Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Small Craft Business: Vendor Tuesday: LYS

LYS = Local Yarn Store.

Check out your local listings. Yelp is a good place to start. Find your local yarn store, and check out what they've got. JoAnn Fabrics doesn't count as an LYS. It has to be an indie place. 

Feel new stuff. Look at new colors. Try something made of cotton or bamboo, or both. 

Buy local, and support an independent business.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Wacky Search Terms, Installment Deux

Why is:


a search term for my blog? (Seriously! 3 times!)

Or perhaps

foot care diploma

makes sense?

Tired small business owner

actually does make sense.

Small Craft Business: Vendor Tuesday--eBay

Is eBay still in fashion?  Maybe? 

Maybe not. But my husband was reminded of the wonders of bargain shopping when he discovered he could purchase his favorite guitar strings on eBay for less than half the price of retail. A few years ago he was busy selling things on eBay--mostly rare and/or valuable CDs. He stopped it when he realised how expensive it was to sell there.

Digression over. I recommend you search on eBay for supplies you need. You may find them at a discount, and you just might be supporting an independent business owner. It's worth a shot.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Small Craft Business: Monday To-Do List

  • pack Fae's and Ashlee's orders for Tuesday night derby practice
  • wait for email from Juno about necklace
  • update soap website for out-of-stock items
  • make ref necklaces
  • update supplier list for recipes book
  • begin new formatting for first book
  • find photos for book
  • wrap gifts and mail

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vendor Tuesday: Fancy Tiger

 Fancy Tiger is a local craft shop that is quickly becoming legendary. We can all take  a lesson from Jaime and Amber. They have amazing style and a great sense of what the community wants and needs. Their shop offers classes, supplies, and they host the most popular craft show of the year here in Denver--Holiday Handmade

If you are in the Denver area, I command you to shop there, just once. ONCE! You will be converted quickly. If you aren't in the Denver area, I command you to shop at an independent, local craft shop this holiday season. Just once! 

Buy local. Buy handmade. Save the economy, one crocheted slipper at a time. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freedom Friday: Putting a Fine Point On It

I would like to be free from:

  • being interrupted by people who think their work is more important than my work
  • being told to solve other people's problems
  • getting up before dawn when I don't want to
  • working in a place where most people hate themselves
  • listening and nodding my head when I really want to kick that person in the teeth
  • caring for everybody else, and everybody else's children, instead of myself and my own child
  • being treated badly by children
  • being treated badly by the media
  • the idea that I MUST keep this job because of the economy and because it has health insurance for my family and because so many others are suffering
  • this is all there is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time on Task Thursday: Craft Fair Looming, Still, Plus my To-Do List

Since this appears to be Slacker Central, I will attempt to redeem myself by combining To-Do Monday and Time-on-Task Thursday.  My tasks today involve getting ready for the Sugar Plum Bazaar. This is the big show I will do this year, and I'd like to have good sales. 

This involves having SOMETHING TO SELL, I realized last week. Ha ha. 

So, my to-do list (that I lost yesterday, because I foolishly had it on paper) for today and tomorrow are as follows:

  • garland w/lights
  • small extension cord
  • wrap salts and sugar scrubs with twine
  • make solid lotion and label
  • make face lotion and bottle and label
  • get change from store
  • cut fabric strips
  • stamp more labels
  • pack ladder
  • pack soap dishes
  • buy bag of mini candy canes
The ones that are crossed off are being done by my husband, who works for my soap company. Bless his heart, please, when you are doing your daily blessings. Or some such thing. 

I have to complete all of that before 5pm tomorrow. TOMORROW.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Wordful Wednesday: Craft Fair Looming!

I have a HUGE show coming up this weekend, and I'm trying to get ready. Couple that with roller derby championships last weekend (I sold some necklaces!), and I'm scrambling. I have had to make a to-do list for both my husband and myself. 

This time of year is absolute MADNESS for a crafter. Tell me of your madness in the comments, wouldja?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Wordful Wednesday

Wow, NaBloWriMo ends, and my posting vanishes. Life happens, and that's what's happening to me. Remember my pendant project? Yeah, I'm selling these at the roller derby championships this weekend. Tonight I am doing step 2 of 3. Tomorrow, 3 of 3, and packing the bag. 

Oh, nuts. I need to print out those papers. 

My mind! It gets scattered sometimes.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Saturday How-To: Liquid Soap Video

This is a video I made and posted on YouTube, which is actually kind of popular. Enjoy!

Freedom Friday -- Missed it!

I was too busy being free, and didn't post on Freedom Friday. Imagine that! I am working furiously on my necklace project, because roller derby championships are next weekend! I have to be ready. 

On that weekend, I will work hard toward freedom. 

