Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Techniques - January Challenge

Our first Blogging Business Artisans Challenge for 2013 is brought to us by Deb of storybeader. Here's what Deb has to say about her challenge: "Set aside time to work on and complete a new technique that you admire. It can be within your field of expertise, but doesn't have to be. Blog about your project at least once during the month of January and show us your progression with photos or a video."

This challenge was very popular last year that we decided to do it again...we all need that nudge to work on new projects! For my new technique, I decided to make some fun chevron designs and paint them fun colors! I first engraved and cut them with my laser. I then hand-painted them and topped them with a clear coat for protection.

 Of course I started with pink :) I made a set of post/stud earrings and a set of magnets. I just LOVE how these turned out! I can't wait til I can get a bunch more painted in several different colors! I plan on adding dangle earrings and maybe thumb tacks at some point too.

Thanks Deb for this challenge. This is a technique I've wanted to try for a while and hadn't sat down to do it. This challenge was just what I needed!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Umba Box

You've heard of the Fruit of the Month Club, right? Each month you get a different basket of fruit sent right to your door. How cool would it be to get a basket of handmade goodies sent to your door each month? Well, a company called Umba Box does just that! Each month subscribers get a handmade treat delivered to them! And I was lucky enough to get to take part in one of their recent boxes!!!

My Woodland Magnets were selected to go out in January's Umba Box!!!
They are a great company to work with and my contact person was super nice and answered all my questions quickly.

I had to redesign my packaging a bit so they would fit inside a 2" mailing tube to go along with a poster that was shipped. And I made miniature business cards to go inside the packages too. That's 215 magnets and biz cards headed out to people who love awesome is that!

I really hope to work with Umba Box again! I have several items that I think would work well for their handmade boxes!
 Interested in having your items sent in an Umba Box? I see they have a contact link for artists!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Shipping Rate Increase

Yesterday the USPS announced a rate increase on postage. Stamps aren't going up much, just 46 cents. But boy are packages getting hit hard. And international packages seem to be getting hit the hardest! While most domestic packages are just increasing by a dime or a dollar, international packages are practically doubling. And this includes Canada as well.

Etsy has put together a nice post on their blog covering several commonly used services with the old and new rates so you can see for comparison.
Here is an Excel file of all the shipping services and new rates at the USPS site as well.

I went over my shipping prices on Thursday and started changing the rates. With custom orders I need to be ahead of the game since I won't be shipping until after the rate increase has taken effect. I was afraid international customers would stop buying all together after seeing the rate increase, but I have good news. I've already sold two items to international locations since raising my rates. While some customers may be deterred, customers who want your product are still going to buy regardless of the shipping.

Take a moment today to look over your shipping rates and make the necessary changes so you don't take a big loss on those large rate increases. The good news is, it didn't take me long to update my prices using the bulk edit tool on Etsy. Click on "Your Shop" at the top of the page. Then click "Shipping & Payment" on the left hand side of the page. There is a link that says "Apply Shipping Profiles to multiple listings". From there you can use the drop down menus to change all of your listings at once. Once I got my new profiles set, it was a piece of cake :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Treasury Thanks - Front Page Edition!

Welcome to another edition of my Treasury Thanks! Each week I like to thank my treasury curators from the past week by featuring their treasuries as well as an item from their shop. Please help me in thanking them by clicking on their treasuries and checking out their shops :)

Linda of lindab142 featured my Mustache Valentine's Day Card in her Valentines Day Gift Ideas Treasury! Linda is ready for Valentine's Day as well with this Big Heart Pendant!

Olga of farberovao featured my Mustache Cuff Links in her Gifts for husband on Valentine's Day Treasury! Olga's shop is currently on vacation, but I found this adorable Felt Kitty Brooch in her sold section!

Sarah of lafripe also featured my Mustache Cuff Links in her Comme les Garcons Treasury! Sarah's shop is full of beautiful vintage finds like this Ornate Cuff Bracelet!

Linda of PruittCreations featured my Letters for Custom Name Albums in her Nice Lime and Cool Turquoise Treasury! Linda is ready for Valentine's Day with this cute Soft Conversation Hearts!

Trina of trinasclaycreations featured my Mustache Cuff Links in her Awesome W O O D Treasury! Trina has the cutest clay shop and specializes in Custom Wedding Cake Toppers like the one above!

