Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Antique Dealer Video Portrait

Every once in a while there is a sweet video portrait posted on Etsy's blog that I turn around and share here. Watching a video like this, I am mindful of the day a filmmaker will show up and make my life look fascinating. This is for my friends who love to treasure hunt. You know who you are. Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

When I had nothing original to say...

...and it had a refreshing effect. Just because I have not written doesn't mean I would miss a single meeting of the minds at writers group. On one such occasion, I brought some quotes to read which were passed on to me by Etsy's new blog editor, Juliet Gorman. I believe these are words that have the power to inspire and revive you as they have done for me and my friends. When you start to feel a little overwhelmed, read them again. Here you go:
"I understand [hope] above all as a state of mind, not a state of the world… Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed… Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
- Vaclav Havel

"There is a sense in which every time you choose to do something new you are going to be reborn. And if you do this well, each time up, every time you do a new story, and even if it's just going down to do the parade, or talk to the mayor, or whatever... each time up, small or large, is a little challenge. And it asks you to look and listen very, very closely, and find the thing that you pick out, that you notice, that bounces out of the situation and hits your heart or your head or makes you angry or makes you sad or makes you suspicious, and everything then becomes very personal. And if you do this well, even if you are working in an organization which doesn't want you to be personal, and wants you sounds like "the others," the secret thing you do is you sound "sort of" like the others, but you put in a little bit of your heart somewhere in there. Just a little. And if it's there, it's like a marker. It's the IOU to your soul. And sometimes they let you sing loudly, and sometimes you have to sing soft. But you keep singing, you never, ever stop."
- Robert Krulwich

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Musings Number 8

Hard to believe I am in my 8th week here of sharing from my writers group. We had some fun conversation after this story.
The waif who befriended Caleb seemed harmless enough. He invited her home as I was preparing dinner. She had a hungry look we could not turn away, and we welcomed her to join the family gathered in the kitchen. She gratefully accepted food, but not too much. Surprisingly charming and polite. Not needy as I would have guessed by her looks. Beautiful and well-mannered, but still a stranger. We allowed her into our lives a little at a time. We felt our home offered her a much needed rest. Over the next couple of weeks, this green eyed brunette became our house guest and occasional companion. Before any of us was completely comfortable with the situation, we had to leave her alone for the week end. Free to come and go in our home. Knowing a little of her wild past, I was not totally surprised at the state of our family room when we came home. The evidence of her revelry was quite obvious. Feathers littered the carpet, and in one corner, there was a sparrow's wing. Apparently, our new cat likes the dry food we give her, but she needs some wet food too.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crafting in Color Random things I love

Asters and applique, combine them and you got me. Japanese fabric! In fact I got some in the mail yesterday and can hardly wait to turn it into something. Emery pin cushions, love. Small bowls. I find them irresistable for organizing. Finger puppets, any puppets, as long as they are cute. If you have never entertained kids with puppets, put it on your to-do list, it is awesome. Beadwork and recycling combined, wow! Love all of Christines stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working with brides

Seems like a lot of the brides I have been working with on Etsy are getting their bridesmaid dresses at J.Crew. This makes it great for sending them a little collage that shows the dress they already picked along side my fabric recommendations for clutches. If you make other wedding related items, like the gorgeous brooch bouquet by LionsgateDesigns shown in my collage, I think you can use the collage feature on Picnik the same way I do. Just right click the photo of the dresses they are wearing, and save it to your computer. Do the same for any fabric swatch photos or other accessories you want to recommend. Upload those photos to Picnik. Click on collage, choose your layout, and drag and drop the photos into the layout. Click "done." Save the collage as a photo and email it or attach to an Etsy convo. I think it is a very impressive way to communicate with your potential customers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Pattern Released Today

I found that trying to fit this project and the other 2 or three that are coming into my current zippered pouches pattern was cumbersome. So I have released it as a separate pattern. There is enough different going on with this that I needed to write a new set of instructions for it, and so it is a new pattern. My original plan was to have a zip pouches A-Z pattern, and maybe someday Simplicity will roll them all together into one package. For now, to go A-Z with zipper pouches with me will require 3 patterns. If you already have Zip Pouches A to S, I will refund $2.00 from your purchase of Zip Pouch for 3 Ring Binder. When the next pattern comes out (the large shampoo pouch and the wristlet,) I will offer something similar. I will also bundle them as a 3 pattern set for a better price than the 3 of them separately. I think by offering them separately I am also able to reach the people who would only be interested in one of the projects. Hope that makes sense. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

The Group Dynamic

I wrote something that describes the dynamic of our Writers Group. We all had a good laugh when I read it and we recognized ourselves. Cheryl-Anne tends to use food metaphors. After reading the touching obituary she posted the other day, I understand more. Here is my piece:
I feel like a big slice of ham, sandwiched between Julia and Mary-Anne's nourishing breads, Kathleen's juicy tomatoes, and Char's variety of condiments so essential to the flavor of an American life. Cheryl-Anne is here to remind us that salt and pepper are still the best spices. And there is not a cream puff among us. (I brought cream puffs to share with everyone that night.)
I look forward to Monday nights and sharing in the lives of these women. I watch as we all get to know ourselves better as we reveal our stories on paper. I accept that I am the ham. I see now that I always have been...
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Crafting in Color Team

This team has such a variety of talents. It refreshes me to know that women all over the world are expressing themselves in these beautiful ways and (in some cases) supporting their families with their crafting talents.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Selling Personalized Products

