Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two Years Makes a Big Difference

This is so cute. I found it today when going over some stats for this blog. I am much more proficient at using Twitter than I was back then.

What social media outlets do you think are the most effective? The most fun?

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm a guest bloggah.

I'm a guest blogger over at The Soap Box today. I'm expounding on the benefits of jojoba oil. Boring to those of you who don't make soap, I'm certain. For those of you that do, enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Featured Crafter -- coming soon!

I am working on a SUPER Featured Crafter post! Stay tuned!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Handmade Holiday: Can you guess?

It's going to be a very frugal holiday this year. As such, I have to get started on crafting. I'm excited to make organza flower hair pins for the girls. My daughter plays roller derby, so I'm thinking about things she would want/need for that sport. I have several teenage and younger girls to make gifts for this year. I scored with the sweater above.

I can get two or three gifts out of that sweater. It's made of wool and angora. Can you guess what I'm making?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Handmade Holiday -- What are your plans?

Image by Gisele at greetingfriends on Artfire.

This year, for the girls, I want to make organza flowers, like those up there. Or maybe these, down here.

Mysterious, no? Apparently, flowers like these are made by cutting organza or some other polyester-based fabric into circles, and singeing the edges with a candle flame. They are then stacked and sewn together with little beads in the middle. I'm looking forward to simply having the time to make them.

I'm not sure what I'll do for the boys this time. It's been a while since I've made fleece hats--and heads get bigger, don't they? And now that I say that, I'm feeling tired thinking about making all this stuff. What is my time worth, anyway? Buying handmade is a great way to support indie business and invigorate your local economy. Just yesterday, I was vending at the one great craft fair that I do every year (which is done! Gone! This was its last year! Sob!), and I bought a new winter hat (knitted), and a cute, cute, cute felt hairband. Both were handmade by the vendors. Awesome! I'm glad to know where my money is going.

What are your plans for a handmade holiday?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Calm now-- no worries

I saw my blog and just realized that you all must be thinking that I'm filled with murderous rage, constantly, because I didn't update the blog.

That's what it looks like, glancing at it, anyway.

I've gotten over my rage. I really shouldn't have even let myself get worked up. Everything always works out. Always! There is no sense in getting worked up. Really. Maintain an even temper. It's better for your skin.

And here's the proof that it worked out.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Experiencing the Murderous Rage of Entrepreneurship

Yesterday, I had a horrible experience with "support" at my hosting company. I'm still upset about it, which is probably my fault. It is infuriating to deal with a situation that is out of my control.

But my emotions are still under my control, right? So if I'm upset, it's my own fault.

Cut to this morning, and I check in on my website, and it's gone. Well, not GONE gone, but the link doesn't point to the site anymore--it points to the hosting company. I think this has something to do with the nonsense yesterday, so I've decided not to get my panties in a twist about it today.

No, you cannot access my website right now. Yes, I've placed ads and changed links and I've started directing people there. Yes, today, some people will be confused when they try to go to my site.

I've got to let it go. I'm letting the murderous rage go. I can handle this. This is the result of my decision to move forward despite everything being in place. Today, I will live and learn.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Craft Business: When To Get Out or Hire it Out

Different aspects of business make me think carefully about how much my time is worth, and whether or not I should spend time on any particular thing. I think you should be just as careful with your time.

  • If you sell your soaps at a farmer's market, calculate how much money you are bringing in per hour, and ask yourself if it's worth it. I recently decided not to return next year to one particular market. Too many days had returned too few dollars, and this was the second year we gave the market a chance. Forget it!
  • If you make your own products, figure out how many products you can make in one hour, and then price that out at retail. Then ask yourself if it's worth it to hire someone else to make them for you, or to help you make them. Example: I can make 168 bars of soap in about 2 hours. Sold at full retail, that's $924 worth of product in 2 hours, or $462 in an hour. Would it make sense to hire someone at $10/hour to make the soap for me, so I can focus on other aspects of the business? How much more work could get done around here if I wasn't making soap?
  • If you sell your products at craft fairs, carefully consider the rent. If you pay $200 in rent, and you only bring in $500, and the fair lasted two whole days, is it really worth it?
  • Even better--what about a small craft fair that only wants to charge you $25? Or 5-10% of your earnings? Let's pretend you agree to it. You must add up all the time it takes you to make the stuff, pack up the stuff, load your car, drive there, unload your car, set up the stuff, and sit there, vending. Then when the fair is done, reverse the whole process. Even if the fair charged you a minimal fee, you have invested a LOT of time and effort into it. This year, I am foregoing attendance in a very small fair, because of this very thing. My time is just too valuable to take chances like this anymore. I do one big craft fair that has reasonable rent, and always gives me a good return on my investment.
  • Every year I swear to myself that I'm going to hire an accountant. But then every year, my TurboTax auto-renews, and I do it myself, anyway. I've got a system, I figure. It doesn't take that long, and I never really have the however-much money it would take to hire someone. Should I stop doing it myself?
What parts of your business have you realized you should give up? What parts will you never give up?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Craft Business: Be Direct

If you have the opportunity to talk directly to your customers and offer a sample, you should do it.

