Friday, October 26, 2007

Etsymom's Say Thanks to a SAHM of 6

For those of you apart of Etsymoms you should already know about the promo basket that we are putting together for Dawn, a mother of 6 and author of the blog Because I Said So. If you are not in the group let me fill you in. Dawn has begun to receive national attention from this blog containing crazy stories about her life and the battles of being a mom to 6 kids. She first gained recognition from an Ebay auction that she listed for a pack of Pokemon cards that her kids slipped into her basket at Walmart. Nothing special about the cards other than the hilarious story that accompanied it. The cards sold for over $100. And her fame has gone on from there. Newspapers from all over the country as well as national tv stations, like ABC, have picked up on the story and are telling the world about it.

Dawn, much like the rest of us stay at home moms, was looking for a way to get some extra income for her family when a friend suggested blogging. Well it paid off she announced recently on her blog that she just signed a book deal and Hollywood is calling for her to write a sitcom based on her life's misadventures.

Anyways one of the Etsymom members, crochetmaggie, came up with a great idea to send her a promo basket, filled with goodies from the Etsymoms. As a thank you for making us laugh and to remember to laugh at ourselves every once in a while too.

Now when I first took this on I thought great idea, but what are the chances that we will get this to her let alone get some kind of response back. Well I took a chance and emailed her, letting her know about Etsymoms and the basket that we wanted to send to her. I also let her know that I was going to be in town for Thanksgiving (yes I am originally from Chicago) and was wondering if I could meet with her then to deliver the goodies. Amazingly enough she emailed me back and said she was flattered and would loved to meet with me! Yeah, she shoots, she scores! The crowd goes wild! Ok, the Etsymoms go wild!

Oh wait, I didn't get to the good part yet. Not only did she want to meet with me but she asked if I, and the Etsymoms, would be interested in having our products being reviewed on her blog! Now we can do the happy dance! Yes we will be reviewed on her blog if we can work out the details, but I don't think it will be to hard to work it out.

I am so excited about this opportunity for me and my friends in the Etsymoms group. Wish us good luck on this adventure and pray that this brings a little exposure to us. I know we could all use a little extra help!

If you would like to know more about the project please email me or wait for the updates that I will be posting here and on the Etsymom Blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My First Craft Fair

Well I survived my first craft fair this past weekend! I was beat tired after it, but I learned a lot of do's and don'ts from it. While the fair itself was a bust, it was a good stepping stool for my next ones.

This craft fair, I was told had about 900 people at it last year...this year was closer to 200! And that included the vendors! I was so disappointed, but I did make some sales, some good contacts for future sales (I hope) and manage to make a profit after the booth fees and various other materials I needed to buy to create my booth. So all and all I guess it wasn't too bad. Let me give you the run down of what happened.

First, they let us set up the night before the show started. Thank Goodness! With the 2 hours they gave us the night before and the 2 hours the day of we just barely finished setting up in time for the show to start...of course most of this is because my friend and I are perfectionists and we hate things that are just thrown together. I shared the booth with a friend of mine that makes amazing fold out greeting cards with scriptures and quotes. The two of us work really well together.

Out of all the booths we probably had some of the most unique items there. Most of the booths were pretty general items that you expect to see nothing really unique. Of course this is probably why we did so well, compared to everyone else. I think I was more disappointed in that then the turn out. I was really hoping to see some unique gifts that I could get for my family or to get ideas from. But not really.

Now I don't want to make you think that this craft fair was a total waste, in fact just the opposite. I am actually grateful that the turnout was terrible, it gave me a chance to think about what to do better next time. So here are some things that I came up with to think about when getting ready for your next craft fair.

First, be prepared. Do an inventory checklist, know what you have and how much. If someone wants to buy several items, know how many you have for them. Keep your inventory together and categorized. If you keep things that are similar together it makes it easier for loading and unloading, not to mention if you have extras that are not out for the customer to see you will be able to find it quickly. Label everything, know what's in what bins for easy access and quick recovery. Remember time is money so the more time you waste trying to find something under the table the more sales you will lose, people don't want to wait around for something. Most people at craft fairs buy on impulse. They are not looking for something specific, just something unique. Also know your venue. Know what other vendors are around, know where the bathrooms are, the water fountains and the food. People will come back to you to ask questions but as they do, something might catch their eye and presto a sale. Plus it makes you look more professional and knowledgeable.

Also know your products! This is pretty self explanatory and I thought pretty straight forward, but you would be surprised at how many people I talked to that had to look up a price or look to someone else on how something worked. Why? If you have someone helping you out, make sure that they know your items as well as you do. You look very unprofessional when you can't answer a question about your own work! If you offer different colors, papers, sizes; know all this and let the customer know if they are not all out. They can't read your mind, they don't know that your underwater basket weaving comes in 3 sizes if they are not all out or you didn't tell them.

