Monday, May 31, 2010

GIVEAWAY - Beantown Handmade Big Bloom DOG COLLAR - CLOSED

AND THE WINNER IS: PamWares!

Chosen by random.org
True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 62
Result:
14

Beantown Handmade is the wonderful shop of Anne and Michael in Nebraska and their beloved Bean.

They make the highest quality handmade pet apparel and accessories.

Anne and Michael design apparel for dogs, not people clothes for dogs. The dog's safety, comfort, warmth, ease of movement, and yes even their pride are Beantown's top priorities ... and then they make them cute!

At Beantown Handmade if Bean won't wear it, they won't sell it!

They even donate a portion of their proceeds to animal rescue organizations all over the country.



We are so lucky to have one of their amazing collars for this week's giveaway!

WHAT YOU GET:

One lucky winner will receive a gorgeous BIG BLOOM dog collar in your pup's size and color below!



HOW TO WIN:

Visit Beantown Handmade and let Bean know which item you like best!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

DRAWING:

Enter by midnight, Sunday June 6th! Good luck! CLOSED

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Finds - Father's Day Goodies!

Photobucket

1. abercrombie & kent extreme adventures
2. streamline fly fishing kit
3. buckyballs magnetic building spheres
4. into thin air
5. best made co. pocket ax
6. leatherman juice tool
7. RC desktop forklift
8. fossil watch
9. sperry top siders
10. xenotees father's day t-shirt set

Another weekly stack of goodies brought to us by photographer and extreme stacker of all things stackable Kella MacPhee

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What's Your Racquet? - Tennis Racquet to Cork Board DIY Tutorial


Recently I picked up a couple racquets at a local flea market.

I had seen some tennis racquet mirrors on Apartment Therapy some time ago and I loved them, but knew working with mirrored glass would definitely be seven years bad luck for me, so thought I would try a similar kind of thing with cork.

So here is an easy, peasy tutorial to turn your old racquet into a cork board message center.

You can make them with or without a fabric covering - I am making these two as a gift and this fabric is perfect for the tennis nut I am thinking about.

You will need:

1. racquet(s)
2. cork
3. fabric
4. cardboard
5. paper
6. staplegun
7. scissors
8. screwdriver
9. glazier points


1. Create a paper template by making dots along the inside edge of the racquet
2. Adjust your template until it fits perfectly inside the racquet
3. Use the template to cut the cork and a piece of cardboard
4. Iron your fabric and using a staple gun wrap the fabric around the cork and cardboard; secure tightly
5. Using glazier points (used in framing) and a screwdriver secure the corkboard into the racquet



Note- those framed prints in my livingroom (top photo) are by the amazing f2images!

1. Vintage tennis racquets at BrightWallVintage
2. Art for Dogs by StrayDogArts
3. Short white skirt by LaBronz
4. Tennis ball cufflinks by QA Create
5. Tennis ball bath bomb by Layla
6. Cats Playing Badminton Brooch by Bramble and Bear

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When Big Things Don't Seem To Be Working Maybe Try Fixing the Little Things


A few years ago hubby and I "remodeled" the kitchen. We started out with some very big ideas about what we wanted. The must haves were more space and to have everything actually work.

(we have always lived in small spaces and the idea of "space" felt like luxury to us, plus more counterspace could mean that some food might actually get prepared here

and we had so many appliances at the time that only "sort of" worked and we were tired of tinkering with them)


But, somehow as our "remodel" progressed and the numbers we were spending were feeling a bit too extravagant for our little house - our plans began to change.

Instead of replacing the cabinets (and they needed replacing) I added faux panels to the cabinet fronts and painted them and instead of that recycled glass countertop I'd had my eye on -

George made our countertop out of mini ceramic tiles and wood.

So, based on the idea of not over-doing things in our house because ... well ... really, because we are not the kind of people who over-do things and our house is just not the kind of house where over-done things are done

(Suze Orman would have been so proud of us)

we kind of remodeled and we kind of didn't.

Now, we ended up with a perfectly good kitchen,

but as the years have gone by the problem with things not working has crept up on us again and of course, we never really did get the extra space; that feeling of spaciousness that meant abundance to us.

