Samantha Goodman of Del Sol Laser Creations may be relatively new to the world of lasers, but it’s certainly hard to tell when you look at the gorgeous products she produces with her AP Lazer engraving machine! She has built her business on designing unique custom pieces for customers in her Phoenix, AZ studio. Check out some of her amazing offerings below while reading about her experience starting her business from scratch!
How did you find out about AP Lazer?
My husband saw AP Lazer on Motorhead Garage. We had been tossing around the idea of buying a CNC machine to do signs and such for several years, but never saw anything that really stood out. The open architecture and the variety of surfaces that could be lasered were very intriguing and we decided we wanted to see one of the laser engraving machines in action asap.
How did you fund your laser engraving machine?
We used our savings to pay. This is a completely new venture. We expected there to be a significant learning curve and we didn’t want to feel the pressure of payment while we began the process.
My husband is working his full-time job and doesn’t really intend to work the laser or software, just get me the materials I need to create! I have been a full-time Realtor for 22+ years. My intention is to learn and do as much as I can with our laser and still work with my clients while we build this business.
What was the biggest selling point of the AP Lazer?
The biggest selling point for us was the open architecture and the myriad of materials that can be lasered. The 24/7 tech support is equally as impressive, and when beginning a venture like this that is completely new to us in every way, the support is priceless!
How difficult is it to run an AP Lazer?
I have found the laser to actually be very easy to run. I love the screen on the laser itself because it serves as a quick rundown of what you are about to laser engrave. Not just that you successfully downloaded the proper file, but also to make sure the orientation is correct (which is a lifesaver when you are doing tumblers, for instance, because you need to turn your image), scanning/cutting settings are right, etc. It has assisted me in minimizing potential mistakes.
What have you used tech support for and how was your experience?
I have used tech support for both the laser and the software that comes with the laser. Having the ability to call and get help any time of day, any day of the week is like having an answer to your prayers when you are totally lost, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I have found learning the software to be the most challenging. I had never even used a graphics program prior to AP Lazer. I can’t imagine making this kind of capital purchase and being left on your own to “just figure it out”. The tech guys have been nothing short of the patient, personable, and most importantly helpful every time I have called. The ability for tech support to get into TeamViewer and see what I am doing and walk me through how to do it is amazing!
What do you like about the AP Lazer family?
The AP Lazer Family is a network of like-minded business owners at every level. Some of us are new laser owners, some have been in business for a few years and some for many years. We all have something to offer each other with troubleshooting, ideas for products, and in general, it’s a heck of a great support system, with people doing and going through exactly what you are! The owner/creator, Tong Li, and his amazing staff have welcomed us all in and are very active on the user page giving us great ideas and support too. What is more like family than being surrounded by people who are invested and supportive of your success? It really starts at the top and that is very clear when you get to know the AP Lazer owner and Staff!
Did you start your business when you purchased the AP Lazer or did you purchase it to diversify an existing business?
We purchased our AP Lazer to start a new business venture. We formulated a proper business on paper and have been learning the machine and software over the last several months.
What is your business and how would you describe it?
Our business is about creating one of a kind pieces and products. Creating graphic designs of our own and displaying them to potential buyers who will connect with our ideas and hopefully order!
How have you marketed your laser business and products?
I have marketed my products by making things and giving them away to friends, family, kids’ schools, local places of business, etc. In return, all of the jobs I have gotten have been cultivated from those items I gave away. Posting items I have made on my Facebook page, sharing them, letting anyone and everyone I know what I am doing, and simply asking people to tell their friends.
Do you have a website, and do you think it is necessary?
At this point, we have been working with our laser for about 4 months. We have created a Facebook page and started to put some things on Instagram. I think it is absolutely necessary to have an internet presence so that people you know, know what you do and more importantly can see your products. We started with our sphere and it has definitely brought us several opportunities to create personalized products and awards.
Where do you source your blanks from?
We get large sheets of wood and cut down for signs, Vendors like JDS & JP+, and for old and weathered wood products it is surprising how many people have scraps they’d love to part with.
How do you determine pricing for your products?
This is a tough one. I have been struggling with this question. I have found sources such as Etsy/Amazon/eBay are good to get a sense of what average pricing might be. There are both ends of the spectrum; some are giving it away practically and some are quite expensive. Also, consider your local market and what awards shops and engraving shops in your area are charging. I have found the local shops’ pricing to be a marketable price, particularly when you are making only a few specialty items.
When you first started out with a laser what products did you start with?
I mainly started out laser engraving wood products. Learning how different woods come out when lasered, adjusting settings to figure out what works best. How they stain and finish, color fill, etc.
What products would you recommend a new owner start with?
I think a new owner should start with the materials they are most interested in. Being that there is practically no limit on what you can laser, it will come in very short order that you try just about anything you can get your hands on. Besides grabbing things out of your own cabinets simply hit the thrift stores, dollar stores, or your friends and family for items they don’t want to practice on. I think it is important to experiment with different materials. Using different materials gives you a better feel for the machine itself, getting comfortable with trying new things and building up your confidence.
What is your favorite part about using the laser?
Hands down my favorite part of the laser are making your vision a reality. I have so many ideas of things I want to do and create. Being able to create something that brings joy and makes a person genuinely light up is a real gift. I can easily see the financial potential and satisfaction in working and cultivating this business. Knowing that I can do something I feel so passionate about and am excited to get into the shop to work is the best type of job I can hope for.
In what ways do you see yourself using the laser in the future that you haven’t tried yet?
I haven’t yet removed the Z table to work with larger objects yet. I am looking forward to taking the time to do that!
What is the most creative/unusual object you’ve engraved?
I would say the most creative object I have created is my Mother’s Day clock. Yes a clock, common item….However, I have created a clock that answers the age-old question of, “Who is Mom’s Favorite?”. The idea came to me and I googled and searched for something similar and couldn’t find anything. It was a fun project to do and I think the kids loved it more than the Mom.
What’s your laser success story? Let us know in the comments below.