Monday, January 30, 2012

does etsy "success" = exhaustion? the nasty little by-product of selling what you make online ...

Maybe it's the cold weather
(although it hasn't been all that cold here),

the shortened days
(although they're getting longer)

or my own natural inclination to work until collapse

(in a 24/7 selling environment that doesn't really allow for collapse this is not a good model - unless of course you are prepared to really collapse, like into a great big old mahogany box with a velvet liner)

but an awful lot of Etsy sellers are using a 10 letter "e" word to describe their state of mind lately.

And it ain't "exhilerated" (which is 11 letters actually).

I have said it before and I will say it again - this is all a great deal of work

(and before you think I am a big whiner - although hello ... this is not news folks, I did devote 427 42 Wednesdays of my life to the art of whining or maybe that was wining - I need the corks remember, but whining is reactive and I am determined to be proactive here - how do we fix this?!)

No matter how we sell our makings online we have to - market ourselves, create relationships, take amazing pictures, basically make ourselves stand out among the thousands/millions/gazillions

(where the hell are all these people coming from anyway)

of other makers creating amazing makings and doing the same things we are.

(if you have been doing this for awhile just hearing me say it out loud can make you tired and cranky and reaching for your Snugli and I should add that if you do read my posts out loud I am from New Jersey and should be read with a Carmella Soprano 'foget-about-it' inflection)

There are 5 ways to make money on Etsy:

(maybe more I appear to be out of fingers)

1. Vintage - If you sell vintage items you do not have to do the making part, but you do have to do the finding part and the research of pricing part and the take amazing pictures part and you need to figure out the correct shipping charge and get yourself the proper packaging for your oddly shaped whosee whatsee and oh yes, since your items are one of a kind there is no renew button for you my dear ... sorry.

2. Large Batches - If you do your makings in large batches you will likely work really hard for a certain period of time making your fabulousness and then work less during the shipping phase of your process, but you will likely have to have a very good handle on inventory and supplies and what will sell

(I recommend a magic 8-ball for this or some market research I have found them to be equally inaccurate)

or you will be sitting on alot of excess inventory and miss out on sales when you run out of stock.

3. One at a time - if you do your makings in small batches or one at a time, well, you will just be making your makings all the time and the busier you get the more you will need to get a handle on time management and pricing or ... well, I think your head could explode actually ... this is my makings model and I have been known to discover little pieces of brain matter all over my studio, luckily, being the creative professional I am, my brain matter is always in pantone's latest colors, so at least it's pretty brain matter - my apologies if you are reading this while eating lunch, but yes, art is messy, folks ...

4. Make something once and sell it again and again - paint a picture - sell prints, take a photo - sell copies, design a dress - hire someone else to sew it. This is kind of my dream maker business model (sigh)- the make something once and sell it over and over again model - but will not work for everyone. I do think there are ways to incorporate some of this into any of the models though.

Of course, there is also supply selling on Etsy (5) which involves mostly buying things in large batches and selling them in smaller batches for a profit. The pitfall being that you could end up doing an awful lot of work for not an awful lot of money. You really need to know your profit margins and what your competition (you will undoubtedly have alot) is doing.

Anyhoo, I have been talking to some successful shops who sell in these various models for some great tips and tricks to avoid the dreaded "e" word. I will be posting them over the next two weeks - so check back starting on Friday for Vintage and (hopefully) Large Batch Makers.

* carry me by redbishop
* squirrel salt and pepper shakers by kella
* tshirt by xenotees
* map necklace by sherry truitt
* wish illustration by pale preoccupation

Thursday, January 26, 2012

choosy with choices - cut, concretize, categorize and condition




I have been listening to a TED talk while eating lunch lately and really loved this one and thought I'd share it - my favorite line to take away may be "choices should mean something to the chooser and not the choice maker" - the studies shown also make it a good listen for makers ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Affirmation # 5 - if you can't be a good example ... at least be a warning.

