Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Step away from the computer.....

Establishing a new and steady stream of shoppers to your business is a challenge, I have been looking beyond the online world in order to attain the success that I desire.  A great way to do this is to start exploring traditional networking venues. I strongly believe that effective networking is as much about quality as quantity.  Make sure the room is filled with potential clients and watch your networking time pay-off!  Many of these events are scheduled in the early morning or at lunch time, so even if you have a day job, you can probably work an event or two into your schedule.

Here are some tips for finding networking events that are a good match for your creative business: 
  • What local city is known for harboring artists?  Make sure you attend the Chamber events there. 
  •  Google “art clubs” or “craft clubs” and then the name of your city or county and see what comes up and when they meet. 
  • Tip Clubs can even be helpful: they are filled with independent business people who come into contact with tons of individuals.
  • Attend events put on by your local galleries.
  • Network at local craft fairs and shows.
Networking with people face to face is much scarier for a shy person like me than networking online, but I’m giving it a try. I’m sure you too will be surprised by how much you can grow your sales locally.  Who knows, we may even meet a gallery or boutique owner!  

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Mother Nature’s Creation…..

I had another purchase in my Etsy shop this weekend; take a peek at the design….

This delicately colored Agate Geode slice was mounted and encased in a silver halo coating with a silver plated bail.   The gray, gold, bronze, and white tones that swirl through the Geode are proof of Mother Natures' unique talents as an artist - not too hurried, but outstanding workmanship. Like a lot of us artists, we never seem to make more than one of a kind - neither does she! This striking pendant is sure to attract attention and speaks of the unlimited and unmatched beauties to be found on our planet. The center of the Geode is lined with sparkling tiny druzy crystals.  Druzy is formed by water droplets collecting and calcifying on the host gemstone. The result is a collection of tiny glistening crystals that reflect the light beautifully.  I'm always searching for additional Agate Geode Slices, I think they are stunning.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Handmade Revolution......

The fact that sites such as ArtFire and Etsy are doing so well proves that the handmade revolution is very much upon us, but just in case you are not convinced, here are my do’s and dont’s of giving the gift of handmade.

Do take pride in your work. Never give something you wouldn’t be pleased to receive yourself.
Don’t give anything but your best work as a gift – Practice runs & less than perfect examples are fine to give away to friends ‘just because’, but otherwise, keep them for yourself.
Do put some effort into your presentation. A pretty gift box or a chic frame can make all the difference to the overall feel of your piece. Imagine you bought it in a swanky boutique – dress it up & make it special!
Don’t put yourself down. Never hand over a handmade gift saying ‘sorry, it’s homemade…’ – if you don’t love what you’re making, why should anyone else?
Do promote yourself – put your web address discretely on the back of a card, or slip a business card inside a gift box. That said,
Don’t overdo it – it’s a present, not a promo-pack!
Do put some thought into each gift you create and make it somehow unique and personal to the recipient.
Don’t make a dozen pairs of earrings in the same design and give them to every girl you know at Christmas!
Do embellish – perhaps team your handmade gift with a small box of chocolates or a bottle of wine, but…
Don’t make the handmade part of the gift look like an afterthought!

And of course, if making your own gifts really isn’t an option, why not buy handmade instead?
All the goodness of giving someone something personal and unique – and you get a free warm fuzzy glow from knowing you’re helping to support an aspiring artist!

So next time a friend or relative’s birthday is looming – don’t head straight to the mall - consider giving the gift of handmade.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

I feel like a Rock Star…

Yesterday one of my necklaces was featured on the Front Page of Etsy. This is a big deal in Etsy Land!

First, I was featured in a lovely Treasury list by Nancy of Newnanc Design. The Treasury is an ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery of handpicked items. Members can feature their favorite items, items selected on a theme or just whatever they like. The Treasury is not intended for self-promotion, but instead to acknowledge and share the many cool things for sale on Etsy. I was honored to be picked by Nancy for her list featured below….

Second, I noticed that there was an unusually high amount of traffic in my Etsy Shop. Visitor numbers were off the charts! I also had numerous emails (“convos”) about one necklace in particular. That’s when I realized that something BIG had happened that morning. At 7:00am on March 20th , my “Natures Treasures” was on the front page (current FP) of the Etsy website. Wahoo! I was an Etsy rock star for a few hours.