If you have the chance to tell a customer why they should buy today, you should do it.

If you are talking to a client about a large purchase, and they need to be reminded of your conversation, you should do it.

Sometimes, customers want to be told what they should do.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Luxury: A Rant

Photo by Gunnar Ries via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons agreement.

Time is a gift. It is a luxury. I am certain that many entrepreneurs are in the same spot that I am right now. We are busting our collective asses.

We do this every day.

Every day, we go to day jobs that we dislike, to feed our families and continue with health insurance. We finish with that 8-hour day, thinking at the end of it, "If I had just spent those 8 hours on my business--I could be so much more successful!" But we are trapped, because our businesses do not feed our families, yet.


We leave that job and go pick up our kid(s) from school. We then go home and get them started on homework while we start on our second shift. This shift has several components:

  • homework with the kid
  • dinner
  • laundry
  • business work
All of these things happen simultaneously, somehow. The business work gets started, and then it falls apart because our spouse put the packing tape in his/her car. So the business work shifts and something else gets done. But then our kid needs help with her homework, so we stop that. She also says she's hungry, and our spouse is tired from working on business work all day, so we get some sort of food cooking. While it is in the oven, we go back to the business work, until the homework needs interrupt again.

We then try to sit down and eat in peace for five minutes, once.

After dinner, we continue with the business work until we are too tired to see straight. This tells us it is time for our kid to take a bath and get ready for bed. During bathtime, we wash our faces and brush our teeth, and then we get the kid into bed and read a chapter of Harry Potter. After that, we collapse into bed, but then get up because we forgot to take our glucosamine/put the laundry in the dryer/feed the pets/stamp a letter. Then we go back to bed and try to fall asleep, but ideas about the next day's plan of attack.

The whole time, we try to remain hopeful that all this work will pay off in the end. What does "pay off" mean? To me, it means making enough money on my own so that I don't have to have that 8 hour job. It means spending those hours at home, so that my evenings can be spent paying actual attention to my family.

Where is the rant in this? Here it is. While working, I am sometimes on social networks online (Facebook and Twitter, mostly). Some of it is marketing, and yes, some of it is distracting.

Some of the distractions make me want to vomit. To wit:

"Oh, look at these cute cookies!"

"This video of a camel spitting on some douchebag is priceless."

"I am so bored. I think I'll nap on the couch."

Nap? Nap? Who are these people, and why are they my "friends?" Cookies? Videos? BOREDOM? And some of them write sanctimonious blog entries about how we need to save the planet by doing this/that/the other.

Some days it's enough to put me over the edge. Straight over the edge of reason into full-fledged WTF mode. I feel like my head is going to explode. I feel like I hate complete strangers. I am JEALOUS.

Yes, it's all jealousy. It's a reflection on my poor character. I long for the days when all I had to do was go to work and come home. But no--I have to be an entrepreneur, launching a new project, in the middle of my other businesses' busy season. Because I am an idiot.


Don't worry. I'll get over it when I have some time to sleep. Right now, I can't take it.

As I often do, I'm asking again: Am I the only one, here? Is it really just me?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Root Word of Business is Busy

I am so busy.

It's a good problem to have. My husband stopped looking for a job, as he had been for the past two years, and just works for my soap company. Since he's making the soap now, I am freed (ha! freed!) to attempt to bump up the soaps through wholesaling. I have done this, with help from a forward-thinking friend, and now my husband is employed, full-time, making soap. Hundreds and hundreds of bars of soap.

Its' a good thing he's doing it. Because I am swamped.

My web guy is working on Craft e-Revolution. I wanted it to launch in August, 2010. Now it will launch in October, 2010. It will! To start, it will only have my books. I do have one book from an author that I'm formatting, so she will be published before the end of the year. I'm also re-writing my own books.

But I have to launch, so I'm gonna. It will be what we call a "soft launch." I have learned over the years that the soft launch works out better for me.

I am so busy! It's really ridiculous, sometimes. I work at my 7-3 job and think, "Lunchtime is great. All I have to do is eat lunch." It's often the only break I have in my day. I have to force myself to Put. The. Computer. Down. at night.

Who else? Am I the only one?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Soap Business 101: Getting Started

I had a great response when I asked my email newsletter folks a question. I just went and checked, and it's been over a YEAR since I asked.

I am lame.

But I haven't forgotten it, and I got a lot of feedback on it. I saved it all, and I still plan on writing a book on owning and running a craft business. I'm thinking I should focus it, though, and write the book about running a soap business in particular.

Which book would you rather read?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Advertising on Blogs: How to Choose?

I have been trying to figure out which blogs would be best for advertising Craft e-Revolution. There is a part of me that doesn't want to spend one cent on marketing, and I'm doing the best viral planning I can. I have a newsletter email list, etc. etc. I'm not going to explain that. You all know that, right?

