Little Deer Creations is a small home-based business that specializes in eco-friendly, ethically produced handmade paper products.
Dyani Evans is the owner and operator of Little Deer Creations, based in Australia. She designs and handcrafts stationary items using recycled and secondhand materials. A lot of the paper used in her creations is made from junk mail and other waste papers, and a lot of embellishments are sourced from op shops and garage sales. Some of her handmade products include: notebooks, writing sets, reusable greeting cards, gift tags and bookmarks, as well as decorative items and artworks. In addition to Dyani's own works, Little Deer Creations also sells a range of eco-friendly stationery supplies, including recycled paper and envelopes, and a beautiful range of Maximus elephant dung paper.
"I'm passionate about preserving our beautiful Earth and the creatures who share it with us, and am committed to conducting my business in the most environmentally-friendly way possible."
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Tell us something interesting about you and your business.
I used to be a doctor! My previous life was one of shift work, long hours, little sleep, lots of study and a lot of stress. True, some aspects of the job were very rewarding, and I was well-respected among my peers, but I was never happy in that role and always felt that I should have taken a different path, so after 7 years of study at university and over 10 years in the job, I finally worked up the courage to turn my back on my professional career (much to the bewilderment of family and friends) to pursue a more creative, artistic and soul-satisfying life. I started Little Deer Creations two years ago, and haven't looked back. My business is still small, and I admit that it hasn't been easy, but my sales are increasing every month, and it is wonderful to be doing what I have always wanted and staying true to my heart.
What business applications do you use to run your business?
I currently sell my work through a number of channels online, including my own website store (www.littledeercreations.com) using BigCommerce, as well as Etsy and Madeit. Madeit is an Australian-based online handmade marketplace similar to Etsy. I also operate a stall at various local markets, and have a selection of products stocked in a few retail outlets. I use MailChimp to run my email marketing and newsletter publications. And, of course, I use Stitch to keep track of inventory and sales.
How do you use Stitch?
After discovering Stitch Labs, I have a lot more time to do what I love - create! No longer having to manually record sales details, repeatedly update online sales listings and write up invoices gives me more time to spend in my studio. I am an artist at heart after all, not a bookkeeper!
Because I sell a large range of different products, and attend a lot of different markets, it is easy to forget, six or twelve months down the track, exactly what products, or how many of a particular design I sold. I used to have a very complicated system of spreadsheets to try and keep track of everything, but it was so time-consuming and difficult to use, I gave up, and consequently, a lot of those details were lost. Now that I'm using Stitch, all of those details are recorded and can easily be accessed and analysed, so I can look back and see which products did well, and which sales channels were the most productive for me. Even though I've only been using Stitch for about 8 months, I already have a greater understanding of what works for my business, and can make better choices about the directions to take in the future.
What advice would you like to share for other product-based business owners?
Gosh, this is a hard one to answer, as I'm just starting out in this business, and have a lot to learn myself!
Organization is definitely the key. You need a good system in place that lets you see exactly how much stock you have available, so you know when to re-order or make new products, and you can meet any orders that come through. When I first started out, I didn't have any kind of formal inventory-keeping system. I basically had my products on shelves in my studio and I physically counted them all when I wanted to know how many of each I had. Sometimes I'd get an order for something I didn't actually have, and would have to drop whatever else I was doing to quickly make it in time to ship out. If you only have one or two products and are getting just a couple of sales, this may seem sufficient, but if you have a large range of products, and sales start to increase, it becomes harder and more time-consuming to keep up.
What have been the biggest benefits of using Stitch?
For me, the biggest benefit is the way in which Stitch integrates my product inventory with the listings in my Big Commerce and Etsy stores. It means there is no risk of a customer ordering more products than I have available at any given time. Because of the type of materials I use, some of my products cannot easily be reproduced, and I sell a number of one-of-a-kind items. Without Stitch, I could only list such items for sale in one location, to be sure of avoiding a double order. But Stitch allows me to list the same item for sale in both my Big Commerce store, and my Etsy store, because if it sells in one, it will make that item unavailable in the other. When I have more than one copy of a product available, Stitch will automatically re-list that item in Etsy when one sells. I don't have to worry about missing out on sales because an item has been purchased by an overseas customer while I am asleep!
I also like the fact that all my online sales details are recorded in one place, and all my invoices are generated automatically. Before Stitch, I had to choose between having different invoices for each online store, or manually creating invoices in my own preferred template each time. Now I have an invoice format that looks professional and is consistent across all my sales channels, and all I have to do when a sale comes through is download and print or email it. Even recording my market stall sales is much quicker with Stitch, as I can easily create a manual order for each one, and I only need to type in the SKU for each item I sold and Stitch fills in the rest.No longer having to type in customer details, individual product descriptions and prices every time I make a sale is saving me heaps of time.
The other significant benefit of using Stitch is that I can now generate reports that allow me to compare sales across all my different stores and other channels. It is so easy to see at a glance which products generate the most profit, and which sales outlets are doing better than others. This kind of information is invaluable when it comes to making decisions about new products, or which markets are worth continuing.
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