I know that saving money and resources are good things and absolutely have a place.

For some people, who spend money unconsciously, these can be hard lessons to learn ... but spending our money on things we value is a good thing, too.

It’s about teaching ourselves what abundance feels like.


And what it feels like to you and what it feels like to me and what it feels like to Donald Trump are all totally different things.

(unless your hair is 10 inches longer on one side than the other side and flips over your head, too, but somehow I don't think it does)

Anyhoo, because our cabinets got a facelift and not a new face,

(or maybe more like a makeover at the Sephora test counter- which by the way are all totally contaminated- did you see the news on that?)

the cabinet doors once again were not closing exactly right and the silverware drawers both had to be shaken and moved around to get them into their proper slots every time they were opened.

So, this weekend because I have been thinking about what I value and that feeling of wealth that comes to me from things working properly (I have some thoughts on the "space" issue, too) we planed our cabinet doors and added magnets, so they stay closed when we want them to.

We installed new slides for our silverware drawers so they open quietly and smoothly now.

They close with a gentle and quiet “swish.” I experience happiness every time I open and close them. I feel abundant.

(now you may be thinking here is a girl who doesn't ask for much and this would not be true)

But, I have made a shift in my thinking- a little shift, but a powerful shift that I expect things in my environment to work properly; that I deserve that.

Now, I do not think we should all run out and run up our credit cards and renovate our kitchens and our lives in the most expensive ways possible, but I am saying that making the choices that allow us to live more abundantly is a part of creating a more abundant life for ourselves.

(I wish I had figured this out before our "remodel".)

If we are surrounded by things that don't work for us, is it any wonder when our lives are not working either?

(now, I have to issue a warning here because it is my experience that what we focus on grows so it is important to focus on the feeling of plenty, of ease, of having things work the way we want them to work- if we focus on the problems, we will only see more and more problems- so not to sound all magical thinking here, but - see the problem, see the solution, fix the problem and then focus of the feeling of abundance that comes from the thing working properly - so that feeling of expanse in your life is what grows and not your to-do list)

And because it is Wednesday and I just spent way too much time in line at Whole Foods (we still don't have one near me - BAH) I feel the need for 1 LITTLE WHINE -

I had just stopped in to check out the store and pick up a little lunch for myself and was lugging my...er...salad, yeah, my salad, toward the cash register and, of course, as is my custom, selected the line that immediately come to a complete standstill.

A very angry woman was demanding a price check. She was wearing a sweatshirt that read "Recycling is Resexy" (huh?) and was trying to get me to complain about the sales girl along with her.

So, even though I am in agreement that re-cycling is re-sexy, I think, I was having trouble joining in her "outrage", because 1. the store was amazing 2. the cashier looked to be about 75 years old and ...

3. I could see Resexy's purchase at the end of the conveyor belt and it was a bit ... odd -

Five boxes of organic tampons; five boxes of organic tampons carefully stacked into a pyramid.

So, of course (because of how strangely my mind works) I am thinking about what kind of "ingredients" would constitute organic in this type of product and what size uterus someone would need to have to require 5 boxes.

Even though I have no idea about the size of my own uterus (golfball, softball, football?) and this is just really not something I want to be pondering before eating my stromboli ... I mean salad.

Eventually a manager was called, Resexy got her discount, took her five boxes and left. I wanted to suggest that next time, she should maybe skip the long lines at Whole Foods and just buy a roll of insulation at the Home Depot -

(would that be organic?)

but, maybe that woman's feeling of abundance comes from knowing she is well stocked for any type of monthly emergency in the same way mine comes from silverware drawers that go "swish".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Take 10 Tuesday - Some Stuff You Don't Want to Miss

1. Love this Tea Cup Bird Feeder tutorial at Cap Creations.

2. Crafty Pod has a great podcast on Creative Commons Licensing with Martin Ertl and Kim Werker

3. Opportunities You Should Turn Down at ArtBiz Blog

4. What Would You Keep, If You Had to Pay to Keep It post over at Productive Flourishing.

5. Kaboodle announced designer/writer/blogger Mary Andrews (AKA MaryMary of Etsy) is joining them as a guest editor where she will be blogging about all things Etsy- she also makes the coolest pocket knife necklaces if you haven't seen them.

