Sarus Nirhali, the founder of the online store – GlassHopper, wants everybody to join the “handmade movement.” Her own creations create stunning pieces of art by cutting stained tiffany styled glass. From jewellery to suncatchers that brighten up your home, this online store is a haven for aestheticism.
Here are some brilliant tips that we got from Sarus on running a successful handmade eCommerce business.
Inspiration for GlassHopper
A very young Sarus Nirhali had been in the US when she first discovered her fascination for stained glass. After seeing the various churches that had huge stained glasses on display, Sarus knew this was something she wanted to create with her own hands.
Circumstances prevented Sarus from seeing where her passion takes her then. But today, it’s been nearly a decade of Sarus’s dedication to this art form. A lawyer, an artist and a professor, Sarus adorns multiple hats of talent.
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Studio vs. Online sales
She started her physical studio in 2008 and then consequently started selling online through her own Instamojo eCommerce website in 2013.
Her studio mainly offers larger stained glass products like bevelled panels and door panels for home interior decor purposes. Even though her main revenue is from her sales at the studio, Sarus has been consistently maintaining and scaling her online business too.
“Selling online allows me to reach more people. The trinkets that you see, the charms, the brooches and the jewellery, are not my main area of focus. But because these items are more affordable and easy to make, it is more accessible to people. A wider range of customers order from me online and can enjoy having these small colour-splitting artworks in their own homes”
4 Tips from GlassHopper owner – Sarus Nirhali
Don’t be restricted by fears of IP theft
If there is something that can compete with Sarus’s love for her art form – it’s her love for teaching. This lawyer turned glass stain artist does not want this technique to remain limited within the circles that it is today. She conducts regular workshops to impart this skill to interested students.
“Everybody’s art is unique. Just because I am teaching this art form, and teaching my students how to create my designs, I am not insecure about them surpassing me or stealing my designs.
Every person’s art form is unique, and if even one person can create and sell a stained glass product successfully, I am proud as a teacher. My art is mine, their art is theirs. There is no need for fear.”
Setting the correct price for your product
Because every person’s art and execution are unique, setting a price for the product can also be a challenge.
Here are some things that the owner of GlassHopper wants you to remember when you start selling online:
- You have to learn how to unabashedly put a value on your own worth
- Get experts in the field to give you constructive criticism and honest feedback
- Put a price on everything – raw material, labour, time, shipping, packaging etc.
- Some products will sell, some won’t – always be flexible enough to respond to the market preferences
The art of customer retention
These two words are Sarus’s holy grail when running her business. She advocates honesty and integrity when dealing with every person involved in her business – from her vendors to manufacturers to the end customer.
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For Sarus, honestly also allows her to take ownership of her products. For example, in the rare cases that a product is broken while in transit, GlassHopper allows a full refund or exchange of the product.
80% of all the sales of GlassHopper’s can be attributed to repeat customers who stayed not just for the experience, but for the entire experience.
The only one limiting yourself is you
This particular art form includes cutting glass into the shape needed, soldering the lead borders, etc. In her workshops, Sarus often sees her students hesitate before starting the cutting process.
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That is when Sarus has to remind them – “The fear is in your mind.” Once you can conquer these fears and go beyond them, you feel a sense of pride and achievement looking at what your own hands have created.
Every entrepreneur has fears. From public reception to see if the business can grow and thrive. But as Sarus says if we can move beyond our fears and just “start doing”, the world could be full of so much colour and happiness.
Related read: 6 Fears every entrepreneur must conquer
Speaking to Sarus Nirhali – mojoMakers Season 2
We got these nuggets of wisdom from Sarus when we conversed with her for season 2 of the business podcast – mojoMakers.
Do you have 20 minutes? Listen to Sarus’s journey and her inspiration.
Do you feel inspired? Listen to our other mojoMaker superstars on the go and learn the ups and downs of being an eCommerce business owner.