The weekend after that, I am vending my soap at a craft show. It's a new one, and I predict it will be popular. I'm working for that, too. These next two weeks are busy!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Time-on-Task Thursday: Create Something

Time to create something! Today I am on the final step of the necklace process for about 24 of them. Once that is finished, I can bag them up and mail one of them out! I had an online order already! Can you believe it? 

Your Time-on-Task directive today:  make something!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Vendor Tuesday: Michael's

I love Michael's.  I just love it. I love that they have a little bit of everything. I love that they have awesome coupons going all the time. I love that they have an APP for my iPhone, so I can have my coupons with me ALL THE TIME and the cashier can just scan it right from my phone, done and done.

I've been spending quite a bit of time there, recently.

What's your favorite local craft store?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Small Craft Business: Monday To-Do List

I've done it! I've blogged every day in October. Last year I was a big loser, foregoing the project altogether, and I'm the one that started it. Terrible! This year I sucked it up and did it again.

And I'm always glad I did. 

To wit: I have figured out how to keep this blog focused and relevant, by declaring each day of the week to have a particular focus. This will help me to build an audience (hopefully), encourage commentary (Hopefully!), and keep a conversation going about small business (HOPEFULLY!). Your comments are appreciated--please let me know what you think of my plan: 

Sunday Funday -- a post just for fun. It will most probably feature a funny photo.

Monday To-Do List -- I will post my to-do list for the week, and encourage others to do the same.

Vendor Tuesday -- where I feature and recommend a craft supply vendor. 

Wordless Wednesday -- Photos of a recent project will be posted.

Time-on-Task Thursday -- Exhortations and other prodding will be provided to encourage readers to get that thing DONE.

Freedom Friday -- Reflecting on freedom and self-employment, and what it all means. 

Saturday How-To -- I will post teaser photos of my latest book project. 

What say you, loyal readers? Is there a different focus you'd prefer on any particular day? 

Oh, and since it's Monday, here's my To-Do list for the week:

  • finish carving pumpkins 
  • hand out candy
  • finish necklace orders and mail them
  • make lotion
  • make bath fizzies
  • get started on Sugar Plum Bazaar fabric and tags

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Small Craft Business: Saturday How-To

I purport to write how-to nonfiction. I teach people how to make soap. I've had several other books in the works for a while now, and need to get cracking on them. 

Like making balms and butters.

And making lotions.

And how to run a damn craft business. 

And how to make gifts for the holidays. 

While I do publish others, I have recently  come to the conclusion that I need to publish more and more of my own things. The books from others are good, and they are going to be awesome, and I'm proud of them. 

But I need to do more of my own thing. 

That said, when I finally kick my own arse and get it moving, on Saturdays I will post sneak peeks of the tutorials I'm writing. Howdya like them apples?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Small Craft Business: Freedom Friday

Freedom Friday will be a new blog feature here at Craft e-Blog. I want very much to be free of my day job, because it vexes me. However, the health insurance (no matter how expensive it is) and retirement I've already worked so hard for, keep me there. Also, I'm not quite ready financially to take the leap into self-employment. 

What to do? 

In the meantime, on Fridays I will focus on the aspects of self-employment that make me feel liberated. To wit:

When I am selling my soap at a farmer's market, I am acutely aware of the human aspect of that form of sales, and the history of it. A farmer's market is the oldest form of commerce, if you think about it: we set up our tents and tables, display our wares, and the people come by and buy it, or they don't. Our efforts at getting them to buy our stuff varies, and technology does have an impact, but in the end, it's just me and my stuff. Wanna buy it?

I am free to interact with the public how I want. I am free to discount my products if I want to. I am free to wander away and buy a jalapeno-cheddar elk sausage from Biker Jim. I am free to give a lip balm away to a loyal customer, as an incentive. 

Nobody is telling me what to do or how to do it. Nobody is telling me what the outcome should be of my day. Nobody is telling me what a failure I am at what I do, and nobody is complaining about me in the papers. All of that bad stuff happens to me in or because of my day job. 

When I'm selling soap, I'm free. 

What about your business makes you feel free?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Small Craft Business: Thursday Time-on-Task

Let's have a regular feature be "Time-on-Task." This will be a day where I remind you of that annoying small-business thing that you need to do, but hate doing. It needs to be done. TODAY.

This week's task: Ordering 

Go through your supply inventory, and see what is running low. Make a list of next month's activities for your craft business (i.e. shows you are doing), note what products need to be made, and then go place your orders. 

Order ahead, but keep some money in the bank for retail taxes. 

Ok, go do it now, and report back to me when it's done.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vendor Tuesday

It's vendor of the week! I really should figure something out for each day of the week, to keep this blog both

a) rolling, and

b) relevant  and

c) useful.