6. What's Your Label? - interesting post and follow-ups from Tara at Scoutie Girl.

7. 8 Great Videos to Inspire You to Draw More on Michael Nobbs blog.

8. 9 Easy Steps to an Organic Garden at the Daily Green

9. Crafty Business Resource List over at One Pretty Thing (thanks for the tweet Piddix)

10. If you haven't seen Spruce Home's process video on Etsy's blog - you have to check this out - it is one of my all-time favorites! These girls are flippin' amazing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

GIVEAWAY - PeaseBlossom Studio Handmade Leather Journal! CLOSED


AND THE WINNER IS Ali!

Chosen by random.org True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 548
Result:
480

Caroline is the amazing and self-taught linocut artist and book binder who makes prints and books with traditional printmaking and bookbinding methods in the wonderful shop PeaseBlossom Studio!

She loves working with paper and leather and also loves calligraphy, collage, painting, drawing - she loves it all!

Caroline is a self-taught calligrapher as well and her calligraphy is currently featured in the Washington Calligraphers Guild Perpetual Calendar.

Her stunning hand sewn journals are perfect for your writing, sketching, scheming, and dreaming!


We are so lucky to have one of her amazing pieces for this week's giveaway!

WHAT YOU GET:

One lucky winner will receive this gorgeous handmade leather journal- the traveler- in sky blue and mint!




HOW TO WIN:

Visit PeaseBlossom Studio and leave a comment below letting Caroline know which item you like best!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

DRAWING:

Enter by midnight, Sunday May 30th! Good luck! CLOSED

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Finds - proof in advertising that the good old days weren't always good


Well, my trusty Friday Finds girl, Kella MacPhee is off shooting a wedding in South Carolina, so I have collected some proof of what I have long suspected and what your mother probably never told you - the good old days weren't always good (hopefully no one is putting any of these on a scrabble tile pendant).






Thursday, May 20, 2010

No More Wire Hangers! but first you can use one to make a business card or place card holder


You can easily use a wire hanger and turn almost anything into a business card holder, place card holder or photo holder.

Here I use a little vintage child's block, but anything you can drill 2 holes in, will probably work!

What you need:

1. a wire hanger
2. wire cutters (I use these to cut sheet metal, so they are heavy duty, but smaller ones will work, too)
3. something round such as a foam brush handle, pencil, etc
4. a drill
5. your block or holder
6. your business card or photo


Using wire cutters cut 6-7" of straight wire
Wrap the wire tightly around your foam brush handle or pencil twice
Give a squeeze with a pair of pliers (I actually stepped on mine, but this seems more professional) to flatten your wires
Mark your drill holes by measuring each side of your handle (or whatever you used as your rolling template)
Drill 2 holes, push in your wire ends, add your business card

You can use the same wire technique to make place card holders or recipe card holders out of your salt and pepper shakers- if the wire hanger wire is too thick, you can use 18 gauge wire from the hardware store or you can even cut down large safety pins! Just use a round winding template that is the thickness of the space in between the holes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Part III - 10 Lessons I Learned from the Circus Sideshow or what the trapeze artists taught me about flying without a net (see parts I & II below)


The mall got so busy that I could never leave the cart. My sister started coming in on on her lunch hour so I could run to the restroom. She just pretended she knew what she was doing while I was gone. Once, a customer said to her, "You don't really work here, do you? You have no idea what you are doing, do you?" She just smiled. Luckily, she is pretty cute.

Lesson 7 - Don't Be Afraid to Make Mistakes; try to make them once and then move on to new mistakes.

I made alot of mistakes. I had no idea how much inventory I would need and spent alot of money having supplies overnighted to me and buying frames at Michael's. I took a large check from someone who gave me a really bad feeling and, of course, it bounced. I lost my mind one night and had an actual tug-of-war with a customer over a frame.

