It's been a long time since my last post which is totally my fault...again. Part of the reason for that is that I was away for a significant amount of time before the holidays. During the month of November I took the little bear down to Michigan on an extended vacation to visit my parents and friends. Although I did have internet access during that time, I found myself so busy that I barely had time to check in, much less write a blog post.
My big news, though, is that while there I had my very first home jewelry party. And it was a great success! I'd ordered a bunch of display items and perused many other blogs on the web about how to go about it, yet I was still a bundle of nerves since it was my first time. Luckily the party was hosted by my very best friend who also happens to be a food rep. Not only did she provide all the food, but she's an old hand at setting up displays! And it also helps that her house is gorgeous and comes with two mini helpers. I was serious when I told her that they're coming with me to every craft fair and home show from here on! The layout of the home is very much open concept so that people were able to walk easily from one room to the next, and then into the kitchen to sample a variety of yummy goodies. There were two large tables, and then some smaller end tables that I was able to make use of.
I displayed some of my earrings and necklaces on branches inspired by a design I came across online. I found some great branches in the woods near my mom's home, and I bought glass vases at Michael's and filled them with colored glass stones. However, there wasn't enough room for all my earrings on my homemade display so I ended up laying some flat on the table. They popped nicely against the black background. The rest I put onto earring cards that I made using my own printer and heavy cardstock, and placed them in jewelry boxes. I had also purchased some wooden jewelry displays on Ebay in an effort to present a cohesive look. While the bracelet display was perfect for showcasing my charm bracelets, the ring display didn't work as well as I had planned. The dowels for placing the rings were all one size, and smaller than the majority of my bands. Along with the heavy cabochons on many of my rings this really wasn't an optimal situation as many of the rings drooped downwards, not allowing all the flowers and lovely stones to be easily seen.
Luckily, I'd also purchased one of those gorgeous printer's drawers as an earring display. I'd thought that I'd save some money and get one without hooks, since there was such a huge price difference. Now I know why! Putting hooks into that thing was a bear, and I eventually gave up since the tools my mom owns just weren't up to the task. In a way, though, this ended up being a good thing as I decided to use it to showcase some of my rings and clip on earrings. Since the printer's drawer is a lovely aqua color and my resin jewelry is mostly bright colors it created a really eyepopping display. Next time I do this I'm going to ditch the ring holder and place all my bright floral items in my beautiful aqua printer's drawer!
A fun time was had by all, and I learned a lot that I'll be able to apply towards future home and craft shows. Oh, wait, that's not a recent picture...old friends are the best ☻
As a seller located in Canada I find it hard to be competitive with shipping costs. If your package exceeds 2cm in height you'll find yourself paying not $2.69 which is the light packet rate to the US, but rather $7.46 for small packet. That's a huge difference, especially when compared to what US sellers of similar items pay with USPS. In fact, it can often be more expensive to ship a package within Canada than it is to ship the same package to the US or overseas depending on which zones/cities you're shipping between. But there are ways to optimize your packaging in order to work the system a bit. Although this affects Canadian sellers of many different types of items, I would particularly like to address small, light items like jewelry since that is what I sell.
Most of my bracelets, necklaces and rings are too large to fit under 2cm, but it is possible to package earrings so that they can be safely mailed at a light packet rate. I started mailing my earrings by light packet last fall. I wrapped them securely in bubble wrap, being careful not to use too much, and placed them in padded mailers. This worked well for the most part until a customer contacted me about a broken earring. They were the resin flower type of clip on, which are thicker and more fragile than most of what I sell. I shipped her out a new pair immediately, and she was extremely happy with that.
But suddenly I had a moment of panic. How could I keep shipping my items this way when I knew that something had been broken? I searched the Etsy forums and talked to my Ohcanadateam teammates, and came up with another game plan. I started using small jewelry boxes - much smaller than those that I use for my bracelets - which are able to pass through Canada Post's slot of doom. I put a bit of bubble wrap or tissue paper in the box along with cotton batting so that the earrings aren't jostled around too much and then I tape the sides shut. The boxes measure approximately 18mm in height on their own. I now use small, unpadded manila envelopes that measure 23x15cm rather than a padded mailer, since the box alone is approaching the height limit. I place my Etsy receipt inside, folded in half, as well as my Little Bear's Mom thank you card. I then slip the taped jewelry box into an organza gift pouch along with my business card. All of that measures just under 2cm.
