Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Etsy guide in the works and a special offer

I have been spending the past few days working on my new Hebrew Etsy How To (which is yet to be named). I planned it to be a guide to everything non technical on Etsy which will be about 4 pages long, and 5$ worth, but it has grown to be a 16 pages long (and it's not over yet) and much more worth. Oh well - If they want it, and they want it digested for them and translated into Hebrew, let them eat cake! I mean let them pay.

Once it is ready, I will translate it to English too, which should be interesting to see, since there are plenty of "my 5 cents on Etsy" out there. In fact, I bought one from puppet goddess Stacey Rebbecca a while back, and it is quite a challenge to write all new stuff, without repeating anything she already says. Though I have to say, her guide is so funny it made me laugh out loud,and is packed with good advice. So buy hers, and then buy mine so you can compare the two!

Anyway, May has been as bad for sales as a month can be. Today is the last day of it, so I am kicking it goodbye with a nice special offer - Spend over 20$ in my shop today (May 31st) and get an XL promo pack packed with goodies such as my miniature cake earrings, buttons, discount coupon for my shop, a pretty handmade (by me) envelope, magnets, a Moo discount code (for first timers) , and more!

All these goodies coming your way!

And speaking of Moo, I promised an update on the problem I mentioned here. Well, as I expected, they gave me a free reprint of my order - All's well that ends well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Antiquebasketlady

Summer is approaching in huge steps and with it come summer purchases. What does one need in summer? A good sunscreen lotion, a pair of comfy sandals, a colorful sun outfit, and a bag (well, at least if you are a woman. Most men I know are perfectly fine just putting their keys and wallets in their back pocket). I don't know about you, but when I think of summery bags, I think of Sue. Not only is Sue a talented crafter, but she is a also a caring, sweet, hardworking, and bright lady - Just my type of gal!

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

I am a wife, mother, grandmother of two sweet granddaughters (Courtney and Violet), mother in law, and Registered Nurse and oh...last but not least - a designer of bags and accessories.

Did someone just mentioned a nurse?

When and how did you begin to sew? Is this your only creative medium?

I have always loved fabrics and even as a child I would help my mom and grandmother make quilts. I also enjoy painting, cooking, and gardening.

Some of Sue's beautiful flowers

Where do you sell your bags? Is this your day job?

My items can be found in my Etsy shop and also at area craft and arts shows in Wisconsin. My dream would be to sell full time, but at this time I work full time at our community hospital in the maternity department.

Your Etsy shop is quite successful. Can you share some tips on how to increase traffic and sales?

I have been selling my bags and accessories for over ten years on various online venues. I also find it is important to promote business at local craft fairs, passing out business cards, and utilizing social network such as twitter, plurk, and flickr.

This is my personal favorite on Sue's shop at this time

Can you tell is a bit about your work process? Your inspiration, the creation process.

I am inspired by fabric, requests from family and friends and the fact that I just love purses and totes.
This is a wonderful example, I think, of Sue's love of fabric.
Back and front of her Everyday Pop Garden Pleated Shoulder Tote Bag

What is your favorite item of all times? Please send me a picture too.

This is one of my most favorite bags - the Sun Glow HOBO bag.

Sue and I will love to hear your thoughts and comments. Now, run away little darlings and check all of Sue's links and shop. I bet you will find that gift you were looking for (for yourself, or a loved one).

Happy Shavuot (Pentecost) everybody!

I will not be able to eat dairy products and cheesecakes, so I will have to make do with watching others enjoy theirs.

Gals and Dolls

I just saw this lovely blog entry by a happy client. I am always very pleased to get such wonderful feedback.

Can you tell who is the puppet and who is mommy?

If you want a custom made hand puppet of your own, look no further. I will gladly make one for you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New promos are in (and out)

Yesterday I got my new two (for the price of 1.5) Moo minicards. Unfortunately, almost 30 of one pack are unusable due to bad cropping, and the colors on all cards are rather off. I wrote an email to Moo customer service, and I am sure they will reprint the first pack for me, they have excellent customer service usually.

Anyway, there are enough good ones to prepare promo packs, which I did this evening. I prepared a few dozens of my free-shipping coupons and prepared a few packs of 20 of each minicard (one for my ribbon shop and one for my puppets & crafts shop) and 20 coupons. I am going to ship them to a few Etsians who help me spread the word about my shops.

