Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vending Snobbery

I don't vend outdoors in December. 

Call me a snob if you want, but I'm absolutely DONE with vending in the potential cold. We are signed up for the whole season of our local farmer's market, which goes into the first weekend of November. Sometimes October and November weather can be unpredictable here in Denver, but this year we lucked out. I did a Saturday in October that was cold, but otherwise the weather was pleasant.

And I was invited to do an outdoor holiday market on December 8. 

I said, in very clear terms, "Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I don't vend outdoors after the farmer's market is over." 

In my mind, I said, "NO. WAY."

Maybe, if this was my sole source of income, I'd reconsider. As it is right now, I just won't do it. 

Where do you draw the line?

Friday, October 19, 2012

How Busy is "Too Busy?"

In short, my husband told me he was sick of hearing it. He was sick of hearing how tired I am all the time. Sick of my constant complaint that I do everything and I'm so tired, and he just didn't want to hear it. 

I could have picked a fight about it. Instead, I decided I was sick of it, too. 

I'm sick of being too tired to work. Sick of doing every damned thing. Sick of being sick of it, as well. 

So I decided, this year, for our wedding anniversary, I would give my  husband a gift that he a) didn't expect and b) would truly appreciate and c) would be practical, helpful, and would make our lives better. 

I stopped complaining about work. 

Guess what happened?

Both of our lives are improved. I didn't even tell him I did it. I didn't tell him that was his gift, until our anniversary. At which point, he did notice that it had been a few weeks since he'd heard it from me. 

I really don't care if he appreciates it, because the side effect for me has been overwhelming. MY attitude and MY words have made MY life better. I no longer feel as worn out, exhausted, and dog-tired. Yes, I get fatigued--I am a human being. But the simple act of removing the complaint of it from my life has caused things to turn around.

I'm more productive more evenings. 
I panic less.
My communication is clearer. 

It took some concerted effort on my part, but I think this change is permanent. It's very worth it.

What changes in attitude have you made, that improved your work life? 

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Vendor Tuesday: eBay and craigslist

Have I done eBay yet? Well, don't forget it exists. Sometimes crafters are just done, and want to get rid of their stash. EBay is still around, selling all sorts of craft items at a discount.

Also, try your local craigslist. 

On Creating Change

Sometimes we must make our own light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Custom Orders

Do you do custom orders for your items? If so, how much over standard retail price do you charge? Also, have you stopped doing custom orders? 

What do you think are the biggest challenges of doing custom orders?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Fun with Keywords

Popular keyword searches that led people here within the last week:

"converse in okc"

"hard rock leather pants teen"

"absinthe sleep"

"fruts crotchert"

Good ol' Fruts Crotchert. Always there for us with a little booze and a dirty joke.

On Drudgery

As the next school year approaches, I am reminded of this simple fact: 

You don't have to enjoy a task to be good at it.

Too often, when I encounter people who learn I am a teacher, they make comments regarding the "passion" I must have for the job, and that it must require a great bit of "dedication," etc. Passion and dedication most certainly do exist for some career teachers. Even as I write the words "career teachers," I catch a snort in my throat. 

I've been teaching for 20 years, and I don't consider myself a "career teacher." 

That's because, I think, I stopped enjoying it long ago. Passion never really existed for me in the job. Dedication, not really. Curiosity? Maybe. Advocacy? Definitely. Creativity? Most assuredly. 

It was probably the creativity that stuck with me. And with recent (within the last 10 years) developments in education, the creativity is completely gone from teaching. Just gone. Curricula are structured, and teachers are expected to teach it and keep up. Yes, meeting individual student needs does take some creativity. 

It's not the same as it was before. 

Now, don't get all weepy and lament, "Oh, Amy! You really must get out if you don't like it! Think of the CHIIIIILLLDREEEEN!" The children? They have never been the problem with my enjoyment of teaching. Never. They are the challenge, they are where the creativity comes from, and they have such an amazing energy. I enjoy my time with the kids. I really do. 

This helps me get through my day. So many teachers around me say, "If they would just leave me alone and let me teach my kids." The kids are the most enjoyable part of teaching. 

But the reason I'm doing the job today is not because of children. Shocking, I know. It's because I am stuck in a system that pays me just enough that I can't afford to get hired anywhere else, and entices me to stay with a nebulous agreement called "retirement." I'm stuck. The risk I would take for my family by leaving is just too great right now. 

How do I keep on? How do I continue to show up, every day, and do a great job? (Not just a good job, folks. I kick ass.) 

It's because of a very important business skill. Tenacity. 

That's it. Tenacity. I keep showing up because the public school system will not win. It will not break me. It will not take my creativity and spark and energy from me. It will take my time---that's the trade. I'm trading my time and skill and talent for money. 

