Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Prize! - Blog Contest #1

Wendi said her favorite color was pink...and that she liked simple earrings rather than elaborate.

I hope she loves her faceted, rose quartz earrings!

Thanks for participating in my first Blog Contest, Wendi...your earrings are on the way. Enjoy them!

Monday, July 28, 2008

And the Winner is......

Drumroll....Wendi of WendiWinn, Papery - Cards, Gift Tags, Scrapbooking, Notebooks on Etsy!

I appreciated her sense of humor about wanting coats for cold weather, but not really needing one. I can relate, living in south Texas!

Congratulations for being the Blog Contest #1 Winner! I've left you an Etsy convo so we can get in touch to design your custom earrings. Can't wait to see what she chooses!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday's Favorite: A Stitch in Dye

I'm pleased to feature Malka Dubrawsky, owner of Etsy shop "a stitch in dye." She has the most beautiful fabrics with colors that really pop! I'm reminded of the Caribbean each time I look at her shop. She is a fellow Texan, calling the capitol of Austin home. Here is her interview:

My name is Malka Dubrawsky and my business is called a stitch in dye. There I sell my quilts, pillow covers, coasters, totes and even some scarves and baby items. The common thread among all these items, other than being sewn by me, is that they are either partly or wholly crafted out of my hand dyed and batiked cotton fabric. And for those who craft themselves or know someone who does, I sell half yard and yard pieces of all my designs and variety bundles as well.

I have always loved fabric and I also enjoy making items that others can truly use. I have a Bachelor of Fine Art in Studio Art though I didn't start out as a fiber person. In fact when I first came to crafting with fabric, I made art quilts exclusively. But, there was always something missing for me about an item that couldn't really be used. Lately, I've made some smaller decorative quilts, but I definitely feel like they're informed by my having made so many functional items.

I'd like to keep growing my business. I've done a fair amount of design work this past year, and enjoyed that as well. I'm even thinking about opening up a second online store, probably outside Etsy.

First and foremost I LOVE flickr. There is so much to be inspired by there. I also regularly check Whipup. They have great tutorials. Both of these should be useful to other fabric crafters.

It's going to sound a little cliche, but I think the best advice is to keep making the things that you want to make. Don't let yourself be overly influenced by trends. Being true to your own muse is the only way to discover your voice.

My other Etsy shop recommendation is DrikaB. She makes terrific bags in fabulous sizes, prices them honestly (which means she doesn't undersell herself) and photographs her items beautifully. What more could you ask for?

Thanks for the awesome interview and photos, Malka. Good luck with your shop! Please leave us a comment if you have enjoyed reading this interview.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blog Contest #1 - Hurricane Junction!

It's that time of year. Hurricane Dolly is heading toward south Texas, but those of us a little north will probably get a boatload of rain. Good, as long as it isn't too much. I live near the city of concrete (Houston), and concrete doesn't absorb water!

But, since I am a naturalist at heart, I actually find hurricanes (and other unusual weather) a little exciting!

So my first blog contest is named "Hurricane Junction!" Answer the following question in the comments section of this post to win a custom pair of simple, pierced earrings from any of the semi-precious gemstones I have in stock! See more examples here. Be sure to leave a safe way for me to contact you if you win. The winner will simply be the answer I like best!

Question: What is your favorite type of weather where you live? What do you enjoy doing in this weather?

Have fun! I look forward to reading all your answers. Contest deadline: July 27th, 2008.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Business Newsletters

It would have been easier not to, but I did it anyway. I'm moving my newsletter from Yahoo to Bravenet. Hopefully, I can get my first newsletter out by August 1st. In the meantime, sign-up, and take this journey with me!