So I'm starting with Tuesday, and calling it Vendor Tuesday. I will do a little write-up with a link to a favorite vendor of mine, inviting commentary about said vendor. That's relevant to crafters in business, right?

So, one of my favorite craft vendors is Sun and Moon Craft Kits.  This shop carries Diamond Glaze, which I love, and all sorts of jewelry components for Scrabble tile jewelry, and other pendant-type things. Oh, and they also have those neodymium super-duper magnets.

Did I spell that right? Yes, I think I did.

Do you source  your vendors online? Who you do like?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sundays are Fundays -- I know you are reading this on a Monday.

Today I get to watch my kid play roller derby in the last bout of the season. She's off until April, so I'll have to start taking her to Skate City once per week, or drag her along to the Sunday morning drop-in practices that I do, sometimes.

I will miss her Sunday practices. Her practice time was time for me to just sit and talk and do nothing much else. I don't often get time like that.

Other than roller derby, Sundays are full of "get ready for the week" stuff, which I do not enjoy. Alas, I still have a regular ol' full-time job, on top of my business stuff. I know I can't be the only one.

Who out there is doing business stuff after work hours, in an attempt to build it big enough to quit? Anyone? Bueller?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Wit

I love the phrase, "To Wit." When using this phrase, you are essentially saying, "Hey, that thing I just said? Here's a good example." So, today, I'm using it with regards to my last post: talk to people about your craft ideas. TO WIT:

This photo was posted to my Facebook page on Thursday at about 8:30pm.  All the commentary I got was positive, and several people said "WANT!" and "Must have!!" and "How much are they?" The comments came quickly. I've got a lot of "likes" on that photo, and about 20 comments, I think.

See? Lots of buzz happening about my project, already. Oh, and that's the power of  Facebook. Your true friends want your business to succeed, and will help you. (To wit: see that button below this post? The one with the Facebook icon? You could click that, if you wanted.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Small Business: Talking About Your Ideas

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  talk about your business ideas. 

There are far more benefits to talking about it than keeping it to yourself. The benefits FAR outweigh any possible risk. Here is what I'm thinking:

  • Talk about a new business idea to a friend. Your interested friend will ask you questions about your idea. These questions will help you to figure out the details. Some questions will be Devil's Advocate-type things that will annoy you. Don't let them! File those questions away for later--you need to answer them, for yourself.
    • Questions to expect: How much are you charging for that? Yikes, isn't that expensive? Where will you sell it? How are you going to make that? What is the packaging? Where can I buy it? Do you really think you can sell enough of those to make a living? What are the ingredients? What about people with allergies? Vegans? 
  • Talk about your business idea on Facebook/Your Blog.  Your friends will respond with "likes" or they will tell you what they are thinking. You will be scared that someone will steal your idea. GET OVER THIS. 
    • Your idea is yours. Make it happen. 
    • There are always thieves in the world. Thieves, however, are lazy. That's why they are thieves; they don't want to do the work themselves. They will wait until you make the idea happen, and will THEN steal it. Maybe. If it isn't too much work. 
    • Use this fear to get your ass moving on the idea, so the one ambitious thief in the entire world doesn't make it happen before you do.
    • You will find a similar idea on the Internet, while doing searches for supplies/vendors/etc. You will think, "OMG! I stole someone else's idea!"  No, you didn't. Your idea is different from the similar thing. Find the differences. Also, there is more than one jewelry maker in the world, right? More than one soap maker?
  • Talk to other business owners about your idea. 
    • They aren't going to steal it! Sheesh! Would you get over this, already? 
    • This friend will have questions that your non-business-owner friends didn't think of. 
      • Questions like: Who are your vendors? Have you thought of this vendor? You might consider this product/approach/style/design. Did you hear about this new craft fair? That product would be perfect for it. Do you know about color trends? Oh, and here's another idea...
The end result? You will collect ideas, answer questions, figure out details, and will make everything happen faster. And when you make it happen, you make money. 

Talk about your ideas. Go  make things happen today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Small Business: Take a Break!

Turns out I was ill! A low-level virus infected our house. My husband and daughter had it, too. We are all worn out and dragging.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

This weekend, I am going to declare Saturday to be Family Time at Home Day.  Popcorn will be popped and movies will be watched. Jammies will be worn. We need it!  

Which reminds me:  Hey, you! Small business owner! Take a day off, once! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Small Business: How Tired are You?

I'm curious about all of the small business owners who read my blog here. How tired do you get? I am still in a "day job," so my business pursuits have to happen after work. Fortune has shined on me with a husband who works for one of my businesses, as well as works for the household, so cooking and much of the housework is taken care of. I know I'm lucky, there. 

But the overwhelming exhaustion!  Some days I fear it will consume me. 