I used to tape the entire envelope in a grid pattern to keep the box from slipping out in case a hole was poked in the envelope, but recently I ordered some plastic address sleeves from Venture One, Canada Post's program for small businesses. It's free to join, and they have a variety of products, like address sleeves, that are free to members.
I always print my labels through paypal - it saves so much time waiting in line! And if you ever need to ship something Expedited Parcel you'll get a small business discount by doing so. This is especially useful if you ship within Canada as Expedited Parcel is actually less expensive than Regular Parcel.
I now just trim my pre-printed labels to fit in the plastic sleeve and affix the whole thing to the front of my manila envelopes. The plastic is slightly longer than the envelopes that I use so I fold it over on one end making sure the entire address label is visible on the front. I then seal the flap, and tape a 2x3 grid on the back of the envelope with packing tape. I stick an air mail sticker on both the front and the back (also free through Venture One), take a picture for my records, and pop it in a letterbox. This is so much quicker and more efficient than what I was doing before, and a lot more worry-free.
This would work well for anyone selling smaller items, whether they are jewelry, or something else. I've also received hand knit items from Canadian sellers that were mailed at the light packet rate because they were packaged inside vacuum pack bags inside manila envelopes.
Here's hoping that this post is helpful! How do you package your handmade items?
Over the past few months I've noticed references here and there to the elusive Pinterest. I'm older, though I hate saying that, and don't take easily to new social media, though it is my job and I'm trained in Information Technology. I still don't quite *get* Twitter (OK, that's because I talk too much!) so I'm a little wary of a lot of social media sites. My main Pinterest page
Finally, I caved and asked a fellow Ohcanada teammie for an invite. Wow, is it ever addictive! I've been on Kaboodle for awhile for my fashion cravings/urges, and obviously Facebook and Twitter, but this is the first time I've been so totally hooked that it's keeping me up at night. My first board, fall fashion in orange and neutrals
I'm one of those crazed people that obsessively turns down pages in magazines of stuff that catches my fancy. I've been doing this since the early 80's. With the dawning of bookmarks both my IE and Chrome were chock full of links. I had an account with Delicious, but they've been bought out and I can't remember my original password.
My point? I can now chuck all the magazines and various torn pages stashed around my house dating back to the decades of neon and big hair, and forget about religiously bookmarking each and every "good idea" I come across on the web. Pinterest allows me to create themed "boards" with my own comments, which link back to the original posting. This is huge for someone who lives in a super small urban walk up. Truly, this might save my family from being on an episode of Hoarders ☺ Ok, I'll be honest, I probably won't chuck the "style books" I've already made. What did you expect, I'm an archivist by training. But going forward...this is huge...HUGE!
If you're not on Pinterest, you should check it out. Or not. How's that for a glowing endorsement? If you're an addictive personality like me maybe it's best if you steer clear. Truly. Personally, I'm justifying my activity and membership there because it's "job-related" ie: my library/archivist personna. Though I have yet to share my info with any of my IRL librarian and archivist friends. I should get on that...
My board of boot possibilities allows me to do a side-by-side comparison, while linking directly to the retailer.
Of course, one of the dangers with creating wish lists and shopping lists if you live in Canada is that by the time you get around to buying the item the season may have changed. I'm hoping against hope that that isn't so, while trying to balance my wants with what could conceiveably be worn before the first snowfall. Notice that I have yet to mention a budget. That's part of the fun. Wish lists should be fun and fantasy :)
My favorite pinboard of all...my shopping and packing list for my upcoming girls' weekend in New York City!
