Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just A Bit of Fun

I thought I'd check out Stylish Home and have a bit of fun with their idea files. I liked the look of a particular room, then I found a color scheme I preferred, and then I picked a few products I liked as well. If you want you can look at it below:

Removed due to it breaking my blog layout, sorry!

Custom Order for a Friend

A friend of mine asked me to make a necklace, bracelet, and earring set for her a few months ago. I didn't start it until the other day because I wanted to make sure she knew what type of necklace and bracelet she was going to be getting. When I showed her the set that I was going to use as the "pattern" for the set, she liked it a lot, with the exception of asking that the necklace be made longer, which I obliged her with.

She also requested that I shorten a bracelet that she liked & switch the  matching earrings from pierced to clip-on as she doesn't have pierced ears. I used an old pair of really neat clip-on earrings that had a little hold at the bottoms to make the earrings for that bracelet and they turned out really cool - and one of a kind. :)

These are the earrings that I made to match the bracelet. I think they came out really well.

This is the bracelet that I shortened for my friend. I just took two of the turquoise/quartz blend beads off and two of the obsidian beads off.

This is the bookmark that my friend requested. She wanted the December birthstone crystals with a butterfly on the end.

These are the earrings to the set I made for her. Tiger Eye on the bottom, Turquoise dyed Jasper in the middle, and Lt. Colorado Brilliance crystals on clip-on earrings.

Same beads as above, only for the bracelet.

The necklace - same beads as the bracelet and earrings. I had to loop the necklace around the stand twice because it was too long otherwise! :)

So that is my custom order that I will be delivering to my friend tomorrow at lunch.
Any custom orders come your way recently?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Autumn & Winter Wear

So Autumn is here and Winter approaches. Time to start thinking of cool items for keeping warm. When I think of cool items to keep warm I think of cool scarves & awesome looking hats. Any hat that is stylish and can keep your head warm at the same time is a great idea in my book.

For instance this newsboy cap I made:

This cap can keep your head warm while allowing you to stay stylish at the same time. I think it's a really cute hat anyways. :)

Scarves can be cool as well. You can have pockets on them to allow you to warm your hands or stash stuff if you want, or they can be plain. You can have them in stripes or solids. I love a good scarf in Winter. I don't have any pictures of cool scarves right now, but I plan to make some soon! :)

The above pictured cap comes in 3 sizes - 22" head circumference, 24" head circumference, or 26" head circumference. If you happen to be larger than that, I can make it bigger as well. You can have your choice of colors too - the hat is only $15.00 - it is not currently available in any of my shops, but you can convo me to order one if you like! :) Just let me know your head size & what color you want! :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Just Give Up Already

This is what my brain has been telling me for the last three or four days. Ever since I posted the clearance section of my jewelry shop, hoping that what is there would finally sell. It hasn't, and even though I just created the section on the 20th or 21st of September, my mind is telling me that no one wants this jewelry, it is junk, and just get rid of the shop and be done with it.

Unfortunately, since this particular nagging does not want to leave, I am wondering if it isn't time to just pack it in and forget trying to have my own business. I know, I know, I shouldn't give up or quit.'s been almost 3 years. It will be 3 years in December that I've been trying to make a go of this.

Of course, I get the same advice from everyone I ask about it on Etsy - keep digging, work on my photos, advertise more. Buy more slots in showcases, buy the new search ads, buy Google AdWords ads, become an advertiser on Facebook. Use Project Wonderful. Buy ad space on BlogAds. Try purchasing ad space on other blogs. Been there, done that, no sales. I'm tired of getting the same old advice that does *not* work. I'm tired of being told my pictures aren't good enough when I see shops with *worse* pictures that are selling items like mad. I'm tired of spending money I *do not* have to advertise my shop.

I'm just...tired. The entire time I was in Colorado at the beginning of the year my shops were on vacation mode.   The sad thing? I didn't think about them once until I got home. I didn't care that I didn't have sales, I didn't care that no one could see or buy my products, I just didn't care. Now that I'm home? I worry constantly - am I going to get a sale today? Am I going to have to relist items that I can't afford to relist? Am I going to have to spend more money on advertisement that gets me absolutely nothing?