Right? Maybe a post for another time, then.

In any case, I'm trying to resolve a dilemma. Should I advertise on a blog that has high readership, but often incorporates MAJOR spelling mistakes in the posts? It's obvious that the blogger doesn't know how to spell 'spigot' for example. The spell check feature would have caught 'spickot' anyway.

See? Right there? That red, wiggly line that you, the reader can't see but I CAN BECAUSE IT'S SPELLED WRONG?

Sorry. I think I know my answer. That blog won't get my money for advertising. I can't give my money to someone who thinks it's appropriate to have a blog that has egregious spelling errors.

I just can't.

Where else should I draw the line? Or shouldn't I? Am I too picky?

Too Many Jobs: When to quit?

Am I the only person who has two businesses AND a full-time job? I can't be, right? I can't be the only one. If I didn't have the full-time job, I could dedicate hours and hours of time to the businesses. I could spend LOTS more time with my family.

Am I the only person who feels like she's missing her own life?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

NaBloWriMo -- someone else do it, please!

This year is the year I must give up NaBloWriMo to someone else. I am absolutely spinning with work to do. Someone, please volunteer to do it. I am sorry, but I just don't have the time this year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Roller Derby: Entrepreneurs Take Note

Since joining roller derby, I have learned a lot. I've learned that my body can still surprise me, and that it hasn't forgotten everything about being an athlete. I've learned that pain doesn't last forever.

Some of the things I've learned from derby translate directly into entrepreneurship, and can be expressed with charming one-liners. To wit:

It doesn't matter if you fall; what matters is how fast you get back up.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hello? Anybody there?

I am a list owner of a group on Yahoo. It's called "Firing Your Boss." The idea was a friend's, actually, and she is still one of the list owners, too. We wanted to create a support group for women who wanted to be self-employed.

Great idea, right? We could talk to each other, offer ideas and support, and network, too. All in a positive environment.

Okay, so I'm the only one who posts anything. I try to engage people in conversation, but they don't participate. I create different ways we can interact (i.e. a What Did You Do This Week? thread), and nothing. I ask new members to introduce themselves, and they do, and NOBODY else says anything to them but me.

What do you all recommend? Should I delete the group? Keep going, because writing down my thoughts is a good way to remain focused? Continue blogging about it until folks join up and start talking because I cried about it here?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Do Exist

It's been a while, hasn't it? Maybe it's time for another crafter feature. Maybe it's time for me to expound upon the glories of business-ownership and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Or maybe it's time for me to curl up in a ball in the corner, rocking back and forth, with a horrified look on my face. That face. Up there.

That's right. It's time for me to go back to work. Not only do I own a craft business and a publishing business, but in my free time, I'm a public school teacher. This year will be my 19th year.

So today is the first Sunday of the school year, which means I will be preparing my lunches and clothing all day, and taking my daughter to roller derby practice in the afternoon, and not much else. I will peruse the list of convos on Etsy, however, to see who wants to be the next featured crafter. Gotta have fun somewhere, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

PSA: Great Business Blog That Isn't Mine

I received a great blog post in my email today, about failure (hence the stricken gargoyle). I subscribe to many blogs, but one favorite for business is erica.biz. Her advice is straightforward and practical. I have not purchased any of her products yet, but if she produces one that seems like it will help my particular publishing business, then I'll give it a try. As an independent publisher, I like to support others who are indie, too. She publishes all of her own products.

Give her blog a try and see if it helps you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Winnah Winnah Chicken Dinnah

And the winnah is:


I will hook her up with Angela, so she can claim her prize. Whee! Thanks to all for partiicpating!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Featured Crafter: Angela at The Pink Dillo

It's featured crafter time! Remember how I said this blog is going to be all about crafters and entrepreneurs? Here we go again--with a great giveaway, too! Our featured crafter this week is Angela of The Pink Dillo. She lives in Austin, Texas, and her handmade tags are just too precious.

What is your favorite kind of paper to use for your crafts?

I have quite an obsession with paper, I have more cardstock and paper pads than I can count, or have room for! But that doesn’t stop me from buying more. I love using scrapbooking papers and good quality cardstock in my projects. I use a lot of DCWV (Die Cuts with a View) cardstock and paper, and really love the quality and texture of Bazzill cardstocks too. I also recently discovered many of the wonderful digital paper packs and collage sheets offered by sellers on Etsy, where you can print out the designs on your own paper or cardstock as many times as needed – genius! Even though I have enough paper already to last a lifetime, there’s several of these I have my eye on and plan on giving a try here soon – I just can’t help myself!

What do you look for in a supplier?

I use a mixture of suppliers – I probably spend more time at the local craft stores here in Austin than anywhere else, outside of work and home. I also spend a lot of time shopping from a few sites online, and get all of my shipping supplies in bulk from a variety of online companies, which helps keep my per unit costs down. I also enjoy using Etsy suppliers, and just recently bought a bunch of materials from a variety of shops, which I’m currently using to create a new line of bottle cap, wood, and glass magnets. I definitely look for quality items, but also try to keep my costs down too and usually wait to buy things at the local craft stores when on sale or I have a coupon - I’m a sucker for a good sale.

