Saturday, November 28, 2009

The little engine that could Etsy shop...

Photo from MishasMunchkins
In the past year my shop has gone through many changes, and I've learned so much from Etsy's Virtual Labs, chat rooms, and The Storque.  My favorite is the Quit Your Day Job series.  The shops featured in those labs have similar stories.  I've found that having a successful Etsy shop is very much like the story The Little Engine That Could.  We all start that long laborious trek up the mountain.  We try, and try, and try.  I know it's a long road.  I know it's a lot of work.  We all say to ourselves I think I can!  As we go we pick up little things here and there.  We learn how to take better pictures of our work.  We learn how to write an amazing item description.  We learn the most effective way to use our tags.  We develop great customer service.  We learn how to price our work .  We learn the ins and outs of the postal system.  We learn how to market ourselves in a way that is effective to our brand.  We work and work to get up that mountain.  And just like the little engine that could, we reach the top and we start to pick up speed & it gets a bit easier.  And easier.  And easier.  Until we are powering down that mountain at full bore and building up speed so nothing or no one can stop us!  That's how I feel about my shop.  I can feel it, I am cresting that mountain.  I see the horizon.  I will always have to work and be a good little engine, but I know that I can see the horizon and that I am The Little Engine That Could!  I say to all of my other Etsy colleagues... keep trying, keep chugging along.  You WILL get there.  I have faith in all of you that as a wonderful handmade community we can all achieve our dreams!  And if you ever have doubts, or troubles, or questions... you are in good company.  There is always someone to help, to pick us up, and get us up that mountain!

I've added links throughout this post that may or may not be helpful... Etsy is so full of information for us, I hope I have at least pointed you in the right direction.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Featured Etsian... SweetsNStuff!

Please welcome... Morgan of SweetsNStuff!

Sally: What brought you to Etsy?

Morgan: I have always been creative and into making things especially Hair Accessories (I am a licensed cosmetologist). Well I made enough for other people/friends and everyone kept telling me to sell them!  So I thought about it for a while then decided to just go for it, it's been a slow road to start but I believe that with any company it takes time! Just paying my dues like anyone else and getting the word out about my store as much as I can.

Sally: Who or what inspires your creations?

Morgan: My inspirations comes from a lot of different places, I am kind of all over the place with my style personally and it reflects in the store as well it's a little bit of the pin up era, vintage-inspired, mod, dark/gothic, retro, with some brights (think 80's early 90's graffiti, betsey johnson, cyndi lauper, prince :) )and bohemian tossed in there too :) I am a bit smitten with the pin up era and the vintage/vintage inspired stuff actually VERY smitten, but a lot of the products on the market that I have found are either very high priced (beautiful and worth it, but not on many people’s budget unfortunately) or look a bit cheap. I wanted to make items that were well made, attractive - you can wear it anywhere and with anything, and budget friendly! 

Sally: What time of day do you work best and why?

Morgan: I seem to work well either really early in the morning or really late at night. Insomnia and a restless 2 year old makes for late nights and early mornings. That is when my house is the calmest and I am really able to dive into projects. I also get a lot of work done during my sons infusions (we are stuck in a room for anywhere between 8 hours and 2 days) because he is either sleeping or sitting in my lap asleep :)

Sally: Who do you market to? Who do you see buying your work?

Morgan: I thought when I opened the store up that I would be catering a lot to the alternative crowds (pin up, lolita, goth, mod, moddish mayhem, bohemia, etc) but I have people order from the store and custom orders from all walks of life people buying for their children, for newborns and much more! 

Sally: What item do you like to work on the most and why?

Morgan: I really love making it all. It is all a lot of fun from the hair accessories to the jewelry to my altered items! I've recently really gotten into jewelry making, ironically it was never an intention to sell jewelry but it's becoming one of my best sellers! I'm enjoying seeking out new techniques to learn!

Sally: What is your favorite beverage while you work?

Morgan: Typically it's something very caffeinated I'm a big fan of overly sweet drinks as well perhaps it's the Texan in me but I LOVE sweet tea, sweet espresso and things of that nature! All cold too, I'm not a big fan of warm drinks.

Sally: What is something that you don’t do well that you’d like to do better?

Morgan: Pricing? Isn't that all of our downfall? LOL I really love the look of stamps/stamping but I really stink at it so that's something I'd love to learn or be able to do better.

