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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!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Science of Renewing your Etsy Items

If you're an Etsy seller, you've probably heard veteran sellers suggest that you renew your items in order to stay on top of the search results pages. I started renewing regularly after I wasted spent money on several Showcase spots that didn't result in any sales. Instead of spending $7 or even $15 on a Showcase spot, it made sense to use that money for renewing instead, right? I'd rather spend $.20 on a renewal and hope for the best! But even if you're playing the renewal game, have you ever considered the "science" behind it? Have you ever thought about making a game out of the game with the winner (you) making sales?

This blog post is a must-read. The author experimented with renewing items at the times her shop was getting the most traffic (another reason why you MUST sign-up for Google Analytics if you haven't already!), and her results were incredible.

Get ready to take notes, and head on over to something blue: The Etsy Experiment Revealed!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Featured Artist Giveaway!

I am blessed to be the Saturday Artisan featured at Adore By Nat! This is my first major feature, and I'm so excited to be among such great artists that have been featured already.

Tomorrow, there will be a giveaway for a $15 gift certificate to my shop that will be good for any in-stock item OR good towards any custom order. There are a million ways to enter, but you have to go to the Adore by Nat blog to do so.

Head on over to read my interview, and go back tomorrow to enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Its Christmas in July at Etsy!

While most of us are still basking in the glow of the summer sun, Etsy sellers around the world are hoping that you come inside for a bit and visit our Christmas in July sale!

Every seller is offering their own unique promotion. I'm offering free worldwide shipping on every order, plus 20% off when you spend $100 or more. I've added several new items already, and will be listing something new every day this week. The official sale dates are July 15 through July 25. Search Etsy for "christmasinjuly" or "cij" to see all the great items being offered at great promotional prices! Click here to go to my shop!

Here are some of my lovely D-Team buddies that are offering Christmas in July deals - click their names to visit their sites! I'll keep updating as I discover more:

DoBatsEatCats: Handmade Gothic, Victorian, and Chainmaille Jewelry

SweetPeaBoutique: Felt Play Food and Creative Fun

Melindotty: All things handmade and indie

DeborahJulian: Cat Note Cards, Fine Art Photos, and Giclee Prints

SassyBelleWares: handmade fashion jewelry and gifts with a touch of sass

FantasyBijoux: One of a Kind and Limited Series Eclectic Jewelry

LeslieGallery: Handmade Photo Boxes

UrbanHandiwork: Style and Functionality for the City

NerdJerk: Inspiring Smiles One Geek At A Time

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Importance of Taking Time for YOU!

(Author's note: this post was featured at Handmade Spark on July 22, 2010!)

During my previous life in corporate America, I was famous for preaching the importance of self-care. While it seems pretty obvious, you'd be surprised at how many folks don't take any time to care for themselves. The problem is especially common with women, who tend to put the needs of husbands, children, friends and even pets before the needs of themselves. I was determined to change this trend in my agency; I became certified to train our staff on self-care and tried to set a good example for my staff and collegues.

Now that I'm working for myself, I realize that it's just as important to practice good self-care now, even though I'm my own boss. I didn't always recognize this need - I'm working at home doing something that I love. Aren't I taking care of myself simply because I left the traditional stress of the workplace behind me? No - it isn't enough!

If self-care is a term that you're not familiar with, don't worry. Most employers don't mention it, and most employees don't consciously practice it. Self-care is any act that one does to care for themselves: exercising, eating well, meditating, getting massages, connecting with friends/colleagues to talk through stressful situations, using sick time when you need it, taking work-free vacations; there are far too many self-care techniques to list! Those who practice regular self-care generally feel less stressed, are more productive, and have an easier time seperating their work life from their home life.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed that my excitement over my shop and over my work was definitely waning. I wasn't motivated to create any new items. I wasn't motivated to contribute to my Etsy team. I was feeling very depressed and frustrated that my sales had slowed down (which is normal, given that we're in the slow season!). I actually considered walking away, but only for a second. I wondered how I could possibly get back to where I was a couple of months ago, when I was excited and motivated about running my own business.

My answer came in the form of my best friend, Toni, who lives in Hawaii. A mutual friend of ours was getting married, and she was coming into town early to spend time with me and the rest of our college buddies. I decided to take "off" the week of her visit, and go on a vacation of my own. I didn't plan to create any items, and I didn't "work". I checked in with my shop only to answer convos and ship an item that was sold. I spent ten days with her, keeping no regular routine, and spending almost all our time out of the house. After a whirlwind trip, Toni left yesterday, and I felt instantly revived! I couldn't wait to get back to my shop. By the end of last night, I had created four new scrapbook pages, designed a new avatar and banner for my Christmas in July sale, and had gotten in a rare mid-day nap.

I realized this morning that self-care for the at-home business owner is just as important as it is for those that work outside the home. Even though I'm not earning vacation time anymore, I still need time away from my "work". I need to recharge my batteries in order to stay excited and motivated. Its often difficult for those working at home to do this and create a separate time/mental space for ourselves as humans away from the time/mental space we use to be employees and business owners, as the physical space is usually the same: home. I didn't need to leave my home during Toni's visit, I simply changed my routine and daily activities. I relaxed mentally.

I learned as a supervisor that a happy employee is a productive one. Even though I don't leave my home to go to work, I'm still an employee, and I still need to take care of myself by taking time away from my business. Whether you work outside the home, work from home, or do a combination of both, don't forget to regularly take time for the most important employee in your life: you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Business Tips

I read an article today from At A Glance Graphics, and wanted to pass it on. It talks about some of the realities of running an online business, such as learning not to depend on the internet to automatically provide sales and learning to create products that sell instead of creating products that you're in love with.

Check it out and let me know what you think! Do you have any additional tips you feel are important?

Click here for the article!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Return of the Cupcake!

About two years ago, my best friend got married in Maui, and opted for an amazing selection of cupcakes over the traditional wedding cake. I thought this was genius (as I helped myself to one of every flavor!) and marveled at the flavor choices she was able to offer. I've since noticed an increase in these types of "cakes" in wedding magazines.

As I relaxed in front of the TV this past week, I saw a commercial for a new show on TLC about a budding cupcake shop. According to the voice-over, people wait over an hour in line for these cupcakes - during the East Coast winter.

At Portland Saturday Market, one of the busiest booths is for Ja Das Desserts with their rows and rows of handmade cupcakes. (By the way, the coconut and red velvet cupcakes are to die for!)

Ladies and gentlemen, the cupcake is back. Once a staple for bake sales and bring-handmade-treats-to-school occasions, the cupcake has infiltrated every party and snack craving known to man. The appeal isn't hard to understand - you get your very own fully-decorated little dessert with the perfect amount of frosting and/or filling and cake. If you're in the mood for lots of dessert, you simply grab another cupcake. Unlike traditional cakes, cupcakes don't get cut and subsequently dry out and there is no fighting over extra frosting.

I know I'm a fan - vanilla, coconut, champagne, filled or unfilled, I love them ALL! I have a confession to make: I don't only make handmade cupcake toppers for my shop because I love the creative process. I make them because I get to go buy cupcakes in order to photograph the finished product for the Etsy listing - and I get to write it off as a business expense! The cupcake I bought for my Mickey and Minnie Mouse toppers (as pictured) has been my favorite so far.

What about you? Do you have a favorite cupcake story? What's your flavor of choice - or are you in love with all cupcakes?