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JUMP!!!

Ever feel like the fog has finally lifted from your brain?  That’s me right now.

For the last 2 years I’ve had my jewelry in a local business on consignment.  When I started putting things there, there were the remnants of my old stock from my storefront that consisted of a lot of imported jewelry.  It was affordable and sold well, but it wasn’t a lot of my own designs.  Things have changed markedly since then.  I don’t want to sell a lot of imported stuff.  You can buy jewelry from Nepal and Mexico everywhere and unless you know a lot about your supplier, you’re likely buying jewelry made at virtual slave wages in abysmal working conditions.  I was lucky enough to have great suppliers but I want to sell my own jewelry now.  I no longer NEED to keep large amounts of stock to fill store-shelves, so I can concentrate my energy and finances on building my own line.

It was a really tough decision to let the storefront deal go but it was a necessary one.  They offered me a place to sell when I really had no clue what to do about storefront space and I am very grateful for that, but I want to access the global marketplace.  I do a lot of shopping online for items I cannot purchase locally so I am well aware of the power of the internet.  I’m  a Facebooker and if you’re reading this you already know I’m a blogger.  In order to sell online I need constant access to my stock.  It would be a bad, bad thing to have an online customer purchase something and then to discover it had just sold at the storefront.  It’s a simple case of “either-or” and the decision had to be made.

So I’ve done a ton of research and have made the leap.  I’m setting up an Etsy store, have signed up for PayPal, have registered my domain name and now I’m telling YOU.   As we work far less in the summer at our music studio, we’re also going to look at selling at Fairs and Farmer’s Markets.

I’m so excited I almost can’t stand myself.  I feel inspired again.  Maybe it’s because it’s spring.  Maybe it’s because I know you guys are going to support and encourage me as you always do and I love you SO MUCH for that.  Maybe it’s the sense of anticipation.  You know….the kind where you’re on the high rocks at the river….you’re looking over the edge….you’re thinking the water looks sooooo cool and inviting…..

………you’re thinking “OMG that’s a long way down”………..

……………………….”I don’t think I can do this”………………..

…..”but I really WANT to do this”…………………………

…………………………………………………………………..so you take a reeeeeally deep

breath, close your eyes……..and

……..

…….

…….

JUMP!!!!!!!

Stubborn Much?

Who me?

Yup….my friends are once again rolling in the aisles and my facebook page is going to be a riot of hooting and chortling at my expense.  What can I say.  It’s not my fault.  I’m a Taurus.

Ok. First the Christmas tree.  That is tree number three in three years.  I wanted something very specific.  Tall and skinny, reaching almost to the ceiling and not fat at the bottom.  Year one we had a short, stubby tree because they were on sale for like $49 and they had LED lights.  It was about 5’5″. Thought we’d save some energy.  Did we ever.  I took it down as soon as I could after Christmas.  I discovered that the problem with LED lights on trees is that at night, when the room is pleasantly dimmed, you turn it on and all you can see is the lights.  They don’t throw enough light to illuminate the ornaments.  At all.  It was like they weren’t even there.  It left the gleaners the same day we dropped it off there, before we’d even cleared the parking lot.  I hope the recipients liked it better than we did.

When we chose tree two, I bought the one that said it was 7 feet tall.  I wanted it to reach almost to the ceiling.  And it did.  If you unfurled the single pine-ish bough at the top to its full length of 18″.  One branch.  No little side-bits either.  One single, lonely strand of wire and plastic.  You couldn’t have  hung a Christmas icicle off it without it bending over like Charlie Brown’s poor little tree.  Another happy family at the gleaners.

THIS was the tree I wanted.  Skinny, white lights, reaches to the ceiling.  It’s all good, no?  No.

See that string of lights in the window?  It’s one strand I’ve had forever.  Fully programmable, fits the window perfectly, the only lights I ever put in the window.  Pulled it out of the box, plugged it in and…….no lights.   GRRR……

So after a trip to Bahamas Dept. store to buy yet one more bulb-tester, because I can’t use the same one for two years running (it’s a tradition), finding a short string of lights to cannibalize bulbs from (as they only had red and blue bulbs), 2 hours and much cussing, I have a functioning set of lights.  Those are the dead bulbs.  I was going to count them but I really don’t want to know.  I do know I can’t feel the tips of my index fingers and thumbs except for when they tingle.  Those little buggers are jammed very very tightly into their sockets.  Ask me how I know.  But….

I have lights.   By Santa, I have lights.

A Little History

Something rather exciting came out of the Craft Fair on the weekend that I’d like to share with you all.  The bath products sold really, really well.  In fact, I totally sold out of my favorite soap, the Almond Oatcake.

This didn’t really surprise me and I’m going to make a fresh batch this weekend as well as order at least a quart of this fragrance.  It’s sooooo nummy.

