Sunday, March 28, 2010


And our winner is...Va! I will let her know via email that she is the winner of the hair clips from Missy Mills of LuvyDuvy!

Thanks to all who commented and played along. Would you like me to feature you in an interview and giveaway? Email me!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Time: Crush It Like a Bug

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Don't crush that bug, though. She's cute.

Today's lesson is about using your time wisely. It's not about time management, however. It's about time choices.

"What's the difference?" you might ask, and I might answer. In fact, I will answer.

Time management is about scheduling every minute of every day, and sticking to a schedule. It's about having a Plan B in case other schmucks don't manage their time well enough and screw your schedule over. It's about filling up 8 hours in your day.

Time choices, on the other hand, recognize that 8 hours of your day might need to be allocated for work, and might not need be. Furthermore, it's best not to. Some of us can't anyway.

Let me explain.

I have a full-time job. I am required to attend this job from 7am-3pm, 5 days per week. It's a 40-hour job. Fine. I also own a soap business and a publishing business. I must also tend to my child and talk to my husband on occasion. Maybe we'll have a meal together--you don't know! It could happen.

So, how do I get all the work done that needs to be done for a full-time job and two businesses? I decide how my time will be used and I crush that business work time like a bug.

You must give yourself short deadlines, and focus during short bursts of production.

Do not give yourself 3 days to do your taxes. Give yourself 4 hours, and smash it out. Schedule that time, and stick to it. Turn your phone off (not on vibrate, TURN IT OFF), close your office door, get someone else to take care of the kid, and focus on that one thing.

Give that one thing everything you've got, for that short amount of time.

Do not answer emails! Turn off the web browser. TURN IT OFF!

Do not answer texts or phone messages. How did you get that text anyway? Your phone was supposed to be OFF.

Do not wander around the room or the house or whatever building you're in. Do not talk to anyone (unless your task involves talking to one person).

Your assignment: Practice this skill with the next small or big project you have. Give yourself an amazingly small deadline, and stick to it. Crush that time like a bug, focus tightly on that one thing, and see what happens. If you got that project finished in 1/4 the time you thought you needed, that means

you have just freed up 75% of your time to do the things you enjoy.

Please report back on your accomplishments with this, and your goal-setting from the other day, in the comments.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Featured Crafter: Missy Mills of LuvyDuvy

Missy Mills of LuvyDuvy is our featured crafter this week. Her shop showcases her vintage style, coupled with her patriotism. I suspect the necklace above was inspired by her personal Airman.

What are your favorite aspects of running a craft business?

I love anything that has to do with being creative. Coming up with products for my shop that I hope people will love as much as I do is so fun for me! I also love sending out the product to that special person who purchased it--it makes me so happy and excited to have them receive my products that they purchased!

You are new to having a craft business. What have you learned recently? What practices have you changed?

I am still learning so much as time goes on. But I have learned that being patient does pay off. Also taking care of the customer is really important! Since I have started I have learned a lot from others through advice and practice. I have changed the way I take pictures (which is something I am still working on) and the way I promote my shop.

How do you decide on a focus for a line of jewelry or accessories?

I have always wanted to make jewelry. I used to sit in my room after school when I was younger and just make little bracelets or necklaces for fun from jewelry books. Plus I love wearing jewelry (my fiancé says I have way too much already). I love purses and wallets as well, so when I thought of the idea of creating purses and wallets with military items I just knew it would be something else fun for me to create. The military is a big part of my life.

What inspires you as a crafter?

Anything vintage, romantic, antique, rustic, and military items really inspire me! I love listening to music while crafting, it gets my creative juices flowing.

What goals have you set for yourself for the next month? Year? 5 years?

For the next month I hope to have more views/hearts/orders. I hope to reach at least 40 orders by the end of April, and find more productive ways to promote my shop. For a year, I hope to have really established my shop on Etsy. Also, I hope to have the best photographs of my products in my shop. In 5 years, hopefully I can have a well-established, successful business going for me in the years to come. That would be so great for me to have a creative business to work on full time!

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Missy, and for sponsoring this week's giveaway! Have a look at the cute hair clips below--your potential reward for commenting today. Hooray!

Giveaway Info:

1. All commenters on this post will be assigned a number, according to their post in the queue. Make sure there is some way we can contact you.
2. Comments close on Friday, March 26, at 11:59pm US Mountain time.
3. On Saturday, March 27, 2010, I'll have a random number generated through the magic of the Interwebs.
4. The winner will be notified via this blog and email, as will Missy.
5. Missy will deal directly with the winner regarding receipt of the giveaway prize.
6. We all have a cool, adult beverage. Aaahh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Looking Your Best

Looking your best on the Internet does not involve designer clothes or slick shades, or even a good haircut.

It means spelling "discreet" and "discrete" correctly, at the correct times.

Usage, people! Usage!

