Friday, September 28, 2012

time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana ... really

I have become a little obsessed with arrows lately

(I think it started with repurposing an old dart board as a message board complete with arrows in my office - will have to put up a pic of that soon)

so when I saw what the amazing Katie of BlackStar is doing with arrows  and color with her gorgeous jewelry I was totally inspired to paint some cork!

These will be in my Uncorked shop soon along with lots of other new work for the holidays!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone - if you have a minute check out my post on working with the phases of the moon over on the EcoEtsy team blog HERE

xo all

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

10 More Things I Learned about Trade Show Selling from the New York International Gift Fair


I have a new series percolating on manifesting for our maker businesses, but just realized I hadn't posted anything about my exhibit at NYIGF last month!

(my bad)

So here are my top 10 lessons learned (most the hard way) that anyone considering a tradeshow to offer their handmade whoseewhatsee to industry might find helpful.

(I am all about being helpful after all ... and perky ... I am all about being helpful and perky ... or wait that might be what Olive is all about, but some of her habits have rubbed off on me over the years - luckily not her habit of trying to impregnate the beach towels)

NOTE - wholesale selling is not an absolute step for growing a handmade business (in fact it can put you out of business) and trade show selling is not an absolute step for growing a wholesale business - I am rethinking this myself.

1. Location is very important.

Your customer will not walk this entire show - it is huge. I had a good location - not a great one. Next time I will have a great one.

(now you get what you pay for with this and I have been told you have to pay your dues a bit- will have to let you know about that one - with smaller venues where customers walk the entire show this is less important)

2. Display your items the way a store would.

This is the first show where I set up display packages to show customers exactly how my makings could work and look in their stores and it made a huge difference. I am very sure it doubled my sales.

(also don't expect buyers to buy things you haven't displayed - they come to the shows to see the real thing, not pictures)

3. Buyers don't just want to hear how great your whoseewhatsee is - they want to hear how well it sells.

Wholesale requires a different pitch. This time I focused on my proven selling track record first before I talked about how cool and amazing my makings are. Buyers and store owners have almost certainly made buying mistakes with new sellers in the past and can be gun shy about placing first orders - you want to make things easy for them.

4. Brick and Mortars have different needs than our own retail websites

I sell picture jewelry. Online I can have hundreds of images - stores can't carry that kind of variety. They need just the right customer to come into their store to purchase my whoseewhatsee - things have to be a little more wide-appealing for them (they may not get a customer who just has to have an orange octopus on a cork walk into their store). You may need to think about this.

5. Your show neighbors are not your competition - play nice

I have done shows where it is obvious that everyone feels in competition with everyone else - this was not one of those shows. I do not feel the need to compete with anyone (maybe because I am old and tired - ack!) - I believe in setting up my business to draw my right customers to me and I do. I make jewelry. So do alot of other people. There is no store that is selling my jewelry that is not selling alot of other people's jewelry, too - we are not in competition with each other.

6. Get credit card numbers

Buyers do not want to pay until their items ship, which is usually weeks and sometimes even months after they order. I get it. I am OK with that for the most part. I still need to be more proactive with credit card numbers so I am not playing phone tag for weeks.

7. Follow up. Alot of this show is about connections - make the most of them. I believe in multiple contacts with the same store (rather then contacting a bunch of stores then moving on to a new bunch of stores).


(I know from my banking days we had much greater success with traditional advertising campaigns when we targeted the same customers again and again - maybe they got familiar with our name and felt more comfortable, maybe we just wore them down - I'm not sure, but I know it works)

At previous shows I got overwhelmed with my contact list and didn't follow-up like I should. This time I have and can already see results.

8. Be yourself. This is what branding is all about. I have been told my display is too busy (could be), that my banner makes people at a distance think I sell dog products (could be), that my display is too eco (as in eco-friendly) but since I am a busy, dog-loving, eco-friendly maker I stick with being myself. 

9. Lighting. You need great lighting. Next time I'll have great lighting. 

(Suzanne from Tanner Glass had great lighting)

10. Never take antibiotics on an empty stomach - I was on antibiotics during this show and knew this warning - always thought it had something to do with the medicine digesting probably - but running late one morning without breakfast I took one and found myself running to the restroom 15 minutes later and continuing to be very nauseous for about an hour - of course when you think about what antibiotics actually are this makes perfect sense. When I am old and gray (or maybe I should say older and grayer) this is the lesson that will stick with me best from this show ...

IKEA Upcycled Plant Trivet Corkboards - XMAS Countdown Week #1



This year I made my Christmas upcycled gift tutorials during the summer so I could start them early before things get hectic for everyone.

We'll kick off with something super easy-peasy.

Ikea sells these cork plant trivets in packs of 3 or 4 and also the metal hangers for super cheap - you may already have them - they are just screaming to be made into corkboards - fabric covered reversible corkboards actually!

you will need:

package of cork trivets
fabric
clip on hooks, staple gun
scissors, glue or attachments
clear tacks

This is as easy as - iron fabric, trace and cut circles, staple fabric, add hook (flip hook as needed for reversal) - voila! If you don't want reversibles just staple gun a piece of cardboard to the back of your cork . I attached these two to make it reversible with some E6000 - you could probably come up with a less toxic attachment.

