Thursday, February 13, 2014

College Student Interview: Creating a Online RedBubble Shop

Dear Randy,

Recently I had the chance to speak with two budding business partners, Krystyl and Chelsea, two freshman roommates who realized they can use existing websites and social media to create an online business! This is no get-rich-quick scheme but just one example of how creative hard work can make a little extra cash for those free Friday nights after a long week.

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed about your work.

What is it that you and your roommate started to do to make some money on the side? What are each of your roles in this effort?

Krystyl: I'd started making some pretty simplistic phone cases on about two years ago and was making some pretty good money, and when Chelsea and I realized we were starting to get a bit tight on cash in college, it hit me that I should get my incredibly talented, artistic roommate to make a Redbubble account too!

Chelsea:  I was down for any idea that involves art and money, to be honest [laughs].

Krystyl: I set up the shop and our online blog,

Chelsea: I run the charsheeeshop Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

Krystyl: She's the heart and soul behind this whole operation though

Chelsea: No, I wouldn't have anything without you. But um, I'm the artist and usually conceptualize the designs we make with tradition art (sketches and traditional usually).

Krystyl: Yeah, then I usually do the computer stuff like digitalizing her sketches on Photoshop and coloring it--although Chelsea is slowly learning photoshop too. Then I promote our stuff on social media.

How much time do you spend on this weekly on average?

Chelsea: it depends on our school schedules, since school comes first. And we both concentrate on separate things, like I spent about 6-10 hours just drawing and promoting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (But hours when we have midterms and finals week [laughs]).

Krystyl: I usually spend about the same time doing digital art and running our blog and doing promoting.

Where did you get this idea? What demographic are you going for with your content?

Chelsea: Krystyl started this first, I had no idea this was a thing until she showed me.

Krystyl: And I got the idea from seeing other people on tumblr making, and promoting their phone cases and T-shirts. I figured that I could give it a shot. There was nothing to lose.

Chelsea: Right now, our target demographic are people who are passionate about certain fandoms, because through Krystyl's experience those people are the ones who buy the most things. Eventually, I hope to make more original art, and have people follow that.

Krystyl: So basically stuff like Harry Potter, Totoro, Pokemon, and Nerdfighter stuff.

Chelsea: It's all stuff we genuinely enjoy too, so it's not hard to make designs for it.

How profitable is it?

Krystyl: We've been working on this for about three months and made about $100 each month. We definitely make more money during holidays.

Chelsea: Sales have spiked during Christmas and right now during Valentines Day, and I've noticed that we've been selling more now that we have a lot more followers.

How has social media played a role in the development of your business?

Krystyl: I think it's one of the most significant aspects of the whole "CharsheeShop" idea. It helps us spread our work, and it has gained us a small following that's been growing and growing by the day.

Chelsea: Tumblr has especially been a remarkable way to spread Charsheee designs. On some of our recent "The Fault In Our Stars" designs (a YA novel written by John Green, and popular among many teens, us included) has gotten over 3,000+ likes and reblogs!

Krystyl: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are also really good at spreading the word and directing people to our shop, and merchandise.

What tips would you have for someone who wants to start their own online store, maybe an etsy store or a Redbubble store like yours?

Krystyl: I'd say, make things that you're passionate about, and genuinely enjoy, because it can get real old, real fast if you don't. We wouldn't be putting this much time and effort if it was just about the money.

Chelsea: The money definitely helps, but I love drawing and it's nice to get a little cash on the side for doing what I love.

Krystyl: And i'm so interested in graphic design and social media and business stuff, that it's fun to learning new things related to those things.

Chelsea: With selling stuff online though, we've realized getting people to actually see the things you've made it super important.

Krystyl: Use lots of hashtags, submit your things to popular blogs that would like your content and share it with their audience, and don't be afraid of bringing it up to people in real life too. Friends sharing it with friends goes a long way, and a lot of our initial sales were made through word of mouth.

Thank you for your time and we wish the best of luck to the both of you!

You can tell that they have a great dynamic together and that’s probably what continues to make them so successful. It also gives a great example that you don’t need to wait to the ‘real world’ to start claiming a paycheck!

Thank you again for Krystyl and Chelsea to sit down and discuss with us the details of their business and partnership relationship. It definitely makes things a bit easy when you live together to partner on projects! Choose your roommates wisely!

Love from your Bro!

P.s. If you have a online retail shop, etsy store, or similar and would like to provide some details about how you manage this type of work, please send an email to to feature your work and provide inside information with others.

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