How long have you had a craft business?

This is still a relatively new venture for me. I have a full-time day job, where I work in the corporate office of a property management company. While I enjoy my job for the most part, I absolutely love the outlet that I now have in Etsy, where I get to create things that hopefully others will enjoy. I’ve always loved being crafty – my mom had plenty of arts and crafts projects to keep my sisters and I busy when we were young, and I still enjoyed being creative whenever I had the chance as I got older.

My shop officially opened on November 22, 2009, but I first discovered Etsy last summer. I had actually wanted to start some sort of craft business on the side, but had no idea how to begin and never knew a site like Etsy existed until a couple of co-workers told me about it. Once I checked it out, I knew immediately that I wanted to open a shop. Paper crafts seemed like the natural direction for me to take as I had gotten into scrapbooking while in college, although I hadn’t kept up with it in recent years. I pretty much jumped head first into it all and quickly began adding to the supplies I already had and started making gift tags and cards. I’m sure others can relate as well, but I soon learned there was much, much more to having a craft business than actually creating! I spent several months preparing before actually opening shop, and while it’s been a time-consuming adventure, I’ve really enjoyed learning the business aspects of it as well – makes me feel like I’m actually putting my Marketing and Business degree to good use!

What's the next craft you want to learn?

I have so many ideas running through my head – too many ideas and not enough time in the days, unfortunately. There are plenty of other crafts I would LOVE to learn how to do – jewelry making, handmade soaps (I have a huge obsession with those now too), hand-sewn products, and plenty of other things I see on Etsy everyday. Maybe one of these days I’ll try my hand at something completely new and different for me, but for now I’m more than happy to concentrate on paper crafts and support other Etsy sellers.

I am planning on expanding my line of products soon, however. In addition to the cards, gift/favor tags, confetti, and embellishments currently available, I’ve started a new line of magnets as I mentioned, and will soon be listing sets of bottle cap and decoupaged wooden magnets, with glass magnets to follow. Other new products that will be debuting soon also include decorated party favor tins, cupcake picks, and journaling tags. I also have a couple of cool new tools I have yet to try out - a heat embossing gun and a sticker machine – can’t wait to see what other creative goodies I can come up with using those.

Get honest with us—what drives you crazy in business? Is there any part of it that causes you great anxiety?

I was definitely anxious to make that first sale, wondering whether anyone would like my items enough to buy them, or if I would be gifting my friends and family with a lot of handmade cards and tags. Once I did, of course, then I had that moment of panic, stressing over what I was supposed to do next, and worrying whether I would ship everything out okay (which thankfully I did).

All in all though, I haven’t done this that long, so I don’t think I’ve experienced too much anxiety related to the business yet. Listing items can be a hassle sometimes, as it can take me awhile to figure out what to write. The need for more organization also frustrates me at times, mostly because we currently live in an apartment and our dining area, which we never used, is my make-shift craft room – what I wouldn’t do for some more (easily accessible) storage space! But this is more a hobby for me right now, something I truly enjoy doing, and I’m able to take a step back here and there when I need a break. My day job is stressful enough at times – this is my way of relaxing and letting my creative side out! I’m still learning as I go along though, so check back with me in a year or so, and I may have more to say about this then.

What is your favorite technology (software or hardware) to use for crafting?

None of my crafting techniques are all that high-tech at the moment – the most advanced piece of equipment I occasionally use is the laser printer at my work. I would love to invest in one of those fancy cutting machines, like the Cricut or Silhouette at some point, but for now, I keep things pretty simple. I definitely couldn’t live without my trusty little manual paper cutter, not to mention the multitude of paper punches I’ve collected over the last several months. I also definitely couldn’t do without some sort of photo editing software – a must-have for this business!


Thanks so much for joining the fun here, Angela. Readers: Angela is offering one of her new sets of magnets she mentioned in her interview, as a giveaway prize! Click the link to see the choices--they are adorable! The winner will get to choose the magnet set prize. Yay!

How to enter, you ask? There are several ways:

1. Tweet this blog post (just click one of the Tweetmeme buttons) = 1 entry

2. Share this post on Facebook = 1 entry

3. Leave a comment on this post, answering one of the interview questions = 3 entries

4. Subscribe to this blog (up above, on the right. See it?) = 1 entry

5. Heart The Pink Dillo = 1 entry

6. Leave a comment on this post, sharing your favorite Pink Dillo shop item = 1 entry

But wait! There's more! If you enter the giveaway but aren't the winner, Angela is still offering you something--a 10% discount coupon for use in her shop. Awesome! Share this blog entry and enter to win--go forth and share it! You've got one week--the giveaway ends Friday, July 9, at 7pm mountain time.