Promos ready for shipping
The pencil post-it's are from this amazing shop in case you were wondering.

I will get these out and about ASAP and will continue performing my sales boost for summer plan, which I wrote about here. I will update you regarding the Moo problem later on, as I know more.

Monday, May 25, 2009

About to expire sale

Today only - About to expire sale!

Buy these items today, before they expire and enjoy a 10% discount
(prices already revised, so go ahead and buy)

Puppet stickers great for crafts and fun - 6$ instead of 7$
(I have two sets available)
Barack and Michelle O'Flutterbutt - 59$ instead of 66$

Let me know if you want them in puppet mobile form or left as is upon purchase

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A little update

Before I go to sleep, I added a little gadget to the blog showing the 5 most recently updated blogs, from my favorite blogs list. It's somewhere down there, between the middle and end of the link lists at the left side of the screen, I bet you will find it. I invite you to have a look - some are talented friends, some talented strangers who inspire me, and some are simply useful, informative, or fun to read.

I also added a fixed link to the Wiki colors list I am using when listing items in my shops, since some people asked for that. Enjoy!

Finally, please take a moment to fill in the poll, which is right to the left of this post. It will help me conclude regarding my next steps, which I discuss here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to (lose and) get a boost in sales for summer

May and June are annoying months, economically speaking. Also known as "the months of renewing annual car expenses" (insurance and test, with an overall of about 1250$) they always seem to get me anxious for some extra income. Ahh, where are the happy days of leased high-tech cars. I always miss those boring Mazdas this time of year. Add to that the idea of a little Etsy get together near Glasgow in July and you get a Sharona who worries about money 100% of the time.

I don't like worrying about money 100% of the time. It doesn't leave me time to stress about other things I like to stress about and that stresses me out even more.

The obvious solution to this issue is increasing sales on my Etsy shops. That should be easily done! Selling more in the hardest months of the year, where no holidays are anywhere in sight, people are stressed about their taxes, and global economy is in recession. Oh yes.

I have a lot of useful ideas how to (not) earn more during these months. Each of these ideas will hurt my income directly or indirectly. Here are just a few:
  • Offer free shipping on both my shops for a month
    Free shipping is the worst sales boost you can offer. It eliminates your only fee free income, one you make no profit on to begin with. It's like sweeping a rug from under my own feet. Not to mention the fact my shipping expenses eliminate any incoming on my ribbon shop.
  • Offer huge discounts on items on my shop
    Nothing ever sells on sales, from my experience, plus it will only decrease my income. I may reduce prices as much as I like, but my investment in each item stays the same. Right? right.
  • Plea with people to help me out by buying my stuff
    The most embarrassing, degrading way of finding customers. They may buy from me, but I will feel guilty and ashamed.

I do have some good ideas though, that are based on generating more traffic to my shops. These include:

  • Promos
    I already took advantage of Moo's special offer, and ordered two packs of mini cards for both my shops. These will turn into a large batch of promo packs which I will send to other top-selling Etsians to ship to their customers upon purchase.
  • Create an independent website
    Work is already on the go. First draft of the website is prepared (and I mean a beautiful bilingual Flash website designed by a pro, as opposed to the old website made by me). This will also help attract Israeli buyers who are not comfortable with the English Etsy interface.
  • Buy ad space
    There is no way to go around this. I need to get paid advertising space. I think it's time to check Project Wonderful and other advertising opportunities.
  • Making freebies for my customers
    This may be a good way of giving an added value to shopping at a specific time, most needed for me, and still not losing or bagging. I can make a batch of a special edition item that will be added to every (?) purchase on my shop during the problematic months. Will that be a sales boost?
  • Start an ad exchange
    You put an ad on my blog (or website, when it is ready) and I put one on yours. That is a good idea, in websites that generate traffic and blogs with a lot of followers.
  • Start selling tutorials
    This is am excellent way to boost sales, just ask Yoola.