So now I am wondering - should I give in to my mind and just give up already? Or should I keep plugging away at it, go through the Etsy Holiday Boot Camp and see if sales increase? If they don't increase should I pack it in then? Or should I keep going even beyond the holiday rush and see what happens?

I have no idea what I want to do - but I do know this - my best friend, who owns Baby Bratz Designs, seems to have a better grip on this business thing than I do - and she's not willing to give up yet. Maybe I shouldn't be either.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Owning A Business Isn't All Roses

I've had more than one person tell me they wish they could own their own business. Well, I have to say this - no they don't. Believe me, they don't. Not unless they know that the business they are opening is going to be a surefire hit with consumers, they don't.

Why do I say this? Well, for starters, my business has been open for almost three years. Yes, you read that correctly, almost three years. In that three years I have sold: 3 baby blankets ($80 total), 6 bracelets ($97 total), 6 pair of earrings ($6 total), 2 bookmarks ($13 total), 3 hats ($20 total), and 2 washcloths ($10 total). So in three years I have made exactly $226. I have paid out far more than that for materials, listing fees (eBay and Etsy), and monthly subscription fees (ArtFire).

I have purchased items for display purposes for craft shows. I have spent more money than I've made. In fact, I pay taxes for being "self-employed" even when I don't make enough to be taxed for regular income taxes. In short, I pay more than I bring in.

Owning your own business isn't all roses. If you don't have the time or the money to put into it, you might as well forget it. I learned the hard way - you can't just open a shop on Etsy, ArtFire, eCrater, or whoever, and expect it to just sell without having to work at it. You have to promote your shop(s). You have to get your name out there and make sure people see you and know you are there.

You  have to network. Twitter, Facebook, even MySpace. Possibly LinkedIn as well. Blogs and websites are good as well. Email and instant messengers if you can manage them as well are good.

Lately I've been trying to promote my Etsy shop as much as I can for as little money as I can. Why? Because I don't have a day job to back me up. I do freelance writing, which garners me some money to use to pay Etsy fees and the like, but I don't have much.

Am I trying to scare people away from opening their own shops? Not at all. I'm just hoping they'll read this and be prepared for some tough times ahead.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding Craft Shows

While I admit that Art in the Park has been more or less of a bust the past couple of years, I have been wanting to try other craft shows. To be honest, Art in the Park's very name brings to mind paintings and sculptures that are being displayed in the park, not a craft show, which is what, for the most part, Art in the Park really is. This year we had several jewelry artists, several pottery artists, quilters, crocheters, and there were even some painters and sculptors there as well.

But I would like to be able to get into the bigger craft show scene. My problem is, when I use Google to search for shows, I find that all of the websites giving out information on craft shows in my area are either outdated - some haven't updated the pages since 2006 - or require me to pay them to give me the information on who to contact to reserve a space.

Now perhaps I'm just being cheap, but to me, if I have to pay upwards of $100 just to enter one of these craft shows, I shouldn't have to pay some random website a fee to tell me who to contact to obtain my spot. So of course, I turned to the lovely people in my Etsy teams that I am a part of. Of course, I just posted the discussion threads so I haven't heard back from anyone, but I am confident that someone will be able to tell me how to go about finding the appropriate information.

I don't plan to do any shows until at least next year, so I have time to have enough merchandise, but I do wish to do some shows next year besides Art in the Park. Now - to find those shows and get the information I need to get signed up!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just Claiming My Blog

Follow my blog with Bloglovin - I'm just claiming my blog on Bloglovin, but you can follow me there if you like. :)

Pricing Amazement

One of the things I have never been good at is pricing my items. However, I noticed something this past weekend during Art in the Park. People will pay what I think is an outrageous price for one titem, but won't pay what I think is a reasonable price for another item.