Do you get this exhausted? If so, do you just push through until that project is finished? What do you do to combat it? 

I mean, besides coffee. I've got that covered.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Needed: Glue

I need a crafty recommendation. I am gluing glass domes on top of paper artwork inside pendant trays. I now realize I should have glued the paper TO the dome, and then put those inside the pendant trays. I will do that next time. As it is, I have to resort to putting Diamond Glaze on top of the artwork, and pressing the dome on top, keeping it pressed down with a book. I plan on cleaning up the goop that gushes out, afterward. 

Any other thoughts, besides, "Dang, she's an idiot?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Small Craft Business: Top 10 Actions You Must Never, Ever Do

As the counterpart to this post, I present my list of Never-Evers for small craft business owners. You should never: 

  • Take business criticism personally. If it comes from a customer, listen carefully and respond professionally.
  • Think that because you are small and independent, you must lower your prices and compete with big, corporate enterprises. You are in business to make money, right? Then set your prices accordingly. People want to support you. Charge what is fair for a profit and don't flinch. DON'T FLINCH.
  • Over promise. Under promise, and over deliver. This goes for customer stuff and also for friends and family or other businesses asking for your time. Learn how to say "no." You can't do every damn thing. 
  • Respond publicly to a customer complaint. I have seen this more often than I would have imagined, especially on open forums like Etsy. Do not, ever, comment about a specific customer in a public forum. 
  • Ignore customer emails. Never! If you can't get to your email in a timely manner, craft a form letter response, and send them out in the meantime. Example: "Thanks so much for your note. I will respond to your email personally when I have the time to give it the attention it deserves. I expect that to be within X days. Thanks again, Me."
  • Try to please everybody.  It is better for business to work within a niche, anyway. But if you get caught up in the idea that you might offend someone with a certain craft (ex: offending vegans if you use goat milk in your soap or leather in your handbags), you will be unable to focus on the items that are your bread and butter. Focus, focus, focus.
  • Fail to show up when you have agreed to do so. You just don't do this. It is very bad for your professional image, and the people who run craft shows talk to each other. 
  • Sit down while busy vending. It's understood here that if you cannot stand because of a physical condition, and you must sit, then that's what you do. If you are able to, you should stand up as much of the time as you can. Greet your customers. Talk to them. Ask them about their families and kids. Sitting in your chair and reading a book or checking your email/Facebook/Twitter--none of these is good for sales. If it's slow, do a quick Facebook check. But put the damn phone down when someone walks up to your booth. Pay attention to the people.
  • Ignore the power of changing your display. If you vend every week, as I do, it's important to sometimes change the display. Change the configuration of your tables, the placement of your products, etc. It gives your loyal customers something "new" to view, and increases sales. 
  • Try to be someone else. Be yourself, always. Your display is yours. Getting ideas from others is fine, but don't copy someone else. 

What would you add to my list?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Knees and Worker's Comp

Remember that post of the beautiful day up on the mountain? Yeah, that knee injury?

Is pissing me off. 

It is interfering with my fun time. I get fun time once per week, when I practice roller derby. One evening per week, it's my time. MY TIME. MAMA'S TIME.

And my knee is injured, and they still haven't called me for the MRI, and IT'S REALLY ANNOYING.

When you can't participate in your own therapy, it's hard to remain sane.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Small Craft Business: What You Must Always Do -- an Incomplete List

Always Always Always:

  •  Have your business license ducks in a row. It's as easy as having one drawer in your desk dedicated to 'business legal stuff.' 
  • Use electronic calendars to alert you. Make the events bossy; tell yourself what to do, to avoid unnecessary worry and thinking.
  • Plan one season ahead. Two is better.
  • Set aside 25% of all money you make, for retail taxes, self-employment taxes, miscellaneous fees, and random things that come up. They always come up. 
  • Take some care with your craft show display. If you are not the Queen of Decor, enlist a friend who is to critique your display, and then LISTEN TO HER. 
  • Accept credit cards. You are shooting your finances in the foot if you don't. It is so easy to accept credit cards nowadays, you are foolish not to do it. Read this post for a review of the Square--it's an amazing, easy device. 
  • Focus your products and approach. You will increase your long-term sales this way, because it is part of your branding. It's better to be known as "the soap lady" than as "that crafter who sells jewelry bags, soap, and garden sculpture."
  • Take inventory on supplies quarterly. Keep a running list of needs and order from it at least quarterly, as well. 
  • Ask customers open-ended questions. Befriend them and know them. At the very least, try to remember their names.
Who could create a complete list? Seriously--it's a task that would take forever and fill several books. I have some research for one book already done. What do you think should be added to my Always Always list?