"learn to dance or the angels won't know what to do with you" ... saint augustine

I have been around the block a time or two.

(not in a bad way if you know what I mean and not in any way that involves running shoes and a water bottle - in fact if you see me running these days, it is pretty much guaranteed there is a large dog behind me or a small dog in front of me, but one way or the other it is pretty certain that a dog is involved somehow)

I have worked jobs with very long, stressful hours with alot of responsibility and headaches. I have had businesses that went places and some that went no place and all the work and craziness that was involved with all of that. But I was always able to separate my job title or business adventure from myself.

I was never really in it all the way.

And now I am.

In it all the way.

In a what you see is what you get, this gets so personal we know each other's underwear colors

(and styles - why do so many of us wear boyshorts?)

kind of way that is so terribly amazing and terribly rewarding and terribly exhausting.

So, I affirm we all give ourselves a break in 2012, take a little bit better care of ourselves (some of us alot better care of ourselves), dance a little more, work a little less and if we can't be a good example of what to do at least we can be a good example of what not to do

(this has always worked very well for me actually)

and maybe coax a few other makers to join us ....

* dance print by wallfry

** what I have learned this week about schizophrenia - alot - way too much to write about, but a very important thing is that schizophrenia often involves anosognosia which is a long scary word (doesn't it just look like a word you don't want to get to know, like the word chocolate, that one has always been trouble for me, too) for a person's inability to recognize or understand the nature of his illness, like with alzheimer's disease - it's not about denial - so interventions don't work, normal reasoning doesn't work and this little twist called "lack of insight" is like having the Himalayas between David and wellness.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the girl next door or you make a better door than you do a window or ... any song by Jim Morrison

I read that people with white doors (front doors) are most likely to have a tidy house, abhor mesess and like a clean and clinical, modern decor whereas people with green doors tend toward the exact opposite aesthetic and even have a tendency to be hoarders.

(yes, I have a green front door but I only hoard the really important stuff like magazines from the year everyone in my family was born - yes, I mean everyone, unused 35mm film - you never know - used Mallomar boxes - I find they reseal very nicely, make handy little containers and seeing them makes me happy during the summer months when the cookies are gone from the grocery store shelves - it's the little things, folks)


I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor? ... Mother Teresa

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door ... Ralph Waldo Emerson

When one door is closed, don't you know, another is open ... Bob Marley

Ten men waiting for me at the door?
Send one of them home, I'm tired ... Mae West


* for some reason the homegrown chaos has me obsessing over doors this week - the top picture is a door from an old hotel in Cape May that I snatched up to divide off my dining room (which is more of a dining nook actually) - the picture above is an old door, painted with an old bicycle shop logo that I have attached to an old white dresser (you might notice a few mistakes with the bicycle drawing - ack!)

xo =^..^=

Monday, January 16, 2012

putting the chiweagle controversy to bed once and for all ...

Sooo ... anyhoo ... Olive has been anxious

(ie pacing the studio and pawing at the mouse)

for me to make this announcement - her DNA results are in!

You may remember that back in the day a certain unnamed, nontrusting family member accused Olive of fabricating her heritage when this photo
<----- appeared in a google image search. This is not Olive. This is Dottie.

Dottie is a Chiweagle (chihuahah/beagle) and since Olive has always claimed to be a Boggle (boston terrier/beagle) but looks more like Dottie than Olive's Boggle buddy Ruby - we were all left wondering ...

(plus she is always googling Paris Hilton when I forget to power down my laptop)

Not that we have any problem with chihuahahs or particular fondness for boston terriers - since our pre-Olive days were filled with labrador retrievers - but we just don't like to be played for fools here. I mean we, of course, would love her no matter what, but the number of bacon slices, playdates and woofpurr toys in her future has been hanging in the balance while we have been waiting on the results ...

Anyhoo, the official lab-certified results are in and Olive is (drumroll please) 45% Beagle, 45% Boston Terrier ... and 10% Australian Shephard.