The Fine Print:

1. At 7pm mountain time on Friday, July 9, all entries will be tallied and assigned numbers.
2. A random number generator will be employed to choose the winner.
3. The winner and Angela will be put in touch via email, at which point they will deal with the transaction independently.
4. No promises are made, implied, or otherwise told to you about the outcome. If you don't win, you still can get the 10% discount. Email me for details.


I loved this post at Entrepreneur. Probably because it validates my opinion.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Portland, Maine -- The Food Post

The Lobster Shack is just that--a shack on the shore of Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It's tiny, but their picnic tables are prolific. The real estate for their picnic tables is easily 3x or more the size of their "shack."

There is nothing lowly about the food, though. Nothing at all. We had lobster rolls, fried clams, and shared a piece of blueberry pie. All of it was amazing. Each clam was the size of half my hand. The lobster was fresh-picked, of course. The pie was homemade. Please, wipe that drool. We are just getting started.

Next stop: foodieville. I did some homework, and found a great place called Duckfat. Folks who consider themselves foodies or who watch Top Chef habitually will recognize the nom response in their bodies when the words "duck fat" are uttered. To have a restaurant named that is just too much.

They specialize in French fries. Fried in duck fat.

I'm sorry. I should have warned you. But one might think the restaurant's name would have given a bit away.

My friend Tara and I shared a large order of their poutine: duck fat fries, smothered in melty cheese curd and duck fat gravy.

I'll give you a moment.

We polished off our dinner with some Moxie. It tastes like root beer, and is particular to New England states.

Moving on to Boothbay Harbor, we found ourselves at McSeagull's restaurant. Both the Lobster Shack and McSeagull's were recommended to us by friends who have lived up in Maine.

Oh, my goodness. This may have been the best thing I've ever eaten. I do love seafood stew, and that's what this was called. Lobster, crab, clams...there were mushrooms in there that had a great flavor, and I'm sure the fish stock used to make it was made there. It was divine. It was also a cold, rainy day, so that was too perfect. They also had chowdah:

which Tara reported was very good, too. We also shared some fish on a kabob and something else that I didn't photograph, because I was in a fish stew coma. All of the seafood places up there have these crackers, that are manufactured in Vermont:

'Scuse me. BAKED in Vermont.

Did I mention chowdah? Yes, I did. We also ate one day at Gilbert's Chowder House, right on the pier:

The chowdah was very good, as were the mussels:

I was chastised for tucking into those mussels too fast. They asked if I'd eaten anything that week.

The next photo should be about a crab melt sandwich that I had at Frills, in Ogunquit. The sandwich was delicious: fresh-picked crab and a tiny bit of mayo, with melted cheese and grilled bread. It was very, very good. I was distracted by the downpour right outside the patio tent, however:

and so I forgot to photograph that sandwich.

Our last day in Portland found us at RiRa, an Irish pub in Old Port. Apparently, this pub is a chain, as they have about 10 of them around the country. I am happy to report that doesn't matter. The drinks were great, and the food was even better. We had fish and chips. Um, I'm sorry. When I ordered fish and chips, I didn't expect to get A WHOLE FREAKING FISH:

Please note the server's thumb for scale. It was one huge piece of fish. I suppose it wasn't the whole fish, but one fillet. Enormous and delicious. I did enjoy it. We also enjoyed heading into the next room to listen to the two fellows they had hired to lead us all in some Irish drinking songs. It was a great way to finish up our trip.

Have you eaten at any of these places? Where's the best meal you've had?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Portland, Maine

Those are my feet, up there. That's the first time they were in the Atlantic Ocean. I'm 41 years old.

I have had to put off this trip to Maine for two years. I suppose that's not entirely true, as everything in life is a choice, right? I chose to pay cash for my trip this time. I had to pre-arrange for things to be managed while I was gone, and the whole month of May was crazypants because I was preparing for my absence (mostly by making soap). But it was worth it.

For all my life, I never understood why some people were "into" water, or boating, or lighthouses. I grew up in the gorgeous landlocked state of Iowa, where river fishing and taming my hair due to the air humidity were the closest I came to water recreation. After hanging out in and around Portland, Maine for a week, I am starting to understand.

The sea is mysterious. It stretches forever away. It is blue on top, and three feet beneath that turns black as night and is terrifying. It's also liberating. I also had the thought, more than once, that the ocean is alive, and it felt like it wanted to say something or do something--to send a message. Of course, this is ridiculous thinking, but that's the feeling I got, standing on a beach, watching the tides come in.

The landscape on Maine beaches is stunning. The air was fresh--scented with salt and pine trees. I can breathe in right now and remember it, and my blood pressure drops. Amazing.

Have you taken a trip that affected you?

(Many more photos to come--lots of stories to tell.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Portland, Maine

Photos are forthcoming of my trip to Portland, Maine. Yes, even beleaguered public school teachers with two businesses get to take a vacation once every 8 years.

You read that right.