Hello everyone! Long time no see...which is obviously my fault since I haven't written anything in a while. I've finally got some news to share that's worthy to print. I'm back from our wonderful Michigan summer vacation and not only are we now fully unpacked, but I've got a ton of beach stones and Petoskey stones to turn into gorgeous jewelry for my shop ☺ I'm also refreshed and full of inspiration for the Fall season.
We ate well, partaking of delicious local offerings, caught up with friends and family, took lots of long walks on the beach, and spent a lot of time just enjoying our gorgeous natural surroundings.
We also foraged for beach stones and treasures!
Back in my shop this autumn are Petoskey stud/post style earrings, and beach stone and Petoskey stone rings, as well as Petoskey stone and beach stone braclets.
Over the summer I used some of my Etsy profits to buy a Dremel drill as well as a rock tumbler so expect to see new items in my shop. It's been frustrating to me when I have ideas that I'm unable to carry out because I don't have the proper tools. So, I'm incredibly excited to start using both of them. It's been a bit of a learning experience including trying to keep the little bear away from both! For some reason he thinks that anything that arrives at this house in a box is his. I thought this a fitting weekend to write this post as we're having gorgeous end-of-summer-like weather here in Montreal, yet we've also had our first taste of the cold winter to come. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope it's a good one ☺ I'm excited to share more of the responsibilities of preparing our special dinner with my little bear (broadly stated!), and to get out and enjoy the last vestiges of summer.
Check out the sale in my Etsy shop! In honor of Canadian Thanksgiving, everything has been temporarily marked down.
1) I know that some may be surprised to read this, but silk ribbon embroidery and selling on Etsy is actually a second career for you. What was your inspiration, and how did you start off in the business of handmade? When I lived in Toronto I had a career in interior design, mostly commercial clients with office space.
My mother was the one that got me interested in silk ribbon embroidery in a serendipitous way. Back in the late 80’s she had requested that I find her a book on the subject. Since I was working in a creative field already, I wasn’t looking for or didn’t feel the need for any other outlet.
That all changed when I quit my job and we moved to the country. I found that the urge to design was still there and I always remembered how pretty the silk ribbon projects looked in my mother’s book. I read up on the subject and was fascinated with the way you could manipulate the ribbons and the range of colours available. I gave it a try and realized that I really enjoyed it.
I followed the usual route of making gifts for my Mum, relatives and friends. After a while I still wanted to make stuff but ran into the dilemma of what to do with what I made. Luckily I found Etsy and got up the nerve to start up my shop at the end of November in 2007.
2) Although I will admit that I love everything in your shop, my absolute favorite is your ruffled silk ring. So, what is your favorite item? Now that is a very difficult question to answer! Each and every new idea I create gets me excited and I can’t wait to see what sort of reaction it will get when I list it in my shop. I guess right now my ‘French knot’ pieces are my favourite, it’s fun putting together the colours and then seeing the finished product.
3) You have a wide variety of items in your shop yet they are all remarkably cohesive when taken all at once. Is this deliberate, or happenstance? Quite deliberate, I want all my items to be made in some way with silk and/or silk ribbon. I feel that a shop that has a cohesive look in terms of the type of medium used and a consistency in their style projects a better sense of an established design direction.
4) I find that many Canadian artisans tend to take their inspiration from our amazingly gorgeous natural surroundings. Is that true for you as well? It’s certainly true when it applies to my pieces that feature flowers and insects. I have large perennial gardens that attract butterflies and we also have a few ponds on our property so there are lots of dragonflies flitting about.
5) You are very active in curating treasuries and have produced some really lovely - and successful - results. Do you have any advice to other Etsians about reaching the front page? I have been on the FP 39 times since 2009, 14 of those were made by my teammates on the Curation Nation team that I joined in July of 2010. If you’re in a team that makes a lot of treasuries all the time your chances of getting on the FP increase dramatically, but as others have said time and again on Etsy your photos have to be top notch.
6) Do you have any new products in the works for the coming year? I’ve just ordered some fresh, new silk dupioni colours so I’ve got a few pillow designs in mind for those and I want to experiment with some other modern designs for my brooches and necklaces. Even though silk ribbon embroidery is a traditional needlecraft I want to show that it can be quite contemporary looking.
