Friday, February 27, 2009

A New Adventure

As you know, I'm on 1000 Markets with my jewelry. I really like it there and think it's going to be a hugely successful venue for handmade artisans to sell their work.

One of the things that is unique about 1000 Markets is their concept for browsing. You can browse by shop or you can browse by Marketplace.


Yup..Marketplace. This concept took me a little while to get used to because it really is unique. It's different than simply grouping items by product type. Markets are created by shop owners based on ideas and themes.

There is a market called Ever After that has shop members who cater to that big wedding event. There are markets for different states and regions in the country like New Jersey and California. Temporary markets have been started for Valentine's Day, Christmas, and even one for Dia de los Muertos.

I was having a hard time finding a regional market that I could fit into. There was a Seattle market, but they only accepted shops within King County. There is a San Juan market and a Portland market, but neither fit me either.

So I proposed that we create a Pacific Northwest market. The response has been really great and I'm getting super excited about having an all inclusive market that has shops from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

I may end up being the manager...which is a seriously scary thought! But I won't be without help because I just can't do it by myself. If you have a shop at 1000 Markets and are in the three state Pacific Northwest area please stop by the forums and join the discussion.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why Buy Handmade?

I've posted before about why I think buying handmade is so important. I certainly haven't changed my mind and Lenox Knits recently wrote a great piece discussing why she supports handmade.

For me the most important reason to live a handmade lifestyle is to support other's passions. I know that my buyers could easily find a $10 scarf at Wal-mart but instead they have chosen a handmade creation from my heart and energy. By doing so they are supporting my efforts and helping me to support my hobby. I am happy to support other sellers whether they are a hobbyist or professional because I know that they are doing it because they love what they are doing.


There is a reason why I have not started making "cheap" jewelry. People who only want jewelry that is inexpensive are not going to appreciate the nature of handcrafted work. I could create $10 necklaces and try to hock them, but then I'd be competing with Target, KMart, and Walmart. And no matter how hard I tried, I'd never succeed.

I create and design pieces because I love it. An idea comes into my head and regardless of how much it might cost I have to create it. I can't help myself. Even when it is a design that goes completely against my own must come out. =)

And when someone honors me by buying a piece that I've poured myself into, it does more than increase my bank account. It increases my confidence. It gives me the energy to continue to create. And, like Lenox Knits, it gives me additional income that I can use to support other hardworking artisans.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1000 Finds - Designs by Velvet

It's Wednesday again and I remembered to find a fun shop from 1000 Markets to share.

I love crochet and knit things and wish I knew how to knit...and that my crochet skills were better.

Designs by Velvet makes it unnecessary for me to learn though - her designs are stunning! I would LOVE one of her romantic Bolero jackets. This one immediately caught my eye.

Just wow! And her pricing is not crazy outrageous. I'd expect something handmade like this to sell for over $100, but she is charging $75. Very reasonable.

I'm also enchanted with this unusual design, which can be worn multiple ways.

I am really enamored with her work and am adding her to my "wish" list. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pet Lovers - Please Assist

Please head over to my pet blog - Home Zookeeper - and spread the word about these four dogs who are currently in Taiwan. They are so precious and I hope we can get them transferred to the U.S. in an adoption or foster home in time to save their lives.

Cross Posted at Amid Clutter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lots of New Work

Sometimes I outpace my ability (or time) to post new work. I have had about a dozen new pieces done and photographed but have yet to post them all to either my 1000 Markets shop or my Etsy shop. Sheesh. Where does the time go?

These haven't been posted anywhere (yet). So what do you think???

I'm proud of this piece in some ways, and not in other ways. I made the bezel setting myself so that part I'm proud of. But it didn't come together as cleanly as I prefer. There are obvious flaws (which I hate). But all in all I think it's pretty. It might wind up being my mom's someday. :)

I had a bunch of extra scraps of silver laying around on my desk so I just started playing around. I made a bracelet with these funky shapes and had enough links left over for a pendant. It's just random, abstract, meant to look like nothing in particular.

Aren't these cute? Hubby thought they were lame. But I'm proud of myself...I hand formed the shapes myself and I do think they look like what I had in mind ... a birdie and a house (for the birdie?). I then filled in the wire with resin. I made a few other pairs with different shapes but this is the pair that turned out the best.

I have no idea why I haven't posted this one yet. It's a simple ring ... a freshwater pearl - quite thick in a disc shape with great luster. I love how it turned out.

So much to do and so little time to do it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1000Finds - EyeShutter to Think

What a great name! EyeShutter to Think is a great shop I recently discovered on 1000 Markets. As the name may imply, her work is photo oriented.

She has a variety of diverse pictures available for sale...some of which would make great wedding gifts.

I love this Giraffe!

