Friday, January 30, 2009
I do it all the time. I have no idea why. I just recently created a necklace that I just love and think it's gorgeous. But I would never wear it. It's not my style. I'm staring at it right now and think it's just stunning ... but again, I wouldn't wear it.
Why is that? Why do I get inspired to create something that is not my style? I find that really odd.
I hope you like this piece. =) It was fun to create and it's beautiful to look at ... I hope someone out there will find it to their liking and want to wear it!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm about 4-5 weeks pregnant. =) Just took a test last night and it didn't even take 30 seconds for the results to register.
And yes, I'm sharing now even though there is still a high chance of a miscarriage. None of my family read my blogs so I'm not so worried about them finding out. I'm not telling anyone at work or in my family until at least 2 months.
This clearly affects my jewelry business though.
For one thing, I have my photo "studio" set up in the spare room and that is going to be the baby's room. Plus it got kind of trashed during Christmas when we were redoing the living room floors and moved everything in there. We have some major cleaning to do.
There's a bed in there. Do we leave it there? The bookshelf will have to move out ... but where I don't know. My photo stuff will have to go in the garage and we'll need to clean off a space for it on the back shelf. Will a crib fit in the room with the bed and the dresser?
The closet is full of old prom dresses and my wedding dress (yes, I suck...I need to have it cleaned and stored). Not to mention all the old 'stuff' we store in there.
What about all my jewelry supplies in the kitchen? My work space isn't exactly organized and I'd venture to say it's a hazard area for kids. Hubby is always finding beads on the floor. Not to mention the flammable materials and torch. But I don't want to move everything to the garage - it's cold in there!
I can't imagine that I will just stop making jewelry all together. I still need that creative outlet. I'm sure I'll be pretty busy once the little rug rat arrives - but eventually I imagine that I'll want to keep creating and selling.
Anyone else gone through this? What did you do?
I'm a little freaked out. *grin*
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
And since I'm in a baby frame of mind (keep me in your prayers please ... aunt flow is late!) I thought I'd feature a baby related store.
Strawberry Luna, from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, has some incredible artwork that I would be proud to feature in my baby's room.
Hubby loves owls ... I think they're just okay ... but I would totally put this owl up. O is for Owl! She hand makes each print and her alphabet series was featured in the super cool magazine Real Simple. Isn't that awesome?
Of course, when I see her I is for Inchworm print the song Inchworm immediately pops in my head and it'll probably be there all day. I can see myself singing the song and looking at this print while I rock my future baby. =)
She doesn't just have children's prints though - she also has funky and rock 'n roll prints, as well as t-shirt designs.
I dig her Friends are Neato elephant and birdie t-shirt.
I hope you enjoy Strawberry Luna's work. Her designs are original and hand drawn and I think they are neato!
Friday, January 23, 2009
I know...my life is pretty dull.
But really - this will make my life (and his) much easier and simple - which is of course my goal.
Before I had to forward any e-mails I wanted printed to his e-mail address and go to his computer to print them out. All my paypal shipping labels had to be printed from his computer (which is slow as mole-asses). And often times my schedule of needing to print interrupted his very important music listening (he loves to just sit in his computer room and listen to music on his computer...I think it's weird, but whatever).
So I'm pretty darn happy to have my own printer. Plus I can print out more coupons now. *grin*
The best part? We didn't have to pay for the printer. My wonderful sister in law gave it to us awhile back but we hadn't gotten around to hooking it up. Now it sits on a small little side table next to my permanent seat on the love seat (I think there's a butt impression where I sit!).
It's the small things in life. :) Happy Friday!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
My Favorite Mirror actually caught my eye because of their coasters. Do people still use those? We've gotten very bad about not using them at my house but we should really try harder.
They have a great "Dogs Rule" set of doggy coasters, and we know how obsessed I am with my dogs.
Now if they made a snow dog breed set of coasters I'd be all over it! =)
I also love their vintage looking coasters. I love the 20s and 30s and 40s ... and some of the 50s ... and they have a whole collection dedicated to "Fashionably Vintage" styles.
