Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's my birthday and I'll bake if I want to

Happy birthday to me!

Well not exactly, cause I am a leap year baby, and there is no 29th till 2012, but still - a person as old as me (33 years old, God save my soul) needs to celeberate making it through another year and starting a fresh new one.

Last night my girlfriends threw me a party, and Ruthi baked several goodies, one of which was a very gay looking apple cake (even though I am not gay, but woohoohoo all the same)

Make a wish!

Rainbow apple cake

Today I opened some gifts that arrived on the mail, and as expected, they were not for me for for Pinky and the guys.

Whatever can this be??
Whatever can this be?

Glorious rest
A sofa for Pinky of course, courtasy of my friend Yael
While Junie sent a piano for Micky, and a very Scottish bear

Today is very stormy, so I am satying in, watching TV and enjoying a nice rest. My only work today was to make my cake. Since my mom is not well enough to make one, I took it upon myself. I think I did something wrong though, cause it turned out kinda blue..
Birthday cake

Happy Birthday to me SALE on my
Puppets & Crafts shop
Today (28.2.09) only - spend 20$ and up at my shop
and get a free hamster magnet!

Hamster magnets galore

Monday, February 23, 2009

ArtFire: Outstanding or outragous?

Strange things happened to me today on the Internet. I hear people are talking about it, so I want to make everything clear and put it into proportion. These are the facts.

I have online shops at two venues - Etsy (where I sell my puppets and crafts) and ArtFire (where I sell my art). The ArtFire shop is two months old and I didn't have a single sale on it so far. For those of you who are not familiar with how it goes - on Etsy you pay a listing fee (0.2$) for each item plus a 3.5% commission on each sale, and on ArtFire you pay a 7$ monthly fee which includes everything. This means on the 2 months I am a member there, I paid 14$ for what I would have paid 2$ for (listing fees for 10 items) on Etsy.

So, this afternoon I this on my Twitter "I think it's time to drop out of ArtFire. Zero sales and 14$ fees?! This is unacceptable to me".

A while later, I get a message from someone, assumingly on the ArtFire team, saying "did you read the so and so sellers guide?". I was busy with work, so I didn't reply at the time. Then, a while later, I see emails from ArtFire saying my subscription was canceled due to lack of funds on my Paypal or per my request. So I ask myself "can it be that ArtFire person did something without telling me?? Nahhhhh" and go back to work.

Then I get emails from Paypal saying the same. So I reply to the ArtFire service asking "did you do something to my account based on what I said on Twitter?" feeling mighty paranoid and stupid.

Yes they tell me. The ArtFire president, Mr. John Jacobs saw your Twitt and decided to give your two months free of charge on ArtFire and we canceled your Paypal subscription so you are not charged to pay for these months by mistake.

At this point I almost exploded.

Now. What can we say on this, which is positive (and I hear there has been a debate on this on the hours I was offline between work and getting home):

  1. Mr. Jacobs is undoubtedly a nice gentleman with excellent intentions.
  2. This was done with good intentions.
  3. My subscription was not really canceled, the payment was.
  4. I got two months free of charge.

People say I should be happy with this, and that this is outstanding customer service.

For those of you who don't know (probably 98% of my 26 or so readers) I have been in the technical support and customer service industry since 1994. I managed several international support centers in my time and worked with plenty of fortune 500 American customers as well as your everyday end users. This is, by far, something I would never have done. And this is why:

  1. The savior complex - during the years, I attended and gave several outstanding service classes, during which I warned about this complex. It comes with all the best intentions - you think you know what should be done to make your customer happy, and so you do it. Without asking. You just go ahead and do it. That is paternalistic, antagonizing, and outrageous - to assume you know better than your customer what is in their best interest. You never do anything directly affecting your customer without asking for permission first.
  2. Paypal does not know what is going on behind the scenes, Paypal is a robot. It told me I have no funds, and I almost got a heart attack at first.
  3. Twitter is a blog. A silly tiny blog, but a blog non the less. For a company I am a customer of, to take action on my account, based on a thought I expressed on Twitter?! That is unacceptable. My Twitter is mine, at least I thought so. Yes, this is the Internet, where privacy is an old joke, and writing on such a venue, obviously I take into account I have no control on who reads it. But if I write my Chevrolet sucks and I can't stand it anymore, does it give General Motors the right to get into my garage, take my stupid old Cavalier and replace it with a shiny new Aveo?? I think not. Because it is MY car and MY garage, and I decide when the car goes and with which company's car it will be replaced.

Whether I want to leave ArtFire, or stay (and why) is my business. Had Mr. Jacobs, or one of his employees, contacted me and said "we read what you wrote by chance, and we would like to discuss the reasons with you and maybe make you an offer.." then I might have said "okay, I don't feel comfortable with how they use Twitter, but I know it is a popular business tool, and this is a nice offer". But going behind my back and making decisions for me? I am sorry. That is totally unacceptable in my book.

What will I do next? I don't know yet, but it definitely not something people should care about too much, I am one person and I have my own views and standards. What is important to think about, and what bothers me most, is the way information we put on the Internet is used by commercial and other forces, and how and if we want to share our minds in this format. Cause today it is the nice people of ArtFire, but tomorrow - who knows.

Update (25.2.09) - I will probably be closing my shop, due to what I have learned about ArtFire's operation. I am not 100% sure yet, so I deactivated my items for the meanwhile till I am sure I want to close shop.

Update (26.2.09) - Disabled comments for this post, cause I got tired of repeating myself to people who obviously don't read (or comprehend) what I am saying.

For the last time - Thank you to all the nice ArtFire people who took the time to comment here. I deleted my ArtFire comments on Twitter, as an act of courtesy.

This issue is getting old, and the last few comments I got are too silly. If you don't like it, you probably won't like the fact I am Jewish either, or don't eat dairy, or use Pantene and any other issue on which we don't see eye to eye. So go byte a kite.

(which reminds me I have a really nice bagel waiting on my desk).

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Showcasing my new ribbon shop

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade


Well, this has been a fun weekend. I woke up today to find my computer shut down. I tried to start it and it sounds like someone put stones inside a coffee grinder. Yes, the hard drive is dead, gone, kaput, thing of the past, belongs to the ages, and water under the bridge.

Lucky for me when facing the choice of either jumping out my third floor window, or going to my friend Halo's to ask for one of her computers (she has a computer farm, they grow there like fungus) I chose the latter. So I went there, got a strange little aqua colored laptop, and took it home. It is quite a nice fella. No spellchecker though, which drives me nuts. But hey, I shouldn't complain nor do I want to.

So I will have to purchase a new computer soon, but in the meanwhile will make do. I also almost gave up on the puppetry class that starts on Thursday, but decided not to. I will find a way to pay for both this and a computer. I think my friends will try to help with some of the tuition, which makes me feel quite cared for.

Thursday morning though, before all hell broke lose, I went for a few arrangements and dropped by the bead store to buy a few Italian glass hearts for my mobiles. While there I was asking the shop owner about all sorts of things, when he suddenly said "you like ribbons do you??". Of course I nodded. He then continued to lure me to follow him up the cranky stairs and inside a dark closet. Just when I was sure he will draw out an ax, he shoves a huge box full of ribbons into my arms and says "make me an offer". I looked at it, and immediately thought - I will open a new supplies shop and I shall call it Ribbonzella so I made him an offer, and he raised it by 50NIS and now I am the owner of a new online ribbon shop.

A whole lotta ribbons
Pinky assisting me with inventory

You should really come and have a look, I wish I had a place to shop for such nice ribbons and such a great price. Seriously, I pay thrice as that at the local craft shops. The banner and avatar are ugly I know, but that is what I could do in such short notice. I am waiting for a new banner which should be ready any day now..