Photo processing will happen when I get my to-do list done for today. On my list:

1. Meet w/dude who is looking at my car.

2. Pick up essential oils.

That's about it. I already made liquid soap this morning, and did payroll. What is on your to-do list today?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another giveaway--not even mine

Head on over to I Heart Handmade and enter to win THEIR giveaway. Look at that cute baker's twine. I think I would use it for the upgrade of my book that I'm going to do this summer. I want to enhance the "packaging your soaps" section with photographs and examples. Baker's twine around a complementary-colored paper would be cute, right?

Giveaway Winnah!

The winnah is:

Siliva, of SV Soaps!

Thanks to all who played along. Keep in touch--these crafter features aren't going away! Do you know someone (maybe yourself) who wants to be featured? Let me know.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Featured Crafter: Amaya Labrador of sybaritic

Classy. Elegant. Cute. Steampunk.

This is the motto of Amaya Labrador's shop, sybaritic, on Etsy. Her jewelry combines a steampunk approach with a modern look--elegant and edgy at the same time. Please visit her shop--all of the photos here are linked--and consider a purchase. Also, read the interview and find out how to enter a giveaway from Amaya's shop!

Where are you attending college?

I am about to finish my first year of the Masters of Architecture at Georgia Institute of Technology. My M.Arch. is a professional degree, so when I finish next year I'll be one step closer to being a licensed architect. I'm currently focusing my studies on healthcare architecture, so, I'll hopefully get a job in that field.

How does the study of architecture inform your jewelry creation? Or is it the other way around?

Often times I'll be building an architectural model, and come up with a cool way to use this or that material in jewelry. Or, I'll be looking at a photograph of a famous building and try to figure out how to get that feeling from a piece of jewelry. Mostly, I think my personal design aesthetic and taste influences both the architecture and the jewelry design.

What pleases you about the steampunk aesthetic?

The 'bits and bobs' aspect of it. You can get in an explore the pieces; there are often several things to look at. It's interesting but not cute -- there's that raw, industrial feel to it. The clock gears for example, I harvest from old watches (broken ones that even watch repairmen have given up on); it's incredible to see the little jewels, think how the watches are put together and marvel at the fact that often times, they're older than my parents!

Have you seen Hellboy?

Uh... I think I have, but part of the silver lining of having really bad memory is that I can see movies over and over again and not particularly remember them!

Hellboy has a great steampunk aesthetic with the costumes and weapons/gadgets. It's a "comic book movie" so if you enjoy that genre, I think you will really love it. Do you have favorite steam punk movies?

I'll put it on my 'to watch list' then, but I'm afraid I don't have a favorite steampunk movie! I'm actually a pretty normal gal, who just happens to like making jewelry with funky stuff.

Do you produce certain “lines” of jewelry, or do you just create what is in your head at that moment?

Although I never restrict myself creatively, I concentrate my commercial efforts on two lines. The first is a classy version of steampunk, with clock hands, cogs, hearts and keys. The second line, currently only available in boutiques and at shows, takes classic clock hand shapes to a more modern material, acrylic. I design and manufacture these laser cut pieces myself, so they truly are unique.

This blog is about business and crafting. What can you share with our readers about the best parts of being in business? What is the most challenging aspect?

My favorite part of being in business is being able to create something and then send it out into the world. I also enjoy the process: coming up with an idea, tinkering with it till it works, finding sources for supplies, assembling each piece, photographing it (okay, I don't always enjoy THAT!), figuring out cost and price. As to the challenging stuff: bookeeping and accounting. I can do it at the micro level. I know what each piece costs me and how to price it. But figuring out profit/loss, cash flow... *shudder*

Thanks, Amaya!

Amaya is sponsoring a giveaway with this post! Have a look at this necklace:

This is an example of the line Amaya creates for boutiques and shows. They are handcrafted by her. The photo is linked, so you can see other options. A CUSTOM NECKLACE is the giveaway prize! Holy Mother of Steampunk! You will get to choose your color, style of the clock hand and charms, and color of the 30-inch chain. Awesome with awesomesauce, folks.

Here are the ways you can enter:

1. Visit Amaya's shop on Etsy, and leave a comment here about your favorite piece = 1 entry
2. Subscribe to this blog = 1 entry
3. Tweet this blog entry = 1 entry (button below)
4. "Like" this entry on Facebook = 1 entry (button below)
5. Link to this entry on your own blog = 1 entry
6. Follow either soapcrone or sybaritic_esty on Twitter = 1 entry
7. Befriend either Amy or Amaya on Facebook = 1 entry

For all entries, we must be able to tell it's you, so leaving another comment with your info for Facebook or Twitter or such, telling us what you did, is probably a good idea. Good luck, everyone! Spread the word!

The small print:

This giveaway is open through Friday, May 21, 2010, at 8pm. (Update--giving you a little more time, people! Share! Tweet! Etc!) On Saturday, I will get up and compile all the entries, etc. and choose a winner at random. The winner I choose is the winner, and that's final. I will try to find your email through your entries (i.e. find it at your website which is linked through Twitter or Blogger, for example), and I will email you and Amaya to hook you up. At that point, she will email you about the prize and getting it to you, and I will be out of it. Shipping will be to a US address only.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Business: To Whom Do I Listen?