Think like the customer! Walk around your booth what jumps out at you? What doesn't? Does everything make sense? What questions would you have? Price, color, custom orders or do you take CC? All things that they are going to want to know so how are you going to let them know?

Offer CC sales! If you are not sure how to do this go through ProPay. They seem to be the easiest and cheapest way to offer them, plus you can get a mastercard linked to your account so you don't have to worry about transferring money back and forth between accounts! More than half of my sales came because I offered this, plus I made connections with other vendors. So many of them didn't know how to go about offering CC and they came and asked me how I did it, 1 of them bought something from me and 4 took my card for the future.

Next look at your booth set up. When you look at your booth is everything at the same level? Or did you build it up so things have a sense of hierarchy? This was a huge thing I noticed at the fair. There were several booths that just laid things out on their tables, no levels, and no real sense of order either. There are several things that you can do to "add levels" to your table display. First, look at what you have to display. What might get lost or what do you want to show off most? Use empty shoe boxes, paint cans (small and large), plastic bags/newspapers or anything else that will give height to your table. Then use a table cloth to cover them up and bunch it around the items, don't make it form fitting (you don't want to give away your secret). Once you have things were you think they need to be start adding your items, your boxes and paint cans may need to move slightly in order to fit the actually items but at least you have a starting point. Once it is all set, Ta Da you have hierarchy! And a table that will attract attention from passersby.

Make friends with the vendors around you. More than likely if they are from that area they have friends that will be dropping by to say hi and if that is the case, they will probably point out something in your booth that they fell in love with and can't live without. I had 2 sales because of this. Not that that sounds like a whole lot but I only had 7 sales total...I recommend going around and introducing yourself to as many vendors as possible actually, this way if they have a break during the day they might come over and say hi and look at what you have plus they can send people your way if they find out you are selling something close to what that person is looking for. Word of mouth is a great tool at craft fairs! One of the booths that the craft fair this weekend had cake mixes that you make in a coffee mug complete with frosting! A great invention, anyways she sold out of almost everything because of word of mouth. All the vendors were talking about what a great idea it was, especially for teacher and secret Santa gifts where you don't have a lot of money to spend. Well one vendors spoke up and said she was starting to run out and that started a frenzy of buyers. Buy the end of the day I think she only had 3-4 types left out of the 14-16 that she was offering. Remember as you are walking around too to be handing out business cards, even if they don't get around to seeing you during the day they may take a look at your sight later.

Another thing to consider is participating in a silent auction, if it is offered. Not only does this get you exposure but sales. I had 3 sales because people were bidding on my Faith, Hope and Love Mirrors and didn't win. Plus the lady who won took my business card to tell others about my store!

One last thing, enjoy yourself. Engage in small talk step outside of your comfort zone. People are more willing to linger if you get them talking about a subject they enjoy talking about. not sure how to start it...look at what they are wearing, complement them on the jewelry, hat or top. Ask where they got it or if their is a story behind it. If they are wearing a sports team talk about that. Ask what or for who they are looking for gifts, sounds dumb but it works every time.

Follow these simple guidelines and you will do great and have a great time with less stress.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another New Venture

I have been asked to write a branding/marketing post on the EtsyMom Blog once a week. I am so excited to be doing this. EtsyMoms are a great group of moms who own shops on Etsy and a lot of them have become great friends of mine. I am hoping this new outlet helps get the word out about EtsyMoms and Etsy itself, one of the greatest sites for finding handmade gifts and with the holidays coming up there is no better place to shop. Check out both sites and share the love.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Craft Fairs and helpful ideas

After countless hours researching craft fairs here are some great ideas to keep in mind as you get ready for your next craft fair.

Make sure you have a good little "survival kit". These are things that you should include: a small tool set, a first aid kit, a cell phone, extra batteries (for things like the kid's games and your cash register), snacks and drinks, a blanket and my all time favorite: the ever-so versatile duct tape!A few other things include glue or glue gun, hammer and nails, etc. to fix the crafts that didn’t survive the trip to the show and a roll of paper towels you never know when you or your customers might have an accident.

Other things that you need to remember to bring are plenty of busniess cards, any promo items, good signage, table cloths, pen and paper (write down new ideas), reciept pad or cash register and last but not least a good friend so you don't get board!

When it comes to inventory control this was one idea I came across... When we were big into the retail scene, we simply kept a hand-written log of sales as they occurred. At the end of the show, the list would be organized by the type of product sold and then the information would go into a simple database. This made inventory easy to track and we would always know what the best sellers were and what product lines needed to be filled before the next show.