Lesson 8 - Get the Important Things Right

I did alot of things right. My products were unique and hit the right price points for impulse (and last minute desperation) purchases. I had easy to fill out order forms on clipboards and when I was busy, customers figured out how to fill these out without me and even helped each other.

I never closed early. I never opened late. I never unpacked during mall hours (which was against the rules) even when I saw other cart people doing it.

I parked on the far edges of the parking lot everyday even though I was pushing heavy hand trucks with glass and frames and even though I saw the other cart people grabbing front row parking spaces.

(to be honest - this was partly an attempt to offset the Cinnabon 3 meal a day plan I was on, since it was the only food source within running distance of my cart)

I learned quickly that nothing draws a crowd like a crowd and had my daughter and hubby ooh and aah over my stuff and pretend to be customers.

I offered a full satisfaction guarantee so if something was spelled wrong by a customer, I would remake it. If they dropped their frame, I would replace the glass. If they changed their mind, I would give them their money back. These things rarely, rarely ever happen so making satisfaction guarantees is easy.

(this is how all that junk that is sold on TV at 2am works- they know they can offer the guarantee because so few people will take them up on it- not that I was selling junk, but I knew my customers were buying gifts and the receivers were not likely to return them ... and none did)

One day a very old man stopped by my cart and he could see that I was busy and he was a retired businessman and very intrigued by my little business and he asked me which item was my biggest seller.

"My biggest seller is my lowest priced item. My small matted print for $12.00"

"Get rid of it", he said.

"Huh?"

"People are buying this for its uniqueness- force them to buy your next price point."


He said some other stuff and I found this old guy very interesting, but of course, I didn't want to do anything as dramatic as eliminating my top seller.

There came a day though, a couple weeks later, when I ran out of 8X10 mats and customers had to buy the 11X14 matted prints for $18.00 - and of course, it was my top money making day ever - when told I was out of stock of the 8X10's every single customer bought the 11X14!

Lesson 9 - I am not sure what this lesson is- maybe listen to the old guy/gal because there is alot to be said for experience

So, to get to the finish line here- I made alot of money in a couple months (I did not gross $100,000, but I did net in 2 months about what I had made the entire year before) and it allowed me to focus on my real crafts the rest of the year without stressing too much about sales.

I did the holiday mall carts for a few more years until one year when things had been slowing down alot a smart high school girl working for me told me her mother made $30,000 selling Beanie Babies on Ebay. Ebay? I'd never heard of it. Now I didn't jump into Beanie Babies, thank goodness, but I did truck my butt over to Ebay.

The "cart people" became my friends, even PinkPatty who actually found me a shade of lipstick I didn't hate. We had all bonded over slow times and crazy busy times. It must be like what happens to soldiers who go to war.

(well, except for the mortal danger and saving people's lives parts of it)

And, even though he didn't do very well that year, I saw the Friendly Folks guy at another mall a couple years later. He had higher prices and HUGE Any Name Here laminated signs.

I think the final lesson learned from my sideshow days is knowing when it's time to move on.

Lesson 10 - Know When to Fold 'Em

I see people at craft shows year after year with the same stuff complaining about how the show just isn't what it used to me. This could be true in some cases.

But, sometimes the seller is just too much what they used to be.


I have a friend who paints mailboxes. She paints flowers on plastic mailboxes. The same flowers she has painted for years. She sells less and less every year.

I have said to her- why don't you make something else into a mailbox or paint something else. When I saw vinyl lettering- I called her all excited- this is what you need to do with your mailboxes- you can do anything with this stuff!

She said she'd look into it. I just got a craft show invitation from her with pictures of painted mailboxes on it, plastic mailboxes, plastic mailboxes with flowers. It is sometimes hard to let go.

I never really missed the sideshow. It was nice to get my holidays back. And, I learned some priceless lessons about business and myself that I am pretty sure only the sideshow peeps could have taught me-

including how bigger isn't always better- the next year I did 2 malls, overstaffed (forgot my own Lesson 3) and netted less money - and that sometimes the best band-aid for a bad situation is an actual band-aid, like when my niece Miranda sliced her finger open when framing a print and I duct taped her up until we slowed down and she could go to the hospital

But it did teach her Lesson 5 - the no crying one - which I'm pretty sure is the reason for her success today and that she should probably be forking over a sizeable weekly percentage of her earnings to me for teaching her this so young.