Solvita of SoleDeVita featured my Drink Me Bottle Stopper in her >>MEN CAVE<< Treasury which made it to the FRONT PAGE!!! Solvita is from Latvia and creates one-of-a-kind pinback buttons like this Pinky the Fish listing above.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Features - BBA Love

Earlier this week I blogged about some new Valentine's items I've added to my shop. I'm excited to say that my Mustache Card has done so well already! And we still have a couple weeks to go!
This got me in the mood to go searching for other awesome Valentine finds. I didn't have to look any further than my own Etsy team, the Blogging Business Artisans. This team is full of creativity and awesomeness! Check it out...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

♥Spread Some Love♥

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! Jesse and I don't celebrate much, but I'm still having tons of fun making cute and humorous items for my shop :)

I started out with a couple fun/pun cards:

I also listed these cute Post Heart Earrings

and I'll be listing these soon as well

I couldn't help but make a pair of each of these earrings for myself :)

 Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Are you getting your shop ready for the holiday?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Have a Dream

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, I thought a post about dreams was appropriate for today. King inspires us to dream big and work hard for our dreams. They won't happen on their own and we need to speak out and follow our dreams.

Most of my life I've wanted to own my own business. The type of business has changed from time to time, but I've always wanted to work for myself and be completely responsible for my future and success. I had a dream and I knew it would come true with hard work and persistence. Don't get me wrong, it didn't happen over night. Finding the right fit for me and making it work took time. But in the end, it is worth every lost hour of sleep, every 16 hour day I have put in, every paper cut, every trip to the post office, every cold meal I've eaten...worth it all.

Today, I encourage you to take a look at your dreams. Write them down, ponder over them. DREAM BIG! I also want you to look at ways you can take a step toward your Don't wait for the right won't come. Don't wait for someone else to make it happen....they won't. Don't just wish and hope, but really do something to make your dreams come true. Each small step you take will get you one step closer to your dream :)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Treasury Thanks

Welcome to another edition of my Treasury Thanks! Each week I like to thank my treasury curators from the past week by featuring their treasuries as well as an item from their shop. Please help me in thanking them by clicking on their treasuries and checking out their shops :)

Cynthia of AntiquityTravelers featured my Star Burst Notebook in her South by Southwest Treasury! Cynthia's beautiful Turquoise Tailsman Earrings are also featured in this treasury and fit right in with the Southwest theme!

Cynthia also featured my Wooden Anniversary Card in her February is for Lovers Treasury! Cynthia's Queen of Hearts Necklace would be the perfect accessory for Valentine's Day this year!

Heather is a buyer only and featured my Personalized Valentine's Day Card in her Wood Carved Valentines - Hearts & Love in Wood Treasury!

LeAnn of pasqueflower featured my Pink Wooden Earrings in her Pretty, Please Treasury! I just love LeAnn's oven mitts and this Aqua Mitt would go perfectly in this treasury!

Nancy of NFallonDesignStudio also featured my Pink Wooden Earrings in her Pretty in Pink Treasury! Nancy has added lots of new items to her shop this year and I'm loving this Coin Purse, Keychain, Tissue Case Set!

Angela of OddComplex featured my Wooden Wine Charms in her GOT WOOD? Treasury! Angela makes unique heart pendants out of machine nuts! And I love This Listing where you can choose your own color!

Thanks again to my curators! You've made my week :) 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Features - Pantone Emerald

Most of the time my favorite color combo includes pinks, purples and teal/aqua blues. But I have to say, this year's Pantone color is so beautiful! Emerald is one of those colors that looks great on everyone and is just so striking! I love its rich hue and striking appearance! I found some beautiful wearables to show off my love for emerald today :)

Are you digging this year's color? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Supporting Local Artists

While Jesse and I were in Mexico back in December, our resort had a market set up with local artists and vendors out on the walkways around the beach and pools. Some things were obviously mass produced while others you could tell were handmade. I knew I wanted to buy something handmade to bring home with us.

We walked about half way through the market and stopped at one table in particular. A man was hand painting his work right there at the market. He didn't haggle us or try to get us to barter with him. He told us his prices and went back to his work. After being haggled at every other booth, it was nice to stop and watch this man work. He painted every painting with his fingers and finger nails!

I knew right away one of his paintings was coming home with us. The hard part was deciding which one. After much debate, we decided on the one that most represented our trip. I will most remember the blues and greens in the ocean, the palm trees and the white sandy beaches. I think this painting shows that well :)

It is pretty common tradition in Mexico to barter with the vendors and haggle them down to the lowest price. In fact, they expect it. But I couldn't bring myself to do it for this piece of artwork. Being an artist myself, I know how much love and work goes into each piece. How could I haggle on something like that? So I paid his asking price and walked away with a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork that will forever remind me of our trip to Cancun :)

 My only regret...not getting a picture of him while he painted!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Keep an Eye Out!

We had to keep an eye out for these little guys while we were in Mexico...Jesse's sister-in-law had one in her dress while we were getting ready for the wedding!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Making 2013 Rock!

