Monday, April 26, 2010

Business Tools Monday

Photo by Ricardo/ 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, 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.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Featured Crafter Giveaway--On the Way

I am working on a Featured Crafter segment, so I'll be back in a few days. Maybe. I received a large response to my post on an Etsy forum, requesting crafters to feature. Yikes!

This is good for you, the reader. Giveaways and interviews to come!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Supporting Other Small Businesses: What is your time worth?

Photo by Janine King Designs, and is linked to her shop.

I bought an iPad, oh yes I did. And yes, I love it so. I have left the "sent from my iPad" signature on my emails. I'll leave it there a while longer--I'm still a little giddy.

When I bought it, the dude asked me if I wanted to buy a protective case for it. I told him no, saying, "I'm going to make my own."

Well, what's my time worth? Yes, I wanted to make my own. Yes, I have the skill to make my own. I have the zipper. I have the fabric. I even have batting fabric to make it quilted.

What I don't have right now is time. I am preparing furiously for my participation in the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild national conference at the end of this month. Specifically, I'm writing my third book, which will be finished in time to have it published for the conference. I must also order a banner for my vendor table. (Note to self: Shit. This needs to be done today.) I'm ordering postcards for the participants as well.

Lard, don't get me started on my To Do list.

My point? If I don't have time to make the protective case, then I should just buy one. So I did. I bought the one featured in the photo. It should arrive next week. And I feel great about it. I've supported a small business, and achieved what I wanted. It's just that I didn't do it myself.

If you are anything like me, you need to get over the "I can do it myself" mentality. Yes, you can do it yourself. But should you?

What is your time worth?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Week's Winner!

The winner of the earring giveaway is:

Steph! of Honor Crowned Crafts! Congratulations, Steph. I'll have Kristy get in touch with you.

Thanks to everyone for participating, looking at Kristy's shop, and supporting independent business.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Featured Crafter: Kristy Kroth-Hoops of Gypsy Eye Studio.

Today's featured crafter, Kristy Kroth-Hoops, has an elegant, vintage approach to jewelry and accessories. I love looking at her collection all together on Etsy. It feels like stepping through a doorway in time.

Your aesthetic is antique-looking. What time period is your favorite? Do you create your jewelry based on a particular time period?

I find a lot of inspiration from a mixture of time periods. I would say the strongest influence would be the Art Nouveau and Edwardian periods. I find so much beauty in objects from the past. My creation process is driven by a lot of factors, but I do find that I create a lot of pieces based upon specific periods. Depending on the day or exposure to visual stimuli it could be Art Deco, Egyptian revival or Retro Pin-up.

What makes you happiest in your craft business?

I love that I have the chance to materialize the figments of my imagination whenever I feel it necessary. I also enjoy that the handmade community is really bringing about a new age of enlightenment in ways. I find the resurgence of the arts and their appreciation is exhilarating in this day and age.

What have you learned about running a business that a newbie needs to know?

Perseverance. It can become self-defeating at times, if you let it, when you begin. It's so important to keep the passion in what you do evident through the busy and slow times. And stay organized, the more orderly you keep the different aspects of your business, the more time you are able to spend on your art.

Do you have a day job? Is it fulfilling? Do you aspire to be self-employed?

I do currently have a day job. I work as a kitchen manger, definitely not what I thought I would be doing when I was younger. Honestly, I can find the "hard day's work" rewarding at the end of it, but it does lack a fulfilling feeling. My desire to build Gypsy Eye to be my sole focus is what drives me everyday, 100%.

What is your favorite piece in your Etsy shop right now?

Right now I really like the Giselle brooch, it has a slightly dark mood that speaks to me.

Thanks to Kristy for taking the time to be interviewed. Please visit her shop (the photos are linked) and leave a comment. If you do comment, you will be entered in this week's giveaway! The prize is amazing, people. Kristy made these earrings, in the photo below, specifically for the giveaway! Have you ever?

Named "The Queen's Hive," these beautiful earrings could be yours--just leave a comment! We need at least 20 comments for the giveaway to happen, so spread the word! Thanks again, Kristy. Awesome!

Giveaway Info, Rules, and Such:

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, and that you have a U.S. mailing address. We are sorry, but we cannot ship outside the U.S. at this time.
1. The giveaway cannot happen with fewer than 20 comments, so spread the word! If fewer than 20 individuals comment, then the giveaway will not happen.
2. Comments close on Saturday, April 10, 2010, , at 11:59pm US Mountain time.
3. On Sunday, April 11, 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 Kristy.
5. Kristy will deal directly with the winner regarding receipt of the giveaway prize.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Business deals

Here is a link to an ad for a 12 megapixel camera for $139.99. I am posting this selfishly, hoping that authors who want to do craft tutorials for Craft e-Revolution will get a good camera and have at it.

I am looking to purchase a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, as I want to go paperless and get all this paper out of my house. I'm drowning in it.