I only wish I had learned the really useful sideshow stuff, like juggling some flaming hula hoops or walking on stilts or spinning plates on sticks all of which would make my family take my weekly threats to run away and join the circus alot more seriously ...


1. The Case of Shooting Charlotte necklace by Glowstoes
2. LOVE Pillow by PillowPallozza
3. Coney Island Carnivale photo by Depuis, also available on a locket
4. Couture necklace by Untamed Menagerie
5. Revival Boy vintage object sculpture by Artsy and she has locket, too
6. Life is a Balancing Act- original circus painting by Junkyard Glitter
7. Ike- the Strong Man Dog postcard by Le French Circus
8. Circus Tent pendant by RiskyBeads

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Part II - 10 Lessons I Learned from the Circus Sideshow or what the sword swallower taught me about making money

So, I set up my cart on Halloween after the mall had closed and I was very happy with my display and I started walking around checking out my cart and signage from various angles and distances when suddenly ... I spied about 100 feet or so away from me ...

(maybe 1000 feet, maybe 10 feet, I am bad with things like this)

another cart selling prints and as I got closer I realized they were .. personalized prints ... uh, wasn't I selling personalized prints?!

Now, they were cartoon pictures with very simple illustrations (not the same prints I was selling) called Friendly Folks or something or other. And the prices were 20% less than my prices and the guy selling them was super nice

(the Friendly Folks people really got their money's worth with this guy)


and having been warned about "the cart people" he brought DONUTS!

Lesson 4- Bring treats (it can never hurt to be really nice to people and people always remember the guy who brought the donuts or the girl who baked the cupcakes- note- I was not that girl)

The first few weeks were very slow. The "cart people" were up in arms that the mall wasn't doing enough to bring in better foot traffic and they were complaining about the crazy high rents. I instinctively didn't join in the whining (well, maybe on Wednesdays)- something was telling me that my stuff was cool. Something was telling me to stay positive. People would find me. I would be ok (maybe not $100,000 ok, but ok, anyway).

(although everytime I saw a customer walking around with one of those Friendly Folks personalized prints wrapped up all, well, friendly-like under their arm I did get a little knot in my stomach - luckily I was close enough to the Cinnabon store to iron out that knot with a little pastry)

Lesson 5 - There's no Crying in Baseball Retail (or whining about business being slow because the complaining is re-active and when things get tough you need to be pro-active)

(the donut guy lowered his prices - they were now 30% lower than mine- I made bigger arrows)

Soon, it was Black Friday- I had always heard this was the busiest shopping day of the year and I was ready .. sort of. The day came and things definitely picked up- the mall was packed, but I did some quick math and realized if that was my busiest day, I wasn't going to be making alot of any money.

Luckily, that busiest day of the year thing turned out to be not true and my sales went up and up everyday. The mall hours got longer and longer. I was exhausted.

The mall management told me that a very busy day was approaching; it was Macy's last one day sale of the season and my cart was right outside of Macy's main entrance. They warned me that I needed help. I didn't listen.

That night with a line wrapping around my cart and past the cosmetics counters of Macys, I called my brother and managed to sputter out just one word - "HELP" - he was there within minutes. I have never forgotten it (thank you Vinnie).

I think I would have had a breakdown if he had been at the movies or the gym or cutting his toenails or something.

The rest of the night flew by. I was down to one frame and one mat. My last customer was buying a picture of a red, white and blue uniformed hockey player which she had personalized with her son's name and number. That last mat was mint green, the last frame was hot pink. I framed her picture and turned it toward her. I couldn't even look her in the eye.

"Gorgeous. I love it!" - she exclaimed.

Vinnie and I high fived each other (I was so thankful to live in Jersey).

Lesson 6 - Get help. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You can't do it alone. Studies show that providing support is just as important as getting support. People like to help. I know I like to help.