Monday, March 22, 2010


"Women at Work" from the Library of Congress.

Things don't happen fast enough for me. I have learned this about myself, and accept it. Much of my business life involves doing one or two small things every day, working toward the larger goal.

It's all I can do. I have learned a couple of tricks, however, to get more done, faster. (More on that in another post.) I have also learned how to accept the slow progress of things.

Listen, folks. I have a full-time job. I have a soap business. And I have a publishing business. And I'm a mom. And I'm married. All of this combines into one word: hellabusy. Most of my friends know not to complain to me about how busy they are, because they aren't. They don't know from busy. I have one friend who actually has said to me, "I can't talk to you very often because when I do, it makes me feel guilty for what I'm not accomplishing. You just do so much."

Her problem, not mine, but that means I don't get to interact with her as often. Whatever. Her loss. And what does that mean about our friendship?

I don't have time to think about silly things like that.

Back to the point: goal-setting. I recommend what Tim Feriss (my productivity guru) says to do for daily goals:

Have two. Write down exactly TWO things that will make your day feel productive, if they get accomplished. Two things, and that's it. When you are done with those two things, your goals for the day are completed. After that, you can do what you like, and know that your progress is forward, not backward.

For long-term goals, this is what I have done. I write down specifically what I want to accomplish, and specifically when I want it done. I have broken down my huge publishing project into 4 different goals:

  • When to launch (the exact day), and with how many books
  • How much money I want to make each day (the exact amount!)
  • How much money I want to make in a year.
  • Having an exact amount of money in the bank, in order to become completely self-employed.
I have set these goals very high. "But Amy," you say, "what if you don't reach them?" So what? So what if I don't reach them? At least I will have made progress. Far more progress than if I hadn't set any goals at all.

What if I do reach them? What if I reach them faster than I thought I could? What if that happens?

There is no point in entertaining "what ifs." Set the goal, and get to work.

Your assignment: Set two daily goals, and complete them before you do anything else.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Giveaway winner!

The winner is Valynne! Val, you have won the recycled bike tire earrings from Beatrice Holiday--congratulations!

Thanks to everyone stopping by. I will continue to host crafter interviews and giveaways, so click the "subscribe" button on the right, to stay inside the velvet rope of awesomeness.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Starting Up and Tuning Out

Image: graur razvan ionut /

You must start your new business, and you must start it now. I know I sound bossy, but you need me to be.

You need to hear this.

I know this, because I was once like you. I hemmed and hawed. I wasn't sure. I got really excited about a business idea, thought it all through one night when my anticipation and planning kept me up, got up the next morning and wrote notes and notes and notes, and then I started talking about it with my friends.

And that's when it all came to a screeching halt.

"How are you going to do that?"
"Who is going to pay for that?"
"Do you really think people will want that?"
"I don't know ANYBODY who would be interested in that."
"What about this? What about that?"
"Are you serious? I have no idea what you are talking about."

Your friends second-guessed you and blew your momentum. Bastards.

Listen to me now: your friends are NOT your business. Your friends will help you once you are IN business. Friends are like that--they want to be around successful people. But there is a reason they aren't in business and you will be. They aren't entrepreneurs.

If you are lucky enough to have a friend who is an actual entrepreneur, then listen to that person, if she is willing to talk. Listen to their advice, but don't hang on their every word. Even my good friend who is fully self-employed and has a staff of about 20 is a naysayer. I need to be very careful when talking to him about my business ideas--he will dash them all to the ground instantaneously.

When I called him on it one time, when I said to him, "Why do you shit all over every idea I share with you? I'm not competing with you at all. Why must you go out of your way to ruin my fun?" he replied,

"Oh, I thought you wanted me to play the devil's advocate."

I said, "When did I ask you to do that?"

"Um.....I guess you didn't. Sorry about that."

See? Even your friends who are in business for themselves will try to drown your dreams in their reality. Many very successful business writers have said that we should talk, talk, talk about our ideas, as that's the only way to make things happen.

I'm not so sure.

Talk if you want, but only if you are strong enough to handle the naysayers. And they are everywhere. Talk if you want, but only if you can first cultivate an air of aloof omniscience; look at that person as if you know all the answers, but just won't tell them. Fan your hand at them when they start in with the hows and the whys and the what-ifs, and say, "Oh, it will all become apparent when it needs to be. I'll handle those details then."

And that's exactly what you should do. Say it, but then do it. That's the way to make things happen.

Do it now!

You must start your business now. You might succeed. You might fail. But you must, must, must start it now. You have no other time in your life. The only time we are guaranteed is right this second. There is nothing to be gained by waiting.

I'm not listening to your excuses. I'm not listening to, "I have a baby," or "I'm too busy," or "My husband just left me," or "I'm on crutches right now," or "when I finish school."

Start it now, or you're a pansy and I'm never talking to you again.

Go. Now. Write it down and get started.