My call for help continues - if you ever wanted to buy something at my shop, this is the time. I need all the extra money I can get for the puppetry class I need to take. Did I say need? Good, because I do need it. Some go to a shrink when times are bad. I go to puppetry school.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My birthday wish

Some of you may know I have been having a very hard time lately, living with my mom who has lung cancer is not doing well at all lately. I am feeling myself slipping into depression and am very scared about it.

Next Saturday is my birthday and I just got an email that two days before that, on the 26th, my old puppetry school is starting a a new paper puppet theater class. I need something to please my soul, and I see this as a little gift from God (since courses don't usually start at half year). I want to take that course, and it costs 450$ (1800 NIS) which I don't really have to spare at this time.

So I was thinking - If people who want to help me do something good for myself for once, buy something from my shop - It will help me pay the tuition, and the buyer will get a lovely one of a kind item to please their soul as well. That way, everybody gets happy on my birthday (including my mom, who is desperate for me to be happier).

So please - If you want to do something nice for my birthday, buy something at my shop (big or small, everything helps) and help me pay for this course!

Erez on my birthday party (2005)
Erez on my birthday party a few years ago

Monday, February 16, 2009

How is this physically possible??

I have noticed two things are constantly happening to me lately, which I don't think are physically possible. Does anyone have any idea how can these be happening?
  1. I usually set an alarm clock which has an automatic snooze every 9 minutes. Letly, I dream between each of the snoozes (I usually let it snooze for almost an hour). How do I achieve REM so quickly??

  2. We have tons of static electricity in the office. In the walls, chairs, door knobs - all around. But sometimes I feel the zesssstt when I open the kitchen tap! Am I imagining it? It doesn't feel like I am getting it from the tap, but from the actual water!
Perhaps I am just going nuts, which will not surprise me that much considering my current life style..

Poor Pinky
An illustration of a not so happy fella, much like me these days

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shop update!

Lately, I was so busy with custom orders I hadn't had time to create anything new - my last shop update was back in January!! On top of that, my mother is very sick and I wasn't in the mood to do anything creative for the last few days.

Well, finally, I managed to do some work this Saturday, and am glad to introduce my new items.

Rosemary and Daddy Cool Flutterbutt - One of a kind puppet mobiles

And a new Flutterhead magnets line for those of you looking for an extra head.

Not yet in the shop

That's it for today. If anyone has a time machine they can send me, please let me know. I would love to jump two years forward.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Annie from Happy Little Artist

This weekend featured artist is Annie from Happy Little Artist.

I found Annie's shop while looking for sewed headbands. Her shop was very new at the time, with great prices and gorgeous item photos. I now own two of her lovely creations. When I wear her creations I feel like a happy butterflyish Buy Handmade poster girl.

Salt and Pepper Linen Flower

Tell my readers a bit about yourself.

Well, my name is Annie and I currently am into three things: My family (husband and two kids), Mr. Obama, and creating! I love disappearing into my little creative place and coming out feeling all fresh and new like a big thirty year old baby with bad roots! I feel fortunate to have found something that makes me feel good about myself and life in general.

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

I only know how to sew headbands, and only started sewing three months ago! I am actually a painter by trade and have a B.F.A with an emphasis in watercolor painting.

One of Annie's watercolors

Where do you sell your art?

I sell my art in several shops around town, as well as on Etsy.

Did you choose to sell mainly headbands on Etsy due to a business plan, believing it will be a top selling item, or is this just something you love doing?

I sell headbands mostly to support this terrible habit I have of buying fabric (it's a new obsession). I love going to the fabric store and looking at all the different fabric. I even love the smell of fabric! I love putting together designs and find that it comes somewhat easily to me, which is cool because not everything does..

Your image photos are so lovely and vivid, can you share some tips with us?

I try to wear different textures and stand in nice, natural light. Lately my photographer (i.e. my husband) has been swamped at work so I have been taking photos of myself. Can you tell the difference?