Finally, after the dust had settled later in the day, I reviewed the numbers. Over 500 buyers had viewed my FP necklace. Nineteen of those gave my shop a heart as one of their favorites. Twelve new hearts were given to other items in my shop and one buyer has requested a custom necklace similar to the FP necklace. WOW! Getting on the front page has really boosted my motivation and renewed my sense of pride in my work.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Yippee! It's officially the weekend

The 5:00 pm whistle just blew here on the east coast.  It's officially the weekend!  I think I'll enjoy a glass of wine out on the terrace.  Spring is in the air.  Have a great weekend my friends.
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"I love it, but why so expensive....."

Recently I’ve had a comment from a friend about the prices in my Etsy Shop. I realized that my friend and hopefully potential buyer had been comparing my prices to mass produced items available at local retailers. She did not realize the time, effort, craftsmanship, and love that went into every piece I make. After our conversation I believe she had a better understanding of the significance of handmade items.I took a look at my shop. Did it immediately let the customer know that I’m a handmade artisan as opposed to a reseller? No really…..
Here are some tips to help establish the value of your craft:
- Does your profile state information about your process, standards and quality?
- Are you letting them know how your products are superior (I hope they are) to the commercially available products?
- Is your geographic location specific for those who want to shop local?
- Do you ever refer to yourself by name to establish a more personal connection?
- Do you encourage conversations?
Hopefully my work speaks for its self, but by adding a more personal feel to my profile and descriptions I hope that I’m establishing my shop as a place for quality handmade items.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick Day!

According to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish people.

Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green or orange-colored clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched affectionately.  I've got my lucky Shamrock pendant on for protection.
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The Secret...

It turns out the secret to selling on Etsy is the same as selling anywhere: hard work and good products.

Ok, maybe that’s not the most helpful answer. So allow me to elaborate with a list of tips....

Take better photos.
No matter how long you’ve spent on your photos, they’re not good enough. Mine sure aren’t. You need to do more than just snap an exact picture of the product. You need to sell it. I’ve seen a lot of Etsy sellers complain that they shouldn’t have to be photographers. I don’t agree, you’re a salesman, and your photos are the biggest part of your sales pitch. If you aren’t willing to put serious and continuous effort into them then you’re not serious about selling online.

Make something people want.
Do market research. Browse the sold items. What’s selling? Read blogs related to what you’re making. What are they featuring? Does your product fit in with that? Or are you still making macaroni necklaces? Stop. Look at not just styles but also at what people are selling.

Make something other people aren’t.
I hate to break it to you, but if you’re making soap out of vanilla you’re already at a disadvantage. Why? Because there are already 100 other people selling vanilla soap. It’s like putting a Starbucks up on every corner and then wondering why you’re only getting 1/4 of the foot traffic.

Do an Etsy search for your product. If you make soap, search for “soap.” How many of the search results are the same as what you make? What makes yours different? It’s going to have to be something. Better photos, better prices, better selection, and different scent, whatever. But it’s got to be something or you’ll just be lost with the other 20,000 search results.

Build a cohesive line.
Lets say you make potholders. Rectangular potholders out of pretty fabrics. Great. So now you’re “that girl who makes potholders.” It’s nondescript, and when I search for “potholder” on Etsy I’m going to get a ton of other people’s stuff, which I might like better.

Pick a common theme and run with it. Make potholders in different shapes. Now you’re “that girl who makes triangle potholders,” and that already sets you apart from other people. Or maybe all of your fabric features skulls on it. Or flowers. Or math equations. Or your potholders all come with thermal resistant liners. Transform yourself from “that person who makes generic” to “that person who makes specific.” You’ll stick in customers’ minds better, be easier to find, and sell more.

Walk Away.
The flip side of building a line and putting all this effort into your products is you have to be able to let it go. If it’s not working out, you may just need to move on to something else. Not all of your ideas are going to be million dollar sell outs. That’s OK. If you really want to sell, at some point you have to evaluate what you’re doing and change if it’s not working.

Take better photos.
No really, it’s important. And yours still aren’t good enough.
But it all comes back to your products. You can blog, twitter, and photograph all you want but it isn’t going to do any good if you’re not selling an interesting product at the right price. So get off the computer and take a hard look at your products. Then fix them if necessary and try again.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Pout...