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Favorite Business Blogs: I Read Them, Too

Since this is a business blog more than a craft blog, I thought I would share with you a couple of the other business blogs I read, that I find helpful:

  •  The Smaller Box Blog -- their link love on Fridays is a great resource. (Kinda like what I'm doing here, right?
What business blogs do you read?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jeezy Crotch

Statistics! How I love them. I love looking at the stats for my blog, grabbing a tissue, and weeping. 

I kid, I kid. 

What I really love is when the "Search Keywords" stats really bring it. Like, today, for instance. In the past week, the top search terms for my blog were:

  • crafte-blog.com
  • rex smith
  • soapcrone denver
  • 80's style leather pants
  • cool craft business
  • free crochet slipper
  • frog dissection sweater
  • groovygrrl.blogspot.com
  • jeezy crotch
  • mini chalkboards

Let's have a look at them, shall we?

Crafte-blog and groovygrrl.blogspot both warm my heart. Someone KNEW my blog and searched for it. Thank you, random people! I love yoooooou!

I wrote a post once about Rex Smith. Said post also features Kip Winger, who often shows up in the search terms, as well. I think it's funny, and you should read it.

Soapcrone Denver warms my heart as well, because it means my soap company and my blog are somehow connected. Love it.

Cool craft business? I'll take it. Free crochet slipper? Not here, sorry. I do have a photo and link to a pattern for crocheted slippers, but it's not free, and it's not even mine. 

Frog dissection sweater? I'D WEAR ONE.

Mini chalkboards? I'm sure they are adorable, but I don't remember featuring them. 
Jeezy crotch. JEEZY CROTCH?  Really? REALLY?     For which pervert is this a search term?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Decorate My Craft Fair Booth?

Help me with my display, please. I think it's just okay. I don't have the flair that some people do. I know that I should display items at different levels, use bright colors ,and hang things from my tent to catch the eye. 

Is a chock-full table the way to go, like I have above? Or is a neater display the way to go?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Up the Mountain and Down

Public school teachers catch a lot of grief from politicians, which trickles down to the general public. We are the devil, you know. We sit around on our fat asses, collecting big, fat, unionized paychecks. For nothing, I tell you. Nothing!

I cannot account for you the million things I do every day for the children of Denver, Colorado. I will tell you that I took them up the mountain last Thursday, though. The photo above will show you what kind of day it was. I breathed clean air, got a vigorous workout, and only had to hear the word "balls" once. It was a really good day.

Now, I am nursing an inflamed knee, because of walking down the mountain. Walking up is not a problem. Walking down uses all the tiny muscles you never knew you had, and I slipped and fell once, as everybody else did. And of course, I didn't remember to put in worker's compensation paperwork for the "injury." It's not "injured," just hurt. Whatever. I'm not going to bother with fighting that. (Update: It got worse! I turned in the paperwork yesterday, got it approved, and went to the doctor. I have an MRI to be scheduled for this week.)

That tree and blue sky remind me of the day I got married, which was 15 years ago today. The trees were turning then, too, and it was a beautiful day. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Family Business

Vendor Gift from Horseshoe Craft and Flea Market, October 1, 2011

My craft business has recently changed course just a bit. The economy tanked a while ago, as I'm sure you all know, and my husband had been looking for a job for two years (since our daughter started kindergarten). I finally asked him, "Why don't you work for me, and make soap full-time? We could really expand the business if you did that, and stopped looking for a job." So, he works for the business, and I still have my full-time job, but I don't have to make the soap anymore. It's been a miracle for me. Sleep is a miracle.

That business? Sales have improved over this past year. I won't know exactly how much until I do my taxes, of course. I have started on another crafty idea and we have money in the bank. Another miracle.

Hiring my spouse changed our business. We are busier than ever, and new opportunities keep coming. 

What changed the course of your business?

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Crafty: Full Speed Ahead

This!  This is part of what I've been working on. This project is holding all of my attention, and when pesky things like "working for a living" get in the way, it helps me to stay sane. I don't have all my eggs in one basket, but if I can make this work, it will be a very, very good thing. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Lucky Red Shoes

When I was studying for my undergraduate degree, I had a routine on mid-term and finals day. I would don my red Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, pack up my all-red pencils and pencil sharpener, and head to class.

I thought this helped me to do well on exams,  that these items were somehow lucky. I now realize that the routine of dressing the same and using familiar tools helped to calm me so that test anxiety was not a factor.

Those red shoes went to Europe with me; they helped serve countless breakfasts at the diner; they got me to class and through tests. They eventually ripped through the heels, as all Chuck Taylors will do, and I had to let them go.

I have a new pair, now. They are black, with orange and red flames traveling up the front. For what new challenge will they be lucky?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Living the Life of a Hero

"If you could live the life of any heroine or hero from one of your favorite books, which one would it be?"