So, Olive has been totally vindicated

(obviously, we have forgiven her for not mentioning her rascally Australian Shephard great grandpa since we all have one of those in our family trees and he most likely gave her that wild eyed look we love and Aussie accent)

and for everyone who has supported Olive during this controversial time- she wants me to tell you that your hot naked man fruit basket is in the mail!

boggle buddies 4ever (ruby and olive)

2012 Affirmations # 4 - there are no mistakes

I once had an art teacher say, "allow chaos, knowing that order will eventually emerge".

Trust our instincts.

Release perfectionism and criticism; surrender to the process.

Follow the energy and keep adding to the energy.

Fearlessness is probably at the foundation of everything amazing that has ever been born - it doesn't mean recklessness and is maybe the opposite of recklessness. We learn to take responsibility for our choices. We learn our craft and practice it. We choose to be courageous and to open our hearts to life itself.

"the painting rises from the brush strokes as the poem rises from the words - the meaning comes later" ... joan miro

Affirming that there are no mistakes allows us to take risks that perfectionism would never allow. It allows something larger to express through us. We flow with the fierce urge to create, to make, to work with what is and allow it to express what could be.

The idea of "working with what is" and "allowing" are major themes in my life right now both professionally and personally - although I don't keep the two all that separate these days and trying to would probably create a Sybil-like alter ego

(maybe one named Dog who would figure this all out for me or maybe hubs would just have one more pooch to walk and Olive a little competition to kill her plushies quickly by ripping out their squeakers)

*jim morrison quote print above from sacred and profane

David came to our house from rehab this weekend. I have been watching hubs (a man predisposed by nature to say the wrong thing for the right reasons) struggle to say the right thing. Sometimes there are no right things. As I write this he has taken David to work with him for the day ... just holding in our hearts the words "the painting arises from the brushstrokes" and allowing ...

xo =^..^=

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Affirmations # 3 - Simplicity

Simple and easy are not the same thing.

Easy is the instant solution - do this and you get that - the magic bullet - that isn't always so magical.

Simple is more organic. More complex. Simple is something we seek with our hearts as much as our heads.

This year I am affirming simplicity by making the choices to clear clutter (inner and outer), making the time to meditate (got off track over the holidays and felt the loss of grounding immediately) and making the things that are most meaningful to me a priority.

Simplicity is not about reducing ourselves to a smaller size - it is about clearing the clutter and chaos to create the space to grow into our true selves.

* beauty in simplicity print by bubby and bean

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Affirmations - # 2 relaxation

"every now and then go away and have a little relaxation - to remain constantly at work will diminish your judgement - go some distance away because work will be in perspective" ... leonardo davinci

(some words of wisdom from the master)

A good affirmation for this might be - I take time away from my business and responsibilities. I take time to relax.

I take time for me.

* relax hand screened tee by jonnycobra

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 Affirmations - faith builders for our reluctant minds - # 1 finding solutions by staying open

I just re-started A Course in Miracles - some of you may be familiar with it. I took this course a few years ago, but like so much else in my life, it went unfinished, so I decided to start again from the beginning.

We also have some family drama which I have not really talked about on here. Some of you may have seen the video or heard the story about a homeless man being beaten up and the kids filming it and proudly putting his beating on youtube. It was all over the internet and television just before Christmas.

We even woke up one morning to see Anderson Cooper talking about it.

The man in the video is my husband's brother. He has been mentally ill, unmedicated, alcoholic, in and out of jail and homeless for decades. We had not seen him in many years.

My husband and I brought him to a rehab center in Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve for a 21 day program - he is being released on Saturday and at this point we have no idea what we will be doing when we pick him up. It is a stressful, crazy time.

Probably part of the reason that little blue book showed up in my life again.

So, I am starting my 2012 affirmations by affirming that I create wonderful solutions by being open to new ideas.

I focus on solutions instead of problems - I choose to see every problem as an opportunity.