I love how she arranged the hair and coordinated the colors on this photo

What is your favorite item of all times?

My favorite headband is this sage one. I love the photo!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Donation item

I just heard of a fellow Etsian who is sick and having treatments, and in a dire financial situation. Several Etsians, organized by the lovely Julie, are selling items whose proceedings are donated to her.

Since I am familiar with both cancer, financial trouble, and the power of friendship and community, I added my Best friends card as a little donation for this cause.

It is not expensive, so you can make a nice little donation and get something lovely in return apart for the joy of helping a total stranger.

Election Day

Today Israel is electing the 120 members of the 18th Knesset (the Israeli parliament). I woke up at 12:00 (this is a sabbatical, no work moohahaha) and found a rain and hail storm. So I am holding on on voting for a little while (which is a shame, since I also need to buy a ton of glue and get to work on my Etsy shop update. I didn't update my shop this month at all). Pinky, however, already got to the ballot box. Either because he is an early bird, unlike me, or because is thought it is a ballet box by mistake.

Election Day - Voting for the 18th Knesset
Pinky also got a wonderful little cheese button from Jelene. Yay!

In honor of election day, and for the little happy time I have left before government is taken over by God knows what, I am having a Flutterheads Sale (voting for a head of state n'est pas?) for 9$ instead of 12$ today. Go ahead and get one, or three!

Get a head!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Meet the Artist - With Irith Rita Mashiah

I have been getting a lot of requests to join the Etsy Israel Team lately. One of which was from Irith Rita Mashiah, whose unique ancient styled jewelry caught my eye almost immediately.

I had my ears pierced relatively late in life, and am in a constant search for one of a kind additions to my earrings collection. I can't think of a single pair of silver earrings I owned or wanted past the age of 30. Silver just ain't my thing. I like either matte gold or non precious metals, but when I visited Irith's Etsy shop for the first time it was love at first sight. And you will shortly see why.

Tell my readers a bit about yourself

My name is Irith Rita Mashiah . I call my jewelry shop Riorita. I have been a silver and goldsmith for
the last 15 years and enjoy every minute of it. I live in Haifa Israel, by the Meditteraenean, and my workshop is situated in a small artists "colony" in Kibbutz Ein Carmel near Haifa. There is a lawn with statues and more workshops of various artists across my workshop.

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

I've always tried various creative activities. I used to knit all my sweaters and crochet anything from table cloths to small curtains. I used to sew all my clothes but ever since I started jewelry making, all I have in my mind is jewelry design.
I started creating jewelry after I got tired of working as a legal secretary. I remember that during a lunch break, I passed by a silver smith's shop, looked at his window and thought to myself: "I think this is what I want to do… I am going to try it!". Following this thought, I began my studies at the Wizo Art school in Haifa.

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

I sell my jewelry in the main gallery of Ein Hod ,an artists' village close to where I work, in Tefen art gallery shop, and more galleries around Israel. Many of my jewelry items are sold abroad. Yes, this is my day job.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Mostly what inspires me is nature. My workshop is surrounded with many trees and flowers, symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes with statues, paintings, animals, flowers, colors etc. I look around me, breath in the sights and sounds, and walk into my workshop with new ideas in my mind. On the other hand I love to go through archaeology books and I try to "enter" the minds of ancient metal smiths minds and create my own jewelry through their inspiration, as if to continue their ideas.

I feel an ancient, almost biblical, vibe when looking at your work. Is the fact you are Israeli (or Jewish) reflects in your jewelry?

I never thought there was something biblical in my my work, but now that you mention it, and following your former question, I may add that I've always admired the jewelry of the old Bezalel silversmith school in Jerusalem, where they used to create jewelry inspired by biblical themes. I realize now that it probably subconsciously reflects on my jewelry! Thank you for enabeling me to think of it that way!