Last year I set monthly goals for myself, my shop and my blog. While I liked keeping tabs on a regular basis, this year I'm thinking bigger and more long-term. I've put together a list of goals I have for the entire year. Some I can get done in the short-term and others may take the entire year to accomplish.
I'm pretty happy with how things went last year here on my blog, so I don't plan to make any changes or post any goals about that. Most of these goals are business related. Because let's face it, when you're is pretty much your entire life :)

And as most of you know, I'm a big believer in not just having goals, but writing them down. And even more, sharing them with others. The graphics in this post all relate to the importance of writing down our goals.
(Thank you to Allison Morris and for allowing me to use these graphics. See the entire post here.)

Short-Term Goals
Stay up-to-date on my cost log and tax info: This used to be something I did at the end of each month. I was able to do this on my breaks at my full-time job and was always up-to-date. Now that I work from home full-time, I haven't been setting aside the time to do this! I'm certainly paying for it now since I'm 6 months behind. Not this year!
Learn about self-employment taxes: I know I should have been doing this since last June when I started working from home full-time. But I knew I had 6 months of other taxes that would help offset my end-of-year taxes. Now that I'm going to be self-employed the whole year, I need to make this a priority RIGHT NOW!
List the jewelry items that I have made: I actually have tons of jewelry items made that aren't in my shop yet. I got so busy with Christmas orders at the end of last year that listing new items had to be pushed aside. Well, those items aren't doing me any good just sitting in a bin. I need to get them listed soon.

Mid-Term Goals
Make and list new wood invitation and wood greeting card designs: My Wood Invitations have done awesome! To reach more buyers, I know I need to expand my designs and styles offered for these. I also have several new ideas for my Wood Greeting Cards. My goal is to add 5 new designs for each item over the course of the year.
Add wedding sets: I get asked for RSVP cards and other matching wedding items to go along with my invitations. During 2013 I want to add some wedding sets including: RSVP Cards, Save the Date Cards, Matching Table Numbers and a Guest Book. So the whole theme is tied into the wedding.

Organize my storage space and work area: This seems to be an on-going, never-ending goal of mine. I guess the goal should be to STAY organized once I get there! Our attic is one big storage area for my inventory and shipping supplies. I know where everything is, but I'm sure no one else would...what a mess! I want to take a little time each month to start organizing that space as well as my studio and make my most used items more readily available.

Long-Term Goals
1,200 Sales on Etsy in 2013: Last year I set monthly sales goals, but this year I'm looking at the big picture. I know certain months will be slower than others and certain months will be a lot busier than others. So I'm setting a more long-term goal that can be assessed throughout the year. It's a pretty ambitious goal, but I'm hoping I can get there :)
Learn about graphic design: One area where I am lacking in my invitation and card designs is the graphic design side. I'm able to use the clip art and graphics I already have to create my designs, but I get asked a lot for special designs. I'm not able to create new designs from scratch yet, but I have all the software and tools needed, now I just need the know how. I want to look into taking an online class or local class to learn how to use my Corel Draw better and advance my skills.

It's a long list of goals, but I'm confident that I'll be able to reach them all this year. I like having them broke down into sections knowing what needs worked on now and what I have to think about for the coming year.
I plan on making 2013 ROCK!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Treasury Thanks

Welcome to another edition of my Treasury Thanks! Each week I like to thank my treasury curators from the past week by featuring their treasuries as well as an item from their shop. Please help me in thanking them by clicking on their treasuries and checking out their shops :)

Eugenie of MulberryWhisper featured my Destination Wedding Invitation in her Into the Woods Treasury!  Eugenie's shop has so many beautiful cushions and these Berry Colored Cushions are just gorgeous!

Sharna of perfectlycloudy featured my Carved Tree Wedding Invitation in her Rustic Winter Wedding Treasury! Valentine's Day is just around the corner and these Red Sparkle Geo Earrings would be perfect for a romantic dinner :)

Margaret of SplendidLittleStars featured my Wooden Anniversary Card in her Sweet Hearts Treasury! Give your little sweet heart this cool Heart Tie Dye Tshirt!

Trina of trinasclaycreations featured my Light Pink Starburst Earrings in her Pretty Pastels Treasury! Trina makes the most beautiful Wedding Cake Toppers and she can personalize them any way you like!

 Thanks again to my curators! You've made my week :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Features - Dolphins

Today's features are inspired by my awesome Swim with the Dolphins that I blogged about yesterday. I looked for something special while in Mexico to remember our experience by, but couldn't find the right item. So when I got home, I started searching Etsy and found these lovely items that remind me of our trip and our swim.

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