I wish we still dressed like that. :)
I hope you'll check out My Favorite Mirror - their products are hand made by a lovely fun couple who have been in business since 2003.
Support Handmade! Shop 1000 Markets. =)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I got a response back from my Senator and it was standard though did mention that she would monitor the situation. Yeah right.
I'm so glad that Forbes is on top of this now.
"With few exceptions, the law covers all products intended primarily for children under 12. That includes clothing, fabric and textile goods of all kinds: hats, shoes, diapers, hair bands, sports pennants, Scouting patches, local school-logo gear and so on.
And paper goods: books, flash cards, board games, baseball cards, kits for home schoolers, party supplies and the like. And sporting equipment, outdoor gear, bikes, backpacks and telescopes. And furnishings for kids' rooms.
And videogame cartridges and audio books. And specialized assistive and therapeutic gear used by disabled and autistic kids."
It's a really great article and touches on handmade items and thrift items.
"Contrary to some reports, thrift and secondhand stores are not exempt from the law. Although (unlike creators of new goods) they aren't obliged to test the items they stock, they are exposed to liability and fines if any goods on their shelves (or a component button, bolt, binding, etc.) are found to test above the (very low) thresholds being phased in."
And check out this protest listing on Etsy. HILARIOUS!
Friday, January 16, 2009
And I thought about how fun it would be to have my own gift shop. The front windows of the corner shop are huge - taking up the whole front - and I can envision the displays I would create and the handcrafted goodies that I would carry.
Yet why should I? I have no incentive from my government to put myself at risk. The reward (at the moment) is too low and the risk too great. If I succeed they will tax me to pieces at the state and federal level, not to mention the business rules and regulations that hinder progress. If I fail, I'm on my own. My state is hideously anti-small business, no matter what they say.
It's sad that in today's recessionary times that the government stands in the way of innovation and progress. I have no hope that the new administration will do anything to help businesses - small or large - to succeed. Like FDR during the depression they lambaste business as greedy and blame corporations for the ills of the economy.
I'm reading an incredible history book called The Forgotten Man. I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who loves history or anyone who wants to understand a little more about our economy (and somewhat how we got in this mess...it does stem back that far). Because the "Great" Depression was nothing more than an economic experiment held on the backs of the people.
So as much as I would love love love to open my own shop (yes, even in these times) I won't. I'll continue to make my jewelry and slowly build up my stock and reputation online. Perhaps someday I will be able to help other artists showcase their work in a gift shop gallery setting, but not today.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Anyway, I'm hoping I can remember to feature a shop every Wednesday. We'll see how far my memory lasts. *grin* At the very least I'll try to find an interesting shop to share once a week.
First up is Lori Forney's Recycled Jeans and Things. Why? Because she left a very nice comment on my "wall" and I really like her shop. LOL
Seriously though. Her work looks incredibly professional and she has a wide variety of items available at various price points. From fabric card sets to head bands to purses, her work is created using recycled (or is it upcycled? I can never remember the difference) fabrics.
I really like her Quilted Pillow set.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Handmade Toy Alliance has sent an update asking people to send their testimony to the House Committee on Small Businesses and tell them how the CPSIA harms and affects your business. They are having an open meeting this week, and you can send your testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please spread the word to others so they can get their testimony in as well.
Also, don't forget to vote at Change.org. Apparently this issue is up to #4 - the top ten ideas will be presented to the Obama administration. Will he care? I doubt it. But maybe some of the congress members will take more notice. I can only hope.
The Nativity Scene ... performed in Rubber Ducky. =)
Is that not the cutest freaking thing EVER?
So my boss finally noticed the duckies sitting on my desk today (over a month later...he's just so observant) and I teased that I was going to get a set for every holiday in the year.
You know what? I COULD!!! Oh my gosh ... there are rubber duckies for nearly everything.
I think I may put these on my wish list.
But I think my favorite are these:
CAMO DUCKIES!!! hahahahaha I love these!
Monday, January 12, 2009
I was looking to order for some of the nice product you have in stock.but before I proceed, I will want to know if you do the below.
1) accept credit card payment
2) lagos Nigeria shipment
3) which of the courrier services you ship with.
kindly get back to me as soon as possible today along with your website address if these are acceptable.