Photo by ky_olsen on Flickr. Used with permission.

Do listen to:

  • your gut
  • your friends who own their own businesses
  • other entrepreneurs who are doing what you are doing, but are doing it better than you
  • gurus in books who make sense to you

Do NOT listen to:

  • random people on the Internet who email you with messages that start with "You should."
  • your friends who don't own a business
  • your mother

People, seriously. I just had someone email me, saying, "the only reason I emailed you is because your picture shows someone who looks sad...Please just trust me. your twitter photo is shows an extremely sad look...from the nose down...from the nose up is ok...consider another picture where your expression is not so down...just want to help...rarely do I critique what smart woman do in business...wish you the best."

Seriously? Out of the blue, you are gonna email someone and tell her that you don't like her photo?

Buddy, please.

1. You are a man. I don't give a shit about your opinion.
2. You are a man. I don't exist to seem sexually available to you, shocking as that may seem.
3. I don't listen to random people on the Internet.

I do, however, use their emails for blog fodder, as needed. Oh, and dude? That photo was taken on my boyfriend's bed, when I was 24. It's not sad. TRUST ME.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

On Being Yourself

Your business is you.

More than ever, people will buy from you because of who you are, not necessarily what you are selling. Don't mistake me--you must have a product that folks want. You must provide your niche with something fantastic.

But telling your own story, and being true to yourself--that's where you will make the sales. Social media can help you to tell your story, and people want to hear it.

Ironically, the Internet can facilitate connections with people and help you to create a community. This is your community--the people who want to hear from you. The vast expanse of the Internet lends itself perfectly to niche-ing.

So, who are you? Are you a witty writer? A science guy? A fantastic public speaker? Are you the crazy public school teacher who also makes soap and sells it at the farmer's market? Are you the woman whose husband died, and who is making a living by publishing ebooks and selling candles? Are you the crazy cat lady down the street who sells aprons on Etsy?

Who are you?

This morning I made a video of myself, and I'm going to post it on You Tube. I'll share it here, of course. In the video I am wearing no makeup, my hair is up in a ponytail, and the counter behind me is an absolute mess.

And I don't give a shit. It's my house. It's often a mess, because I make messy stuff, and we use our kitchen for actual cooking and eating. It's who I am, and the folks in my community won't care, because they want to know more about me. Julia Child was not a perfect, skinny, stylish, "television-ready" person, but she was the perfect person for the job.

So am I.

So are you.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My third book: PUBLISHED!

It's here! My third book is published today:

Hooray! Click the title to read more and to buy it. I have received good reviews on it from pre-publication buyers. Heck, I've had great pre-pub sales! I love being an author and a publisher.

I absolutely love it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

How to Add a Facebook Button to Your Blog Page

I'm trying out something that I read here. I already use the Tweetmeme button on my blog, to make it easy for folks to share a post. Now, if you like a post, you can share it on Facebook, too. Please do! Share this one, so everyone knows how to put a Facebook sharing button on her/his blog.

This past weekend I was attending an AMAZING convention. I will post about that soon, after I upload the photos from my camera and iPhone. For today, I'm going to rest. The convention was a blast, but it feels like I worked from Thursday at 6:30am until Sunday night until 9;30pm, straight. I need a day, people.

So please, go off and put a Facebook and Tweetmeme button on your blogs, so people can easily share your thoughts. This is one of the easiest things you can do today to build traffic for your blog. Go tell your story. I'm off to get more coffee.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Business Tools Monday

Photo by Ricardo/zone41.org. Used with permission.

I wish for this blog to be useful to you, the reader who is presumably both a business owner (or an aspiring one), and a crafter. It's important for folks in business to share what they know, I think. Sharing ideas, being generous with them, always leads to better things.

That said, here is the Monday List of Helpful Links. Will I do this every week? Perhaps.

Inc. magazine: Click here for a BUNCH of useful tools. Business plan models, blank receipt forms, Break Even Analysis examples--so many helpful tools are at this link. Tools are available for purchase--what's your time worth?

Online Credit Card Processing: This link, also from Inc.com, has a wealth of information about processing credit card transactions online. I wish I had known about it when I was starting my search.

iPhone credit card swiping: I am interested about this gizmo. I don't know if it is available yet, but I'm curious about it. Right now I use the Merchant Warehouse app for my iPhone when I'm selling at the farmer's market. Lots of folks use credit cards, and it is SO WORTH IT to be able to accept them. I would lose out on a lot of income if I didn't do that.

Click here for a discounted subscription to Entrepreneur magazine.

Crafty Con is happening this fall, in Chicago. I cannot attend because I still have a day job. Maybe next year! If you are interested, know that I am VERY INTERESTED and this is something I am seriously considering. I would want to present at it, be a vendor, and attend the whole thing. Is that possible?

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This week's giveaway winnah is:

Ms. Yarn!

I will hook her up (yuk yuk) with Karina so she can get her soap on. Whee!