What is your favorite item of all times?

There are quite a few items which are my favorites. One of them is this crochet silver bracelet.

Want to see more of Irith's work? Here is a gallery of her work and this is her website.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Etsy Superstitions

When going on a dolphin survey, there is a well known rule which says "nobody takes their camera out before we see the first dolphin". Everybody at IMMRAC know that when a newbie gets their camera out too soon, we will be getting back ashore 5 hours later with zero dolphin observations.

Much like this, I have developed my own superstitions when it comes to my Etsy shop. The most obvious two are the following.

There will be no new sales till all old ones are shipped
Every now and again I get a back load of custom orders, or a couple of days with many sales. Until I go to the post office and am then able to check all of my "shipped" boxes, there will be no incoming sales.

No items are ever sold while on sale
From time to time I get discouraged of selling something and opt to have a sale. No matter if it is a buy one get one 50% sale, free shipping (never ever offer free shipping, that is the worst decision an online seller can make) , discount, whatever - no one never buys anything on sale. I even had a few incidents when people bought an item that was on sale the day after the sale ended.

One big happy naked family
My recent large custom order. Nothing sold since I had them made.
Thank God I finally shipped them the other day, hopefully I will get some sales now.

Do you have any Etsy superstitions? Please share them here if you do.

Monday, February 2, 2009

New promo packs

I just finished making the first batch of my new promo packs.

I send these promo packs, filled with goodies by me and other online sellers I love, to my customers along with their purchase (unless if their order fits in an envelope). I had called out for promo items a little while back, and got all sorts of lovely freebies that I hope will help the sellers find new markets and increase sales. I also send my promos out for other sellers to ship to their customers. I tend to do that with sellers who have a wide customer base that is similar to mine.

I am still waiting for a few more items to be shipped to me, but in the meanwhile - this is what I have in the first batch.

New promo packs

The packs are wrapped in little cello bags, decorated with my greeting illustrated greetings stickers and may (each one is different) include:
  • Stickers, business cards for my Etsy and ArtFire shops, and 5$ off coupons for my Etsy shop.
  • Beautiful fabric brooches by Heather from Me Plus Molly.
  • Lovely little handmade thank you cards by Amy from Articulations.
  • Gorgeous business cards, magnets, and cell phone charms by Shay Aaron.
  • Promotional buttons I bought here.
  • Business cards, Moo cards, and coupons from many other sellers that were left over from previous promo packs.
I know my customers love getting these goody packs. Unfortunately I have no statistics on if these actually turn into future sales. I hope they, at the very least, bring these shops to the attention of people who otherwise would not have heard of them.

So at the very least they bring joy and at the most - bring profit. You cannot go wrong with that now, can you?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Buy Handmade - My 2009 Birthday Wishlist

I am not sure why, but apparently it is hard to buy me gifts. That is why this year, I was advised to post a wishlist for my birthday. So here it is! I kept the prices down, and used a wide price range - so some items are only a few dollars, but will make me very happy :o)

If you need my address, or have a question, please let me know.

My first choice
- a new computer, a new car, a new apartment.

My second choice
- A gift certificate (I am sure they can arrange that) for this shop. There are at least two I want, and any sum will be appreciated! I would ask for specific ones, but they have a few of each design, and I am worried about getting 3 copies of the same item (I have only one belly button available, I am afraid).

These are all third place -

A custom made S Anne Boleyn necklace I should ask for an R, but the S will turn out more beautiful I think.

A custom made doll shaped like me from Pink Cheeks. I know she makes them, but not sure how much they cost to be honest.

A sofa for Pinky - I see they are on sale now too!

This stamp and this one too.

These earrings, if you are more than one person (or one with plenty of money :o)

This Foksy!

This ACEO Painting by Sara Pulver

These earrings, or these, or these!

This card set, or this notepad and this print.

I already know what Pinky is getting me, weee!

Oh right, my birthday is at the end of February..