Why do so many jewelry ads feature a pouty-faced model who looks, well, pouty? If she's wearing a gorgeous, expensive piece of jewelry, why does she look so unhappy? You may be thinking "Why does this matter"? When it comes to marketing jewelry, I believe women want to know - what does wearing this jewelry communicate about me?

Every piece of jewelry tells a story. Ask any woman about a piece of jewelry she’s wearing and you’ll hear a tale of romance, travel, adventure, friendship, celebration or personal epiphany.

“This charm is an angel’s wings. My sister gave it to me before she moved to the west coast to let me know she’d always be looking out for me.”

“My parents got this for me as a graduation gift. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college.”

“I bought this for myself the day I found out I was promoted.”

“I found this in a tiny little shop in Nantucket and thought it was the most beautiful shade of blue I’d ever seen. Every time I touch it, it reminds me of walking along the shore and staring out into that beautiful sea.”

Jewelry is about relationships; relationships with our spouses, our new loves, our family, our friends, and ourselves. The jewelry we wear speaks volumes about who we are. Women love talking about their jewelry. But I would argue that it’s less about bragging and more about communicating; communicating something about who they are and what’s important to them. Yes, sometimes what they’re communicating is “He spent a lot of money on me,” But there’s so much more to it than that.

So, please, enough with these ads showing fashion models with pouty looks on their faces, show a happy moment or memory of a special event.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Choosing the right earrings for the shape of your face...

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished you could change the shape of your face? Using jewelry to create the illusion of a slimmer face, a wider one, of sharper features or softer features is easier than you might think. All you need are the right earrings.

To soften too sharp features, go for earring designs with curves or rounded. Hoop earrings work very well as would earrings with round beads or with circles in the design, or even waves.


To Sharpen flat features, wear triangular, square, or star shaped earrings. Shapes that are pointed or have sharp lines work well.
For a round or square face, you want the illusion of length. A dangling pendant or a cascade of beads that draw the attention along vertical lines would visually slim and lengthen your face. Shoulder dusters are your best friend, as are drop earrings and chandelier earrings.
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Dancing Bubbles...

Take a peek at my latest design, the bracelet is alive with dancing shell pearls in earth tone colors. This particular piece took many hours to create. Each pearl is hand wrapped then individually attached to the bracelet. I love the look, It's like dancing bubbles from a little girls magic wand.

UPDATE: This Bracelet was purchased today (3/30/10); it is my first international sale.  Dancing Bubbles is on it's way to the United Kingdom. Fabulous! 
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A day at the Craft Show

Today I spent several hours at the American Craft Counsel Show. This show is always very inspiring, I came home with a renewed focus. I love to see what other artists are creating. Here are a few examples of my favorites....

Tang Fish by Cynthia Chuang - www.jewelry10.com

Pink Balloon by Ricky Frank-

Exotic Wood Backgammon Set by David Levy

Hope you enjoyed my selections!
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Did You Know?

A friend posted this fun survey on her blog. I thought it was a good way to get to know her better, So just for fun I completed the survey too. Below are 99 questions about life in general; Take a peek to learn more about me. It's a little long but it was fun to think back on past experiences.