I've got some exciting news regarding new products in both my Etsy and Artfire shops! Finally, I am introducing some new product lines. In my Artfire shop these are primarily vintage look brooches and more hairpins, and my Etsy shop will see new styles of bracelets and earrings in the upcoming months.
Here's a look at the antique style brooches made from vintage components coming to my Artfire shop. They are similar to some of my previously listed vintage style rings, some of which come in matching sets:
The new products in my Etsy shop are a bit more complicated as they are entirely new endeavors for me. First off, because of my mom's limited hand and wrist movement, I've been inspired to create some bracelets that don't involve clasps. Opening and closing fiddly clasps is difficult at the best of times, but if you have any sort of physical limitation like my mom, aunt, and several of my friends, it's near to impossible. So, I've started designing bracelets that are stretchy. Intended to be fitted right over the hand, these are much easier in terms of on and off. Right now I've only got two types in the works, but I am on the hunt for more ways to bring beautiful accessories to everyone.
Here are some photos of what LittleBearsMom's grandmother (aka: my mom) received for Mother's Day this year:
Bracelets similar to this one will be appearing in my shop soon.
I've also got sparkly, stretchy cha-cha style bracelets in the works, and they will appear in multiple colors. Here is an example of one that I'm presently working on made out of clear glass and iridescent crystal beads: I'll admit that attaching all those beads is taking me a bit longer than I'd projected!
I had a bracelet like this back in highschool when vintage was the height of cool...or maybe that was just was at my geeky midwestern school! In any case, I've been interested in replicating it ever since. With everything from my coming-of-age years resurfacing as stylish and hip, I thought this might be the time to design, or redesign, a few of these bangles and other sparkly accessories. Especially since Etsy defines...redefines?..."vintage" as 20 years or older...ouch!
Oh, I still have, and wear, the original, which is shown above :)
And the other new groundbreaking product for my Etsy shop? OK, I'll be honest, it's not groundbreaking, it's just really, really interesting ☺ I have started creating hoop earrings for unpierced ears! Adding to my collection of clip-on and screwback earrings for those with nonpierced ears, these wire wrapped gemstone hoops are comfortable and stylish. I know, I took a pair for a test drive for a day ☺ (Don't worry, I will not be selling that trial pair in my shop for hygenic reasons.) Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, the first pair I listed sold within a day of their listing, so the earrings in the included images are no longer available! But I am working hard to produce more, similiar pairs in both gold and silver plated styles and a variety of diameters.
My other exciting news is that one of my new spring rings was featured on this absolutely gorgeous blog by therikrakstudio If only my own blog could be so beautiful...I've got a ways to go, I think.
And my work has been featured in some absolutely stunning treasuries...here are a few:
Clockwise they are: "Dark Blueberry...Blueberry Blue!!!" by Suza, "Spring is Born - OCT Challenge" by TheSilverBobbin, "Morning Dew" by EcoShag, and "Vanilla Sighs" by Clonehardware. As always, thank you to all the creative and generous people who've included my work in their lovely treasuries!
And I have one more announcement...I've been able to slightly lower the shipping charges on some of my items! I've been experimenting with different packaging in order to see if I can safely get my items under Canada Post's prohibitive 2cm height allowance for Lettermail and Light Packet, and I think I've succeeded. After discovering that a pair of earrings shipped in a layer of bubble wrap and a padded mailer broke ☹ , I was able to find some super small boxes which, when inserted into an organza bag, carefully protect my items allowing them to arrive at the customer's home in perfect condition. This method doesn't allow me to use padded mailers as the box alone is 18mm, so thanks to my OhCanadaTeam colleague,Joannie, I've adopted a method of taping a grid pattern over a regular manilla envelope with packing tape which prevents the sharp corners of the box from poking a hole in the envelope and slipping out. Here are some pictures to illustrate:
Larger items that don't fit into the small boxes will still be shipped either Small Packet or Expedited Parcel in a square jewelry box, tied with a ribbon, inside a padded mailer.