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Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Adventures in Business Owning

I would have assumed that this holiday season would be less stressful for me than years past.  After all, I only work outside the home at a part-time job (as opposed to full-time), and I'm back living in my home state.  Unfortunately, I am MORE stressed this year than in years past - which is how I managed to go three weeks between blog posts.  Between shopping, working, improving the shop, getting ready to wholesale, craft shows, and prepping for the arrival of my in-laws - I'm surprised I've found free time at all!  Are the rest of you feeling like you're pulled in too many directions this holiday season?  *takes deep breath*

I did want to report back on my 2nd craft show from last weekend.  I took everything I learned at the first show into consideration, and made several changes to my display's appearance.  I think it actually went quite well, and I've got a few new tweaks planned for next time.

My main goal was to get shoppers to realize that PinkyCrafts is more than scrapbooking. 


Loving the new banner!
First, I changed my banner (thanks to Vistaprint's wonderful email deals) to say "Party Accessories & Scrapbooking", as opposed to "Scrapbooking & Party Supplies", and added my tagline.  I love how it turned out!  I wasn't able to put my banner on the wall behind my booth, where it would get seen the most, but I think it still made an impact on shoppers. 

I also learned something that may have been obvious to others: always bring table cloths!  My first show provided them, and I didn't even think about bringing my own to this one until the last minute.  I grabbed what I could find, but I would have liked to use something prettier!

I think it turned out perfect.



Second, I revamped my drink glass tag display.  I added rustic-looking crates to the middle of the display to hold each glass, attached only one style tag to each glass (to avoid confusion - although it still existed, more later)!, and added tinsel and a battery-powered votive candle to draw the eye to the display.  I also made new signs for each item - and I made the sign for the drink glass tags the largest one.  I hoped this would make it very easy for folks to tell what I was selling.

My mom - the best booth helper ever!

 I also worked to organize my display into three separate sections, with the scrapbook section first, followed by the party accessories and drink tags, and finishing up with the framed pages section.  Shoppers will naturally glance at a table from right to left, so I wanted to give their eyes something non-scrapbooking to see right after they noticed the scrapbooks, so they realized I was more than just that before they walked away.

So with all the changes, what was the verdict?  It worked.  I didn't hear one shopper say "Oh scrapbooking.....I have all the stuff to do that" and walk away like the first show.  People actually stopped and looked. The drink glass tags display was very eye-catching, and several folks commented on how beautiful they thought it was.  I didn't do too badly in sales, but I could have done better.  I took a custom order and seriously discussed some large scrapbook orders with a few others. 


Creative business card display!
 Its worth noting that (come to find out), the local newspaper had printed the wrong times for the second day of the show.  It printed that the show ran 5:00-8:30pm on Friday and Saturday; the show actually ran from 5:00-8:30 on Friday and 9:00-4:00 on Saturday. Traffic was slow on Saturday, but the signs out front still drew some folks in, and the school's parents already knew the real hours. I had several folks tell me they stopped by Saturday evening, only to find the show closed.  BUMMER!  This makes it hard to judge my true success, but I still felt I did well.

Now that I fixed my first problem of showing shoppers that I was more than just scrapbooks, I came up with some new tweaks to try next time to solve a new problem - folks were still a little confused with my drink glass tags.  I had some customers ask if I was selling the wine glasses (despite the "Drink Glass Tags" sign right in front of them).  Others were confused because the tag packs weren't on the table - as they would have really cluttered it - and they didn't understand that the samples indicated which styles they could purchase in larger sets (again, despite the sign in front of them!).  On the second day, my mom suggested that I put some of the packs on the table, so it was clear what would actually be purchased.  I think this helped, as folks would rather be presented with the facts, rather than read them on the sign I posted.  Next time, I'm going to use large binder clips, and clip the tag packs down the side of the crate display.  This way folks can see what they're purchasing, and hopefully it will make more sense. 

All in all, it was another success.  I'm moving towards Crafter Utopia, and I'm hoping these latest tweaks will help get me there! 

Here's wishing everybody a very happy holiday season - may you take the time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with friends and family.  See you all in 2011! 

Hoppy Holidays from Pancakes the Bunny!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Final Announcement!!! Black Friday Sale begins tomorrow!


Drum roll please...brrrrr brrrrrrr brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr: the final announcement about the Black Friday Sale at http://www.pinkycrafts.etsy.com/ is about to begin!  What could it be?  Just about everything in the shop is already on sale!  Well, get ready for one more category:

**********All cupcake toppers and other party accessories (excluding drink glass tags) will be 15% off************

Ok, let's recap. 
- Drink Glass Tags/Wine Charms will be $5
- Scrapbooks and Scrapbook pages will be 15% off
- Cupcake toppers and all other party accessories will be 15% off

The sale is limited to in-stock items only; custom orders are not eligible for sale prices. It starts tomorrow (Thanksgiving), and runs through the end of Cyber Monday.  Five whole days of the lowest prices of the year, just because Black Friday is a huge personal tradition of mine, and I'm thrilled to be able to participate as a seller this year, instead of just a buyer.

