Katia Baltazar started her online business, Katstiendita three years ago, and transitioned from part-time to a full-time seller four months ago. She focuses on finding great offers and bundles to list and sell on eBay and Amazon at affordable prices.
Q: Were you still able to operate your business after your initial local shutdown?
A: I am home-based, so I was very lucky that I could still continue doing my business as “normal” when the pandemic started. In fact, my sales went way up for the first month of the pandemic, and has since decreased a bit but it is still moving along. The one thing it did affect was my ability to source high-demand items such as shampoos, laundry detergent, soap, etc. And having to buy my new stock at a higher cost affected my pricing as well.
Q: Is there anything that didn’t quite work? A: I needed to keep my prices lower in order to compete with bigger companies, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to offer free shipping.
Q: What were the things that did work?
A: Many of my customers were new and complimented me on the ‘homey’ touch—for instance, I sent thank you cards and other product samples along with their orders. They mentioned that it’s nice to be appreciated in a small way for their business.
Q: What would you say are the most important things you’re doing right now to make your business as successful as possible during the pandemic? A: When every store reopens completely I will definitely keep treating my customers with the same “thank you for your business cards” add the little samples as a thank you to their packages and continue providing what customers people have learned to expect from me as a small business owner. Also, I have learned that people like to see who you are, and at some point, they feel like they know you, so they expect that same familiarity that they get from a small family business.
Q: How are you utilizing social media to support reopening? A: I’m very new at social media, but I do use Instagram and Twitter to promote my business. I love Ripl and I use it for 98% of my posts. I like the easy formats, love the many options given to me so that all I have to do is pick and change or add whatever I want. It’s made my life so much easier—buying a subscription was the best business investment I could have made!
Q: Is there anything that didn’t quite work? A: Offering the same type of merchandise, over and over again.
Q: What would you say is the biggest success you’ve had during this time? A: Making the decision to expand the type of merchandise I offer. Having to adjust to the pandemic taught me not to be afraid of introducing new items.
Q: Do you have a contingency plan for if your state rolls back reopening phases?
A: Regardless of the situation, I’m committed to cleaning, packing with care, and shipping all of my items on time so that my continue to feel like they are buying from a safe place.
Q: Advice for businesses like yours as they work through COVID-19 challenges?
A: My advice is to adjust to this new way of life. Use social media to grow. Create portals so that people in your community find you and become comfortable with your business. Customers need to see that you worry about their health and that you follow the guidelines to make this happen, but they also want to know who you are and where you are coming from so that they can grow with you.