And I love that she offers a variety of different options other than prints.
We don't have a lot of wall space available in our house but she has calendar magnets, bookmarks, and note cards available with her photos. A great alternative for those of us who already have too much artwork.

Friday, February 13, 2009

1000 Finds - Freckled Hound

My week has been a little off so I realized yesterday that I forgot to do a 1000 Markets find on Wednesday. So we'll end the week with a great shop on 1000 Markets.

The name alone caught my attention - Freckled Hound. What could be cuter? And then I saw their products, which are adorable and now on my wish list for the baby's room.

Freckled Hounds decals can be made in different colors and they even do custom orders.

Now I just need to decide what sort of theme the baby's room will be, but that is going to depend on whether we have a boy or a girl. Either way, these decorations will be a great and inexpensive way to decorate and when the crumb cruncher is older we can just peel them off. No fuss. I like no fuss.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Go With Personalized

While sales may be hard to come by lately, I do know at least one person doing really well with her personalized hand stamped silver pendant necklaces. Jennifer Casady does a great job and I highly recommend her work to anyone looking for this type of jewelry.

People ARE still spending money. Trust me. I've had several orders in just the last two weeks involving personalized pieces. And I know that Jen has been swamped.

I think that the biggest thing right now is offering custom and personalized pieces. People want something special that will mean something to them. They are saving their money and being very particular on what they purchase. I don't blame them.

My favorite piece in my jewelry line (well, they're all my favorites, who am I kidding? But I do love it.) is my custom birthstone Cherry Tree necklace.

The idea actually came from a coworker who loved my Cherry Tree pendant but wanted to incorporate her mother and sister in law's birthstones. So the Family Cherry Tree pendant was born.

Is there some way you can offer a custom product to your customers?

And can you do it in a different way that someone else doesn't offer?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Great and Inexpensive Advertising

Even though sales might be down, it's no reason to stop promoting yourself and your products.

A wonderful way to do this is through Total Indie Coupons. I've been participating with this project since the beginning and it is a wonderful and inexpensive way to get your name out to 5,000 shoppers who are already web savvy and who support handcrafted works. And it is only $50!

Unlike most promotional materials where you pay for, say, 5000 postcards which would be sent to 5000 people who may or may not even read it, with the Totally Indie Coupons, you are only paying for 125 pieces, yet are still getting your name out to 5000 people who you know already support indie businesses!

There are only a few spots remaining so head on over, read about the requirements, and sign up.

For me, these coupons have definitely paid for themselves. They have pretty long expiration dates and I've received orders from previous coupons even after the expiration date.

Don't be intimidated by having to create your own's really quite simple and if you just can't do it, they'll help you out for a very small fee.

A huge thank you to Lily from A Planet 4 Creations - she rocks and has helped with the coupons for what seems like forever.

I hope to see some new names for this Round 10 of Indie Coupons!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Life Brings the Unexpected

I've had a bad couple of days.

And yet, despite the horror of my life, business goes on. Orders come in. Orders must be finalized and shipped.

Thankfully, my wound is on my left hand and just one finger so making jewelry isn't impossible - though it is difficult.

If I were more badly injured I may have had to cancel an important order and refund the customer's money. What else would I have been able to do if I couldn't fill the order in time?

Life doesn't always follow your carefully laid out plans. And this incident shows me that I need to have some sort of backup plan. Hubby may need to get more involved - at least to the point that he can contact my customers if he ever needs to.


Friday, February 6, 2009

No Time to Slow Down

We might be in a recession, but it's not an excuse to slow down completely. I admit to falling prey to this myself. I feel like keeping every penny tucked away under my mattress. This is very counterproductive though.

A great article, which came to me via e-mail, talks about using a recession as a building period.

My experience through a number of recessions is the lower priced items sell faster than the middle tier and the higher tier sell well since many people are more selective where they invest their money. I become more creative when things are slow. I look for avenues, venues, new opportunities. This is not the time to slow down.

This is GREAT advice. I've been trying to do this myself recently. While my purchases of supplies have slowed, they have not stopped and I'm waiting impatiently on one order to arrive right now. I still have ideas and my creative juices are flowing.

My goal is different than many other artisans, as I'm not nearly as interested as pumping up my sales as I once was. Right now, my goal is slow and steady, with as little stress as possible.

But since I'm going to be creating I might as well offer those creations for sale, right? =)

One piece of advice that I would give - do NOT lower your prices just to try to make a sale. You undercut yourself and devalue your work, which is not fair to you or to other artists.

If you feel you need a lower price point try to think of something that you can make that you could price lower, but still make a profit. But don't lower the price on your current work just because it isn't moving as fast as you'd like. And don't skimp on quality to try to lower the price. You'll ruin your reputation faster than you can ever rebuild it.