My Facebook fans will have an exclusive offer that will make this sale even sweeter; its not too late to get in on the action -head on over to www.facebook.com/pinkycrafts and click "Like".

To find other participating Etsy shops, go to http://www.etsy.com/, and type "black friday etsy" into the search box. 

Have a FANTASTIC thanksgiving, and happy celebrating!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Juicy Sales Gossip PART 2!

I Do Premade Scrapbook Page 
As promised, here is the next announcement regarding the Black Friday Weekend Sale at PinkyCrafts (in case you missed it, yesterday I announced that all in-stock drink glass tags and wine glass charms will be $5):

**********All in-stock premade scrapbooks and premade scrapbook pages will be marked down by 15%***********

If you have somebody on your list that you're having trouble buying for, this may be your answer.  Scrapbook pages look so elegant and special when they're framed - I'll bet you didn't realize you could do that!  Frames are under $10, and can be found on sale for less at most major craft stores (Jo Ann, Michaels, etc).  Add your photos, insert into frame, and you're done.  You can even swap it out regularly, making it a gift-giving traditon each year.  
Ho Ho Ho Mini Paper Album 

Premade scrapbook albums - either full-size or the economical mini versions - are gifts that can be passed down to generations.  Every single time I've given one as a gift, their jaw drops, and I usually see tears.  These gifts are so thoughtful and personalized!

Just a reminder, the sale starts on Thanksgiving, and runs all the way through Cyber Monday.  To find other participating shops, just search "black friday etsy" or "cyber monday etsy" at http://www.etsy.com/, or check out SassyBelle's Spotlight to find a list of DTeam shops that are participating.  This list will be updated as new sales are announced! 

The third and final announcement about the PinkyCrafts sale will be announced tomorrow (and its a good one!).  Stay tuned!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pssssst.......juicy sales gossip! Pass it on!


Black Friday Sale!  All in-stock drink tags will be $5!
Although it may look like there has been little activity over at PinkyCrafts (as evidenced by my lack of posting!), that is definitely not the case. I've been working on a little surprise for my customers: a Black Friday sale!  I'll be taking part in this fun holiday tradition, along with several other members of the Etsy community, including my friends on the DTeam.

Ok, technically, it's a 5 day sale - but that's just even better news for you. It begins Thanksgiving Day, and runs until the end of Cyber Monday.  I'll be releasing tiny bits of information about the sale up until Thanksgiving, and maybe even posting extra special VIP coupons throughout the sale.  The only way you'll find out the details of this fabulous sale is to stay tuned to this blog or my Facebook fan site (http://www.facebook.com/pinkycrafts).

Now, without further ado, here is the first announcement about the sale:

*************All in-stock drink glass tags and wine glass charms will be $5*****************

Like all juicy news - make sure to pass this information on!  More details tomorrow!

Monday, November 8, 2010

No Longer a Craft Show Newbie

Day 1's booth set up - it was later changed AGAIN!
My first craft show is in the books!  It was a mixed bag of excitement and a bit of disappointment, but I still consider it an overall success.  The most important take-away for me was knowledge; I learned a lot about what worked and what might not have worked well for me.  I also got to spend the weekend with my wonderful momma, who was instrumental in this show running as smoothly as it did. 

I read everything I could find about craft show tips before my first one, but I still learned a lot that doesn't get covered in the basic guides. Here are some important lessons to remember for next time (and that might help other craft show newbies!):

1.  It might take you longer to set up than you think.  I did a full mock-up of my display at home, which I would highly recommend.  I had a photo of my ideal booth set up, and I thought it would be easy as pie to set up the morning of the show.  Not so much!  While my initial set up looked good, it just looked different on the actual table, and ended up trying out several different layouts. Before I knew it, shoppers were starting to trickle in the doors, and I wasn't ready yet.  Next time, I will decide how long it will take me to set up, and then add about 45 minutes to that to allow for last-minute changes.  If nothing else, I can use the extra time to roam around the other booths and practice networking!

2. Carefully consider your booth set up BEFORE you go.  This goes along with #1.  It was a crucial factor that I didn't recognize until it was too late.   Most shoppers would approach my booth and say "Oh, scrapbooking", and walk away; they categorized my booth as being a scrapbook booth.  While I do sell scrapbooks and pages, they're definitely not my biggest seller - my party supplies are.  Shoppers could not look past the scrapbooks on my table to see the wine glass charms, cupcake toppers and coasters that were also on there.  I changed my set up on Day 2 and put my wine glass tag display right in the center of the booth, but it was still overshadowed by the large scrapbooks and basket of scrapbook pages.  Scrapbooks are so attention-getting just based on their size, so my biggest selling items were overlooked time and time again. Next time I do a show, I will make sure to highlight my party supplies - I'll put sparkly things and lights inside my wine glasses to catch attention, I'll add some height with large crates on both sides to display the wine glass tags to catch attention, I'll get electricity to put twinkle lights around the cupcakes and wine glasses.  It won't be easy to detract from the scrapbooks, but I need to figure out how to do it if I'm going to be successful.

