This year, in June 21, Litha Creations France shop in Etsy celebrates 8 years opening and 4 year of of our own webpage and online shop.
So I decided to look back now, and share our story behind the shop with more than 14 500 sales only in Etsy alone and tell you how it all started. Even to myself it seems as very exciting journey. Life is just the path and I like to move on and look more ahead then back. As much experience you can gather in this life as much better and more interesting it becomes. After 5 years living as expats in France and jumping from, one job to another trying to find our way to live in foreign country, I had to choose where to go and which road to choose for future, I wanted to slow down a little bit, be more with my family and at the same time work in international environment and be independent in my thoughts and time schedule. I always wanted it till my young age and now when I am looking back I maybe never was very suitable for 9 - 5 frame work. I always wanted to finish my work as soon as possible and do what my inner voice calls for:) It was not easy decision to become self-employed in foreign country with such a high living costs as it is in South of France and especially in French Riviera, but sometimes you just have to jump in cold water to get a motivation and learn to swim:). Our family have tradition for several years already now to keep swimming in Mediterranean sea even in winter time, it helps to keep fit, keep focus, and serves as good excuse to go offline in this digital age, when most of time we stay in front of our gadget screens. I was wrong about slowing down, but at least I liberated myself from business costumes, business lunches and other unnecessary business etiquette spending and home cleaning is not anymore in my Saturday's must to do list :) I can do it on the way.
When we moved to France we became addicted to french vintage markets, we love things made with human hands and with real artistic value, made from natural materials or items with story. So we started to collect lot of vintage french home decors and lighting, but it all ended with so many nice stuff, that we started even sell something out in Etsy :), it was a way how we became familiar with Etsy platform and why we opened our first Etsy shop. It was just a start at this platform, but it was more like hobby and fun, because everybody who loves vintage items knows how addicted and interesting this hobby could be. I was so excited and inspired by many french artisans who makes their little cozy things found all around in small touristic boutiques. Everybody who comes to France loves french boutiques so much and, of course, I wanted to create and sell something like that myself with unique taste of France.
It took a long time of thinking, imagination and calculation before we reached the point and were ready to start our own independent business activity. All started very unexpected and now sounds much more like a joke or accident. My husband who is very life gifted visioner by nature and scientist, alchemist and artist in one with very sensitive heart was bought a new smartphone and he wanted to find unusual, natural and energetic phone case and he found wood phone case what he loved a lot. Back then we even did not knew that wood phone cases exist.
Our first idea was to make wood phone case decorated with natural ambers, but idea was too complicated to realize. I was thinking about how to glue them on wood and was to looking for some wood engraving options. Amber idea was abandoned and that would be such a waste of this magical material by putting it in temporally item as people change phone so offten, but wood phone case engraving was interesting enough to start with.
Here is our first ever engraved phone case for HTC M7, made from rosewood and still in very good condition, just become a little bit darker in last years.
So, after very quick market research we found that there is a place to offer something different that resonates with our own taste, what is nice and esthetic. I am biologist and chemist by my diploma and I love everything what reflects nature, science, geometry and all floral and nature designs are my favorites. My husband has special interest about history, antique art and symbols, so it all together makes a backbone of our designs.
As it usually is in similar family businesses, all our family was involved in development Litha Creations France concept at the beginning. My daughter made our shop logo and mocked up all printing materials still being as student at professional college. Now she is already graduated Napier University of Edinburgh in Scotland as graphic designer and has very successful in everything what she do. It was really great support to such a small artisan business.
My older son has degree in marketing, so he helped me to start up my social platform accounts in facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest, but I am too lazy to post there regularly and it all still takes too much time, which I would prefer to spend on a beach:) or in reading some book.
