficult to say. We are happy with where Ghost Wares is heading, but there has definitely been a process of constant learning and adapting. I think that the mistakes you make along the way are invaluable lessons, but the scope of these mistakes can sometimes be managed before they happen. Looking back I think that it would have been good to keep our range limited at the start, it may have slowed things down initially, but it also could have helped us to ease into things a bit more.
Did you have any lessons learned that you’d like to share?
I think that doing something that you enjoy helps. You will be able to find others out there that appreciate what you do, but if you love the work, it will probably help you to be better at it.
Any other advice for starting a business/ecommerce site that you’d like to pass on?
I think that starting sooner rather than later is a good thing. Things build up momentum over time, so even if you don’t feel that you have everything that you’d like to offer ready at the start, you will be already moving towards your goal and beginning to build an audience.
Any advice for other couples who want to pursue their creative passion as a business?
I think that it definitely depends on the couple and what you are trying to do. From the beginning it is important to have an understanding of what you both want to achieve and what your roles will be. If you discover that you have different goals, there is nothing wrong with pursuing your creative endeavors side by side instead.
Inspired to get that side project off the ground? Follow the Ghost Wares philosophy of taking one small step today! Even if it’s just registering for a domain name. You never know!
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