3. Consider the show's location when deciding which show to go to.  While this may seem obvious, I now realize just how important this is, and this is something I probably could not have planned for.  This particular craft fair took place in a small town near where I grew up, but I knew it attracted lots of customers.  By the middle of Day 1, as I was evaluating why I wasn't feeling as successful as I had hoped, it became apparent to me that those vendors who were doing well were the vendors that knew half of the people who came.  It wasn't just that these vendors dragged their friends and family down as my mom and I did, it was that shoppers would see a vendor they knew from work or school (that they hadn't planned on seeing), and they'd go right over to the booth.  I watched carefully, and those buyers would usually purchase something from the booth of the vendor they knew - they wanted to support their friends.  Being that this was a small town, the local vendors appeared to do much better than I did. Nobody knew me - I wasn't from that town, and I wasn't a veteran vendor at that fair.  In time, anybody could definitely build a following at that show, but that was a factor outside of my control that definitely impacted my sales. If I had been selling in a large metro area (like maybe the one I live in!), this probably would not have been a factor.

4. Consider the specific audience members, and how they associate with your products. Remember how shoppers would say "Oh, scrapbooking" when they saw my booth?  The next sentence out of 99% of their mouths were "I have all the stuff to do this, I just need to get it out for once!", and then they'd walk away.  I received tons of compliments about my products, so I knew it wasn't a dislike of my work that was driving down sales, it was definitely something else.  I realized that those that go to craft shows are those that enjoy crafting, and since scrapbooking isn't a particularly skilled craft, most of the attendees were potential scrapbookers that didn't need to purchase scrapbooking.  Silly me - I thought those that went to shows were looking for gifts, but that didn't seem to be the case here!  I need to consider my audience next time.  Once I highlight my non-scrapbooking items, this will be less of a factor, but its still something to be aware of.

5. Consider the time of year and what function your product will serve when deciding which show to attend,  Buyers at craft shows aren't ready to commit to big gifts this early in the season.  I had intended my scrapbooks and framed pages to serve as holiday gifts for my buyers - yet very few people purchased them as gifts.  I have no doubt that I would have done better later in the gift-buying season, when folks were ready to commit to that specific gift for a special person.  If I had sold baby hair bows, cupcakes, or winter hats, this wouldn't have been as big of an issue - buyers have a need for those products right now for themselves. 


As I mentioned, I did receive a lot of very sweet compliments on my work, and I gave out tons of business cards.  Those folks might visit my shop when they are ready to do some serious holiday shopping.  I did make my booth fee back (and then some), which was really all I set out to do.  While I didn't rake in thousands of dollars this weekend, I did learn a lot that will help me in my future craft show endeavors.  Hopefully my experiences will also help a few other sellers too.

Do you go to craft shows? What have you learned as a craft show seller?  For craft show buyers, how do you approach shows?  Please share your experiences in the comment section below!
Happy Craft Show-ing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Its almost HERE!

New for the show! School-themed items!
The time has finally come!  I will be a vendor at the Philomath Frolic Holiday Craft Fair this weekend - and I'm so excited!  There will be 75+ vendors, plus some great food booths - and free admission!  We'll also be collecting donations for the local food bank. I've been building stock and making preparations for two and a half months now, and I cannot wait to see the fruits of my labor!  I'm one of the only (if not *the* only) vendors coming from the Portland area, so I'm excited to meet a new group of customers.  Since I grew up in the Willamette Valley, where the fair is held,  I still feel connected to the area - plus with my mom still living down there, it will give me a chance to hang out with her for the weekend!

If you'll be in the area, please stop by and say hello!  I'll be debuting several new drink glass tag designs and a new line of novelty coasters.  I'll be fully stocked with Oregon State University and Oregon State University-themed drink glass tags and coasters - everything new will be listed in my shop after the fair is over!  I'll have several show specials going, and if I sell out of the item you want, I'll create it and ship it free!

Hope to see lots of folks there!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Its The Great Pumpkin!

My first craft show is in three short weeks, so what should I be doing on a Saturday off from work?  Working on bulking up my inventory?  Nope. Going to the Pumpkin Patch, that's what!    The hubby and I decided to visit Roloff Farms, which you may have seen on TLC's "Little People, Big World".  They open their farm to the public during pumpkin season, and they're surprisingly located just seven miles from our house.  It blows my mind that they're so close, yet we're definitely in the city, and they're out in the peaceful countryside! 
Yay!  We're here!
I was born in Oregon, and lived there for 23 years before moving to Arizona, yet I had never visited this particular pumpkin patch.  I didn't become a fan of the show until I was living in Arizona. When we moved back and settled so close to them, I started counting down the days until we could go visit.  We got there 15 minutes after they had opened, and still had to wait in a 20-minute traffic line to get in!  It was neat to see how many other people were excited to spend the day there.  When we made it inside the farm, we immediately met Matt Roloff, who was so happy and kind. 

Matt thanked us for coming out to see them.
 We took one of their wagon tours around the property - seeing their stunning customized home, Molly's castle, and met Matt's parents in the old western town that Matt built out of recycled barn wood from all over the Northwest.   We saw all the kids except for Molly, who was at a volleyball tournament. Jeremy and Zach were driving two of the many tractors pulling the wagon tours, and Jacob was hosting a soccer-kicking contest in the patch.  They were all smiling and friendly, taking pictures with fans. Our wagon was driven by one of the twins' best friends.