Next how much money should you bring for change? Always a great question. Around $50 - $100 per day should be enough for an average sized show, when you are in your home town/area. If you are out-of town at a large show that will be lasting for several days, you will want to bring more. Remember that many people use $20 bills. And if someone wants you to provide change for a $100 bill, just ask them for something smaller, or to use a credit card if you accept them.

Always make sure to bring plenty of inventory. New and old. How much should you bring also depends on your show size. I am still looking for a good answer to this question, so if you have any ideas post them here and share with the rest.

I hope this helps you all as much as it has for me.


This weekend I am particapating in my first craft fair! If you are in the Denton/Cornith area stop by and say hi. I would love to meet some fellow Crafters and Etsians. I plan to have several items that I don't have listed in my Etsy store and plan on taking custom orders as well. I hope to meet some of you!

The craft fair will be held at the The Church of Corinth there is a printable coupon on the site as well as directions.

I will let you all know how it goes and have some tips to share with you when I get back!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Craft Fairs

Well I have my first craft fair next weekend! I am getting really excited and really nervous at the same time. I love meeting new people and showing off my designs, but at the same time I worry about how I will do, how I will be excepted, will I have enough merchandice...Not ever doing one before these questions haunt me. All week long I have had different dreams; one where I run out of things to sell (great! but then an angry momb of people come by wanting stuff and we they see I am completely sold out they begin to throw tomatoes (where the tomatoes come in I don't know). Another dream is that I am laughed at for trying to sell what I have brought or they thumb up their nose at me from being discusted at my merchandice and it's quality.

I think my biggest worry right now is to know how much to bring. Since most of my items are greeting cards I don't know how much of each design to bring, or even how many different choices to bring. Plus some of my other items (like the floral arrangements) there is only one of those so how do I let people know that they are one of kind. I never make the same thing twice.

How to disply my items is another big problem. With not a whole lot of money to spend I am trying to figure out what is the best thing to put the greeting cards in. Something that will hold them in place while still being easy for the customers to thumb through them to see what they like...what type of signage to put out. How to grab people's attention without being too obnoixous.

If you guys have any experience in this I would love all the help I can get!

Thoughout the week I will be posting different things I find that will help me get ready, so hopefully when you get ready for a show you will have the answers that you are looking for too.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Organizing, part 2

Now that you have had a chance to go through everything in your work area and get an idea of what you would like to do there it's now time to look at your paperwork and filing systems. This might actually be more important than product organizing, but for many of us it's even harder. We think artistically not analytically.

When it comes to paperwork the number one answer from my fellow Etsians was to use a computer program like Excel or iWorks to document all your expenditures and profits. Another great thing to do is to have bins, photoboxes, expanding folders with all your receipts, invoices and other paperwork. smittenkittenorig goes one step further and organizes her paperwork by each month. Then at the end of the year she hands everything over to her accountant. I recommend using an accountant, spend the $125-150 to get their expertise. It's a tax right off and they can help you save money in places you would never expect.

LisasLovlies says she makes up "grocery lists" in different notebooks to keep track of sales, orders, designs - measurements and other related paperwork. And lolbaby says that she uses Google Earth to keep track of her sales and where she ships to.

For keeping tracking of my schedule I use the calendar on my phone. It's always with me and I can set an alarm if I need to. Our favorite contributor TheWorldsDresser prints out a weekly schedule from Outlook. Each day has her appointments/meetings along with 2 hours of crafting, 1 hour of promoting (posting, creating or handing out samples...) and 3 hours of studying. I also recommend color coding your schedule. Pick different colors for different reoccurring things in your life. Business meetings, craft fairs, kids schedules, dates, dr appointments, etc. That way at a glance you can look at your schedule and know what type of things you have going on that day.

Email is another thing that needs to be organized. Most email systems have folders systems that you can utilize. Keep track of your custom orders, inquires, purchases, billing and anything else that you need to organize. Wrapsberry swears by this, along with bookmarking pages that she needs for supplies, blogs and sales/marketing tools. These can be but into folders as well for easy access to your information.

If you have more ideas please post them in the comments here. Or if you would like me to cover another topic let me know. I love sharing knowledge, whether it's mine own or borrowed. I like to help those around me the way that others have done for me. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Favorite Sayings

I am getting ready to create a new line of greeting cards that I hope to have done for Christmas.
They will feature "Favorite Sayings"

So I am holding a contest to get some ideas. Please add your favorite sayings to the comments on this post and the "Winners" (the ones who's sayings I pick to be in the line) will get a free copy of a card of their choice from this line. I will announce the winners at the end of the month and post the winning card designs so the winners can choose.

You may enter up to 5 different saying, but if more than one saying is picked you will still one get one choice of card designs. The "sayings" can pertain to anything for any occasion.

