Once designer Elena Misnyk saw the legs of a collapsed doll stick out of a children's book. She thought that here she was - an ideal bookmark, and today she has her own online store myBOOKmark and a workshop in Kiev, which employs 20 people. About unusual bookmarks, which Misnyk sold for almost $ 400,000, wrote media around the world. She told AIN.UA about how it all began.
Elena Misnyk is 31 years old. She was born and raised in the town of Korop, Chernihiv region, in a house that stood right on the edge of the forest and inspired creativity. Since childhood, she loved tinkering, sewed, built houses in the trees and constantly disappeared in her father’s garage. She graduated from the architectural department of the Kiev National University of Construction and Architecture and tried to work in her specialty, but her love for the profession never woke up.
Then Elena decided to make additionally creative work. In 2011, she founded the brand "Medova Shafa" and began to make jewelry in ethnic style. I sold them on Etsy and earned pretty good money - it turned out about $ 1000 a month. "I still love the works of those times. I invested myself in them a lot. I think that was why it was an intolerable torment to delegate production to the masters at later stages," said Elena.
Once Misnyk was visiting friends who had small children. Elena looked into the nursery, where creative chaos reigned, and accidentally saw a book, from which stuck doll legs. Immediately the imagination turned on, and the very next day the girl made the first test bookmark made of polymer clay and cardboard, decorating it with acrylic paints.
The new product was being tested by the designer in her jewelery showcase, and although the target audience there was completely different, it went. I also tried Ebay, Amazon and Fancy, but the demand came from Etsy. “It was the ready traffic of foreign buyers who voted for successful experiments with dollars. Not the first test based on the existing store, but the first one that shot so fast,” recalls Misnyk.
$ 2 at the start
Apart from material costs and time to work, Elena invested only $ 2 into the start of a new business (Etsy charges a fee of 20 cents for placing one product on the shop window).
First, the idea was appreciated by the regulars of the jewelry shop at Etsy, then the site administrators noticed the bookmarks and included it several times in their newsletters. “We also actively took part in the promotion inside the Etsy site, so we often found ourselves on the first page,” says Elena.
The specificity of the product is such that it is not searched. You can’t search for something you don’t know yet. Therefore, the main strategy was simply to show our insane bookmarks to the maximum number of people. And the opportunities of Etsy of those times provided us with this opportunity.
Two months after the first launch, in September 2011, Elena opened her own online store of unusual bookmarks.
A lot of traffic to myBOOKmark comes from social networks, where Misnyk products are quite popular. On Facebook and Instagram, the brand has about 60,000 subscribers. Mostly from abroad. “We focused on markets where citizens have high purchasing power. The main countries are the United States and the United Kingdom,” says Elena. However, in general, bookmarks are sold in more than 90 countries around the world.
From time to time, Elena lectures on how to work on Amazon, Etsy and other marketplaces in order to successfully sell abroad. Since the launch, Misnyk has sold over 15,000 bookmarks. They all cost $ 25, and the price has never changed. Thus, sales of myBOOKmark in money amounted to approximately $ 370,000.
Previously, the main item of myBOOKmark expenses was the work of masters - all the bookmarks were made by hand, and even the boxes in which they were sent to customers.
Now, when the company has established a technological process, the most expenses are accounted for materials and marketing. And marketing for this category of goods is rather peculiar.
For myBOOKmark, collaboration with opinion leaders works well. The company is friends with dozens of book bloggers who are happy to write about the product.
According to Elena's observations, giveaway-marketing does not work well to promote products, like her bookmarks, but different activities in which participants have to do something - post a thematic photo, invent a riddle, etc. - work well.
At the start, Lena had only one skilled worker, but she did the most interesting things herself. A month later, the team already consisted of three girls, including Misnyk herself, and today there are 20 people working in the myBOOKmark workshop in Kiev. “It’s scary when I think about it,” says Elena.
People searched through Facebook. "For me it was important that the team was loyal to my work. I did not look for artists or sculptors, because I believed that almost every woman who has a tendency to work with her hands (sewing, knitting, embroidery) can do what is needed. And sculptors or artists will contribute too much of their own to each copy, which means that the client can get something different from the photo, "explained Misnyk.
Business is, first of all, a display of its head.
She considers the team one of the important components of her success. However, first of all it is a unique product.
Of course, there were many who wanted to copy Elena's bookmarks - there are about a dozen shops with similar products on Etsy. They generally adopt the general idea of the Ukrainian woman, but sometimes copy models and even steal photos. Emphasis such competitors do at a lower price. However, as stated in myBOOKmark, copies are much inferior in quality and look even slightly comical.
Now the team is working on a fundamentally new product category, which will be an expansion of the business for Elena. However, what it will be, the craftswoman does not yet say.