Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Juliana Zago, Owner of Million of Stitches, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Million of Stitches offers everything for embroidery and cross stitching, including fabrics, threads, patterns, accessories, and advice. Our customers are mainly a younger generation of women who learned how to embroider recently. They come to us looking for modern and fun supplies for their needlepoint projects. That is the image Million of Stitches wants to transmit. We want to keep and attract the youngers to cross stitch, something our grandmother used to do.
Tell us about yourself
Million of Stitches was created in November 2018 after I graduated from school and had some free time to keep up with my hobby of cross stitching. I had to pay back my studies, so I found Etsy as a way to make the extra money I needed at that time. I started selling modern cross-stitched items such as bookmarks, paper clips, and picture frames. At the end of 2019, I realized how hard it was to find the material for cross stitching. Especially because I wanted to give a modern touch to my designs, I wanted an orange fabric, for example, and my local shop could only offer me the boring white and cream color. So, noticing the lack of material, I decided to invest in fabrics, flosses, and embroidery hoops and started introducing these items in my shop. I wanted to offer something very different, so I first started dyeing my own fabrics and flosses, even personalizing my own embroidery hoops. After a few months, I learned a lot about this market worldwide. I opened a corporation in Canada under the name of Million of Stitches. I was also able to offer the favorite materials for stitchers. Today I source products from around the world, including the ones I still produce in Canada myself.
The hundreds of messages I receive every month from customers saying how happy they are with their order and how great it was to find a specific item with us motivates me every day to keep driving this business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I am proud to say that since April 2021, I have made a living doing what I love! Secondly, I shipped the same amount of orders in 2021 alone, which took me 3 years to ship before.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest of being a business owner in the first stages is having to learn deeply about everything, shipping, packing, online platforms, social media, and so on. You can feel overwhelmed and struggle if you do not have the mindset to transfer the task to someone specialized in the topic.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- SHIPPING: With an online business, shipping is probably the hardest to deal with. The more you do, the more you learn. My advice is not to be disappointed if you have to cover 80% of the shipping compared to what the customer paid for. This is a learning process; next time, this will not happen because you will feel how much you should adjust the shipping in your listing.
- FEEL PERSONAL: Take the time to create a connection with the customer. Write personal notes, and ask how they are doing. The customer does not like to feel they are one more for you. Make them feel like best friends!
- BE PATIENT: It took me 4 years to reach the point where I can run my business for a living. You will hear many discouraging words on the way and will feel it is all a waste of time and money investing, but be patient and keep working hard. Along the way, you will learn a lot and find the perfect business model. Before Million of Stitches, I had 3 other shops because I was also lost trying to find the best product/service.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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