I'll be doing promotionals, give-aways, and who knows what else through my newsletter. So now is the time to get going from the ground floor:

Join the Mailing List

Enter your name and email address below:


Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday's Favorite: Gabriel's Aunt

Nikki Sherritt is the master candlemaker behind the Etsy shop, Gabriel's Aunt. She is my featured Friday's Favorite shop because her candles smell like heaven, and burn forever! Here is her shop interview:

Gabriel's Aunt is a company I started about 6 years ago in Dallas, TX after a store I bought soy and essential oil candles from stopped making them. I thought to myself, "I can do that!" and started buying a bunch of different oils with which to experiment. There weren't many companies making all-natural candles at the time so it was a very new thing still. I have added natural perfumes to my product line and they are doing very well so I am excited! I have an Etsy shop that I opened in Fall of 2007: Gabriel's Aunt on Etsy I have a website too: Gabriel's Aunt Website

I love, love, love making candles and perfumes. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with a new scent idea. I love getting new oils in the mail too. It is so fun to play around with the natural oils and create something pleasing to smell.

I touched on this above, but I started my company after a trip to Europe where the living there is so much more natural and in harmony with the earth. It really stayed with me. I came back and started buying the soy wax and lavender candles and just loved them. The company stopped carrying them and so I started! I added the perfumes about 2 years ago.

I am currently working on a brand new candle line based on my natural perfumes and I am hoping that I am able to add many scents to it by next year. I also want to expand my perfumes, carrying both jojoba oil based ones and organic alcohol blends. I would love to have 4 or 5 more blends ready by next year. Other than that, I just want my customer base to continue to grow and for my candles and perfumes to be considered the best!

Other candlemakers might find that MoonGlow Supplies and CandleWic are great sources for supplies and information: MoonGlow Candles and CandleWic

For beginning candlemakers, my best advice is to make candles that are unique and have nice packaging. Creating nice labels says you are a professional and not just making some candles in your kitchen part time (even if you are). For those who want to open an Etsy shop, take good pictures and write good fun descriptions of your scents. Make them available in different sizes too. List often and daily and that will get you good exposure.

Another Etsy shop I would recommend is Bazil Essentials. She also makes natural candles and I love them so much. It is nice to be able to burn another candle other than yours sometimes. They also make amazing soaps and perfumes so, technically, we are competition. But Bazil has great customer service and I buy from them all the time.

© 2008 Gabriel's Aunt
All Rights Reserved. Images or wording may not be used without permission. Product names protected under Trademark Laws. Please do not copy.

Thanks for that great interview, Nikki! Everyone else, check out her shop and please leave a comment here if you read the interview.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Mystery of Bracelet Sizing

Before I even begin, let me say that bracelet sizing is my pet peeve in the jewelry designing business. I see so many inaccurate references to bracelet sizing that it makes me wonder how anyone gets a good fit for a bracelet. And this becomes critical when buying online because, of course, one can't actually try on anything.

So...for sellers and buyers, please be aware that the ONLY accurate beaded bracelet measurement is the internal circumference. References to end-to-end length are meaningless! In other words, you can have the exact same fit from two different beaded bracelets with different end-to-end lengths! Yes, it is true. Here is a visual.

First, you need to know your wrist measurement. My wrist is relatively small, and measures 5-3/4 inches. That means I would need a bracelet with an interior circumference that is larger than 5-3/4 inches so there is some slack. The greater the differece between the interior circumference measurement and the wrist measurement just means more slack, or a looser bracelet fit. I prefer a difference of 1/4 to 1/2 inch for my own bracelets, so I look for bracelets with interior circumferences of 6 to 6-1/4 inches.

Both of these bracelets have an interior circumference of 7 inches. A bracelet mandrel or something like my "wooden wrist" is needed for measurement purposes. As you can see, the bracelets would "fit" the same way. Yet when put down side by side, the pink Swarovski bracelet is a full 1/2 inch longer than the turquoise bracelet. Why? Simply because the Swarovski beads are larger and "eat up" length. The difference becomes even more pronounced as bracelet beads get larger and larger.

So let the seller and buyer be aware...when someone says a 7 inch bracelet, exactly what are they measuring? End-to-end length, or the more accurate interior circumference? Here's to getting everyone on the same page and speaking the same language!