Thanks for your help and I am looking forward to what you all come up with!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Organizational KEY, part 1

Organization for a business is KEY, but for so many it becomes a forgotten thought or a last minute scramble. There are many reasons why you should take a moment and rethink your organization, first and foremost it is much easier to stay on top of things when you know where they are and how they are progressing. Second, and just as important, it will help you keep your sanity! Instead of scrambling to put together an order or to know what bills are do when or what you need to follow up on you can keep it all organized and be less stressed. Yes, less stressed! Now I am not talking OCD type organizing (not to offend anyone) just some simple tools that you can implement in your day to day work to put your ying and yang back into it's place, at least for this part of your life.

Now, I took the liberty of asking some of my fellow artists on Etsy to help me compile a list of their favorite ways to stay organized. And after 13 pages of answers and more still coming in, here are just a few of my favorites.

Overall I think the most popular answers were drawers, boxes, bookcases, some sort of object to place all the chaos in. While this is all well and good, most of the time it just becomes a contained chaos. Of course there were some that answered me with their whole system like TheWorldsDresser who wrote me a dissertation on how she kept organized. Amazingly organized! But I am not sure that we all have to go to her extreme. Please don't get me wrong, my goal in life is to be that organized, but I know I will never achieve do to lack of concentration. So I think somewhere between just drawers and queen of organization is where we will aim.

Our first stop is the drawers, boxes and bookcases. One way to keep them from becoming chaos is labels. Use the labels on the outside to let you know what's in each drawer; paper, tools, beads, etc. Then when you open the drawer have it sectioned as well. Do it by what's easiest for you to remember. Color, style, size, type. And the biggest thing to remember is to put things back when you are done! Don't let them get piled on top of each other, you will forget what you have out, lose something, spill something...well you get the idea, chaos.

I guess where we should have started is where you do your work. Have a designated place, even if you are in tight corners you can still have a place to work, it just might be more work on your end to stay organized so you can put things out of the way when you are done. I myself, have an office upstairs, but I don't use it. I now have a 6 month old son getting ready to start crawling at any moment so being confided to my office is not practical at the moment. So I moved everything to my dining room downstairs for the time being. That way I am close to him if he is playing and I can still get some work done. In this space I have my computer, since that is what I use the most, along with my printer, scanner, and a small flat file for papers, greeting cards and other things that I am using at that moment, but that I can change out as I need to. I almost always have a sketchbook as well that I am using to keep my latest ideas and custom orders in. I also have a small card table set up to actually do the physical parts of my work; the painting, cutting, gluing, etc. When it comes to this type of stuff get things that you are able to work around. I got my tables at Ikea, which is a great place to get organized cheap and still keep your style! But for some like kateisgreat80 they buy a fancier cabinet that holds everything and stores it out of the way. Great for small spaces and if you have small children. You could do the same thing with a repurposed Armour or TV cabinet.

If you are working with something that has several steps to it, you might want to think about having different areas set up to hold the items as you work on them. inediblejewelry says that each of the different areas set up for making their charms also has the tools they will need to complete that task. Another great idea, so you are not running around trying to find something especially if you are working with time sensitive materials.

StarletTwinkie had a great idea if you are working with something that needed multiple pieces to it. Use a clear pocketed shoe hanger bag that hangs over a door. Easy access to all your pieces and you can see what's inside them. If you can't find a clear one, just tape one of the pieces to the outside of the pocket so you know what in there.

TheWorldsDresser also recommended photographing every single one of your creations to make a catalog in a power point document separated by medium. Great for these reasons
-When you have a juried show you have a place to pull pics from without looking too hard
-If you have electricity at your show, bring a laptop and have the images rotate - it brings folks over
-If you do home shows it allows people to get a good grasp of your work and helps them decide on custom orders
-If you intend to sell to shops, you have a portfolio of your work all ready to go (have it professionally printed and bound at an office supply store) without lugging every piece over.
Like I said she gave me a dissertation. Amazing!

Design4u says that flower pots are great for holding paint brushes, markers, decorative scissors, etc. I have found that this coffee mug organizer works great too!

That should give you a good start on you product organization, next time we will cover paperwork, final products and scheduling. Hope this helps and a big thanks to all who supplied me with answers.

Below is a list of stores to look at when trying to get organized:
Duluth Trading Co
The Container Store
Any office supply store and ebay

Monday, October 1, 2007


I am running a sale today only 20% off anything in my store, except the accordion cards. And with everything $30 purchase or more you will recieve a free gift! Stock up now for Christmas! Custom orders are welcome and the discount applies to them as well! Check it out!

TP Design

Thanks and happy shopping!

Also check out this thread for other sales from Texas Artists!

First Monday Sales