I think it's time for a poll. I will post one on this blog in a little while. I will also love to hear ideas, your past experience, promotional opportunities you are aware of at this time, and so on. Let your voice be heard! Mama needs a new set of wheels, and she wants to buy them in the UK.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Leaflette

This week, I was browsing some of my favorites' favorites (an excellent sport) when I came upon a wonderful new shop I've never been to before. I had to ask the seller if she wants to be featured on my blog, which she was. What can I say but Yay! and please welcome the lovely and talented Hanna Sandvig!

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.
Hi, I'm Hanna Sandvig! I live in the mountains of BC, Canada with my husband. I'm 27, a Christian, and I love the outdoors. I'm also passionate about cooking and have started gardening this year!

When and how did you begin to draw? Is this your only creative medium?

I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon. I have boxes at home full of my childhood sketchbooks. I started doing digital art seriously about five years ago. It's not my only creative medium, I love sewing, photography, and graphic/webpage design. I also frequently get the urge to do just random crafts, I'm currently making a big mobile of hundreds of paper circles. I wanted to learn to knit this year...but decided that my need to do everything was getting out of hand.

Where do you sell your art? Is this your day job?

I mostly sell my art on Etsy. I have some prints for sale on Deviantart but haven't had much success there. I did pretty well at the local Winter Artisans Market this year and I have some greeting cards in local shops. Unfortunately galleries are still very opposed to carrying digital paintings as they can't sell an “original painting”. It's not my day job, I'm a full time lifeguard/swimming instructor. I enjoy it but I hope to quit and go full time with my creative work when we start having kids.

My favorite water themed drawing on Hanna's shop

Most of the work (and that I love most myself) presented on your shop has an oriental vibe. Was this always your style or is it a phase you are going through right now?
I've always loved oriental cultures. I grew up on Hello Kitty and then Sailor Moon and as much as I try and fight it, I still love anime and Chinese art house movies. Things like cute little action figures and kokeshi dolls follow me home. I would say that Asian culture is probably a third of my influence, the others being vintage kids book illustrations and fairy tales.

Can you tell is a bit about your work process? Your inspiration, the creation process.
I usually have more ideas than time to draw them! I'm inspired a lot by the blogs of other artists and I spend a lot of time going through art on Deviantart.
I do most of my art on the computer, including my sketches. I've included a little flash movie that shows my drawing process.

What is your favorite item of all times?
Hmm, that's a hard one, usually my favorite is whatever I most recently finished! One of my favorites has got to be Red Lanterns though. Even though it's an old on I still love the colors and the romantic mood.

This is my personal favorite at Hanna's shop as well

Where else can you find Hanna:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Have no fear, the weekend is here

Friday is here, thank God. I wish I could stay under the covers all day, but I have a dinner party to go to. I was about to bail out, but then I heard the magic word "lasagna" and decided I am going.

Since I don't feel much like doing anything these days, I did what comes naturally - a little Flutterbutt lady. I went over the top with this one I think, with all the embellishments. But hey - it my workshop and I'll flutt if I want to.

Belle Flutterbutt

Belle Flutterbutt now available on my shop. Badaboom!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thou giveth and thou taketh

Yesterday my friend and I headed to the Tel-Aviv fabric district (נחלת בנימין). She was looking for fabric to make a summer bag (she already bought decorated bamboo handles online) and I was hunting for ribbon to make Flutterbutts.

The car park was packed, so I had to park my car on the top of the 8th floor. We were annoyed at first, but then we caught a glimpse of the view. It's a good thing my cell phone exploded, cause my new cell camera turned out to be excellent.

Tel Aviv - A view to the sea
A view of the sea

Tel Aviv - Nachlat Binyamin
The fabric district and pedestrian mall

So, we headed down and as soon as we left the parking lot, we stumbled upon an amazing ribbon shop. Honestly, I know why I need this type of ribbon, but what do others do with it, not to mention the longer more exquisite type? I have no idea, but I tell you - If I could marry a shop, that would be it.

Next, we went looking for fabric (and some food at the nearby market). My friend finally found two fabrics she loved - one Chinese dragon on red, and another more abstract pattern on something I would call ashy-lavender-rose-kinda-thing color.