And that's ok. 

I learned tenacity in my childhood, when I was presented with the task of hulling strawberries. My dad had a rather large strawberry patch in the garden, and he would spend a lot of time out in the heat, squatting in the garden, picking strawberries. I would then have to hull them. I would dump the gallon bucket of strawberries into the sink, run water in the sink so they were soaking, and would cut the tops off each one. I would then cut each one in half (or quarters, depending on size), and place them in a bowl. 

It felt like I stood there for hours on end, hulling/cleaning strawberries. I'm sure it wasn't that long, but that's drudgery. Time stands still. And oh, how I hated that job. 

Why did I do it? Obviously, I wanted to eat the strawberries. And it was a fair trade. Dad always said, "You don't have to clean them. But if you don't clean them, you don't get to eat them." Since I wanted the reward of the fruit, I put in the work. 

Today? You should see me with a pound of strawberries. A pound? Shoot, that's 5 minutes of work. Not even work, if it's only 5 minutes. BRING IT. 

My hands know exactly what to do. The muscles in them are perfectly trained to slice the top off a strawberry and slice it in half, drop it into a bowl, and pick up the next one. I barely have to look. 

That's teaching, for me. I know exactly what I'm doing, and I go in and kick ass doing it. I don't have to like it to do a good job. And I'm trading my skills for money (just like I did for strawberries). 

In business, tenacity is an amazing skill that I think you should hone. And it often comes from drudgery. Do the repetitive work that needs to be done. Or hire it out, if you want, but you are paying for it in any case. Keep at it, and it will become easier. 

And when it does, your creativity will kick back in. Which is what I'm finding for myself. 

Stay tuned. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Summer Update

Let's see how I did on my list for summer:

  • I will continue to gain private label clients for my handmade soap business.
    • I have begun work with one client, and I'm still communicating with another. 
  • I will rewrite my three books on soap making.
    • This has not yet happened.
  • I will ghost write a book on roller skate maintenance.
    • This is happening right now! 
  • I will sell my roller derby necklaces at Rollercon and have the time of my life, for one week.
    • Oh, how this happened. THIS HAPPENED! I did have an amazing time, made some great contacts (one of whom has already called me), and paid for my trip entirely. It was very successful.
  • I will travel home to Iowa for 5 days, and visit my family. 
    • This is done! It was also a great time--fantastic to see my parents, and my sister and her kids. My brother, as well. 
  • I will garden, exercise, skate, swim, and generally relax.
    • Lots of exercise, lots of skating, lots of swimming. Not so much gardening, but sometimes you have to let things go, in order to relax at all.
  • I will work for a friend on her new project. Top secret!
    • This continues. Top secret!
Overall, my summer has flown by, and has been very busy. My focus was on the roller derby necklaces for a long time, and now I can back off of that a little bit and focus on my writing.

My writing. 

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching the past couple of days. It's hard to jump in with both feet when your family depends on you for all finances, but I'd like to. I'd really, really like to just jump in and be a full-time business writer, author, and crafty diva. I would love for my life to be all of my choosing, and not someone else's. And then I remember: I choose to have a full-time job. 

I could quit. What would that mean for my family? 

Over the next couple of days, I will make a new list, for fall. Pushing forward is the only way that I see to ensure progress toward my goal of complete self-employment. Will this be my last year as a public school teacher? 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The best advertising you can do right now... make a little video and put it on You Tube. In one year, 16,312 people have viewed my first  liquid soap video. I know it's not the most people ever, but it's way more than I ever expected.

It has also generated 48 comments. 

98.5% of the people who chose to click it, clicked the "like" button.

And that's just the first video! I made a total of four, to show the entire liquid soap making process.

What video can you make, for your business? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Goals

I am recommitted! This summer, I am going to transform my businesses. To wit:

  • I will continue to gain private label clients for my handmade soap business.
  • I will rewrite my three books on soap making.
  • I will ghost write a book on roller skate maintenance.
  • I will sell my roller derby necklaces at Rollercon and have the time of my life, for one week.
  • I will travel home to Iowa for 5 days, and visit my family. 
  • I will garden, exercise, skate, swim, and generally relax.
  • I will work for a friend on her new project. Top secret!
I will do all of this starting on Monday. Until then, I must make it through this week. See you in a few days.

(Want to know how I got out of my funk? Read this blog post.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Small Craft Business: Emailing Potential Vendors

I received an email today, from a person organizing a new "crafty-flea-market" thing. She had emailed me before, and I know who she is, because she met me when I was vending, and took my card. 

She's soliciting everyone who she thought was cool at THAT market, to come work her market. This makes sense to me, as a businessperson.