I'll give you an example. I had several crocheted cotton washcloths for sale. I priced them at $5 each. That is, $5 for one washcloth. I sold two of them. Now mind you, I can make 2 2/3 of these washcloths from a single ball of cotton yarn that cost me about $1.89 after tax. That's a pretty hefty profit for 2 washcloths if you ask me. I'm just saying. :P But yet people didn't even flinch at seeing that the washcloths were $5 each.

Now we have one of my favorite bracelets that I've made. (Go on, click it, you know you want to. I'll wait.) Now that bracelet right there is $20. The materials alone make up half of the price of that bracelet. Yet when people asked me how much that bracelet was, they were shocked to hear that I wanted $20 for it. They would quickly put it down and leave our booth. Yet when I talked to another jewelry artist who was selling at the next booth over from ours, she said that she had bracelets she'd made with beads she bought for $3 at Walmart, that she had maybe $5 worth of materials total in these bracelets, that she had priced at $35 or more, and the same people who refused to buy my $20 bracelet were more than willing to go to her booth and pay what she asked for a bracelet that she said herself, was worth less than the one I had made. She was in shock as well.

Now I will say that maybe, just maybe, $10 for my time to make that bracelet isn't quite fair. After all, I don't think the bracelet took me more than 10 minutes to string together. But when I attempted to price it less than $20, I was told that I wasn't charging nearly enough. And another bracelet that I had made (this one which I sold to a friend of mine) had beads from the same company, same store, but were $2 less in price, and my friend refused to pay less than $20 for that bracelet. I know, because I tried to knock it down to $15 since she is my friend, and she refused.

But yet people weren't willing to pay $20 for the playing cards bracelet. How can it be that people will pay $5 for a single crocheted washcloth with less than $2 worth of yarn in it, but won't play $20 for a bracelet with $10 worth of beads in it? I just don't get it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Art in the Park 2011

So today was Art in the Park at Latham Park in Sioux City, IA. For those not in the know, Latham Park is a privately owned park in Sioux City, IA. The Latham family home sits on the park grounds, and when the last of the Lathams passed away, the land was mandated by the person's will to become a park. Now last year it was rainy and cold all day long. This year it was misty and cold all day long. The funny thing is, the last two years have been the only years the park has had this problem - and the last two years are the years I have been attending! Maybe it's me? LOL There were quite a few window shoppers, but not many buyers. What did I sell? A bookmark and 2 round washcloths. Yes, I said a bookmark and 2 round washcloths. That was it. My best friend's mother sold one of her baby blankets and my best friend sold nothing. :( We attribute it to the dreary day as it was very cold and most people were in a hurry to get back home and out of the cold. I did manage to see some cousins of mine at the park although it was brief. :) I also saw other people I know including some people I went to school with, one of whom I am working on a couple of custom orders for. And now, for those who would like pictures, you may view them below.
Want to see the rest? Click here!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Am Not A Photographer

On three all of my Etsy listings for Eternal Stardust Jewelry, I had have some pretty poor quality photos. I took some photos yesterday and I changed them out on three listings to try and make the listings look better. If you look at the Etsy Mini in my sidebar to your right, you'll see the first three listings have the new photos.

Now when I asked people on Etsy, they said that the new photos were an improvement, but that they still needed work. That they needed to be made lighter during the editing process. To me they are more than light enough, but maybe it is just my monitor on my laptop is brighter than theirs so to me the images look lighter.

The problem here is this: I am not a photographer. I never have been. I never will be. I do not particularly *like* to take pictures. I would seriously rather just crochet and bead and let someone else do the photography if I could afford it. But I can't. I *have* to take these pictures myself. 

Now I don't do so badly *taking* the pictures, it is the *editing* that I just do not do well. All the tutorials on the planet will not help me learn to edit my photos better. Why? Because I have partial colorblindness issues. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do not see colors precisely the same way the rest of you do. In fact, when it comes to blues and greens, I am often heard asking my friends if what I am looking at is blue or green, because I sometimes can not tell the difference. It is perfectly obvious to my friends what color the object is, but I often see something blue as green and vice versa. 