(well, unless someone asks me to do something I don't really want to do and since I am a wee bit lazy and most things are a wee bit efforty, this could include alot of things, unfortunately)

Seriously though, I am often quite helpful.

Part III tomorrow- I will wrap up our week under the big top by answering those burning questions and my final 4 lessons, which I am pretty certain you will not want to miss- unless you have something better to do like a root canal or a makeover from your mother-in-law or something ...

penelope the sword swallower print from thestapeliacompany

Monday, May 17, 2010

Part I - 10 Lessons I Learned from the Circus Sideshow or what the bearded lady taught me about making money

I used to sell things from carts in malls. This was quite a few years ago when people still did most of their shopping there,

before the internet, I guess.

(or before anyone knew about the internet)

When did Al Gore invent that anyway?

(actually, I love Al Gore and he didn't say he "invented" the internet- he said he created it and he did support funding for it while in Congress. I wouldn't quite say he "created" it either, but I do forgive him because his book, "Earth in the Balance" rocked my world)

It started when I bought a business that I knew nothing about.

(I think it is easier to be fearless when you are young and have nothing to lose- it is harder and even more important that we continue to live fearlessly when we are maybe not so young)

All I knew is that this business looked pretty cool to me and I'd never seen anything like it and I was out of work and I had been selling things I made at craft shows and not making much money and I needed a change.

(preferably something that didn't include going door to door with cosmetic samples wearing opaque stockings and the wrong shade of lipstick)

The business was called Dream Scenes. Dream Scenes were personalized matted prints (there was a photo of a jet plane and I would put any name on the jet so the picture looked like the buyer owned a jet plane or a photo of Madison Square Garden where I would put any words on the marquee, you get the idea).

This is something that a 5th grader could Photoshop today, but you will have to trust me that this was very cutting edge at the time.

So, I approached the local mall manager about a Christmas cart location (this was even before I bought the business, but I did have a few sample pictures and I just pretended it was my business).

It was late September (mall holiday spaces were booked by May, luckily I didn't know this at the time). The manager had been on maternity leave and was way behind with her bookings. She thought my Dream Scenes were pretty cool, too and offered me the best location in the mall.

(even though I was probably wearing opaque stockings and the wrong shade of lipstick).

Lesson 1 - Timing is Everything - sometimes things like this just fall into place and I think it is like a huge green light is flashing at us from the universe.

(now, I think this is kind of a beginner's luck thing - because maybe next time the universe will flash a yellow proceed with caution at you and sometimes a flashing red STOP to see how badly you really want something or sometimes STOP really does mean STOP - figuring out which is which is the tricky part)

Then she dropped a bombshell- the rent was $10,000 for 2 months!

As the blood rushed from my face, she told me that top products had grossed $100,000 in 2 months and I could pay the rent as I went along. So, even though $10,000 was about 2 zeros greater than any check I had ever written and $100,000 sounded like a gazillion and I couldn't even factor it into my thinking-

I gulped, signed the lease, went home, bought the business and started cutting mats (the only part I already knew how to do).

(now I realize that things like rent are negotiable and I should have been negotiating that rent, but in those days I couldn't even negotiate my way into a parallel parking space and didn't even think of it)

Lesson 2 - When You Decide to Jump, Jump With Both Feet- you don't want to end up doing one of those "one leg in, one leg out" hokey-pokey things- where you will almost certainly fall on your ass. You have a better chance of a good landing with both feet. Commit.

The mall manager also told me that the year-round "cart people" were a pretty tight group, kind of like a side show circus within the larger circus of the mall. They wouldn't like me coming in at the last minute and grabbing the best space and I would have to get along with them.


(they had names like PinkPatty and HeatPress and OneEyedMac - I had dreams of being a barker in a traveling circus and slapping back cast iron skillets filled with greasy bacon and bottles of whiskey for breakfast - sometimes my performers would get mad at me and threaten to quit my circus and shave their beards, surgically remove their twins or slice off their snake's extra head)

Anyhoo, I set up on Halloween night with my cool new product and my gigantic laminated arrows that read ANY NAME HERE and pointed to the part of the picture that could be personalized (the cart people quickly christened me "anynamehere girl"). I had a brand new MAC and color printer (cutting edge in its day) that I was totally unfamiliar with.