This house is AMAZING!  Its customized for their height.
We also met Amy, who was incredibly nice and gracious.  She chatted with us for awhile and took a photo with us.  I love the Roloffs because they're such incredible ambassadors of the local area, even though they never set out to be in that role.  I told Amy that I'm so proud to live in the same community as such a wonderfully giving family, and thanked her for having such a positive presence in the community.  I even laughed and told her its nice to have a great reality family that's drama-free; she laughed and said their only drama is normal family stuff and thanked me for saying that. 
Posing with Amy - she was so cool!

We wandered through the many attractions - there's a petting zoo, an area with exotic rescued animals, and a fun house with all sorts of scenes with dressed up pumpkins.  Then it was time to find our pumpkins!!  We decided to just pick one larger one, and we'd both agree on the carving design.....until I found the section on the farm with the wee little pumpkins, and I just had to take a little five-pounder home.

We had such a fantastic day at Roloff Farms.  The weather was amazing!  Matt and Amy even took time out to raise awareness about the Kyron Horman investigation (in case you haven't heard, Kyron disappeared from his school in NW Portland back in June and hasn't been found).  Matt wore a shirt with Kyron's information on it, and they had a booth set up with Kyron's picture and resources for parents. Matt and Amy were interviewed by a local news station, and we even saw Kaine Horman (Kyron's father) at the farm.
These signs lined the road to the farm, and I loved them.
After picking our pumpkins, we left the farm with some fun souvenirs and huge smiles on our faces. I took home an adorable Roloff pumpkin shirt that I couldn't resist.  All in all, it was a very affordable day - they could easily take advantage of their fame and charge for all the photos and autographs or charge a huge fee for the tractor tour.  But they don't, which just speaks to how down-to-earth they are. Whether you're a fan of their show or not, you should definitely make a visit to Roloff Farms during pumpkin season.  But get there early, as traffic backs up for miles on the two-lane country road!  Thank you Roloff family for welcoming everybody into your farm for such a special day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Giveaway Alert: If its free, its for me!


One of my many Halloween page creations!
Before I get to business, I have something very important to announce.  I think the Swiffer 360 Duster is amazing.  There, I said it.  I've never felt the need to spend money on those cleaning products that I thought were just invented to make money for cleaning product companies, but this is one that is *completely* worth it!  It doesn't just move the dust around, it really gives you instant gratification - a clean surface with little effort.  I'm in love.

Ok, now its down to business!  I wanted to let everybody know about this fantastic giveaway that I'm participating in over at Domesticated Delight.  I'm giving away a custom designed Halloween scrapbook page to one lucky winner - it could be YOU!  Before you dismiss this giveaway, consider this: scrapbook pages aren't just for scrapbookers.  You can pick up a very inexpensive scrapbook page frame at your local craft store, and you'll have instant personalized art.  Do you have family members who can't make it to see your little ones trick-or-treat this year?  Stick your snapshots onto the custom page for them, and it will be their favorite gift this year. 

Its very easy and there are several easy ways to gain entries, so click here to head on over to check out the feature that Johnna, the delight behind Domesticated Delight, wrote about me and the shop.  While you're there, check out her other postings - she's got fantastic recipes and info.  I heart her blog! 

I'm afraid I can't write anything further - I'm too blissed out in my clean house (thanks to my duster magic)  with my pumpkin spice candles and "Gilmore Girls" on TV :)   Have a fantastic Sunday!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My days as a 20-something are numbered!

I celebrated my 29th birthday this past weekend!  Even though my shop is all about celebrating, I haven't always been a fan of celebrating my own birthday.  I always prefer celebrating somebody else's birthday, giving somebody else a big party or event.  However, this was my last birthday being a 20-something, and I wanted to make it count!  I took the weekend off from crafting and this crazy craft show preparation to relax and have a good time.

About a month ago, I learned that the Official Twilight Tour was coming to town, and I immediately called my mom to see if she'd like to go with me.  I'm a a huge fan of the books and the movies, and I'm proud of it!  We went down there on the last day of the convention, the day before my birthday, and I took so many pictures, I felt like a crazed fan...oh yeah, because I am.  

Geeking it out on stage before the convention started

We saw Chaske Spencer (Sam from the Wolf Pack), Daniel Cudmore (Demitri of the Volturi), and Charlie Bewley (Felix from the Volutri).  Each star answered pre-submitted audience questions, and Charlie answered one of mine!  I asked how how he felt about the Twilight franchise before he was cast in it (he was annoyed at all the hype).  
Charlie answering MY QUESTION!
 There were vendors selling Twi-merchandise, an auction where my mom won a giant 6'x4' Official Convention Banner featuring Bella Swan for mere pennies, and panels from the Official Twilight Facebook Page, a set tour from Malicious Mandy, and a presentation on how Twilight is helping school kids find their love of reading with Novel Novice Twilight.


This is the only one of its kind in the WORLD - and its mine! Epic!