Sally: If you could interview your main influence who would it be and what would you ask?

Morgan: hmmm that is a tough one because I wouldn't say my stuff inspired by one specific person, but I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to meet Betsey Johnson she is a huge idol of mine and I absolutely adore her work!

Sally: What do you listen to while you work? While you don’t work?

Morgan: A little bit of everything literally I love freestyle, rock and roll, country, Christian rock and gospel, a little bit of hip hop/rap but most of that is underground stuff, and hard house.

Sally: Do you have any deals or promos to share?

Morgan: I do!! I decided to start my black Friday - cyber Monday sale early (we started Nov. 23rd) so everything in the store is 25% off all you have to do is enter the word "trunk" at the time of checkout in the comments box. Once payment is received I will credit the discounted amount back to your account. Sale ends Nov. 30th at 12 pm PST

This Etsian is a great support to other sellers and a wonderful joy to see on twitter everyday!!!  Thank you, Morgan, for being a part of my blog and being there whenever someone out there needs to get picked up :)  Readers, thank you, and I hope you find her shop as wonderful as I have!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Giveaways Begin!

On December 17th will be my one year Etsiversary!  I am celebrating with giveaways for you! Here are the dates for my giveaways:

December 3rd
December 10th
December 17th

The first giveaway will be a set of mini chopstick journals and 10 hearts.

What you need to do to participate:

: : Follow my blog, and leave a comment.

: : Follow me on twitter and tweet the giveaway.  Don't forget to leave a comment.

: : Comment on an item in my shop

Each comment will be counted as an entry and I will use a randomizer to pick the winner.

In awe of my daughter...

My Emily is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet.  She has a knack for including everyone in what is going on around her.  She has been waiting, and waiting, and waiting, to be able to open her very own Etsy shop.  I have a shop and my 12 year old daughter has a shop (  So when my husband started his shop ( she was very disappointed.  She has helped all of us with our shops, whether it's getting packages together, playing with the baby for 5 more minutes so I can get something glued, or pounding out clay for buttons.

She made a drawing last night and handed it to me and said, mommy you can put this on your Etsy shop to make your shop better.  She did it! She hit the nerve that sparked action!  It probably helped that she put her little hand on the small of my back when she said it.  That always gets me, when she tries to comfort and empathize with me.  It always reminds me how quickly they grow up, and how we NEED to cherish every single moment with our children.

As soon as she was tucked into bed I listed her print... then I twittered the listing... and I hoped and prayed that some kind person would want my little girls beautiful piece of artwork!  Then it happened... my twitter BLEW UP!  And I'm not talking any little thing.  I could've stayed up all night reading all the nice things people were saying about my little girl!  It didn't take long before someone bought it!  Then I had people getting upset because they wanted the print also, so I decided that if we did limited edition prints that it would make everyone happy.  I only wanted to do 5, because at 99 cents I think I'm probably losing a dollar or two :)  She wanted to sell her picture for 99 cents, so that's what we did and this was more about her than my pocket book.  Tonight we will be talking about pricing her work.  So as I was printing out the sold items I checked my twitter one last time... ETSY TWEETED HER LISTING!  I almost fell over!  I walked away from the computer with my jaw to the floor!  I did not sit back down at the computer, because like I said I could've talked about her all night... and I would've had to walk around today with a coffee IV.

So, after all was said and done she sold 3 and we are trading 2.  When I woke her this morning and told her that she sold her print, she says to me.  Well I better get to work!  The kid cracks me up!  Every morning it's a struggle to get her going and ready for school, but this morning I just watched everyone flit around me and get ready for school.

While they were getting ready I had a few seconds to sit down and check my Google Analytics (the thing that tells me who visits my shop and other great info).  It is amazing the hits my shop page got!  In just a few hours the shop got 19 times the views it usually gets!  I was yelling at my husband to come look!  So I said to him, look at all of these views and I didn't get one sale!  I should've known better!  Right before she left for school she said to me, are you jealous because you didn't sell any journals?  Aww, I know!  Cute, right!  I told her that I was jealous, but that I was very proud and happy for her!

She skipped off to school with stories to tell, a note in her book bag telling all the states he sold prints in, and loving that she has her own "shop" section in my shop.  She'll be adding more this afternoon.  We are truly an Etsy family!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Featured Etsian... Alliebeans!

