Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Craft of Passion

I'm at my day job right now, where I could and should be working on a project for my part-time job, but, instead, I'm writing about crafting, my true obsession - nay, my true passion.

I had a four-day weekend and I crafted my little heart out all weekend long. One accomplishment was the blockprinting I did. My mom gave me a blockprinting kit, about which I've been very curious for quite some time, for Christmas. One day last week, after making an innocent little doodle on a scrap piece of paper, I was actually inspired to enlarge and carve my little doodle into the block. I printed the image onto blank notecards. They looked pretty good.

"I Miss You" or "Thinking of you" or "When are you coming home? I have to go potty!"
My original reason for making the doodle was thinking a pair of windowframe earrings with something in the window would be really cute. I like the notecard a lot better. I liked these cards so much I decided to make another one.

"Night Owl"
I know my artwork is pretty low on the meaningful scale, but, to be frank, I don't want to make a statement with my art, I want to make a living with my creativity.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My new stores!

I have recently opened two new Etsy stores - one for my photography hobby and one for what I hope will be the beginnings of a real business.

Zoom In is where I sell my photographs as prints, framed prints, and notecards. I use two different cameras - a big one for more fussy photos and a little one for snapshots. I am not sure which direction I would like to go with my photography or if I would even like to make it anything more than a hobby. I truly enjoy it, though, so I am tentatively putting it out there for now.

Craftlings is where I sell crafting kits I put together myself. I only have one available right now, a hand-dying kit for wool yarn, but I have a few more ideas up my sleeve for kits. I've mostly been concentrating on research and developement in order to get the supplies and instructions just right. I will be offering a kit to dye nylon yarn in a few days.

I'm really excited about them both because they have a lot of potential and they are helping me think beyond my limited scope of what crafting is. Wish me luck!

Happy New Year!

champagne.jpgI may be a little late, but today I finally thought of my New Year's resolutions. I have two of them. The first is actually to DO the few simple craft business ideas I have and to start NOW, doing what I am able while working within the limitations of my living and financial situations, which are not well-suited for a home-based startup. Coming up with a name for the business will happen eventually. The second is to dress well and take good care with my appearance. They say to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I don't want to be a homeless person, but sometimes that's how I dress. I'm not going to start wearing power suits and such, but I figure nice heels, a little jewelry, and some nicer looking clothes like slacks that should be ironed every now and then would help me ease into the appearance of the businesswoman I'm becoming.

I did take some initiative by buying some supplies for two crafty projects I can use as the start of an idea I've had for a while. I don't want to give away too much right now because I don't have anything set up yet. I will be starting it on Etsy because I am familiar and comfortable with that venue. I'm working on a banner/logo for it now even though I'm not entirely happy with the name. I am going to go with it anyway because if I don't, I will use not having the perfect name as an excuse to twiddle my thumbs. After I buy some more supplies today and do some testing and documenting, I will have two products to offer in this mystery line. I know that doesn't seem like much, but it's a start, which is huge for me.

Of course, I do have a habit of not finishing things I start. Like school. I am THIS close to getting my Bachelor's in Business, but I'm dragging my feet. I'm stuck between hating my current living situation where I would have to stay until I finish and having the opportunity to move to Chicago where I would have to wait a while before being able to transfer with resident status to a new college. I am also stuck between wanting to get the degree just for the satisfaction of getting it and thinking school is a waste of time and money. My mom sure would be proud of me and happy for me if I got it, though. But what good would it really do? I just don't know. If I got it I would still be lazy and unmotivated. No degree is going to change that. I wish I knew what will.

[This post was originally written and posted on January 8, 2008 on my old blog.]

What is Etsy (ET-see)?


After attending my family reunion this summer, I found out a few of my family members had Etsy stores. I had one, too, but I had practically abandoned it. Thanks to my family, I have a renewed interest in this easy-to-use online selling website.

Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/) is a place for crafters and artisans to sell their wares. The only stipulation regarding what can be sold on Etsy is that it is either hand-made by the seller or could be classified as supplies for hand making things. It is free to create an Etsy account which includes a relatively stylish online storefront.

It costs 20 cents (a listing fee) to put an item into the store, no matter what it is or for how much it is being sold. If an item sells, an additional 3.5% of the item's selling price is taken as commission. This type of charging appeals to me because it's quite low and it's item based - not a regular monthly charge regardless if I've had any sales or not. If I sell something and make money, then Etsy makes money, too.

Other aspects of Etsy I like are that it works with Paypal, it allows a user to upload her own artwork as a banner for her store, and it allows five generously-sized photos per item to be uploaded. The sense of community I get from the website is also nice. The forums are helpful and busy and there are many other community features I haven't yet explored such as Treasuries, The Storque (Etsy's online 'zine), and chat rooms.

However, there are two major things I wish were improved. First, in order to buy from an Etsy store, the customer has to have an Etsy account. Non-members can browse and add things to their shopping carts, but when they click "Checkout," they are asked to either login or create an Etsy account. I think it would be nice to give people the option to shop as a guest.

Second, the checkout process is clumsy because it requires multiple checkout processes. The first process is to buy the item(s) on Etsy. Then each item has to be paid for seperately. Paypal is the most widely used payment system on Etsy. Using Paypal as an example, if a shopper has bought three items from three different sellers, the shopper then has to send each seller a seperate Paypal payment. I think it would be nice if Etsy could pull one withdrawal from the shopper's Paypal account for the total amount spent in Etsy and then distribute that payment behind the scenes to its sellers.