When she sent the email, she didn't blind-copy everyone on the list. She put us in the "to" field. So now, if I wanted, I could email all these people. 

She went about it the right way. She met these people in person, and gave them HER card, and said she wanted them to vend at her market. She isn't competing with the market she visited. It's all good.

But that one thing put me off. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Small Craft Business: Using Facebook Wisely

I experienced something that took me just a bit by surprise today. One of my Facebook friends posted something that made me think, and I realized I disagreed. So I commented, explaining why I disagreed.

Later on, I saw someone else had commented. I went back to the thread, and the original poster had deleted my post, and had also removed me as a Facebook friend. 


This person was a FB friend because of business. I've never met her in person. And she decided to remove me as a friend because I disagreed with her. My comment was not cantankerous, or tacky. It did not contain profanity, nor did it malign anyone. 

"Hmm," I said to myself. And then I thought, "That's not the best move, is it?"

It really isn't. If you are using Facebook for your business, as I do, then you shouldn't remove people as friends. You want as many people as possible to see what you  have to say, right? But sometimes you disagree with these folks, and if you haven't met them, maybe you don't want to follow them at all. 

In that case, keep them as friends, but just unsubscribe. To do this, click on the name, and at the top right it will say "Friends." Next to that, there's a button that says "Subscribed." Click and hold that, and a drop-down menu will appear. At the bottom of the drop-down, click "Unsubscribe."

This way, you are still friends, and they will still see your status updates if they are subscribed to you, but you won't see theirs. Simple, and not to put too fine a point on it, good business. 

Keep your followers. But you don't necessarily have to follow them. 

What do you think? (If you disagree, and aren't a crankypants about it, I promise I won't remove your comment. ;)  )

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Small Craft Business: Keeping on top of It

It's difficult to keep on top of things, but I did ok with my to-do list for last week. I still need to make face lotion, but it's not desperate.

And my day off. MY DAY OFF! What a delight. To wit:

Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

I love that we can see our shadows.

Just one of the seven.

The second staircase. You can see the landing at the bottom--the first staircase goes down to the right.

Hiking afterward. 
I highly recommend days off. This one was transformative in several ways. 

This week's To-Do List:

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Small Craft Business: Tuesday To-Do

You get my to-do list today simply because I forgot to do it yesterday. I'm on spring break! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Obsessed? Maybe a little.

I was talking with my husband the other day, you know, like you do, and was explaining or describing or whatever, something to do with roller derby.

He interrupted me, saying, "Do you think about roller derby all the time?"

Yes. Pretty much, yes. 

Through roller derby, I have found joy. 

I find a similar joy when I am creating the artwork for my roller derby necklaces. I imagine a friend who would like that particular color, and wonder if she feels the same way. I marvel at the colors and rejoice when they turn out well (About 7% of them don't turn out. I've had to add this into the cost.). 

What does this have to do with business? 

If I could find a way to make my crafty business work so that I'm self-employed, I could experience roller derby joy every day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

FUNdraiser! Roller Derby! Brazilians!

It’s time to support the spread of roller derby worldwide! The women of the Gray City Rebels in Sao Paulo, Brazil and 2x4 Roller Derby in Buenos Aires, Argentina want to improve their skills by hosting a Certifiable Derby Training camp. But these teams need a little help with funds. Let’s commit to the spread of roller derby around the world by helping these teams reach their financial goals, so they can learn from the best, improve their skills, and make a fine showing at the next World Cup!

From March 15-April 15, you can help these teams by making a purchase at For every purchase made during that time frame, 25% will be committed to the Gray City Rebels and 2x4 Roller Derby’s plan to host a world-class training camp this June.

Get clean, and help some derby sisters out!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Small Craft Business: Vendor Tuesday

Today's vendor is Staples! Seriously? Yes! My printer at home is just ok, and I have recently begun creating digital artwork for my new crafty project. I needed to print things out perfectly. 

Enter Staples! They will print out one sheet on cardstock for a dollar. I can fit nearly 50 circles for my pendants on one sheet. That's a cost of $0.02 per circle. Take that, finances!

You might consider signing up for their email list--I get coupons and announcements of sales, daily. 

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Small Craft Business: Time-on-Task Thursday--Roller Derby Edition

I'm giddy.

I have been very reflective this week. As many of you may know, I am not  yet fully self-employed. I would love this, but it's just not in the cards yet. This week at work (public school), the cuts came through. At this time every year, schools get their budget projections for the next year, and that usually means positions will be cut.

Unsurprisingly, I had to interview for my own job. 

Luckily, I was selected to stay, so I'm still employed. But is it lucky? One of my friends was not so "lucky" and she was cut. She is nearly retirement age, and we suspect that's part of the issue (expense), but can't prove it. But her situation is different from mine--I cannot retire if I choose. 