Affirmations are a wonderful way to speak abundance into our lives. They are the faith builders (and I am not talking religion here) that encourage our hearts and coax our reluctant minds of the truths that are larger than the life we have experienced in the past.

So rather than focus on the "problem" which keeps us tangled in the energy of "problem"

(which might work if the problem is small and easy to fix, but this focus just seems to make big problems even bigger)

we focus our attention on opening our hearts and minds to the possibility that something or someone can bring about solutions that are greater than anything we can imagine when we are mired in the problem. We are not here to force solutions - but to trust enough to let them unfold naturally.

Trust ... letting things unfold unforced - these are not things that come naturally to me - but I am trying them on for now - the side effects are a little scary at the moment.

(and I don't usually take any medication with side effects - unless they include rapid weight-loss)

* 99 problem print by sweet perversion

Thursday, January 5, 2012

... well ... cowboys are pretty cool though ...

Vines grow towards light by elongating their stems and attaching themselves to whatever support is available.

I once got a stubborn patch of ivy in our backyard to grow exactly where I wanted it to grow by trimming branches of an overhanging tree to allow sunlight into just the right area and adding an old fence post.

For a short period of time I blew my own mind with my sense of power over this wayward patch

(kind of like the first time you trick your kids into doing something you want them to do by convincing them you do not want them to do it)

- but soon began to look closer at the un-naturalness (and yes, this is totally a word - if you need to use it in your next game of bananagrams, go ahead - just be sure to offer up this post and not an actual dictionary as proof of its wordiness) of what I had created and think ... hmmm ... maybe there is something to be said for the beauty of things that grow organically.

I am thinking the same way about our businesses lately.

Last year I set out to get a certain specific percentage of my business income from wholesale selling and increase sales by X dollars.

Well ... I did increase sales by X dollars (although maybe I should say x dollars - ha!) and this increase did come through wholesale selling -

although not in the traditional wholesale structure of "store places large order which makes deep discounts to store possible", but more of a "store places one order at a time which I make and ship to buyer one at a time and store still gets deep discount kind of wholesale selling" ... sigh

Of course, the bottom line is that I got what I set out to get but just not in the way I set out to get it. So the movement, which I tried to force into a particular direction, grew in a different direction which although unintended was maybe a more natural direction ... for me ... for now.

More proof that our inner state of being and our outer success is irrevocably connected - the reason we set goals at all is because of who we become as we’re reaching them ... whether we do or not. If we do, it is just the beginning of another journey; if we don't, it is just the start of another journey ... there is no end zone in crafty, maker land - it is all process so we had better be loving it.

(which I am ... most ... of the time)

My metaphyscal friend, who is all about setting intentions containing the word "effortless" as in "good things flow to me effortlessly", said that maybe I have some inner work to do to truly believe that things should be easier - that I likely have deep-seated beliefs in the fact that money comes through hard work ...

Of course I really do believe that money comes from hard work and from setting the right intentions and from walking through those open doors and from elbowing our way into those doors that are only slightly ajar and from bulldozing our way through the closed doors ... but only sometimes ... because sometimes the bulldozing gets us in, but like my wayward ivy, doesn't really get us where we need to be.

* mama don't let your babies ... print by KZukowski

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the gift of no-gifts or my eyes have been opened to the need for a little romantic something with a bow on it this time of year

(whisper typing while hubby sleeps)

If I want a romantic gift from hubs I have to

1. find it
2. buy it
3. give him the receipt
4. be reimbursed by him from our joint checking account

(this reimbursement often takes the form of a check signed by me and written to our credit card company)

this usually doesn't bother me, but lately I am wondering if I should be requiring a little more from him ...

I am not talking diamond earrings here, but something maybe a little bit efforty.