Isn't that nice of "J"? He wants to buy my nice product, but doesn't even know my website. Nor does he know my name.
This is an obvious scam e-mail and I immediately hit the delete button, but sometimes scammers are more subtle and harder to flush out.
Never send product without payment. Never agree to ship to an out of country address if it isn't the same as the billing address.
I'd personally hold a shipment if paid with a money order - especially on a large purchase - if made from overseas. Money Orders can be faked - sometimes so well that banks can't even tell. If you are at all concerned - listen to that inner voice - hold the shipment. For as long as you need - 10, 15 days. Whatever. If they are legitimate they will understand.
Be careful out there!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
There are other outlets though and so I thought I'd try a fairly recent one that looks super polished.
1000Markets is new but so far it looks great. It is for independent artisans to share and sell their work. I just set up my shop today and here are my first observations.
I love the listing process for each item. It's all on one page and completely intuitive. Adding photos is simple - and you can add four pictures at a time or one - as opposed to uploading one file at a time. They even provide a cropping tool within the listing page!
The look is much more sophisticated, in my humble opinion, than Etsy. The front page looks more fashionable and less cluttered. Etsy sometimes has *too* many choices, as fun as they are. I really like clean and simple designs.
Each shop comes with a blog. A very unique feature, though I don't know that it'll get much use from me, since I already write three blogs.
Your shop must be approved. I love this. While Etsy is wonderful and anyone and their dog can sign up to sell, sometimes those with really great talent get a little lost in the quantity of sellers. 1000Markets has some standards that you must meet before your shop will go live.
Free to join and start a shop.
Customers must pay before the order is complete. This is one huge complaint at Etsy. A customer can complete their order on Etsy, but that doesn't mean they are done - they have to complete one more step in order to submit payment. 1000Markets seems to have learned from this huge issue.
I really like the "Marketplaces" ... these seem to be user generated and organized. I was asked to join two marketplaces within five minutes of my shop going live, and there are dozens of different marketplaces. You can also ask to join a marketplace, though they all have different rules for membership.
Potential pro, but in my head a con right now, they use Amazon.com for payment. This actually may be a good thing as so many people have accounts as shoppers with Amazon.
It's pretty new and looks like it's still in a start up phase. I have no idea how sales have been for other shops.
Their fees are higher than Etsy - 5.5% for each item sold plus $0.50. But that is it - there are no hidden fees (according to their fee policy).
They don't use Paypal. All payments go through Amazon. Again, this seems like a con to me right now, but that could be because I'm just used to Paypal. It could be a huge pro. We'll see.
Browsing can be a bit confusing as there are no item categories. It is organized by "Market" or by Shop. There are 168 pages (right now) of shops so there is a lot to see.
So far that's what I see. Have you joined yet? Do you plan to? Have you had any experience with them yet? I like that there is another option for selling and buying and it looks like a great new option.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Please go vote ... I feel a little dirty from being on the site but I don't know what else to do to move this issue forward.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
She shipped out a package and used delivery confirmation through the post office. The customer says that they have not yet received this package, but the delivery confirmation shows that it has been delivered. Delivery confirmation only tells whether or not the post office has received the package. It does not guarantee that the recipient has actually received their parcel. The only way to confirm a package in hand is with signature confirmation or insurance.
So what does she do?
My first hope is that she has her policies written up to include this kind of situation. My shipping policies specifically say that I cannot be responsible for packages after they leave my hands. I have no control over the Post Office, though I do my best to ensure that all packages are shipped per USPS policies to ensure safe delivery. When writing my policies regarding shipping I tried to be extremely explicit in explaining as many situations as I could. Feel free to read through them here.
I cannot be responsible for packages sent to incorrect or outdated addresses. Please double check to verify that the shipping address is correct and current. Should a package be returned due to an address error on your part, you will be responsible for any re-shipping charges to send it out again.
A person in yesterday's Etsy discussion said that this isn't a fair policy. Perhaps my policies are harsh, but as a one woman show (doing business now for 5 years or so) I have learned that if I don't protect myself no one else will. There are unscrupulous people who WILL try to take advantage of small businesses and I refuse to be a victim. Let's just say that learning the hard way is not something I want to experience so I've tried to learn from others.