It was so much fun and my mom went above and beyond in her spoiling of her favorite birthday girl! It was the first birthday of mine that we've spent together since 2003, before I moved to Arizona, so it was definitely a special day for us. 
Gotta love it!
My actual birthday was the next day, October 4, and my husband surprised me with a trip to the zoo.  After stopping by Starbucks for my free birthday Pumpkin Spice Latte, we spent a beautiful day - and by beautiful I mean it was cloudy and a bit chilly - strolling through all the exhibits and habitats.  My favorites are always the zebras!  Of course, I left my camera's memory card in my computer at home, and only had my cell phone camera....fail.  When we got home, I had more surprises in store - a new book by my favorite author and the "I Love Cupcakes" shirt I've had my eye on at my favorite local cupcake shop.  He also spoiled me with delicious cupcakes!  

Striking a Top Model pose in my awesome new shirt from Bliss Bakery
Today marks the beginning of the end of my 20s, a year that I know will be fantastic and full of achievements. I definitely want to continue to grow my shop and my brand, but I also want to get back to running and making strides towards my goal weight.  I took a short break while my treadmill was in storage, but I can't wait to start back up again and add to those 50 pounds I lost.  It makes indulging in cupcakes a little more difficult, but there will always be room for cupcakes in my life! 

I feel very blessed to have such an amazing family who showed me such an amazing birthday weekend!  I feel relaxed and ready to get back to official PinkyCrafts business! 


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Drum Roll Please........

Its official!  PinkyCrafts has been open for business for exactly six months!  It's been a wild ride, a learning experience, and such a blessing all at the same time.  During my former life in corporate America, I learned the importance of staying positive and celebrating life - this is the message I wanted my shop to carry. Its only now, nine months after I left that former life behind, that I can see why my early career was so important in shaping my life.  I initially felt that it was a waste, a disheartening experience that was all for nothing, and a waste of a very expensive college education.  However, now I feel like I've truly found my calling: helping people celebrate the good times in life. I had to have that early career experience in order to identify and appreciate this true goal for my life.  Every sale is still a thrill, and I'm so honored every time somebody selects me to help outfit their party or preserve their memories. 

Now for the cold, hard facts that I know everybody is curious about. Note - in case you were wondering, all of these facts DO NOT include me; all of my data has my visits excluded from them, so all the data is for legitimate customers/visitors.  Its also important to point out that no particular statistic will necessarily indicate how successful (or not) a shop may be; I'm just publishing my statistics for those new shops that may be curious, and to also document my first six months for myself!

Visits: PinkyCrafts had a total of 9,092 visits during the first six months, 2,362 of these were absolutely unique visitors.  I had an average of 49.15 visits per day. 23% of of my visits were brand new visitors (this right at the average for Etsy itself), while 76.66% of my visitors were returning visitors.  My visitors spent an average of 2:07 on my site.

Visitors: PinkyCrafts has been visited by shoppers all over the world - 86 countries total!  Here are the top five:
1. United States (7,980 visitors)
2. Canada (351 visitors)
3. UK (107 visitors)
4. Australia (99 visitors)
5. Argentina and Brazil (tie at 34 visitors each)

Referral Sources: My top five referral sources were:
1. Direct Etsy visitors
2. Google
3. Facebook
4. Etsy Finds emails
5. Twitter

Sales: I hit my 40th sale tonight, so I officially had 40 sales in my first six months.  Of those, 38 have been to US buyers, and two have been from Canadian buyers. My feedback rating stands at 100% positive, and I have 159 total shop hearts! My busiest month has been this month, September, by a wide margin.  I've had 11 sales so far this month, following only two sales during the month of August.  I've seen a 944% increase in profits this month over last month - woo hoo!  My most popular item has ended up being my drink glass tags; I've sold 230 of them to 10 different buyers in the two months since I introduced them!

Fun Facts:  I'm amazed at just how much information Google can provide about your visitors, such as 110 of my visitors were using a dial-up connection (!!); but this was only 1.21% of my visits.  How about this one - 9% of my visitors have visited my site more than 200 times!  And don't worry, this statistic doesn't include me; there really are people out there besides me that have been to my shop that many times!

I'm a data geek, so I hope this information was as interesting to you as it was to me.  Cheers to a successful second half of this first year for PinkyCrafts!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll!

Shades of Fall Multi-Purpose Tags, Set of 12
We are just about settled into our new place!  We've been here for just under two weeks, and it has been fantastic; I've missed sitting in my spot on our giant sectional sofa.  I can tell that Pancakes is extremely happy too, as he's been running laps around the living room and doing his happy jumps.  After nine months of discord, everybody is feeling at home.

Business has been BOOMING!  I had four orders come in during the two days we were moving.  I started to get a little frazzled about fulfilling the orders while surrounded by boxes in my  new crafting room.  I haven't decided what to call that space, my craft room, my studio, my office......?  Well OK, it's not just mine, but I'll spend the most amount of time in there.  Before we moved in, the hubby and I discussed my space needs and our visions for my shop.  We both agreed that if I want this to take off, I need to carve out serious space to do my thing.  We only have a two-bedroom, but the second bedroom is rather large.  I snagged our old square dining room table as my crafting table, and it fits alongside our desk (side note: why do we even have that desk anymore?  We bought a wireless router, so the computer hasn't even touched the desk; it lives in the living room now!).  I also agreed to share that space with hubby's video gaming stuff, and the room has a cute little indentation along the window that fits my treadmill perfectly. 