Even with those two drawbacks considered, they are far outweighed by the ease of use and the gaining popularity. It's a great introduction to selling hand-made goods and materials online.

My Craftwork Etsy store is located at http://craftwork.etsy.com/. I make and sell all sorts of random things. Here are the stores of some of my cousins and my aunt:

Moonrover: http://moonrover.etsy.com/ - here you will usually find out-of-this-world hand-spun yarn, knitted items and other beautiful random items.

Maia's Menagerie: http://maiat.etsy.com/ - Maia's photography prints are the star of this store. She takes pictures all over the world, yet she can also capture the beauty of her own back yard. She also offers cute paper goods.

DAiSY'S & dots: http://daisysanddots.etsy.com/ - This cousin of mine is a scrapbooking genius. She puts her decorative talents to all sorts of paper goods and she also dabbles in jewelry.

MillipedeBead: http://millipedebead.etsy.com/ - The person behind this shop joins jewelry and beads in the most beautiful ways. She also sells woven thread bracelets as a non-profit item for the Seeds of Life foundation.

Bella Rose Design: http://bellarosedesign.etsy.com/ - My aunt runs this shop. She is an accomplished glassworks designer and she's as sweet as a Rose.

[This post was originally written and posted on December 18, 2007 on my old blog.]

A name by any other rose...

Coming up with a name for a business is a very serious business to me. Being unable to think of the perfect name that is also available as an online domain could be the very reason why I still haven't started any business at all. Well, it's definitely an excuse, if not a reason. Regardless, coming up with names for my future company and its subsidiaries is something I think about all the time.

The sort of names I conceive change depending on whatever circumstances are prevailant in my life at the time. Right now, it's all about me and my boyfriend, with whom I plan to partner. I've been trying to weave our initials together in a way that creates a poignant sophisticated word, but I'm only getting names that sound like the line-up of characters in a play about genies.

I'd like to think of something unique, personal, and even indicative of what the business does, but that would just be a bonus at this point. I have a feeling that when I do think of the perfect name, my heart will skip a beat, I'll break out in a cold sweat, and I'll shout "Eureka!" to the world! I can't wait for that moment. So I did a little bit of research on how to pick a business name.

There were some decent suggestions in the article "What's in a name? More than you think!" on ezinearticles.com. The author, Kim Guymon, wrote a great analogy:
Remember the Tom Hanks movie, "That Thing You Do"? Do you remember what the band in the movie named themselves? They were The Oneders. They wanted to be like the Beatles and have an unusual spelling of their band name. Well, how did you just pronounce that in your head? Did you remember that it was "The WONDERS", or did you look at it and think, "What the heck is an O'NEEDER? As you may recall, a radio DJ called them, "The O'NEEDERS". Their name was a bit too "out there" and people failed to see the clever little twist on the spelling. It just doesn't pay to get funky with a name.

I found some really good pointers in the thread "What do you think of my possible new business name?" on biznik.com. Dominic Canterbury replied with these tips:
1. EVERYTHING you do (including naming) should be done with the target market in mind. Any name you choose will end up attracting some people and filtering out others, so you may as well go for the kind of people you want.

2. Names are no good at telling stories, so don't try to force them to. If you called yourself something like Perfect by Design, nobody would read that and assume your work was any closer to perfection than anybody else's. The name, WonderDraw, really only conveys that you might do illustrations as well as computer graphics. And the name, Incumbustible Design, suggests that your work won't catch fire -- a great name if your're targeting fire safety equipment manufacturers, but not if you're targeting those who want their ideas to spread like wildfire.

3. The best names (in my humble opinion) do not necessarily convey meaning, but create something that meaning can easily be attached to. It's like naming a baby. You probably wouldn't want to name your boy Adolph -- too much semantic baggage. But a name like Eli (my boy's name) sounds good and can freely take on a world of meaning.

I suggest you try nonsensical names or some foreign word for firespinner.

Successful entrepreneur Michael McDerment really lays out the nuts and bolts of naming in his article "How To Name Your Company" on thinkvitamin.com. I like it because it gives us flexibility to change things up a bit while following his suggested structure.

Armed with more know-how, which I didn't get from any business college course that cost me over three-hundred dollars, I will make naming my business one of my New Year's resolutions. We can have more than one, right?

[This post was originally written and posted on January 8, 2008 on my old blog.]

In the beginning...

In the beginning there was a girl who liked to make stuff. Actually, like is not a strong enough word. She needed to make stuff or else she would wither and stagnate. But she also needed to make a living. Then she thought, "Why couldn't those two needs work together to properly?fulfill my life?" The answer was that there was no reason why not.?

And thus begins the story of how I am going to make a living through crafting.

My first attempt was sharing a booth at a local craft fair where I sold a couple of little purses and big shawls. Then I made an online store at http://craftwork.etsy.com/. I haven't been keeping it up very well, but I still sell things there on occassion.

I would really love to have a thriving successfull craft-oriented business that consumes all the working hours of my days. Unfortunately, I don't know in which direction to go. I do know I don't want to make (as in manufacture) finished goods. Trying to compete with?sweat shops is beyond my abilities. However, I still haven't ruled it out.

I'm in the middle of getting a Bachelor's in Business Administration so when I do know what my business is going to be, I will know how to run it. In the mean time, I will continue to experiment, craft, write, and hope.

[This post was originally written and posted on December 10, 2007 on my old blog.]