From a customer's perspective I can totally understand how frustrating it is to not get a package, and I do my best to find the package (sometimes they are left at the post office, sometimes mis-delivered to a neighbor) or replace/refund, but it isn't always possible and it sucks. Not being a large box store I don't have hundreds of pieces of inventory waiting on the shelves, nor do I have a large supply of funds stocked away to issue refunds.
I also can't feasibly insure every package I ship out. It doesn't make sense to insure a $25 pair of replaceable earrings - the odds are good that they will arrive safely and if I add insurance to every package the costs would add up very quickly. Insuring larger packages or difficult to replace pieces, of course, makes sense. If an insured package gets lost it can be refunded or replaced.
[Did you know? If you pay for overnight shipping and it does not arrive overnight you can get a refund from the post office? I had that happen last Christmas.]
Then there is the dreadful situation - what if a package DOES get delivered but the customer is trying to scam another one or a refund? Claiming a package hasn't arrived doesn't necessarily mean that it hasn't. Of course, there is virtually no way to confirm this but there are places online where small shops talk about these kinds of things ... sometimes there are patterns.
My policies are my policies and therefore I can work around them if I need to ... and thank goodness I haven't had to deal with this very often. My goal is obviously a happy customer, but I also must protect myself. I think there are too many artisans out there who are so desperate to please that they will do anything - even to their own extreme detriment - to please a customer.
I want to please, but I'm not willing to do just anything.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Specifically mentioned is that banner ads will be used less and less by big companies and therefore will lose legitimacy.
Banner ads will be the new junk mail. More and more, reputable companies won't be buying up the space around the Web sites you visit. Clicking these ads will become less and less legitimate as brands will endeavor to do things that add more value to you in the social-media and customer-service space.—Colleen DeCourcy, chief digital officer at Omnicom's TBWA
Do you agree?
I think a lot of small artisan businesses rely on banner ads placed on blogs and alternative media websites to attract traffic. Additionally, many bloggers rely on ads placed by small businesses as a stream of income.
I admit, I do not have a lot of banner ads for my own jewelry. I've never found the right recipe to attract buyers - the investment never seems worth it for me. But others have great success.
Nor do I have any ads on my blog - I have enough 'stuff' on the side bar without worrying about ads.
What is the alternative to banner ads?
I personally LOVE Entrecard, which is a banner ad, but one that is interactive. I've discovered so many incredible blogs because of Entrecard and hopefully a few people have discovered me. But it is still a banner ad and requires someone to click on your 'ad'.
Another interesting tidbit is that RED will be the big color in advertising this year. Which I find funny because I didn't know there were "in" colors for advertising...apparently last year it was orange.
I love all shades of red so I use it a lot, but I'm not sure I'd want to see a lot of red in an advertisement.
More from the article...
"Video will increasingly show up on anything that doesn't move and even some things that do, on cellphones, buses, elevators, fast-food restaurants, billboards and, of course, the Internet."
"...Pricey, glitzy ad production will be rare..."
"...People will, amazingly, see more and more advertising they actually like and seek out. ..."
"...Out-of-home ads will increasingly be linked to use of cellphones and other Web-enabled mobile gadgets. ..."
Some of these scare me ... like new technology that can read the faces of people looking at digital ads? Creepy!
So how about you? Are you changing your advertising goals for this year? Online? Print? Something totally different?
Do you think that advertising affects your life as a consumer? I can tell you, since the stupid new chicken McNuggets commercials have been playing I have definitely craved those evil things.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I'm writing a letter to my local paper and encourage everyone who cares about small folks like me to do the same. You're welcome to use my wording or modify it as you see fit. I mostly used the wording directly from the Save Handmade Toys facebook site but cut it down to less than 250 words for my paper.
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China violated the public's trust - selling toys with dangerous lead content, toys with unsafe small parts, and toys that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.
The Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008, which bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and permanent labels on each toy with a date and batch number.
All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and updating their molds to include batch labels.