Thanks for participating, everyone. Please be on the lookout for Monday's post. I will have "Business Links Monday." Tell one, tell all!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Featured Crafter: Karina of Soap that Makes Scents

This week's featured crafter is Karina, of Soap that Makes Scents. Her soaps are beautiful, as is her packaging. She was recently featured in the Etsy Storque, in the Quit Your Day Job feature. I am excited to interview someone who is fully self-employed through crafting. As always, I encourage you to join the conversation by commenting.

What is your favorite aspect of "being the boss?"
Is there part of it you don't enjoy?

I love that I'm able to work at my own pace instead of having to strive to meet someone else's deadline--mind you, normally my pace is pretty fast, but it's nice to be able to take a breather and work on something else business-related for a bit and focus my attention there, and then get back to the task on hand. Being a mom as well, I enjoy the aspect of getting to stay with my daughter before she's old enough to start school (which will hopefully be later this year).

The worst part of being self-employed is that there's no such thing as "sick days" or "vacation time" or having someone else take up the slack if I want to slow down in sales or promoting.

What specific sacrifices did you have to make, in order to help make crafting full-time a reality?

I had to give up the luxury of "me" time. There are just not enough hours in the day to run a household, run a business, care for a 3-year-old, spread myself thin around family and friends, and have any moments left over to just sit and relax, or take myself shopping or for a pedicure. Anything tangible that I had to give up was only temporary. I may have had to stop spending money willy-nilly for a while in the beginning, but those things started coming back one at a time once Soap That Makes Scents turned a profit.

Do you enjoy direct retail sales, such as home parties and craft shows? Or do you enjoy wholesale better?

I absolutely love love LOVE selling in person. There's no better feeling at a craft show than the look of divinity on someone's face when they hold a bar of Blue Lazuli to their nose and inhale, and then immediately shove it under their friend's nose saying, "OMG SMELL THIS!!!" I love watching the reaction on people's faces and I know they can appreciate my table being "interactive." They can sniff to their heart's content. Selling at shows introduces me to a customer base I otherwise may not have met, and it's always nice when I meet other Etsy sellers as well.

What sorts of networking channels do you find the most effective?

I belong to a few Work At Home NYC-based groups. I found them by searching online for business groups local to my area. It's a good way to seek out new contacts, i.e. if someone else makes soap, we can share supplier contacts for general things like display units and packaging. The social aspect of it is very important to me--the groups I belong to have about 50 members each. A good portion of our bi-monthly meetings are held in restaurants, so it equals a night out, too. :)

Can you explain what online promotions you do? Of course, we know about bloggy interviews. What else?

Honestly, I hardly do any online promoting anymore. Now, most of my online traffic comes by word-of-mouth or from my business being featured in a magazine. At least twice a year, I provide a slew of soap samples to several sampler programs for distribution--this helps too.

Do you attribute your magazine features to participation in the sampler program? How did you find a legitimate one? I get asked for samples all the time, but I don't send them because it's just a person who wants free stuff. I've also been approached by sampler programs, but I couldn't be sure of their integrity.

Actually, all of the magazines I have been in have contacted me through Etsy--so you really never know who's reading the forums or browsing online. It trickled down from there, as a lot of sister-magazines (affiliates) picked up the story and later on contacted me to be featured in their publication as well. Being featured in Etsy's QYDJ series helped with the exposure as well, since many media people read that blog.

As for sampler programs, I use The Little Black Boxes, and Snowberry Creek. I don't send in samples to people who randomly contact me looking for free stuff, either.

When you take time for yourself, how do you relax? Can you ever just let the business go?

I had to go to Canada for two weeks at the beginning of this year for a family function.
I think I was in a catatonic shock for the entire period because I didn't have my computer with me. Can you count the time I fall asleep to the time I wake up as "relaxation?"

Thanks, Karina, for the interview. Along with Karina's generosity with time, she is also hosting a giveaway! One lucky winner will receive one soap (your choice!) from Karina's Etsy shop.

You may enter the giveaway in several ways, to increase your chances of winning!

1. Heart Karina's shop on Etsy. (1 entry)
2. Sign up for Karina's newsletter by sending her a convo on Etsy (1 entry)
3. Tweet about her shop, and the soap you love most (1 entry)
3. Subscribe to this blog (1 entry)
4. Tweet this blog giveaway (1 entry) You can click the "Tweet me" button--easy!
5. Share this blog giveaway on Facebook (1 entry)
6. Follow @KreatedbyKarina on Twitter (1 entry)
7. Follow @soapcrone on Twitter (1 entry)

For each entry, you must leave a comment here and let us know (it can all be in one comment if you like), with a link if it has one (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) and your username as appropriate. No need to do all of the entries, but it increases your chances of winning if you do.

This giveaway will end at 11:59pm on Friday, April 23, 2010, US Mountain time. On Saturday the winnah will be chosen, and I will announce the winnah, and hook up Karina with said winnah to work out the details. Excellent.