Occasionally I come across an item on Etsy with my name on it, literally. It makes me think, "Wow! They made that just for me." Even the first letter of a persons name can have that effect. Personalization is such a powerful selling tool, that it appears as a trend in (correct me if I am wrong) every Etsy merchandising report. If you search Etsys Blog for the word "personalization," you get 4 pages of results. Does this have your attention yet?
Ronda asked a great question on my last blog post. What are the most popular monograms? I think the best resource is to be found here at Parents.com. There is a search by country for current popular names (if you make baby items) or in the US by decade of the most popular baby names. If you are selling on Etsy, I think you will find the majority of your buyers will have been born in the 1980's. For my sample photo that I showed on yesterdays blog post, I chose my monograms based on my own gut feeling for what is popular among my own customers. All five of my guesses are in the top 40 most popular names. (Insert back pat here) Looking at the actual list of most popular 1980's names, I think I would have done a little better to replace the C and the K with a J and an A. If you are making a pile of them to go in a boutique (as I suggested yesterday,) find out from the owner the average age of their shopper and go for the top names from that decade. I think the boutique owner will be pleasantly surprised at the impulse buying you can create at a register with some well-placed personalization.
The beauty of personalization on Etsy, is that you can create an inventory of your most popular item, add the initial or message after it is ordered, and still ship in a timely manner. It will be most helpful to shoppers if you show examples in your shop of what their item will look like with a message or an initial on it. That may take some investment on your part to make the sample items. Consider making them for gift giving yourself this year and photograph your gifts as samples. I hope these thoughts and the related items spark your creativity and help you offer personalization that brings more business to your shop in the coming months.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monogrammed Keyring Coin Pouches

Some marketing ideas for those of you who have the zippered pouch pattern. I will not have time to do all of this myself, but I hope some of you go to town with it. I picture these as an impulse buy at a boutique register. If you have been wanting to offer wholesale to get into a brick and mortar shop you love, something small and simple might be the trick. As customers stand at the register, they see their initial and just have to buy it. The impulse price point will vary depending upon the boutique. I suggest you offer a 10 pack for the shop owner to try out the idea, and include a basket or some other container that coordinates with the shop decor.
These would also make great co-worker gifts. Never forget your parking meter change because it is on your keyring.
These are made from my zip pouches pattern. I omitted the snap pocket to simplify the cutting and sewing. The monograms are made separately and I can add them using fabric glue, after the customer has chosen the initial. A boutique would tell you up front what initials they want.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

W, X, Y

W, X, Y
Originally uploaded by studiocherie
Adding to my zippered pouches pattern and trying to get to Z...
Actually, I will be there tomorrow. I will add the arm strap for the iPod pouch and that will be Z.
What you see here is a large pouch for full size hair care products 10 inches tall, 11 inches wide and 4 inches deep. I used laminated fabric for the inside and outside.
In the foreground is a 9 x 5 x 5 wristlet with a zipper pull strap.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Real Life with Teenager

Monday is my day to post something I wrote for writers group. This one is from last Spring. I enjoy reading my stories outloud to the group and hearing their stories read to me. Printing them here isn't quite the same. Cheryl-Anne gets to read hers on the radio. Tune in here. Imagine what follows in my voice:
First, I think I need to explain why I was in my son's drawers...dresser drawers. Where, by the way, I found surprisingly few articles of clothing - high waisted carpenter jeans and long sleeved tee shirts he hasn't worn since 6th grade. Library fines. Only library fines could have sent me on this particular journey. (I am not the kind of mother who would read her teenager's journal or go through his things. Honestly, I don't even want to step into his room.)$189 in library fines. I felt an urgent need to stop the metaphorical bleeding. This amount was not going to wait until he came home from school - the library would be closed by then, and who knows what tomorrow's total would be?
I called him on the phone. He told me the Cd's were in his top dresser drawer. I shuddered, thanked him, and hung up. I stepped gingerly while trying not to look at the floor strewn with clothes and books and papers (presumably school work.) There was a jack-in-the-box effect when I opened the drawer. "Pop!" goes the gum and candy wrapper collection. I am thinking they look like garbage to me, but they must have sentimental value for him. "Sweet things I have loved," or something like that. I have to dig to get to all of the Cd's. (Note to self: get shallower drawers.) As I was digging, I uncovered a stack of magazines, face down in the drawer. Oh, crap! I close my eyes and bow my head for a moment of silent prayer: "Please, Lord, don't let it be..." I take a quick snort of air into my nostrils, the kind that holds back tears. I move slowly, with one eye open, I turn the stack over... The New Yorker. Exhale. Big Exhale. Buried in his dresser drawer, my son of the maxed out library card, has 6 or 8 issues of The New Yorker. I gathered up the borrowed Violent Femmes, the overdue Bowling For Soup, the presumed lost Flight of the Concordes and took them to the library with a smile on my face. I am going to have to admit, he doesn't know squat about responsibility, but he is a class act. Oh, I love him.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hello teachers and scrapbook enthusiasts

School starts tomorrow for us, so I wanted to pass this along. Picnik has some great ideas for teachers. It really is fun to play with their frames and collages. Almost enough fun to make me want to start scrapbooking. If you already love scrapbooking, you will probably flip over all of the easy page options on Picnik. If you have been wanting an easier way than physical cutting and pasting to create great mementos for your students, here is your answer. They show the new back to school features, like my blog banner sample below, and student desk name tags, on the Picnik blog. Imagine your kindergarten teacher in the photo above holding a book and introducing herself to you in her first newsletter... all I did was add the Polaroid frame to my photo and then added the text, all in Picnik.

Luggage tags for instrument cases! The fifth grade parents don't even know about band yet, so it is not too late to promote these - cool! My J-I-T marketing plan is so crazy, it just might work!