I read this and think, "You're kidding, right?"  Because all of the heroes from my favorite books lived wild, adventured-filled lives, full of action and intrigue. And in the older literature, all the heroes were men, of course, which doesn't really matter for the sake of this prompt. But I am compelled to point out that women were rarely heroines.

That rather obvious point aside, I choose to live the life of Porthos, a Musketeer who drank the best wine, slept with the best women, and enjoyed life to the fullest. He was fiercely loyal, a stalwart fighter, and provided much-needed comic relief. 

Who would you choose?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pertinent Quote of the Day

"A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables."  --Gertrude Stein

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

To-Do List: A Glimpse into the Life of a Crafty Entrepreneur

  • file annual report to keep LLC updated
  • order pumps for 4oz bottles
  • call ahead on pumps to see if you can return the seals that did not fit, and can order seals that do fit with the pump order
  • create sheets of designs to be printed at Staples
  • get said sheets printed at Staples (use 30% off coupon)
  • launder clothes
  • put new toe stops on Maulie's skates
  • figure out how to set pendants so they are flat
  • find cover for pendants while drying (danger: curious cat)
  • make waxing appointment
  • keep waxing appointment
  • make mani/pedi appointment (Weekly Plus deal)
  • keep mani/pedi appointment
  • bottle face lotion to take to work for Melissa
  • prepare meat for salads
  • hand-paint designs printed from Staples, let dry
  • punch out designs, seal in pendants, let dry
  • seal pendants and apply glass, let dry
  • order organza bags for pendants
  • order business cards for pendants
  • make sugar scrub
  • make lotion
  • make lavender bath fizzies
  • package lip balms and gift bag for Punks bout (deliver on Oct. 9)
  • complete home refinance paperwork
  • do publishing payroll
  • do publishing monthly taxes
  • do quarterly craft taxes

I wrote this list on Sunday, October 2, in the evening. When it's published on October 5, it will reflect everything I've accomplished since then.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Roller Derby is Crafty

Skull Headband
 Roller derby is the fastest growing sport in the U.S., and possibly the world. Following trends like this can be good for your crafting business. I did a search on Etsy for "roller derby" and found these great examples of handmade items that support the roller derby community.

The headband above is an example of derby culture. Skulls, weapons, icons for lightning or pain--these are all motifs that have been adopted by those who participate in roller derby culture. The headband is crafted beautifully, and it comes in different colors, so the derby girl can match it to her team's colors, if she wanted. What icons do you enjoy and use, that you can repurpose for a different community/culture?

Skate T-Shirt

This screenprinted t-shirt is another example of original art and handmade quality. (My daughter actually has this shirt--grandma bought it for her.) Do you draw? Can your drawings show "derby love?" 

Customized Helmet Panties
 These are called helmet panties. They are used during game play to indicate two particular skaters: the pivot (stripe) and the jammer (star).  This artisan is serving the derby community directly by manufacturing an item that is necessary for game play--the helmet panties are required equipment for a team to compete. Could you manufacture something needed to play the game? Could you do it better than the standard? 

Funk Blockers
These items are called funk blockers. They are made of fabric and are filled with a dessicant--a substance that absorbs moisture. Roller girls sweat a lot, and much of this sweat becomes trapped inside pads and skates. This entrepreneur is helping the derby community solve a very important problem--getting rid of the stench! What can you make that will help solve a problem?

Customized Beanie
This crocheted beanie is showing some love for my favorite team: The Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. Because it has "my" team's colors and their initials, I automatically want it. WANT WANT WANT! What can you make in team colors? (Update: I bought it at a bout. The black yarn has silvery stuff running through it. Awesome!)

Find the trend and fill the need. What other trends are you noticing around you?

Monday, October 03, 2011

I Can't Even Read Blogs

My work as a public school teacher has been wearing on me this year.
(Insert boring whiny list  about principal, union stuff, time management, etc. You know the drill.)

Because of this, I set my mind every Monday toward the task of becoming self-employed. I decide what weekly task will help me get there, and I try to complete that one task. This morning, having one minute before my day starts to read a blog, I opened up my Google reader, and began.

And I couldn't do it.

I couldn't read about all these entrepreneurs and other self-employed individuals and their ideas for MY business. I couldn't do it. It's just too painful. Everything is becoming overwhelming, very quickly.

It's hard to explain--but I just couldn't read blogs today.

Have you escaped a job or dissolved a business that was hindering you?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

What I Do In Meetings

I get bored easily. Today, in a meeting, I was half-heartedly listening to the speaker, when she used the word "focuses," as a plural noun. I looked at Mike, seated at my right, and mouthed the word "foci." He wrinkled his brow, so I wrote it on my notebook and showed him. He nodded and smirked in appreciation.