Value yourself and your work and others inevitably will too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Sale!

I had my very first sale from my 1000 Markets shop. It's very exciting! =)

That is much faster turn around than when I first joined Etsy. My first sale there took several months and I've only been on 1000 Markets for a few weeks now.

If you are on 1000 Markets, what has your experience been with sales? I found it a bit overwhelming at first.

The e-mail notification of the sale arrived almost 12 hours after the initial sale. I hope that doesn't reflect badly on me. I didn't get the notice until this morning, but it arrived in my in-box last night around 10 p.m. The sale took place at 8 a.m. in the morning.

The other thing I'm used to is contacting people via e-mail after they make a purchase. But there's no e-mail address provided to me. Very sneaky! =) All communication is done via 1KM. And that is just took me a moment to figure it out.

So when you get a sale, you actually have to go into the website and "confirm" the order. This will send an e-mail to the customer. I wish they had a place to include a note to the customer. I needed to tell her something and had to use the "contact" button to send her a message through 1KM. So the customer got two e-mails instead of just one. It'd be nice if they made a spot for notes when you confirm.

Now I just need to make the items and get them ready to ship. Then I will click the shipped button, where I do have the opportunity to leave a note.

Something that I'm used to is printing shipping labels through Paypal, but since 1KM uses Amazon as a merchant processor I will have to go back to using Which is fine, but I felt a little more protected through Paypal. If a customer disputes something through their credit card (which was charged to Amazon) I don't know how protected I am. With paypal, if you used their shipping process and got delivery confirmation you were (supposedly) safer.

It's definitely a learning process, but having a sale so soon is incredibly encouraging to me and gives me more motivation to move more of my work to my 1000 Markets shop. =)

1000 Finds - Cakebox Cookies

My mouth is watering. I love cookies. LOVE them. And when they're pretty and tasty ... what could be better?

The cookies by Cakebox Cookies look delicious. The obvious care and attention put into the details - and her fabulous photos - grabbed my attention right away.

All of her cookies are handmade and hand iced. There is nothing yummier than a shortbread sugar cookie with frosting.

Maybe I'll order these cookies as a way to tell my mom and mother in law about our new addition. *grin*

She's got some simple cookies too, but I absolutely love her frosted fancy cookies.

Cooking out of a fully licensed, health office inspected, kitchen it's hard to go wrong ordering cookies from Cakebox Cookies. I'll be putting my order in soon!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Something Simple

Sometimes simple is the way to go.

I went to a gem and jewelry show last November (wow, has it been that long already!?!) and was there for one thing and one thing only. So of course I came home with new goodies that weren't on my list. *grin*

Including some incredible shell pieces that caught my eye and stuck in my mind so much that I had to search for the vendor after I'd passed him the first time. I don't do that very often.

This particular vendor actually hand crafts the amazing pieces in their factory - and was even working on some pieces right there. I picked up a couple of interesting cabs as well as some other shell pieces that I had to have.

These mother of pearl starfish are hand created ... each and every little dimple is made by a person. They weren't cheap because of this but I knew I needed to bring a couple home. The necklace already sold but I still have the earrings.

I also brought home these gorgeous Paua shell square shaped ... things. Not sure what to call them. They aren't beads and they aren't necessarily pendants, though I did use one in as a pendant. They could be used for really big earrings too though.

Aren't the colors incredible? They are even more vivid in person. I had to play around with the wire wrapping but I think it turned out okay.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gearing up for St Valentine

Are you pushing sales for Valentine's Day? Sending out special newsletters or offering discounts? Reminding people that they have less than two weeks left to shop!?!

I'm not. I haven't ever really pushed hard to sell for this holiday because it's not a holiday that I need to celebrate.

Don't get me wrong ... I love all the hearts and love and all that junk (oh and the chocolate but since I'm not eating chocolate this year it's just a painful reminder). *grin* Ffor me, it's not necessary to force hubby to buy me things for this one day. Besides that, I'm really cheap ... not to mention there's not much he could buy me that I wouldn't already have bought myself. And he knows that.

I had a coworker once get mad at her husband for not buying her flowers from a "real" flower shop. He'd gone to Costco and gotten one of those awesome bouquets ... saving at least $60. And she got MAD. Seriously!?! How messed up is that? If my hubby bought me ANY flowers I'd wonder what was going on, but I'd never get mad.

For me, making sales is great and if people are buying my jewelry to give for Valentine's Day then that is awesome. I'm not exactly pushing it though. I'd rather people buy things for Birthdays and anniversaries.

Although, even then I'm weird ... hubby and I rarely celebrate our anniversary. *grin* We're such stick in the muds!

Now that I think about it though I probably should get my newsletter sent out ... it's been a few months and I haven't sent one out yet for the year at all. Oops.