Fabric shop - Tel Aviv fabric district
Nice selection, we didn't buy here though

At some point I realized we are stepping on silver sequin, the cracks on the road were simply filled with it

The streets are paved with sequin
The streets of Tel-Aviv are paved with silver

Finally, we returned home tired but very pleased. My pleasing, though, was short lived since these last few days have been very bad for me. Problems are pouring like rain, and I am stressed out of my mind. So much so, that I found myself reorganizing my ribbon collection which was in terrible shape (for my personal use, the shop ribbons are perfectly organized elsewhere). I wanted to display it in plain sight for a while now, to inspire me and make my creation process more orderly. I had just the perfect solution - since my friend sent me a wonderful wall mounted organizer from Portugal months ago. Problem is, I had no wall to hang it on, till I realized I can fold one of the culomns and stick it to my studio door with tacks.

And so, I turned into one of my most hated cliches - the woman who cleans when she's panicked. But it does make sense organizing things when you fell you have no control over things. Here is a little haven of control right at the tip of my fingers.
After several hours of that, I was tired enough to go to bed and fall asleep instantly.
Ribbon organizer
That, by the way, is the first Flutterbutt I ever made

Finally, this morning I sent the prize to Jen, my blog giveaway winner. Oddly enough, I also won a blog giveaway, and received this wonderful collection of stationary from Karen at Purple cat's corner. Hopefully, this is just the first of good things coming my way (and headed from me to the world).
Karen also sent me lovely magnets for my promo packs, which reminds me - If you have promotional items you want to send me to ship to my customers, please contact me. Anything up to the size of a standard business card will be welcome.

Monday, May 11, 2009

And the May giveaway winner is..

Tell it like it is Gery!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Empress Elisabeth of Austria von Wittelsbach-Flutterbutt

Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia as spouse of Emperor Francis Joseph I, or as her friends and family knew her "Sisi" has captured my imagination since I read her biography several weeks ago.

Kaiserin Elisabeth von Österreich 1865 (Franz Xaver Winterhalter)

A tragic character, full of passion for life, love, and country - who found her dream, of becoming queen, is very far from the life she wished for herself. A free spirit, she found it hard to adjust to the strict protocol of court and lived a troubled life full of losses, tragedies, and melancholy. She was clinically depressed (as most of Wittelsbach family at her time), and probably anorectic as well. As blackness grew nearer and nearer, she spent more and more of her time traveling and kept away from her family and court.

Having found her pictures (including photographs) online, I was struck with her great beauty. Dark piercing eyes, extremely long hair (which was her great pride, along with her amazingly narrow waist line). I found her gaze haunting, and was sad to find out there is only one official portrait of her smiling out of the hundreds taken. I decided I want to make a Flutterbutt inspired by one of her early portraits. Hoping the free spirit of the art doll will encourage her to give a little happy smile to the camera. I wish I could somehow reach my hand throughout the years that passed, and tell her how much she is still loved, admired, and mostly - that she will never be forgotten.

Elizabeth at her coronation as Queen of Hungary in 1867

Her gown took me a very long time to make. I made the undergarment out of tulle and lace ribbon which I glued together to create a firm skirt.

And here she is, my little Sisi. I hope she will find a good home with someone who loves Sisi as much as I do.

A rear view of the gown

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Shop update - Colorful Flutterbaskets for summer

I just added two new items to my shop - shiny colorful Flutterbaskets. Both trendy and cute, they make the perfect accessory for summer. A cool vintage looking plastic basket in orange or blue, decorated with a matching Flutterbutt that can be detached and used as a key-chain.

Both bags cost 38$ and are available on my shop. If you want a key-chain sans basket, let me know and I will make one for you in the colors of your choice.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Paging captain Hook

Saturday was merrily spent making a custom puppet on the roof. I thought I would share some pictures of the process, as well as an unexpected guest that popped by while I was working.

So, this lovely couple ordered a custom made look alike hand puppet for their daughter (I will not post her photo here, but she is very beautiful and the parents approve of the outcome, so you can imagine a little girl who looks like the puppet, only slimmer and taller). They asked me to let them dress her, so I didn't prepare a wardrobe for her (pity, I love that part).

So I dye the foam, cut it, buy several gallons of glue in assorted formats (tubes and jars) and head on with the work of assembly also known as "giving birth".