My husband works as life mentor now and has so many talents, photography is one of them, so he made thousands of our product listing photos, because they are changed several times in last years. He also prepared all design files for engraving and still doing it as his part in this business. Arvis is more strategist and generator of new ideas, I spend more of my time in communication with customers, business partners and suppliers and lot of time is spent on less interesting daily tasks which is never-ending story, the sense of ''that is done now'' seems never will come. Online business is never done, new phone models coming out twice a year and it is lot of work. I had learn how to make a photos:) to reflect my own feeling of these product. My youngest son is also a great support, he is learned how to fold packaging boxes and now helping me also with listing updates. It always takes too much time is is very boring process, so his help is really appreciated and it is way how our family teach our children to work:) and earn their own money, by participation and motivation.
Since beginning we decided that we will go our own way and will make thematic collections for all our designs, which is still our main concept of the shop and it was something new in Etsy at that time. We had much less competition back than as it is today, there were just a few sellers mainly from China who sold wood phone cases with just few available and repeating designs, listings was sorted by phone models, not design themes. It gave us good startup, but very soon ''copy cats'' appeared as it usually happens in online business and started to make copies of our concept and even took our designs and sold them shamelessly for cheaper price. Unfortunately many of them did not survive till today, some are changed the products, because you can make physical copy, but you never can copy business concept, which has it own values and human spirit behind it. We saw that these copy cats was not only weak in their own concept, but and also had luck of taste and proportion. We had experienced also mystical moments which we still remember as lucky jackpot, it happened for unknown reason to our little StartUp shop back than, suddenly we started to get so many orders with one particular design with music notes sheet, it came from different countries and was asked on different phone models for some weeks probably some secret fun of our work gave us kick as very powerful influencer, unfortunately we never found out who it was and how it happened or maybe somebody used us for some kind of testing:) it was only time when we was able to take a picture of bulk phone cases with the same design. Usually customers are choosing different engravings from our more than 400 designs, so if 2 phone cases or mugs with the same design is engraved at the same day it is already feeling like in birthday of twins:)
After first two very successful years, we decided to develop new products and was ready to start engravings on wood travel mugs and thermoses, but just before launching them, French post decided to deleted standard shipping option on January 2016, leaving us with very expensive express shipping as only option, this decision was very painful and we needed to postpone our new product launch for 6 month, after that this shipping option was renewed for professional customers. But this decision had tragic consequences for many artisans, so many shops did not survived these 6 months period and was pressed to close their online shops or stay and stagnate in local level.
These was just a few example what everyday challenges can look like for small online seller and artisans, who make they own products not just reselling ready to ship items or work as drop shoppers. Since second part of 2016 we are grown by each year and now selling several collections of wood phone cases for more than 33 different models and more that 400 designs. We offer also wood travel mugs, small daily thermoses with our designs and make a lot of personalized items with customers designs and photos. We had realize many business gift projects and wish to develop our business even more in this direction, we have also partners now in other countries who sell our products in their local gift, coffee or tea shops. In last 4 years we are launched new wood accessories as wireless wood chargers and we had made also small edition of customized power banks. New edition of plain cherry wood chargers are made according to our design are available in our permanent collection.
My heart hobby is to make brass sacred geometric mobiles or himmeli, which I also love to make time to time, but in very limited quantities and only on request. My favorite mobile sculpture is 3D flower of life himmeli which I made for first time in 2012, inspired by Nassim Haramein's reaserch. At that time he did not had yet such a pendant for himself, so I suppose I was first one who made it and published in internet:).
Can you imagine my surprise finding my mobile pendant sculptures with completely copied item description published in Ebay by unknown person, but this sellers was taken down very quickly on my request. That's a reality of internet zoo:) It is not always easy to stand up for women and small business owner against people with distorted inner moral compass. I always had supported and backed by my husband, when I feel offended and can't find inner power to stand up for myself, his moral support and pure men logic helps me a lot to overcome and to find balance with my emotions.
Now we are entering in second year of world wide lockdowns, it is best what could happen if you are online shop owner. Customers moving trough internet in record high speed, looking for infinite source of inspiration driven by human creativity. It is time to change and look in future where creators and end customers coming together much more easier than ever.
Start chat with us right now from you WhatsApp in phone.
I think everybody who ever run a business can agree that it is not only a product who makes you successful, but it is much more about people and team you have and unlimited human creativity, that is most important value you ever can have.
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Litha Creations France