(in fact, one day I had a paper jam and I couldn't get the top back on the printer after clearing the jam- my customer had to tell me I was trying to put the cover on backwards)

Lesson 3 - Sometimes you have to figure things out as you go along, you can't prepare for everything

(now it is good to be prepared, but if you are the kind of person who has to prepare for every eventuality- well, things may not ever go terribly wrong for you, but they may not ever go terribly right either)

Now, this is getting a bit lengthy, even for me, and I do have 10 valuable lessons to share here, so will continue this series tomorrow as I let the suspense build- ask yourself - Will Cat make $100,000 in 2 months? Will PinkPatty find Cat the correct shade of lipstick? Will Cat figure out how to change the ink in her printer? I hope you are not reading this late at night because I know you will be up for hours pondering these questions - please don't hate me for this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Finds - Birds of a Feather ....

"The word pigeon brings to mind images of quirky birds scavenging for crumbs on city streets, but perhaps the next time you see a pigeon consider they have saved thousands of soldiers lives during 2 world wars, have carried messages to the ancient egyptians and can travel up to 100 miles per hour for hours at a time! This amazing and bold bird has much to teach us about the things we consider ordinary in our lives!"

a little pigeon love selected by Kella MacPhee

1. pigeons by andrew blechman
2. jailbird pigeon print by poor dog farm
3. pigeon tote by my cute handbags
4. designed threads t-shirt
5. sophie blackall print
6. pigeon feather souvenir from brooklyn rehab
7. jackie lehmann print

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday - Too Many Choices

"... too many choices.

If it's thrilling to imagine the wide open spaces, go for it.

If it's slowing you down and keeping you up at night, consider artificially limiting your choices.

Don't get on planes. Don't do spec work. Don't work for jerks. Work on paper, not on film. Work on film, not on video. Don't work weekends.

Whatever rule you want ...

But no matter what, don't do nothing."

Conversation by Seth, Photo by SuzanneMarie

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Value Pricing for the Designer/Maker - something else to whine about on Wednesday

As makers we typically underprice ourselves. Several factors have converged on me lately that have forced me to relook at my pricing.

I did my taxes- ugh!

My online retail prices are forcing me into lower wholesale price points than I can work with as the wholesale percentage of my business grows.

And, I read an article about my work that said I "simply solder" a little eyehook to a car part with a soldering iron and visit a hardware store.

Now the writer of that article was talking about ingenuity and simplicity in form and function and meant no disrepect to me or my work, but it did make me realize that my price points and my own language about my process (I have never used a soldering iron in my life) reflected a certain value to her.

(it is totally up to me as a maker working with recycled and lower cost materials to educate people about the process that goes into each piece and the design behind the piece that adds to that value)

as well as the fact that "simple" design leaves the maker with no place to hide imperfections and isn't usually anywhere near as "simple" as it appears

Pricing our work is a complicated part of this handmade journey and a process for most of us.

Mistakes I've made with my pricing:

1. I did not think about wholesale pricing when I set my retail prices.

2. I set my prices based on my own pocketbook (which was likely empty at the time; it usually is)

and 3. Because I am related to a talented artist and could not see myself in the same way- I didn't understand my own skill set.

Bottom line- I didn't see my own value. And, I didn't see the potential wholesale problems with my pricing.

The mistakes I made are all about my own mindset and I have been adjusting them over time ever since.

I would say to hubby- but I can make X amount in X amount of time and he would say, "right, because you have done this thousands of times, other people can't- your customer can't".

As you become better and better at what you do, you will usually get faster and more productive. Does the fact that you work faster mean that you should charge less? Where else do we expect to pay less for experience?

This is why you can't just calculate your actual production time (although you must know how long things take you to produce).

And what about all the time it takes to do the kind of things we need to do to grow our businesses- how do we calculate that time in, when it is often more time than the actual making?