And here is another recommendation by beadgaldesigns, the EZ Bracelet Sizer. I love sharing great products, and this one comes in a travel size, too! Happy bracelet shopping!

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Happened to the Day?

This morning, I said I was going to design...just make jewelry and get some things photographed.

Now, towards the end of the day I have one bracelet and one pair of earrings completed. Huh? What happened?

Well, I decided that my website needed a little attention, then I washed dishes and some clothes, made lunch, washed dishes again, folded the clothes, went to the post office to mail Etsy packages...and now it is 5:00 P.M.

The day is gone. Lots got done, but not what I planned. Tomorrow is another day!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Brace yourself for a hodgepodge of stuff in this post...

First, I wanted to introduce my upcoming blog feature entitled "Friday Favorites." Each Friday I will post about an Etsy shop that has it together - great items, great photos, and all that. This Friday, July 18, will be my first feature...drumroll, it will be a candle maker on Etsy, but you'll have to wait until Friday to find out who it is!

Secondly, I wanted to share some interesting links about gemstones. More frequently, I've had customers interested in the folklore...the potential, mystical qualities or healing properties of gemstones. Whether or not you believe in all this, it is nonetheless interesting! Here are a few of my favorites:

Emily Gems
Crystals & Gemstones
Gemstone Magic


Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's all in the Details

From time to time I like to step back and think about how my jewelry design is different from what else is out there. Goodness knows there is plenty of jewelry out there! Today I concluded, "It's all in the Details."

For example, the earrings I listed today have a few special features. I actually came up with the name "Salsa" before I ever designed them. This was after reading about the continued tomato, pepper, salsa food poisoning scares going on right now. (Yes, it's true -- you never know where you might find inspiration!)

Anyway, I wanted the earrings to be contemporary, bright, and still feminine. So I started by mixing metals -- copper and sterling silver. And instead of stopping with a straight, stacked, linear earring, I added an extra rope ring dangle of gaspeite to add a bit of dance to this pair. The floral beadcap for the turquoise...that's the feminine part!

What makes your craft, customer service, or promotional energy different from the rest? How do you stand out? I think this is key to being a successful seller -- if you don't know what you are exceptionally good at, how will anyone else? Leave me your comments, and happy crafting!

DLPom Handcrafted Expressions on Etsy

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Renewed by Vacation

Ahhhhhh... A change of pace can do everyone some good. And I think this is especially true for creative people -- artists and designers in every medium.

My recent vacation knocked the cobwebs out of my brain. I had been stagnate with my jewelry making for awhile...nothing was really inspiring me to grow, create, or experiment.

But I am back! With fresh ideas and a renewed sense of interest in my "art." So stay tuned for some new jewelry beauties and some new soap scents, too. If you can get away to the Caribbean, I highly recommend it!

The top photo is Trunk Bay on St. John, U.S.V.I, and the bottom photo is Morningstar Beach on St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. Both locations are paradise on earth!

DLPom Handcrafted Expressions on Etsy

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

When Jewelry Collects Dust

I know many jewelry designers who are continually taking apart jewelry they have made to salvage the components and design something different with the pieces and parts. Why? Because they haven't sold in a "reasonable" amount of time...and how much time is actually reasonable to wait for something to sell?

Well, I don't do this. A case in point are my last 6 sales on Etsy. Three of them were jewelry items I've had in my inventory for over 24 months! That's over two years!

These pieces would have been disassembled by most beaders in this amount of wait time. But I am a firm believer that what I design is quality work, and it is just a matter of the right buyer coming along to fall in love with it.

I don't "buy in" to this notion that if it is stale, it won't sell. Jewelry trends and different customers come and go. For me, it is a supreme waste of time to disassemble perfectly good jewelry designs. (Something that is flawed is obviously another story.)

So I make this blog post as food for thought. How much time do you spend taking jewelry apart?

Happy jewelry designing -- the first time!