Have You.......
1. Started your own blog- Yes, this is it!
2. Slept under the stars – Yes, I love to camp.
3. Played in a band - No, I have zero musical talent.
4. Visited Hawaii - Yes, with family, with college friends, and with my Husband.
5. Watched a meteor shower – Yes, from a parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity – No, I give to charity, but not more than I can afford.
7. Been to Disneyland – No, but I have worked at DisneyWorld.
8. Climbed a mountain – Yes, in Georgia, Hawaii, and Canada.
9. Held a praying mantis – No, I don't want to accidentally hurt the little fellow.
10. Sang a solo – No, I'm so bad at harmonizing my sorority sisters asked that I lip sync.
11. Bungee jumped – No, I'm afraid of heights
12. Visited Paris – Yes, loved it.
13. Watched a thunder and lightning storm- Yes, in Florida it was sometimes a daily occurrence.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch – Yes, many skills.
15. Adopted a child – No
16. Had food poisoning – Yes, bad Mongolian BBQ.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - No, I've never been to NYC.
18. Grown your own vegetables – No, only flowers.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France- No
20. Slept on an overnight train – No, but it's on my bucket list.
21. Had a pillow fight – Yes, I went to summer camp every summer while growing up.
22. Hitch hiked – NO
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill – Yes, but I called it a personal day.
24. Built a snow fort – Yes, I lived in Indiana on Lake Michigan, we got a lot of snow.
25. Held a lamb - Yes, my father has a farm with sheep for pets.
26. Gone skinny dipping - Yes, many times.
27. Run a Marathon – No, I'm not very athletic.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice – No, and no desire to do so.
29. Seen a total eclipse – Yes, when I was in grade school.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset- Yes, favorite sunrise: Hawaii; favorite sunset: Santorini, Greece.
31. Hit a home run – No, my last attempt ended with a trip to the hospital. I'm just not cut out for sports.
32. Been on a cruise – Yes, many. My favorite was Alaska.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person- Yes, but I was very young and remember very little about the trip.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors – No, but it is also on the bucket list.
35. Seen an Amish community - Yes, in Indiana.
36. Taught yourself a new language - No, I tried but was not successful.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied – No, I'm still looking for my Pot of Gold.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person – No
39. Gone rock climbing – No, I'm afraid of heights.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David – Yes
41. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt – No
42. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant – Yes, I do it at work in the public cafe.
43. Visited Africa – No, but this is also on the bucket list.
44. Walked on a beach by moonlight - Yes, many times.
45. Been transported in an ambulance – Yes, three times (see #31 above)
46. Had your portrait painted – Does self portrait count? if so, yes.
47. Gone deep sea fishing- Yes, several times in Mexico; caught a MahiMahi
48. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person – No, it was closed when I was in Rome.
49. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris- No, but I did cruise past on a river boat.
50. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling – Yes, I love to snorkel.
51. Kissed in the rain – No
52. Played in the mud – Yes, at the Feast of the Hunters Moon in Indiana.
53. Gone to a drive-in theater – Yes, I saw the original Star Wars at the drive-in.
54. Been in a movie – No
55. Visited the Great Wall of China – No, again Bucket list.
56. Started a business – Yes, Two.
57. Taken a martial arts class – No
58. Visited Russia – No, but I'd love to.
59. Served at a soup kitchen – Yes, in Atlanta.
60. Sold Girl Scout Cookies- No, I wasn't a girl scout.
61. Gone whale watching – Yes, in Nantucket, Hawaii, Alaska, and Oregon.
62. Got flowers for no reason – Yes, from my wonderful husband.
63. Donated blood, platelets or plasma – No, I can't.
64. Gone sky diving – No. but I have been para-sailing.
65. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp – No
66. Bounced a check – Yes, in college.
67. Flown in a helicopter – Yes, in Florida, Hawaii, and Alaska.
68. Saved a favorite childhood toy – Yes, the sock monkey my grandma made for me and my troll doll.
69. Visited the Lincoln Memorial – No
70. Eaten caviar – Yes, but not a fan.
71. Pieced a quilt – Yes, a small doll blanket.
72. Stood in Times Square. – No
73. Toured the Everglades – Yes, on a small air-boat.
74. Been fired from a job – No
75. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London – No
76. Broken a bone – Yes, my ankle twice.
77. Been a passenger on a motorcycle – Yes, but just around the block.
78. Seen the Grand Canyon in person – No
79. Published a book – No
80. Visited the Vatican – Yes, and I got to see the Pope!
81. Bought a brand new car – Yes, I've had four new cars.
82. Walked in Jerusalem – No
83. Had your picture in the newspaper - Yes, I won a poster making contest.
84. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve – Yes, in a bar in Florida.
85. Visited the White House – No
86. Killed and prepared an animal for eating – No way, I'm squeamish.
87. Had chickenpox - Yes, while in grade school.
88. Saved someone’s life – No
89. Sat on a jury - No
90. Met someone famous – Yes, John Denver and John Matuzsack.
91. Joined a book club - Yes
92. Got a tattoo - Yes
93. Had a baby – No, I guess it was just not in the cards for me.
94. Seen the Alamo in person – Yes
95. Swam in the Great Salt Lake – No
96. Been involved in a law suit - Yes, but it never went to trial.
97. Owned a cell phone – Yes, many.
98. Been stung by a bee – Yes, twice.
99. Danced under the stars - Yes, in Mexico and Hawaii.
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