And now, a big round of applause for this weeks featured Etsian... AllieBeans!

Sally: What time of day do you work best and why?

Allie: I work best at night (even though I should be sleeping), only because that's the only time I have available for my little shop! I work full-time during the week at an architecture firm in downtown San Francisco, which doesn't leave me much time in the evenings to play! I do manage to squeeze in a few hours on the weekends in between errands, but mostly in the evenings. Once I get going, I don't ever want to stop - so there have been many mornings where I look like a panda bear! 

Sally: Who do you market to? Who do you see buying your work?

Allie: My customers are mostly women between the ages of 18-60, which is great because it gives me a wide variety of customers! No matter what age you are, you can't help but love cute little animal prints! I also get a lot of mom's who buy gifts for themselves and their kids - which is so cute to imagine a family with matching pouches! This past month has seen quite a few men buying gifts for their girlfriends too, which I think is awesome! I didn't think there were that many men who shopped on Etsy! 

Sally: What item do you like to work on the most and why?

Allie: I love making my porta-pouches! It's a design that I came up with about 6 months ago, because it was something that I wanted to use myself! I would guess that it is my most popular item now! It's my favorite item to work on because even though it is a little complicated to make, with all the little pieces that make up the pouch, putting on that last snap piece is just so satisfying when everything comes together.

Sally: What is your favorite beverage while you work?

Allie: I have to confess that I am a bit of a camel. I don't drink much liquid! I can go through a day without drinking anything - which is a habit should probably put a stop to. But if I had to choose on beverage, I guess I'd pick water! 

Sally: What is something that you don’t do well that you’d like to do better?

Allie: Time management. Given the little amount of time I have to work on my shop, I wish I was able to manage my time better. I often get carried away doing one thing and leaving no time for the other things on my plate. This results in a very hectic person running around at the last minute trying to complete everything before the sun comes up! I've tried solving this problem by making lists, and making sure that I only complete what I've written on my list and not more, so that I leave time for the other things and a bit of sleep too.

Sally: What do you listen to while you work? While you don’t work?

Allie: I know a lot of people will cringe, but I gotta love my country music! I usually have my country pandora station going while I work, or just one of my iTunes playlists. I don't mind working in silence, but a little bit of music pumps me up especially when it gets late! 

Sally: Do you have any deals or promos to share?

I'd love to offer all nightowlcraftworks readers a 10% discount (before shipping) on any item in the shop until the end of November! Just mention "nightowl" in the Notes to Seller box and I will refund you the discount via Paypal once payment has been received!

Thank you so much for being so gracious and being a part of this blog, Allie! You've been a joy to work with, and I admire your shop & you so much!  Your work is amazing!  I think my readers will agree! I hope you all enjoy reading about Allie & her shop... as much as I enjoyed interviewing her!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Photo Journal

I had an epiphany last night!  I've been wanting to make personalized journals.  I've tried the monogramed journal, but it looks too plain for my tastes.  I don't think I'd like to make them over and over.  Saturday I picked up some printer paper in hopes my husband would sketch some things and we could sell some prints on Etsy.  I soon realized that we don't have time for that and I may have wasted money on glossy photo paper.  So my need to use the things I have kicked in and I had a thought... why not make journals with photos on the front!  I can have people send me a photo and I'll make the journal with the photo!  So I frantically worked today to finish a journal for the trunk show we had in the Etsy labs!  Here is a photo of my daughter before I worked on the pic:

After I worked on the pic:

There's not a huge difference.  Just enough to soften up the picture and make it look cuddley.  The baby was hugging it after I made it.  She is so cute!  Here's the finished journal:

I am going to LOVE seeing all the cool photos people send for me to make their very own journal!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The little things in life... shoes on my daughters hands...

My friend was on twitter the other day and I tweeted about my baby playing with our shoes and how she was having a ball!  So she wanted to see pics, and I thought why not?  I'm taking product photos so much I needed a change of pace.  I love taking pictures.  I wish I was better at it.  The baby was hamming it up.  She loves the camera.  I caught one shot of her looking back at me through her legs.  That was a miracle!