A view of the operating table
A view of the operating table

Once the basic body is complete, several hours later, the real fun begins - creating the character. Equipped with the photo of my customer, I start sculpturing her face. It took me half an hour to decide where to place the nose, while my trusty sidekick brushed the would-be hair.

Nose in progress
Waiting for a schnoz

At this point, my assistant started coughing and pointing. Pinky (who was also there to "help" us) realized what he was pointing at quicker than me, and grabbed my camera to save this moment for the ages.

After capturing Pinky, my mom ran to fetch some carrot (she decided this guy would like one) but by the time she returned, it already flew away. Pinky says it has nothing to do with him, but we say "yer, whatever".

Now it was time for finishing touches - hair placed, styled, and trimmed. Nose and ears in place. Deep brown hand painted eyes with golden sparkle accents. Makeup applied, and voila - the little lady was all set.

Custom made hand puppet

Nice flowers

My lovely partner, after learning that most of my custom made puppets are either husband look alikes or kids look alikes , came up with the idea of a custom family therapy hand puppet set. Sit your entire custom made family down with a hand puppet shrink, and let them blame each other for this, that, and the other while you and your real family enjoy a nice day in the country or at the movies. That, my friends, is what I call a startup.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Blog Giveaway - May 2009

Lessons of the last giveaway learned, let's try this again!

Pinky explains the rules on this little clip.

The giveaway includes an illustrated greeting card, a puppet postcard, a stickers page, and also (not seen in the clip) a coupon for my shop.

To join:

1) Comment on this thread and leave your email address with DOT instead of dots. For example - my email would be reouveniDOTnetvisionDOTnetDOTil
2) Follow the blog.
3) Pinky will randomly choose a name out of the participants on next Monday evening (11.5.09) and I will announce the winner here and email them too.

Good luck!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Handsewn

It's been a while since I hosted an artist on my blog, and therefore I am hosting a super special artist this weekend. For this is not a painter, a fashion designer, or a jewelry designer. This talented lady and dear friend designs and makes crochet worms.

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Janie. I am an ex-heavy metal head from the 80's. I used to be one of those chicks that would put on the dog collar and wear the handcuffs to go see concerts like Iron Maiden and AC/DC. I used to drink and smoke and whenever my pizza had vegetables on it, I was sure to scrape them off.

Looks quite harmless n'est pas? I thought I'd better start off showing a nice doll

When and how did you begin to crochet? Is this your only creative medium?

I began crocheting when I was 4 years old, in the early 70's. My mom was showing all the neighborhood kids, even the boys, how to make chains. I remember crying out of frustration but I managed a couple of links before I threw down the hook screaming. Crocheting is my main creative outlet but I can also knit,sew a little, and love to paint and write.

Where do you sell your art? Is this your day job?

I sell exclusively on Etsy and it is my only source of income. My husband works as a carpenter.

This wormie has the wormie flu. Run away!!

How (the hell) did you come up with the concept of making wormies?

I had to crochet my first worm around 8 years ago when my oldest was 4 years old. Earthworms were her favorite creature and I couldn't find any in stores. The first I made was one we called Baby worm. It had a bonnet and those glue on googly eyes that she kept knocking off. When my second child was 3 years old she found baby worm and played with it constantly until it got lost. A few years later I had four daughters total and you guessed it- they all liked worms.

Is it true that you and your wormies plan to take over the world, and if so - can you share some of the laws you plan to implement once you do?

Me and the wormies will not be taking over the world. Count on us more as being available to free the world if it becomes necessary.

No world domination planned. Yer right.

What is your favorite item of all times?

My favorite item of all time has to be Einstein Worm because when I made him I burst into hysterical laughter. And I get the same feeling every time I see a picture of him. Though truth be known hot dog vendor wormie had the same effect.

P.S - Due to proper disclosure I find myself obligated to admit I am a wormie addict. I have a Scottish wormie, a Jewish wormie (custom made for me) , mommy and baby wormie, doctor wormie (he works for my mom), and I bought several others for my friends during the past months. I can stop anytime I choose to though, I would like to make that perfectly clear.

Pinky and friends in Jerusalem
Pinky, mommy, and baby wormie in Jerusalem

Here are some Janie links for you:
What a talented family!!