This whole thing got me to thinking hard, though, about what I need to do to get out. I speak of my job in terms of escape, often. If only, if only. During times like these, to make myself feel better, I take some sort of action. Moving toward my goal only makes sense.

So I signed up to be a sponsor of Rollercon. My roller derby necklaces are popular locally, and are an easy sell when I'm actively trying. I think it's a measured risk, to go to a convention, surrounded by my target market, and attempt to sell them something they already want. 

Don't you? 

Also, there are lots of parties there. Every night, really. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Small Craft Business: Monday's To-Do List, on Wednesday

I'm just so busy, I don't know what to do with myself. Here's this week's to-do:

  • finish necklace orders (paint on Monday, seal on Tuesday, glass on Wednesday, pendants Thursday, finish Friday, deliver/mail on Saturday)
  • figure out sponsorship for with Rocky Mountain Rollergirls
  • find a cheap flight to Vegas for the end of July (!) [this is ongoing, as I hope is obvious
  • email author re: finishing draft
  • pay for Rollercon sponsorship/vendor table
  • book room at Riviera
  • actually DO publishing retail taxes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Small Craft Business: Monday To-Do List

  • Print artwork for B's necklace
  • Make B's necklace
  • Do publishing retail taxes
  • Arrange necklaces in organza bags, etc.
  • Send emails re: wholesaling

Friday, February 17, 2012

Small Craft Business Friday: To-Do List Update

  • Make necklace for Seek (order)
  • Make artwork for B's necklaces (order)
  • Print artwork for B's necklaces
  • Make B's necklaces (One is already done--and sold to her on Friday)
  • Gather things for vending on Friday
    • tablecloth
    • banner
    • necklaces
    • Squareup and money bag w/change
    • charged phone
    • receipt book
    • business cards
    • jewelry care slips
    • silver polishing cloth (p.s. Everything from necklaces on down fits in one backpack.)
  • Make Valentines (Monday night)
It's been a productive week.

(Also, I don't know why I put a To-Do list up on Monday, and don't update it later on, for you. I think that's the natural Friday post. We'll see if that works better than my previous plan.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Small Craft Business: Monday To-Do List 13 February

Week of 13 February To Do

  • Make necklace for Seek (order)
  • Make artwork for B's necklaces (order)
  • Print artwork for B's necklaces
  • Make B's necklaces
  • Gather things for vending on Friday
    • tablecloth
    • banner
    • necklaces
    • Squareup and money bag w/change
    • charged phone
    • receipt book
    • business cards
    • jewelry care slips
    • silver polishing cloth (p.s. Everything from necklaces on down fits in one backpack.)
  • Make Valentines (Monday night)
(When I look at it, I really don't have too much to do. Gathering things won't take long at all, as I've already procured the things--it's just putting them in one place.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Business Blogger: I am very busy and important

When I'm actually functioning, I blog here about business and crafting, yes? And now I've got another gig! 

I am happy to announce that I am the Biz Tuesday blogger for Horseshoe Craft and Flea Market's Blog! Hooray! Twice per month I will share insight over there, about business and crafting. 


So, what should I write? What do you want to hear on Biz (every other) Tuesdays? Here, here's a more specific question:

What vexes you most about starting a craft business? What is holding you back?

If you have a craft business, what stuff always throws you for a loop?

Friday, February 03, 2012

As Promised: My New Honey Badger Project

Honey Badger Don't Care.

Honey Badger don't give a s*%#. Look at him with that cobra.

My roller derby necklaces are taking off locally. I'm hoping it will move nationally soon, as I'm doing a giveaway for them on a popular roller derby blog. 

The honey badger necklace came to me when watching the video in the previous post. Rollergirls are a tough sort of cookie, and I knew they would enjoy these. But I can't draw very well.

So I hired it out. My good friend Laura Hansen, of Red Eft Studio, agreed to the job. I knew whatever she came up with would be perfect, and I was right.

The commissioned artwork, therefore, is enhanced by me with glitter sauce, and encased under glass. The components are sterling silver. I have another idea to use a map of the U.S. and heart charms. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how to cut up the map. 

Click either of the photo captions to read more about these necklaces. If you care. (Which honey badger don't. I know.)


I have been ridiculously neglectful of this blog! The reason? I've been blogging every day at:


which tracks my progress on a 90-day fitness challenge.

It's a reason, not an excuse. There is no excuse for my actions. 

To atone for my absence, I will today photograph my new necklace project, and post the photos here. They are amazing. You will want one.

Yes, you! Trust me. To get you in the mood for these necklaces, I offer your daily belly laugh in the form of a YouTube video. Enjoy.