Since then all I've been able to think about is those shoes!  She is obsessed with those shoes.  She turned one year old a few days ago, and of course she had presents.  Does she play with the toys?  NO!  Well, not really.  She would much rather chase the dog around the house, or try to get into her sisters room.  She wants to do whatever we are doing.  So Christmas is coming up and we'll be doing more present shopping.  I want to do as much handmade things for the girls for Christmas, but I think beyond that I will be collecting boxes and making rattles out of cartons.  Anyone who has any suggestions, feel free to leave comments & links.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A new appreciation...

-top left: Mike & Ashley in the studio  -top center: Mike on the wheel  -top right: pre-fired ware
-middle left: my mug & teapot  -middle right: the stack on the kiln at 10pm
-bottom left: infuser in the teapot  -bottom middle: teapot lid  -bottom right: fired ware

   After this wood firing I have a new appreciation for my husband and what he does.  When we had our pottery in NY we had a small electric kiln.  My husband has always talked about building a wood kiln.  He would try to tell me how much fun it was and how much work it was.  We recently moved into a wonderful farmhouse with a pottery already set up and a wood kiln in the back.
   He decided that this weekend was going to be the weekend we fired her up.  We had gorgeous weather for it.  Usually you would have a group of people to fire a kiln.  The people who lived here before us would have about 10 people to fire the kiln.  There is a port on each side that needs to be fed with wood every couple of minutes.  The kiln gets to about 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.  So you can imagine that it is very uncomfortable.  You have to watch the coals to make sure you don't get the stoke hole plugged.  That means you need to rake and shovel the coals very frequently.  Mike (my husband) started the kiln at about 5am Saturday.  One of his friends stopped in for a few hours in the afternoon. I joined him after I fed the kids dinner, and we had an assistant from about 5pm to 12:30am.  We stopped firing at about 2:30am Sunday.  Mike fired that kiln on his own for a lot of the day.  I was only there for part of it, and I have been having a hard time moving because of all the body aches.
   Hand thrown pottery is very valuable and beautiful.  Wood fired pieces are usually a bit more money, and I always understood it.  Now I appreciate it.  Now I think wood fired pieces are undervalued!  If anyone ever gets the opportunity to help fire a wood kiln, do it!  It was fun, it was work, and it produced some beautiful ware!  I was especially happy with my teapot & mug.  He always throws me something special.  I always get first pick.

To see more on the firing and get some more details visit his blog at...

Keep an eye on his shop to purchase pieces...

Friday, November 6, 2009

I need your help guys...

I would like to put in an ad in CraftCult.  I worked these up...

Which do you think?  I am trying to keep it simple & clickable!  If you would leave me some feedback in the comments below I would be very grateful!

I'm editing this post because I agree with the comments thus far and revised one of the ads... what do you think?

I will have pics of my studio coming soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Featured Seller, Jrisco...

My husband and I met at work.  We both worked at a pottery in upstate NY that makes hand painted and decaled tablewares & furniture.  While working there I gained an appreciation of hand painted ceramics.  Each piece a bit different.  All made with pride and attention to detail.  When I saw this shop that's what I thought of!  I love the whimsy and clean look of these pieces.  Jeanette Risco has a wonderful eye for balance and harmony.  She has the same feeling about her pottery as I do about my journals... they should be used everyday!  These little bits of pretty things are definitely too nice to let collect dust on a shelf!  And I can just imagine how impressed people will be if they actually get to use something that is this pretty when they come to visit!  She has wonderful things to gift also... my kids love tea sets.

She sent me a little something about herself...

Porcelain painting is a completely new venture for me. I graduated in 1995 from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles and for several years I worked as a designer in architectural and interior firms in Southern California and Seattle.

While living in Uruguay from 2005-2008 I had the opportunity to take the time to explore and learn some new things. I took classes in weaving, sushi, and pastel painting. I taught architecture to 4th graders, learned Spanish, and played mahjong. I spent 2 years as the VP of the American Women’s Club and…I learned how to paint on porcelain.

From the moment I began exploring this new medium I found the anticipation and technical requirements of the medium very challenging. (Almost like the first time I drafted on AutoCAD – but much more fun!)

Please enjoy my pieces and know that I am having a great time creating unique one of kind treasures on porcelain that make people happy.

Use your china everyday!

Great workspace, Jeanette!  Keep up the good work!

Visit her shop at Jrisco or...
follow her on twitter, or...
join her facebook fanpage, Jeanette Risco Hand Painted Porcelin!  


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