So why don't I see if someone else will edit my photos for me? Well, for one, I'm impatient. I would seriously rather do it myself and have it done ASAP than have to wait for a friend to do it for me. I probably could see if LaShawn (my best friend and owner of Baby Bratz Designs) would edit my photos for me, but honestly, I don't think she even edits her *own* photos. I don't know of anyone else who edits photos and is *good* at it that would be willing to edit the pictures for me. 

So, if anyone here has any suggestions regarding photo editing for a broke college student who just wants to make her shop better so it might start being at least semi-successful, please let me know. :) Thanks!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Featured Yarn: Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend

A couple of years ago I had taken the city bus to our local Hobby Lobby in search of some findings for jewelry making. Not finding what I was looking for, I decided to hit the yarn aisle. That is where I found Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend yarn. 

For those who have never heard of this particular offering from Red Heart, Eco-Cotton Blend takes the remnants left over from the manufacture of T-shirts and recycles them, combining them with acrylic to provide extra softness and loftiness, then spins the mixture into yarn. 

This yarn is quite soft and works up well. It is thinner than most cotton-based yarns tend to be, and it does have that annoying "split" factor - crocheters and knitters probably know what I am talking about - when you try to work with the yarn it splits into strands - but other than that, it is a nice yarn to work with. I made two round washcloths with one ball of this yarn.

The color selection is very limited - there are only 12 available colorways with three of them being "marl" or multicolored yarns. However, the colors are nice and would make some very nice items.

My only real issue is the price - $3.69 per ball. I would have to order from Red Heart's website or Herrschners, who carries it for $3.49 per ball. This makes it a bit out of my league at this point, unless I wanted to charge $10 for two washcloths, which I don't. :) 

But for anyone who is interested in reading more about Eco-Cotton Blend from Red Heart, you can do so here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

EtsyBloggers Blog Carnival - Fall Fun

Rose from randomcreative is our host for this week's EtsyBloggers Carnival.
She has two questions in mind, both pertaining to fall:
1) Do you have a favorite fall recipe? Share it here.
2) Have you been working on any new fall designs? Post some pictures and talk about these new designs and/or post a tutorial.

I have to say I do not have any favorite fall recipes to be honest. I do not start my baking until after Thanksgiving, so I don't deal with much "fall" cooking. Although a lady at my church makes some really decadent pumpkin bars, both with and without raisin. YUM! :)

I have not been working on new fall designs this year. I did last year, and somehow I lost the bracelet I made here in the house. I had thought I would get the materials again - I have photos - and make the bracelet again, but then decided against it. I've been too busy lately working on my items for the Art in the Park show next Saturday to even think about new designs!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Search For An Online Marketplace

There are several online marketplaces out there these days, and it seems like all of them have good and bad features to them. Between my best friend and myself, we have been bumbling around trying to find the best fit for both her and myself.

You see, while I have some income through my freelance writing, my best friend has no income at all right now. She literally has no way to pay for ArtFire, Etsy, or any of the other shops that require payment. So we've been playing with a few things to see what would work for her.

So far, the online marketplace that works best for her is eCrater. eCrater is a totally free online e-commerce website. You can create a small e-commerce site in just a few minutes, if you happen to have a few minutes to spare. :P It took me a good 15-20 minutes just to get LaShawn's site set up, and just to add one product. However, things are looking good and once I get her in there to put down more customizations for the about page and the like, she should be good to go. :)

We tried Made It Myself, as I told her I'd just use my debit card to pay the final sale value fees there, but they require a retail value as if you were going to purchase the item in a store. Crocheted baby blankets are not sold in stores, so how on earth would we know what the retail value of the item would be? So we decided not to even finish setting up her items there, because we didn't have a retail value for them and we didn't want to make one up.

I checked out Big Cartel but since she could only have five items for free, I decided not to bother with that site. She has more than five items to sell. So that was a bust. She wasn't fond of the Addoway format, and she didn't like the Copious format either, so we ruled those out as well. She just didn't like that you had to log in with Facebook or Twitter and use your real name instead of your business name, and I can understand that.

So for now at least, the great marketplace search is finished. Now to update her business cards for her. :P