Your assignment: Write down your business ideas, and do one thing (1 thing!) today toward starting it. Start a blog, buy a web domain, open a bank account, create a fan page on Facebook (before you've even started!), open an Etsy shop with nothing in it. Do it now!

What are you waiting for? Are you still here? Go! You have important work to do!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Featured Crafter: Alison Franson of Beatrice Holiday

Alison Franson of Denver, Colorado is today's featured crafter. Her business, Beatrice Holiday, recently won the Eco-Conscious Entrepreneur Award from Leading Ladies of Denver. Way to go, Alison! Her focus is on cruiser bike culture--using reclaimed fabrics to create bags and seat covers for your cruiser; and reclaimed inner tubes to create jewelry.

Alison donates a portion of the proceeds from sales to Derailer Bicycle Collective, a non-profit, collectively-run community bike shop in Denver. Her vintage fabric sense paired with a rubber-punk feel makes Beatrice Holiday a business to watch.

Did you start out with the intent to be in business, or did it happen organically?

Beatrice Holiday sort of just manifested on its own. I made a handlebar bag for my crusier bike and received a great response. I was encouraged to make more of them in different styles.

What are your favorite materials? Why? What do you want to work with?

Vintage fabrics for sure. I love reincarnating vintage upholstery fabrics that were once used to resurface old couches in the "olden days." Giving a fabric a new life and giving cruisers a way to pimp their ride definitely makes it all worth while. I also love working with the bike itself.
As a crafter, what have you always wanted to learn?

I want to learn from my customers. I always have an open ear to suggestions and encourage critique to make my products better. I received lots of requests to make my handlebar bags multi-purposed, so I added the shoulder strap. This way when you take the handlebar bag off your cruiser bike you just SNAP on the leather shoulder strap and tote your bag with you. This deters vintage-loving thieves from stealing your goods and your handlebar bag!

What have you learned about being in business for yourself, that you would like to share with us?

That doing what you love and loving what you do is the only way to operate a business!

Please visit Beatrice Holiday: FUNky and FUNktional cruiser bike accessories - Handlebar Bags, Seat Covers, Basket Liners made out of vintage upholstery fabrics and vinyl.

Our giveaway for this post? Recycled innertube earrings! Thanks, Alison!

Giveaway rules:

1. Post a comment about Alison's products. Make sure there is some way I can contact you (via your blog profile or your email) in the comment.

2. On Friday, March 19, 2010, at midnight, the comments will be closed.

3. On Saturday morning sometime, I'll get my arse up and use a random number generator to find a winner.

4. I will email and post the winner. The winner will have 24 hours to get back to me. If the winner does not get back to me within 24 hours, another random winner will be chosen.

5. I will hook up the winner with Alison, who will figure out together how to get the goods delivered. Done and done.

Reshaping This Blog

I am going to reshape this blog. No longer will it be full of The Random. I plan on showcasing crafters of all kinds, via interviews and giveaways. Also, I will write longer posts about owning and running a business, and on the way a person's life becomes different when she owns/runs a business.

What say you? Are you in?

If you are a crafter who would like to be interviewed and participate in a giveaway, please email me at:

theoldecrone at gmail dot com


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Best Newsletter Service, Ever.

Mad Mimi Email Marketing

You should use Mad Mimi. Yes, yes you should. Here's the story:

My newsletter list has over 500 emails. Not huge by ANY stretch of the imagination, but Gmail won't let a person email more than 500 messages per day. This is to thwart spam, of course. They don't know that I'm legit, and they don't care.


So, I've been looking for a way to send my newsletter. I tried several things on my own, and I was generally wasting my time. I say this after trying Mad Mimi. Oh, my goodness.

It's so easy. I didn't need any tutorials or screenshots to create my first newsletter. None. I figured it all out on my own, and by "figured" I mean, "just did it." Furthermore, the features that you get are amazing (social media buttons, tracking the clicked links in the emails, who read email, who didn't, who bounced). The interface is easy--big, candy-like buttons. Seriously, you've got to give it a try. If you have a small list (fewer than 100), you can try Mad Mimi for free!

This is an example of providing customers with a spectacular product, and they'll talk about you. And talk about you! I'm talking!

And the winner is...!!

The soap winner is Jenn! Jenn, please contact me through my soap website, and let me know what three soaps you choose, your mailing address, etc. Whee! Free soap!

Do you have something you would like to donate for a giveaway? Do you have an Etsy shop or website that showcases your lovely handmade craft? Email me, and I'll run your promotion here.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Soap Giveaway -- Tell Yer Friends

In order to atone for my absence, I am having a giveaway this week! All you have to do is leave a comment, telling your reason for luuurrving handmade soap. That's it!

The prize? 3 soaps from, shipped to your door.

The winner? Randomly chosen, via online random number generator.

Comment! Comment! Rah! Rah! Rah! Tweet it! Facebook it! C'mon, now!