When the speaker used the word "thesauruses" a minute later, Mike and I looked at each other immediately. I wrote "Thesaurus = book of synonyms" at the top of my notebook. I then wrote "Bronthesaurus = book of dinosaurs" next to it.

And Mike tried not to giggle. And then IT WAS ON. With increasing glee, I brainstormed the following words, to entertain myself and attempt to get Mike to laugh in the middle of our meeting:

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Top 5 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners

How do you find balance as a business owner? My work colleagues ask me this in a roundabout way all the time. Their way of asking isn't usually  a question, it's an exclamation: "How the hell do you do all that?"  Or maybe, "When do you sleep?"  Or sometimes, "Do you sleep?"

I do sleep, I promise. I don't always get 8 hours of sleep, as I imagine most of the world doesn't. As a business owner, I have to prioritize. I also have a secret weapon.  Here are the Top 5 Best Practices for Productivity, according to me:

1. Utilize your spouse. 
My spouse works for my soap business. He has done this since about 2008, when he would trade off with me and work at the farmer's market so I could have a day to sleep in. Since 2010, he has made soap for me, taken inventory, shipped mail orders, worked at farmer's markets, and run errands for the business. I keep him very busy, and it helps to keep me sane. He also gets our daughter ready for and to school, sometimes picks her up in the afternoons, and he cooks for the family. He does our grocery shopping and household errands and tasks, too. I do some household tasks, but I work at a regular ol' job, so I do what I can before collapsing. He does the rest.

2. Batch tasks and focus your efforts.
I never go to the post office to mail something on the weekends. Why would I? If I'm picking my daughter up after my job, I've got about an hour for errands. Since the post office is near her school, I can do all my mailing then. I can also go to the bank during that time. This is one tiny example of how to batch your tasks or errands so that you can get more done in a shorter amount of time. Checking your email at set times of day, instead of every time you pick up your phone, is another way to batch tasks. Check email at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm, and that's it. Answer all emails during that time, send what you need to send, and then don't look at it until the next designated time. You can do this. The world isn't going to fall apart if you don't return an email right away.

3. Stick to your vision.
Your business belongs to you. You must learn how to ignore people who will say, "You know what you should do? You should do THIS."  There are a lot of people that know what they are doing in business, and WAY MORE people who don't know shit. Most of the latter are the ones who want to should all over your project. Tactfully ignore them by saying, "Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the idea." And then continue the close focus of your business. This leads into...

4. Learn how to say "no."

You must learn this, quickly. You must also learn that sometimes you will need to say it to yourself. It's easier to say it to others, and even easier to say it via email. I get soliciations all the time through email, and most of the ideas just don't interest me. I either think they are a bad idea, too much work, or simply do not fit into my business plan. Here is an easy statement you can feel free to copy and paste, if you find it hard to say no:
"Dear X,
Thanks so much for your inquiry. However, I do not feel this opportunity is a good fit for me at this time.

Best of luck,


5. 98% perfect is perfect enough.

Send your work out into the world when it is 98% there. You must, at some point, stop fussing over every little thing and get it out there, or you won't ever make any money. Got a great idea? Make it happen, and throw it out into the world. Use the knowledge you have already gained from business to make the right decision, and 98% of the time, your 98% perfect idea will result in profits.

What are your favorite productivity suggestions?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Horseshoe Craft and Flea Market, this Saturday!

Small Business Tip of the Day: Take the Help

I was talking to a friend yesterday, and mentioned my busy schedule for the next month. She said to me, "If there's anything I can do to help, let me know."

Now, this is a good friend, and I could tell she meant it. I am a do-it-yourself kind of person, and usually I reply, "Thanks, I appreciate that. I'll let you know." Yesterday, though, I really needed the help.

This Saturday I am vending all day, and my husband has an event he's attending in the middle of the day. I had asked him to secure grandma to watch our daughter. She said she would watch her, but only if we could take here there, which is 20 miles away. This messed up my evening plans with my daughter, long story short.

So when my good friend, who has a daughter nearly my girl's age, said she wanted to help, I replied, "Well, actually, yes. If you could take my girl during the day, that would be amazing." She immediately said yes, knowing that her daughter would then have someone to play with all day, and both girls would be super happy.

And my problem was solved. Just like that. I'm going to give her some money for the day to take everyone out to lunch, and for treats, etc. Then that evening, we are all going to the same event, anyway. It is going to work out perfectly.

And it's all because I TOOK THE HELP.

Take it! If someone offers it, take it! It's not like you don't help everybody else, right? Because I know you do.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gearing up for NaBloWriMo

I will start posting regularly (very!) on October 1, because I am participating in NaBloWriMo--National Blog Writing Month. Participants are challenged to blog once per day during October. That's it!