My crafting space will become completely necessary in the coming weeks as I prepare for my very first craft show (eeeek!).  I will be selling at the Philomath Frolic Holiday Craft Fair in just six short weeks.  I live in the largest metro area in the state of Oregon, so a lot of folks ask why I picked a teeeeeeeny town in the mid-Willamette Valley for my first show, and the answer comes down to one thing: the Benjamins.  The table fee for this two-day show is so ridiculously low, and I know I'll have some kinks to work out, so I want to be able to work out those kinks without worrying about making some $150-$200 table fee back. Plus, my mom lives only 30 minutes from this fair, she's itching to help out, and it's actually a pretty well-attended function in the area.  I have very long to-do lists that I add to daily, and I need to really get moving on the creation of my entire holiday line.  I am so beyond excited for this show!

My shop's six-month anniversary is coming up on September 29.  I can't believe it all went by so quickly.  My initial business plan was for the first six months; hubby and I agreed that we'd give PinkyCrafts that long before evaluating whether to keep going further.  I think its safe to saw that I will be continuing in this adventure!  September has been absolutely wonderful for business, following a horrible August and a dismal July.  I hope to post some stats about my first six months when it comes.

Today is the first full day of fall, and my plans include crafting, crafting, and crafting to prepare for the show.  Each of you should grab a pumpkin spice latte (iced or hot, your choice!) and find a pumpkin spice candle to light - I'll have one burning in every room of my house to mark the start of my favorite time of year.

Happy Fall to All!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How To Tuesday: Make Your Photos POP!

The Etsy forums are inundated with articles talking about the importance of taking good photos.  You know you need to do it, but you're not quite sure how - until now.  You don't need Photoshop or some expensive editing software to have photos worthy of the Etsy front page.  Even though I have Photoshop, I use Picnik to edit all my Etsy photos, and I'm equally satisfied.  In my quick tutorial, you'll learn how to use Picnik for free and improve the quality of your photos!

1. First, head on over to http://www.picnik.com/.  Once the page loads (it can take awhile) and you've created a basic account (its FREE!), choose the photo you want to edit by clicking "Upload Photo".
2. Once your photo uploads, you'll be put straight into the Edit menu.  From here, you can crop, rotate and spin your photo to create amazing angles, and edit the exposure of your photo.  I don't recommend using the "Auto-fix" option; as you'll do a better job using the steps I'm giving you.
3. Once you've cropped and/or rotated, select "Exposure".
4. Click "Advanced" on the menu bar that pops up.
5. A small graph will appear on the right side; drag the "Highlights" bar to the right until your photo appears light enough, yet not over exposed.  You can always add more highlights later; be careful not to add too much, as your photo will appear overexposed.
6. Next, drag the "Shadows" bar to the right (it usually doesn't take much) and watch the colors pop on your photo! Be careful not to overuse this; it can distort the true colors of your photograph. 
7. Click "OK" when you're finished.
8. You can play around with the other edit functions - but beware of the "Sharpen" function; I learned the hard way!  You can also play with the "Temperature" of your photo, making it warmer if the lighting was too cool, etc.  If you don't know what these terms mean, don't worry, just play around with them and you'll understand what they do. 
9. To save your photo, click on "Save and Share".  If you're saving for Etsy, I change the width dimension to 1500 to ease in uploading, and leave the length; it will adjust accordingly. Then click "Save" at the bottom, and your photo will be saved to your computer.  Note: if you go into your photo folders, the thumbnail that appears might be the original photo; never fear -your edits will be clear when you open the photo!
Your photos should now look much, much better!  I have to edit 99% of the photos I take in some way with regards to exposure; its extremely rare for me when a photo is taken perfectly just by pointing-and-shooting, especially if you're shooting product shots.  Knowing how to edit your photos allows you to shoot photos during most daylight hours, which is very helpful for me.

Here are a few before/after product shots of mine that were edited using Picnik.  The first set only needed exposure correction; the second set used the "Rotate" feature plus exposure correction.  The "after" shots in both are my first product shot for the respective listing, thanks to some editing magic!




I'd love to hear some success stories!  Leave your comments below - good luck!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Support Courage for Kristi!

The 2010 Kristi Earrings by JulieEllynDesigns
I've donated an item to a wonderful new collective shop!  The idea for CourageforKristi started last year by my DTeam teammate Julie of JulieEllynDesigns.  Kristi Lowry Kim was a very dear friend of Julie's husband. Kristi was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and lost her battle just months after receiving the devastating diagnosis.  To honor Kristi, and to support her three young daughters, Julie's husband set up college savings accounts for them. Julie created and sold the stunning Kristi Earrings in her Etsy shop, with all proceeds going into the college funds for Julie's girls.  They were able to raise a whopping $1400 last year! 

This year, our Etsy team was so touched by Kristi's story that we suggested Julie open an entire shop dedicated to raising money for Kristi's girls.  CourageforKristi was born, and has already sold several items!  Each item in the shop has been donated by another DTeam member.  I donated a set of my special edition Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake Toppers to the amazing selection of items.