Factoring in our direct costs (raw materials), indirect costs (taxes, overhead, fees, etc) and labor time for each piece (production, marketing, packing, shipping, etc) is a good place to start with our pricing.

And then we need to take a look at the more complex issue of value.

Pricing needs to take into account all these varied aspects.

What is the value of your work to the customer?

Maybe starting at the end zone is a good idea -

(and working through a pricing exercise)

the price my item would sell for in a retail store that my target customer would be shopping in.

Value will take into account what other items are selling for in the marketplace, the uniqueness and skill set of our work and materials and the fact that our work is handmade and designed.

(we need to factor in costs and labor time when pricing our handmade work and we need to think about value, too - what is the value to our customer?)

I recently asked a few boutique owners (that I do not wholesale with, but have my target customer) what my product would sell for in their shops. I would recommend this if you struggling with the value component of your productline.

I will likely need to reduce costs by 10-15% and increase prices by 10-20% to get to a place where I can focus on wholesale. I want to stay fair to my retail customers (by doing what I can to reduce costs and expenses), but learn to be fair to myself, too.

One easy fix - in my Polarity shop I have always charged less for my small lockets even though they cost me exactly the same amount and take me exactly the same amount of time to make as the regular size locket.

A customer buying a medium size shirt in a department store would not expect to pay more than someone buying a small shirt. It is me who has trained my customer to see this as the way it should be by the way I have set up my pricing. No one buys my smaller locket because it costs less- they just want a smaller locket.

(and I will also be changing the wording in my locket listings from "I solder" to I clean, drill, braze with a flame at 800 degrees, grind, paint, polish and seal - well, maybe not exactly that- I don't want to put anyone to sleep, but maybe something that reflects the actual nature of the work a little bit better)

*sigh*

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Take 10 Tuesday- some cool stuff you might have missed last week!


1. Yes, that's cork and yes, I am totally excited that Brazilian design firm Oiti are working with it in such an amazingly, unique way!

2. Amanda over at kindovermatter is taking a little break to have a baby! Her and Jenn are the nicest gals with the nicest crafty blog out there!

3. For the most amazing recipes from the most amazing jewelry designer- check out Lillyella's blog and be prepared for some yummilicious goodies!

4. The 7 Deadly Website Sins from Kirsty Hall - I may be committing a couple of these - hopefully not the mortal ones.

5. Loving the amazing studio series over at Art21 - they are seeking donations of as little as $1.00 to keep this all happening

6. Fearless launches e-mag- you will love this!

7. What WE can do about the Gulf Oil Spill

8. The Undeniable Imperative of Community over at the Indie Business Blog

9. The amazing Stephanie Fizer's ecourse Flourish starts May 31st!

10. Noelle from Xenotees great interview for Etsy about quitting her day job and she even mentions me, she's a sweetie!

Monday, May 10, 2010

GIVEAWAY - It's an ECO Etsy Paper Goods Extravaganza! 2 Winners This Week! CLOSED

AND THE WINNERS ARE- CHOSEN BY RANDOM.ORG

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 506
Result:
276

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 506
Result:
440

Anja and ThePricklyPinecone!

Team EcoEtsy is a group of Etsy sellers dedicated to reducing, reusing and recycling and for this week's giveaway, I am offering up my Earth Day auction winnings to be divided between TWO LUCKY WINNERS!

The prizes include:

Journal by Monkey Dog Studio

Recycled Mag Note Card Sets by BrassPaperClip

Eco Art Prints by TanisAlexis

Paint Sample Notebooks by PrairiePeasant

Cards by GreenEarthGoodies

Art Prints by Tanjasova

Origami Plants by Paper Disciple

A reusable T-Shirt Bag from zJayne

These items have a retail value of $130.00 which will be divided between the TWO WINNERS!


HOW TO WIN:

Visit one of these amazing shops and let the seller know your favorite item!

For additional entries:

(5) Follow my blog
(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Visit a different seller's shop(s) and list a favorite item

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

DRAWING:

MIDNIGHT on Sunday, May 23th! Good luck!! CLOSED