This year there are prizes, though! If you are a blogger, you should definitely join up. Click the link above to read more about it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Anxiously Awaiting Acceptance

I wish I would get word about my application to Holiday Handmade. I need to plan my fall calendar! The dates are filling up. And if I don't get in (*sob!*), I will need to plan something else. Like, invite all my loyal customers to a vacant lot where I set up my tent for exactly two hours, or something.

Or go on vacation. Ha!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Soapcrone at Sugar Plum Bazaar in November

Woo hoo! I've been accepted to vend at the Sugar Plum Bazaar! I'm very excited about this one. It's being held in a fancy old mansion, and my vending space, for soap and bath products is, get this:

In the loo!

Yes, my vending space will be in the upstairs bathroom! I will be able to encourage everyone to sample the products, as it has a functional sink! Now, I have to think about how to display everything in there. Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

It's Time Again for NaBloWriMo!


It's on again! I started doing this a few years ago (blogging once per day in October), and then last year my life went stupid, and I didn't participate.

And I missed it.

So I'm doing it again! Time constraints be damned, I will blog once per day. You should, too!

Click the link up at the top to read the latest post, and sign up with wonderful Heather (notHannah), who is still running the show. She ran it last year, bless her heart, and is running it again this year. I will butt my nose in administratively, sometimes, but not too much. I still don't have any time for this.

Blog on!

Do the Numbers Add Up?

Image by espos.de. Permission via a Creative Commons license.

Cost of materials: $600

Income generated, if every item sold: $15,000

Would you do it?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Time to Send in Your Applications!

It's that time of year! Check your calendars a bunch of times, because you should start thinking about application deadlines for the craft fairs you want to do. It's rare to be able to email them the week beforehand and get it. Like the show in the image above--Holiday Handmade? It's a juried show, and they will probably get over 200 applications for 65 spots. I sent my application yesterday. Wish me luck!

I've also applied to another show already (Sugar Plum Bazaar!), and I'm waiting on a third. Plus, I've got two more French Nest markets, and the regular Sunday farmer's markets. Fall is so busy for a crafter!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saving Money as a Small Business -- Trade, Trade, Trade

Saving money when in business or starting a business is crucial to its success. I try my best--here are the two things that I do well:

1. Buy in bulk.

With a small crafting business, you may be tempted to buy small to begin with, and then reinvest that money again and again, until you can afford to "buy bigger."

I recommend against this. I think you should learn the value of buying in bulk to start. I know many of you are loathe to use your credit card for business purchases, but this is the reality of business: if I can buy my materials for less money overall, then I will make more money in the end. Those bottles of organic jojoba oil up there? I snatched those up when I learned about their price. I took all she had left. It will last me a year.

Buying in bulk means you can price your wares for profit, as well. If you only buy supplies in small amounts, you are paying a premium, and your profit is smaller.

2. Barter whenever possible.

There are lots of benefits to bartering. The most important one is that both parties are getting full retail value for the trade. You can barter items or services--whatever you have that is of value, you should consider trading, as you can.

I am not suggesting that you offer a sack of potatoes to an online supplier as payment. I am suggesting that certain expenses in your life can be handled by bartering, in order to reduce your monthly cash expenditures.

For example, I regularly trade editing services for haircuts. My hair goddess has been cutting my hair for 16 years now. We recently came to an agreement: I edit the monthly newsletter for her business, and she cuts my hair when I need it. We both get full retail value for our services. She hates editing her writing, as it takes too long and is too laborious for her. Since it is not much effort for me, I'm happy to do it for her. She is the master of cutting my hair so that it curls just right and I don't have to "do" it every day. If I took scissors to my own hair? Girl, please.

We both benefit from this arrangement by getting the full retail value of the services. (How much do you pay for hair services? She's expensive!) Sometimes I do data entry work for her, as well. Again, she LOATHES that kind of work, and for me, it's just second nature. A bartering situation works best when both people involved think they are getting the better end of the bargain. Both folks win.

Some people come up to me when I'm vending at the farmer's market (usually other vendors) asking me if I want to trade. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. If their wares are something that I want, then yes, I always trade for it. I have traded for: hot sauce, salsa, vegetables, fruit, a massage, lemonade, lunch, herbs, flowers, spices, cookies and pie. All were even retail value trades.

Heck, sometimes a trade just falls into my lap. I have several longtime customers who interact with me more like a friend. Last week, Russ came up to my booth and said, "Look, I picked a little squash and some cucumbers for you this morning." Fresh, organic produce, right out of his garden. Of course, I picked up his favorite soap and gave it to him. It was a treat.

I'm going on and on about bartering, aren't I? In these economic times, I think it's wise for everyone to consider what we have of value already. What skills or products do you have that are worth trading?