Simple but Smart Strategies Pay Off

Brown and  White ApronA case study of one woman who is growing her business with methods you can use too.




Ashley Meyer is a Minnesota-based artist living on a small hobby farm. She works full-time sewing, and has her hands full with orders.  In less than two years, Ashley has garnered hundreds of sales just selling out of one Etsy shop, and has also filled volume orders from restaurants and other large customers.

Although Ashley considers herself “lucky” a look at her business shows how she has set herself up for this luck.  Intuitively using smart ways to present herself and her product, she has created systems that produce profit and grow sales steadily.

Here are some of her sound principles that you can also use in your own small business:


Find your niche. Ashley makes aprons and she makes tea towels. That’s it. She knows what she does, and communicates this clearly. Her brand is evident through the consistency of presentation, using similar photos on a rustic background.


Blue and white towel


Limit your line.  Do you feel that you need to offer endless varieties of product to capture more sales? Sometimes, smaller is better. Ashley only has about four different fabrics to choose from, but that’s enough. Her aprons and dish towels are functional, but they also look comfortably professional. And customers don’t get overwhelmed with choices, so it’s easy to buy.

By limiting her line, she also keeps her costs down by purchasing fabric in bulk, which increases profits. Plus, it’s easier to keep inventory and reduce investment in too many fabrics.


Denim Apron


Know your audience. Ashley knows that her customers are mostly in their twenties. Her products are shown on twenty-somethings who don’t look like models, but real people. This gives an authentic look to her handmade work which connects with the very customers she wants to cultivate.

Make your products versatile. All of her designs are for both men and women, so she gains in audience with that great feature. These also make thoughtful gifts – for anyone.


Rustic Full Kitchen Apron


Use great photos. Images can make all the difference, particularly with online sales. Show multiple photos, because shoppers like to see all the little details. Place items in settings, so that the buyer can easily imagine owning them. Ashley uses appealing backgrounds in her photos that make sense for her products.

Professional presentation. Ashley’s shop is called “Meyer Textile Co” which sounds like a real business. Using a no-nonsense presentation of her product with clear descriptions, she can compete with manufactured lines because her prices are reasonable but her work has the benefit of being handmade and thus very desirable.  Her straightforward approach has earned her the business of restaurants who buy her aprons in volume, so she knows her line is taken seriously.


Are you using strategies that reach your customers, control your costs and increase your profits? What changes do you need to make to improve your own small business?


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  1. How does she know her buyers are in their 20’s? I’m curious to know how she learned that about her online (Etsy) retail customers.

    Btw, I love the aprons and am shopping now for one to wear in the studio!


  2. Great tips that fit so many businesses. Keeping good sales records, mailing lists, and inquiry data can help define your target audience. One thing I must do better is ask for referrals!

  3. Rachael,
    I was able to figure out who my target audience was and how old they were based on a couple of things:

    Probably the most helpful–On my business facebook page under the ‘insights’ section, I can see the percentages of the different age groups that ‘like’ my page and about 65% of them are between 18-30. (My page is relatively new so I don’t have a huge number of ‘likes’ so this source isn’t the only one taken in to account. But it seems fair to assume that those who are more interested in my shop will click into our facebook page and ‘like’ it.)

    I also occasionally sell my products at the local farmer’s market and I have noticed that the ones who are drawn to our booth typically appear to be in the 18-30 age group as well.

    And a less perfect way of determining is by reviewing the profiles of the people on etsy who purchase my items and also of those who include my items in treasury lists or add my shop to their circles.


  4. Great tips!! Really enjoyed this post.

  5. I like that you featured a business owner that keeps it simple and makes the items herself. I also like her functional approach. Great tips! Will definitely be implementing some of these strategies for my shop revamp.

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