Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Love Mistakes!!!

Me loving mistakes has not always been the case!!!  And I certainly wouldn't have blogged about them because "Oh My Stars, how would that look???"  Before opening my Etsy shop a few years ago, I would definitely say I tended to be a bit of a perfectionista (I made a new word).  While that worked well in my previous line of work, it was holding me back in my scrapbooking and paper crafting endeavors.  Isn't that ironic considering the coolest thing about scrapbooking is the ability to cover up almost ANY uh-oh you've made???  I read somewhere on Etsy, maybe the forums, a while back that a true artist knows which mistakes to keep and which ones to abandon and now I GET IT!

Some of you might have seen this cute little album cover (below left) on my FB page  the other day...well, I thought a little speck of something had become lodged underneath the vellum so while oh-so-carefully trying to get it out, I actually tore the vellum--YIKES!  I fretted for a moment and thought, well I could just keep it, and then I thought, no way mama, you are not giving up on this one, so I just transformed it (picture on the right)!

                                                        And I like it so much better now.

So, my tip to you is don't be afraid of making mistakes, they can actually be a way of redirecting your creativity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Get Your Craft Fair Prep On!

Fall and Holiday craft season is here!  I've done several small fairs over the past couple of years, and each time I try to note what I should do for more success in the future...figuring out what/how much to sell was probably the biggest pain in the "bucket" when I was just getting my feet wet.  I finally decided to...

Make what I love and find the right fairs for what I offer!

If you have time, do some research online (a simple Google search for "craft fairs" and your zip code, or try Craigslist, Eventlister, local schools or churches) and visit/ask other vendors about shows before you apply.  I've gotten excited about fairs in the past, only to find they were not well advertised, not well attended and I barely broke even!  Let's be invest far too much time and talent; be selective when you can!

Probably the most important things you need to consider in advance, if you want to make a decent profit, are your target dollar figure and how much inventory you need to sell in order to reach that (minus supplies and materials, signage, booth fee, etc.).  Then consider that at a well-attended show you might only sell 1/3 to 1/4 of your inventory... that should give you an idea of just how much you'll need to create!  Try to find out in advance how many shoppers have attended in the past; if the numbers are low, carefully consider how much time you want to put into making new things...unless you have another avenue for selling them soon after.  Offer different price points... I came up with a few different, lower-priced items that I could have on hand in larger quantities, in addition to my more involved, and expensive pieces of work and they sold really well.

Remember, shoppers will want to see and feel your items, be sure anything too fragile for handling is well protected.  Place your more delicate scrapbooks up out of the reach of little hands and instead have something for them, like bookmarks or notepads.  For cards and tags or other smaller items, I use clear resealable bags and a bag topper I print onto cardstock.

Print your logo onto a small clear label or sticker paper and use a circle punch for adding directly to the back of your greeting cards (enlist a child, husband or friend to help).  Business Cards with a punched hole can also be tied to bags and larger items. If you offer a variety of items, display like items together, say all of your gift tags in a basket, all of your notebooks in another, cards together etc.

**Make sure your prices are visible**
    Having signs with prices for similar items  helps avoid tagging each item and SAVES TIME!
If possible, set up your booth in advanceeither in your yard, or wherever you have space (I used my living room) and take pictures to facilitate quick set-up at your event.

Be creative with your booth, after all, it's HOW your booth looks that will draw people to your display. Put time and effort into exhibiting your work, it will pay off!  Try to choose simple containers like baskets, boxes, shelving, similar in style and preferably color, so they don't overshadow your display!

Use on-hand items like boxes hidden under your tablecloth to create "risers" or height on your table.  Create your own bunting banner, Check out Etsy for great banners, or take advantage of free offers from Internet marketing companies.

Check out my Pinterest board here for some artful display ideas.  Other ideas to keep your display fresh are having a featured product spot and rotating a few different items; or having a drawing to attract people to your booth, it could be for something as simple as signing up for a newsletter to enter!
If you need more help with your displaysearch "craft fair display " on flickr for inspiration!   Paper Crafters might want to add "cards" to your query.
To ensure things run smoothly the day of your event,  have a list of the items you will be selling, have receipts available for your record-keeping and in case the customer asks you for one.  Office supply stores sell pre-printed receipt booklets that work well.   Accept credit cards if you canthere are a number of services available, like Square ( and Propay.  Square sends you a card reader which you can connect to your cellphone (check to see that it is compatible with yours) and a fee is charged for each transaction.  Secure your money and keep it out of site with something like a small lock box (also available at office supply stores).

 Shows can last all day and use up a lot of energy, so bring along Snacks,  a Photo Album to display custom work, a Friend (for potty breaks), and EXTRA BUSINESS CARDS!!! Preserve your sanity...If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help!  Even non-crafty friends will want to help you succeed!!  

Don't be afraid to mingle, some of my best customers have been other vendors at shows.  That being said, when just starting out, I went to SELL and not buy!  Remember to take pictures at the show, SMILE and ENJOY's fun making $$$!!

My post focused on a lot of nuts and are links to some other extremely helpful tips from an Etsy Seller RockLove here who does HUGE shows! and more on Etsy's blog here.  And oh yeah, I'm not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Are You Challenging Yourself?

Are you stuck in a creative rut?  Keep doing the same things the same way but wanting to try something different?  When I feel that way, I look for ways to help me grow artistically, like this fun event:

Participants chose from one of three color palettes and created an item using primarily those colors. Sounds easy right? Well, it turned out to be downright tricky!!! BUT, I love the way challenges stretch my creativity.

From the available color choices on the left,  I chose the palette on the right:

cedar green, bamboo, and chocolate liquer.

 I knew I had some yummy My Mind's Eye Papers left over from a custom order that would be perfect!!!

And here's the finished item; a MINI ALBUM, of course! But so much more!

My love of travel inspired this journal/album as a place not only for pictures but also for preserving mementos from travels, like ticket stubs, programs, whatever you'd like to hold onto to remind you of your trip. I also decided not to go with so many traditional "photo mats", opting instead to have "background" area for your photos which would leave more flexibility for placing your photos.

Tons of handcrafted embellishments like cardstock clocks upcycled from sticker packaging, usable kraft colored envelopes and handcut paper posies make the book extra chunky!

How well did I match up the colors?  YOU be the judge :)  Voting starts  at 8 AM, TOMORROW, Oct 10th -14th on, so be sure to stop by and PLACE YOUR VOTE for your favorite!