Please take a moment and visit the shop, and help us spread the word about this wonderful fundraiser!  Click any of the links in this post, or go directly to http://www.courageforkristi.etsy.com/!


Breast Cancer Awareness Cupcake Toppers by PinkyCrafts

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Color My World

Salmon Pink & Amaranth Pink
Have you ever wondered exactly what color red your shirt is?  Thought about how many different shades of pink there are?  If you have, you'll love to take a peek at this website I discovered today, where you can look at every shade of color.  I came across it while trying to find a resource to help tag the items in my shop by color, other than using boring old "red" "orange" and "brown".  I can now say my items are very colorfully tagged!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hot Thursday News!

Hot news for sellers and non-sellers: 
DoBatsEatCats is having a major Etsy-versary sale!  Besides being a very supportive Etsy teammate of mine, she designs a variety of gothic, victorian and chainmaille pieces. Visit her shop and use coupon code "anniversary" to receive 20% off!  Here are a few of my favorite items from her shop:

Silver Filigree Flower Earrings OOAK

Gothic Chainmaille Necklace
Upcycled OOAK Vintage Chandelier Necklace


Hot news for sellers:
Another one of my favorite Etsians, Steph from nerdJerk, posted this fantastic article about turning your views into sales.  It's become a hot topic on the Etsy forums; head on over to read and leave your thoughts!  I can't resist showing one of Steph's latest creations, which I absolutely love:


The Classic: Red and White Mix Tape Journal

Have a great Thursday! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

PinkyCrafts Hits the Road!

Low tide at Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach!
Oh how I love having days off with my husband!  While at our old jobs in Arizona, we never had the chance to get out of town for the day, or even spend an entire day together, because we worked completely opposite schedules.  Well, no more!  Today we headed out of the Portland heat wave for a day at Cannon Beach, an adorable little town on the Oregon Coast that's only about an hour away. (Side note: I don't think I'll ever live anywhere that is more than 2 hours from the beach ever again!). 

I decided to break out my new PinkyCrafts Tshirt that I ordered from VistaPrint to wear for the day.  I only paid shipping for it, which totaled a little over $3 - an excellent deal for advertisement! I have my website printed on the front and the back, and its super cute.  As we walked down the main street in town looking for a good salt water taffy store, I noticed quite a few folks reading my shirt.  I also took a very long walk down the beach, showcasing my shirt, while my husband passed out in a sugar coma on our picnic blanket. Whether anybody will actually go to my website remains to be seen, but I feel so positive when I'm able to combine advertisement with a non-business activity!


Striking a Top Model pose in the sand with my PinkyCrafts shirt!

If you haven't signed up for VistaPrint's emails, I highly recommend you do, even if you aren't in business.  They send insane deals for free Tshirts, mugs, business cards, return address labels, banners, fliers -  I've already cashed in my fair share of killer steals. Just beware - they send emails almost every single day. I'm even signed up with two different email addresses, and sometimes I get different deals sent to each one.  My Tshirt is pretty comfy, and the quality is excellent.  One of my good friends has already asked me to order her one, and I know my mom is itching to steal mine at the first chance she gets!  I'll have to order one for her too, and spread the PinkyCrafts love around the country.

The husband and I in front of Haystack Rock (post sugar-coma!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Time Flies" - Cliche or Truth? Or Both?

I can't believe today is August 9th.  This year is absolutely flown by for me, but its been one of the best of my life.  I'm going to have one heck of a Year in Review to write in December, so I think I need to reflect on the past eight months to remember where I've been, and also to see where I need to go next.

Its been eight months since the husband and I left Arizona to come to Oregon.  We're still staying in our temporary digs, but we do have a permanent place lined up.  We'll make our final move on September 11, and finally get our stuff out of storage!  I can't wait to sit on my couch again.  Even though we've split the year between staying with family and camping out in this hotel waiting for our place to be ready, I'm so happy! Oregon is where I need to be. 

My Etsy shop is now four and a half months old.  I wish I had been punching a time clock while I was getting the shop off the ground; I'd be interested to see just how many hours I put into this project.  I've just finished a complete re-branding and I'm absolutely thrilled with how the shop (and the brand) looks.  I'm weathering the slow season alongside my Etsy friends, and we're counting the days until the holiday rush season begins.  :)

I started working outside the home about three weeks ago.  As much as I love being a business owner, I got tired of being inside all the time and I was starting to feel disconnected from the community.  I accepted a part-time position at a pet hospital, which is a huge change from my previous life as a clinical administrator in human behavioral health.  I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have a job where taking lunch breaks is encouraged.  I thought it would be hard to step down to a low-responsiblity position, but it is absolutely amazing.  This job allows me to make a difference in the community, but still leaves me time to keep running this business and spend quality time with my family. 