For small American toymakers the costs of mandatory testing, to the tune of up to $4,000 per toy, will drive them out of business. American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007. Toy aren’t the only ones impacted – used toys and clothing will be eliminated from thrift stores – artisans who design children’s clothing will be shut down.
Unless the law is modified handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US.
Thriving small businesses are crucial to the financial health of our nation. Please write or call your Congressperson and ask that this law be revised to ensure the economic well being of small U.S. businesses. Visit www.handmadetoyalliance.org for more details and for how you can help.
I wish I had more room to include my frustration with the government overreach and Nanny State-ism. Government "do something" disease often has unintended consequences and The Simple Dollar brings up one that I had not even considered.
"Currently, all of their secondhand children’s clothes will have to be tested for lead and phthalates. Given that many such stores aren’t high-income operations - many are nonprofits - these shops simply cannot afford to do the testing on the children’s clothes on their shelves."
USED CLOTHING and children's items are also included in this law. !!!!! This means that used clothing stores, thrift stores, etc. will no longer be allowed to offer discounted, used children clothing or toys. Non profit stores will go out of business (there are several in my area alone) and places like Goodwill have apparently already stopped accepting children's clothing.
In these economic times it is absolutely insane to force people to buy brand new clothing - not to mention a complete waste of resources. I'm all for used clothing if it is still clean and wearable. And someone posted a good question in the comments at The Simple Dollar - what about garage sales? I know lots of people who go around to garage sales for used kid's clothes. My aunt has sold all of her four girls' clothes at garage sales over the years. I suppose this puts a stop to that as well.
Please spread the word on this issue. The Help Save Handmade Toys group now is on Facebook. Please join them there and add your thoughts.
Also, the US Consumer Protection Agency is soliciting comments on the new law. Please PLEASE go to their website and implore them to revise the law and help them recognize the significantly negative impact (and unintended consequences) that this law brings to our economy.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I wish I could find some of my very first photos but I think I've hidden them. =) I do have some earlier photos though and I want to share those so you can see that I have come a long way. At least I think I have.
This one wasn't so bad, or at least I didn't think so ... but you can see in the corner where there is a background distraction and really the outdoor lighting is too harsh.
This one makes me a little ill to my stomach. The gray looks terrible and the green frame around the photo is distracting. Plus my attempt at a watermark is ridiculous.
Here you can see my failed attempt to take a quick photo inside. The yellow tone is because I was just using indoor lighting and nothing else. I didn't yet have a photo tent at this point.
Now that I do have a photo tent with lights I don't have to wait until it's bright and sunny outside to take my photos. Which is good since I live in Washington State and those days are few and far between.
Yesterday I took a few hundred photos - yes a few hundred. It takes many attempts to get just a few good pictures. So I thought I'd share the untouched attempts and the final edited results.
Here are a few samples from the 17 pictures I took of these earrings. If you want to see all of them in greater detail you can check them out on Flickr.
As you can see, some are blurry, some are too bright, others too dark. There's almost always some sort of fuzz or hair floating around.
I admit to being a lot more lazy lately when it comes to my photos. I should be using my small tripod - especially with the earrings are hanging. It's nearly impossible to get a clear and crisp shot just holding the camera.
My final results aren't that great but you can see what simple editing software and a few minutes can do to improve ghastly photos.
I was really trying to show the flash from the Labradorite since it is gorgeous, but it is tough to capture. I ended up with 7 photos that are decent, though imperfect. Looking at them again I can see a piece of red fuzz that I missed. Oh well.
And I can only use 5 of them in the Etsy listing. So I'll try to pick the best 5 and go with it. They are a simple pair of earrings so I'm not too concerned about attaining the *perfect* photo. I have so many other pieces of jewelry that spending too much time on an inexpensive pair doesn't make a lot of sense.
I hope this post was somewhat helpful. Photography matters a LOT when you sell online. People can't touch, feel, smell, or sense what you are selling except through your photos. They need to be all they can be. =)
Thursday, January 1, 2009
But look closer!
How freaking cute is that?!? Although I admit I would have a hard time drinking anything from this cup without a shudder. =) Ants do freak me out you know.
People are so clever. And talented. Excellent piece.