(use this glue outdoors and give it a couple days for the fumes to dissipate - it's powerful stuff).

Add a little pack of tacks and a holiday note - maybe something like "when push comes to shove have a nice holiday" or something equally tacky ....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the nerds always win in the end ...

Everyone I know has had stuff

(often the stuff we thought our lives were made of, if only so we can find out that we are made of stronger stuff)

fall away in the last couple years and especially in the last few months - dreams, jobs, friends, marriages - which makes total sense since the energy on the planet right now is about all of us moving on and we can't move on without letting go of everything that can't go with us; everything that we think is holding us up, but has actually just been holding us in place.

Losing what defines us and moving into a space of finding out who we are without that work or that boyfriend or that group or that dream is a place where alot of us are sitting.

The place of uncertainty that is really our most natural space - but that we have been conditioned by society to fight against in an effort to control life, the very thing we are here to experience and not control - the place we need to be embracing instead of trying to work our way out of as quickly as possible. 

(astrologically speaking - as above so is below - October will be a things coming together month for lots of people, so hold on)

Since I am more of a Course in Miracles student than a Law of Attraction student I am not so much into manifesting stuff just because I think it is good stuff because often life's most amazing little golden nuggets are found in the very stuff I would never in a million years want.

When I was four years old I was burned over 30% of my body, luckily scars stay the same size as we grow (isn't that fascinating - I can't help thinking of the emotional and spiritual scars that also seem infinitely smaller as we expand through compassion and forgiveness) so 30% of a four year old's body is not 30% of my body today, but in a split second my entire life was changed.

The little golden nugget is that the grown-ups around me went from saying Cat's so cute to Cat's so strong - and strong is an amazingly, wonderful thing to have people thinking about you as you grow up and into that. Reflecting someone's growth back to them is very powerful - probably why counselling works for so many people.

(also why we need to use adverbs instead of adjectives with our little girls just as we do with boys, we tell little Morgan how pretty she is and then turn around and tell little Jack how fast he can run - girls need adverbs)

Anyhoo, back to the Law of Attraction. There is a kind of spell on the planet right now regarding scarcity, lack and stagnation - all having to do with money. Our "can't do that in this economy" speak helps no one. And in fact if you are a sensitive and awake person you will have to work at not materializing this mindset since it is so rampant.

The Course in Miracles teaches that prosperity and abundance are spiritual concepts, things we deserve just for being alive - they are not tied with money, unless we need money to do the things we are called to do in this lifetime (which often happens, so it is easy to get this mixed together).

The more of us who are focused on doing the service we are called to do in this lifetime, the things we love to do and that contribute to the lives of others, regardless of the money - the more and more the world will move in the direction to support this. We have to stay open to what life sends us when we work from this place.

Obama, Romney - no one can "fix" the economy because it's built on unsustainable things (like war and oil) and money is energy and needs to flow (and it's not) - but we can move ourselves into a space where prosperity and abundance can be untied from money - by doing what we love (have a passion for) that contributes to others. Why can't we have a world where everyone does this and everyone is taken care of - why do we have to pay to live on this planet? We are living in a world we created and life is pushing us to create a new one. More than the leaves are falling this season!

(p.s. also I should mention this week may be challenging for many of us because the New Moon in Aries next weekend is activating the Uranus/Pluto square - it is sort of a testing time where we are being called on to get through some kind of crisis without our usual back ups and it is giving us the strength to do it)

(pss - anyone out there with an active blog geared to makers or greenies send me your link and I will add you to my blog roll - xo)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

julia is never wrong .... blowtorch yes - scissors no

I haven't signed into blogger in so long

(in fact I think it is my longest absence since I started this thing almost 5 years ago - even longer than my usual holiday rush absence or my exploding cyst absence or even my "I got a new Nook" absence)

that I forgot how to sign into this thing

(and actually although here I am, I never remembered how to sign in because I realized I was already signed in and just needed to find the little box that read 'new post' ... sigh)

I will be caught up with wholesale orders by the end of this week (yay!), just in time to have surgery on the 24th - (ugh) so right now I am just working the process and trying to stay sane - which for me means 

my goals have been reduced from Become a New York Times Best-Selling Author and Develop My Products for QVC to Don't Eat Peanut Butter With My Hands and Keep Metal Shavings Under Finger Nails from Getting in Eyes (and peanut butter).

Not that I actually had any such goals (the big ones I mean), but they do make me sound like the confident, little go-getter with the big, hairy, audacious goals that I sometimes imagine myself to be ... anyhoo, I promise to be back soon.

And as someone much smarter than me - which means everyone from Oprah to Uncle Jesse Katsopolis - once said " when you are hanging on by a thread, stay away from the scissors". Wishing everyone a scissor-less day .... and sending you all peanut butter hugs.

xo