My goals for the rest of the year are to do more marketing to my local area.  I'm planning on selling at my very first craft fair during the first weekend in November.   I need to network with other small business owners in the area to promote and build a support system.  I'm also itching to create a new line of.....something.  I haven't decided what that should be yet, but I'm constantly looking for my next big idea.  I'm playing with some new magnet ideas, and have been given some great party supply ideas.  I keep hearing from folks that they love my shop, but they aren't scrapbookers.  I want to make sure the message is out there that my shop isn't only for scrapbookers; in fact, my items are just as much for non-scrapbookers!  I've recently updated a lot of my listings to point out other uses for scrapbook pages (they look amazing when framed and given as a gift!).  I think I'll sell framed pages at my craft shows for holiday gift ideas, and might start carrying them in my shop, if I can work out shipping kinks.

I can't believe I've weathered the last eight months so well.  I know the next four months will be just amazing, since I'm a total fall/autumn addict, and nothing gets me down during the holiday season. A year ago, I was desperate to find a way out of my corporate life, and even more desperate to find a life outside of the Arizona desert.  I've found what I'm looking for, and I feel so blessed to be where I am today.  Cheers to a fantastic 2010!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New, New, New!

Junior Scrapbook Album for Baby
I've just added a new line of "Junior" scrapbook albums to the shop as an affordable alternative to full-length albums.  Its important to me to have products available at different price points, because everybody deserves to celebrate life regardless of their financial situation, and traditional scrapbooks aren't exactly affordable.  I do make paper scrapbook albums, which are much more affordable, but they're also not true scrapbooks.  The Junior Scrapbook is the answer - an actual scrapbook album containing 10 fully embellished pages! With half the pages of a traditional scrapbook, they also cost half as much. Most of the cost of a handmade scrapbook album comes from the time it takes to create one. I wish I could offer albums at an even lower cost, but then I'd have to compromise quality, and I just can't do that! I'm really excited to bring this new product to my customers in time for the holidays, as they'd make great gifts for aunts, uncles or Grandparents. 

As of this writing, I've only listed the premade album pictured above, but I'm working on more. I can also create a custom Junior Scrapbook album for any celebration or event!  I hope this affordable alternative means more people can bring the joy of scrapbooking into their lives (wow, that was cheesy!).

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fab Fall Finds

I'm absolutely thrilled that August is almost here, not because I particularly like August, but it means that fall is that much closer.  I've always loved fall, but I think my six years in the constant Southern Arizona heat made my love for fall grow even more.  There's something so magical about the leaves changing, about pulling out those scarves and sweaters, about spending the day curled up in bed with a good book.  Going to the pumpkin patch is a seasonal must for me, even though I don't have any children yet! My favorite scent in the entire world is pumpkin pie. This will be my first real fall since I moved back to Oregon, and I cannot wait!

To pass the time until fall is here, I've made a collection of a few of my favorite handmade fall items found on Etsy. Enjoy!







Pumpkin Spice Latte Candle by blisscandles, $17.95


Indian Summer Malabrigo Scarf by davidsknits, $45

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Etsy Talent: twistedplanet

In my world, its never too early to find the perfect gifts.  If I run across something my friends or family will love, even in February, I'll pick it up for Christmas or save it for an upcoming birthday. In fact, my mom just called me last week to report she found *the* perfect gift for my husband (and it is pretty darn awesome, I can't wait for him to open it!).

I found a great shop today that should be on everybody's list to check out for holiday gifts: twistedplanet.  The shop is relatively new and undiscovered, and is a great place to shop for that person who has everything!  The shop is the joint project of a husband-wife duo; he makes clocks and t-shirts, while she specializes in crochet and jewelery.  They've started to focus the shop on sustainable and eco-friendly products, and they love custom orders!  You can check out their shop or become a fan on Facebook, where they post all their promotions.

Here are a few of my favorite items:









Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sneak Peek at the New Banner!

Boy am I glad I asked for some help in choosing a new banner!  Some of you had ideas I'd never considered, like choosing a light background for my banner as opposed to black.  It makes complete sense!  My shop isn't dark, although pink and black is my favorite color combination.  I took all the feedback into consideration, and developed a new banner that I love.  I hope you will too!

It will become the permanent PinkyCrafts shop banner tomorrow, but you guys get a sneak peek (click to enlarge):

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Help Me Remodel!

After the famous Christmas in July sale is over on Sunday, I plan to give the shop a little face lift. Back when the shop started, I was using a pink flower as my brand logo. I realized the pink flower didn't give buyers any idea of what my shop was about (other than pink!), so I started using the cupcake as my brand. I had an epiphany the other day: perhaps buyers believe I only create cupcake crafts, when this isn't the case. Thus, a second re-branding was born.

I've already decided to use a shot from The Lovebirds Scrapbook Page, as that seems to be a customer favorite, is adorable, and doesn't pigeon-hole me into a specific product category. I've already started using the image in my Christmas in July banner/icon and have changed my Facebook/Twitter icons to match, but now its time to choose a permanent replacement. I have my icon/avatar selected (pictured above) and I need your help deciding which coordinating banner to go with.

I have three designed: the first and second are much like my current banner (and I can't decide if I like the image right or left aligned!). The third is a totally different style. It uses the owl image as the background, but its much more subtle.  Click on each to see them bigger:





Which banner coordinates best with my new brand icon? Click "Comments" below to leave your favorite selection!