To be fair, he did make us pancakes on Christmas morning

of course his family called within exactly the 3.7 minutes it took for him to do this and I heard him saying that he was "making breakfast" .. which of course he was .. but he said it very matter-of-factly as if to imply that he does this making breakfast thing frequently ... which he does if you consider frequently something done along the same time frame as replacing your muffler - has anyone ever replaced one of those things anyway - other than a run over your neighbor's mailbox type of situation - not that this has ever happened to me, well at least not more than once ...

and this year we had agreed to the no-gift Christmas due to our bathroom/kitchen renovation costs but I still kind of expected a little something and thought this no-gift agreement was going to be a wee bit flexible and there would still be something with my name on it under the tree.

(there wasn't, well except for all the packages to hubs where my name followed the word FROM)

I know I do not have the right to be pissed about this since I signed the no-gift agreement, although by signed I mean nodded when hubs suggested this while I was semi-conscious after a day spent inhaling flux and E6000.

It kind of seemed like a good idea at the time.

I thought because I am not a romantic, mushy kind of girl that this would be ok with me. It wasn't. When I brought up to hubby that I was bothered he said to just go out and buy myself something like I usually do, but now this entire find it, buy it, reimburse it thing is just not going to cut it anymore.

So, I have discovered the real gift of the no-gift agreement is to find out that I really do need gifts and I will be cancelling the no-gift agreement before my birthday which is in 4 weeks and 4 days (not that I am counting or anything) or paramedics may need to be called to identify hub's body.

(he is now awake - despite my whisper typing - reading this over my shoulder and says "just don't let them do anything weird with my body" which of course, I won't ... unless it's funny)

UPDATE - since I wrote this post on Sunday night, hubs has fixed my bicycle tire, bought me a box of mallomars, my favorite blueberry poptarts (very hard to find the unfrosted kind I like) and a Sephora gift card so it looks like the paramedics will not be needed - but check back in 4 weeks and 2 days just to be sure ...

* rock me adadeus print by lisa barbero

Sunday, January 1, 2012

your mama ....

you don't really think I'd talk about your mama do you .....






(stolen from Amy's blog)

10 Thoughts to Kick Off 2012 ... slowly, I am kicking things off slowly this year (picture that field goal kicker in a slo-mo replay because that's about the energy level I am working with at the moment)

1. Banish results oriented thinking to the back of the closet

When we start seeing very clearly that our thoughts can create our reality we might find ourselves getting a little too attached to the results -

(which may be the surest way to muck things up)

When I was back in the craziness this holiday season there was this little voice that kept whispering screaming at me - "are we really doing this ... again? didn't we set up the processes and practices and the right thinking to create a better way this time? how the hell did this happen?"

And although logically I knew

(or the teeny, tiny little part of my brain that still thinks logically knew - I may have destroyed most of my logical thinking with the copious amounts of diet pepsi and york peppermint patties I was consuming)

that I always make about 50% of my annual income in a very short period of time and there is just no way for this to happen in my little one-woman business without things getting insane, I really felt I had failed when things got totally crazy and exhausting ... again.

Of course, there was no failure, there was simply a lesson for me in losing my attachment to the results ...

creating our own reality does not have to be followed by - "and so this is all our fault".

Sometimes sh*t just happens.

Like the fact that although I was somewhat prepared for last minute wholesale orders which mostly didn't happen, I was totally unprepared for a site I sell on called Daily Grommet to explode from 1-2 sales a day to up to 40.

(and before you assume I am planning a trip to Hawaii to spend my millions I should admit this is a wholesale, drop-ship situation with my commissioned artwork mini-lockets - the most work and least profitable of all my makings and that I had to enter every customer's address into paypal to print my shipping labels - this fact alone was adding an hour to my workday, not to mention the 3-4 hours a night fabricating the little suckers)

It was nice to get a check from them yesterday though :)

(and as unexpected as this rash on my neck right now which I have self-diagnosed as a third chakra communication problem or possibly a laundry detergent irritation, of course I am practically a doctor ... well, I didn't actually go to medical school, but I do wash my hands ... alot)

* a better man calendar by splendid and sound

Back Wednesday with 2012 Thought #2 ... notice I am not using the word resolution since I have resolved to remain unresolved for now