Part of the reason I make soap is I really love the organic feel of the process.  There’s something downright magical about watching a bunch of oil emulsify with the lye solution and swirl itself into soap.  I love that it’s old-fashioned, the way they did things “back in the day”.

The really exciting thing is that I was approached by Tammy, the Manager of the Creston Museum and she asked me if I was interested in putting my soap line and jewelry into the gift shop at the museum.

I have to tell you, saying yes to this great opportunity is a no-brainer for me.  I’m honoured to be asked and, quite frankly, really excited about tailoring part of the soap line to the Museum itself.  I’m thinking antiqued papers, sepia tones, elegant fonts.  Lovely brown bottles.   Apothecary-style.

If you haven’t checked out the Creston Museum yet, you really should.  We often overlook great resources like this when they’re in our back yard.  Pay them a visit and experience a bit of the history of your very own town.  You can visit the website here:  Creston Museum.  Have a look and see what they’re all about!

Back in the Day

This weekend’s Craft Fair was the first one I’ve participated in since probably about 1996.  When I had my consignment craft store in the mid-90’s, and even before that, I had a table almost every year.  The first time I put in these cool harlequin clowns I had made.  I sold out and made about $700 that day.  I was flabbergasted.

In subsequent years I had all kinds of different products, with varying levels of success, but I always did pretty well.  I stopped going though.  Do you know why?  It wasn’t just that I wasn’t doing much “crafting”.  It wasn’t even that “crafting”, as such, had gone out of vogue a bit.  It was that I just started feeling that there was a lot of…. well, here’s me being totally honest…. a lot of junk out there.  Things that were over-priced and of poor quality.  Things that were ugly.

It was like everyone on the planet had decided they could build stuff because they bought a hot-glue gun.  Problem was, they could.  And they did.  And it was not a good thing.

Having participated in  the Trade Shows here, however, I knew that you couldn’t get much better advertising.  Advertising was what I was really after, both to introduce the bath line and to let people know where the jewelry is now that I’m building again.  For a $50 table fee, you just can’t beat it in terms of being able to communicate with people.

The most important thing I want to stress in this entry though is that things have changed at the Creston Craft Fair.  Boy have they changed.  As I wandered around checking out the other booths, I was extremely impressed with the calibre of the products being offered.  Gone were the ticky-tacky, lace and ribbon-ridden froofy-thingies.  No more rose-embellished toilet-paper holders.  No more crocheted necklaces and knitted-skunk bathroom-spray covers.  Not at THIS craft fair.

Instead, there were lovely photography displays, warm felted slippers, wreaths made of fresh pine and balsam.  Chocolates to make your mouth water and your fillings ache.  Hand-blown glass and lots of sumptuous soaps, lotions, and salts….not just mine.  Gorgeous original artwork. And the pottery.  Oh wow.  The pottery.  Raku pieces to die for.  Innovative glaze applications, intricate pressed-patterns, glass frit on porcelain.  Literally To. Die. For.  And yes….I came home with some.  I had to.  It was talking to me.  It would have been wrong to leave it there.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll show it to you.  You’ll be glad you did.  In the meantime, here’s another shot of my table.  Thanks for visiting.  See you tomorrow….remember….tomorrow is Pottery Day!!

It’s a Dirty Job…

I love being creative.  I love taking a bunch of different things and producing something new and wonderful.  Something that would not exist if not for my intervention.  Whether it be yummy soap or a fabulous new piece of jewelry, their very existence makes me happy.  I’m happy to say “I did that.”  Strangely enough, though, when it comes to SELLING what I’ve made I turn into a bit of a turtle.  I’ve been told I tend to under-value what I make.  When someone says “How much?” I mumble some price that I’m usually thinking I have no business asking and that the person asking is thinking “Is that all?”  I say this only because I’ve been told this.  Repeatedly.

I don’t know why it is, but it’s quite common for some artists to under-price their work.  I think part of it is because many artists don’t make a living off their art and are just thrilled to sell something.  I think the other part is more insidious.  I think it’s a self-esteem issue.  It’s almost as if some artists think, if even on only a subconscious level, that if they ask a higher price then they’re somehow guilty of hubris.  They may fear that someone will actually gasp in horror and exclaim “You must be joking…it’s not THAT good”.   I’ve finally acknowledged that maybe that’s a problem I need to deal with.

Along with pricing issues, there come the marketing issues.  I’m not good at marketing.  It feels somehow a little dirty to me to be promoting myself.  Because that’s what it’s ultimately about…. while I may be selling a product, on some levels I’m really selling myself…or at least my abilities, particularly with the jewelry.  But I’m going to do it.  I’m going to keep plugging away at coming up with a cohesive marketing strategy.  Step 1…..this weekend’s craft fair.

I’ve made flyers to let people know where to buy my products.  I’m not expecting to sell a lot of jewelry because craft fair buyers, here at least, tend to not purchase more expensive items, but I want the jewelry to be seen.

Brandy printed me up some business cards on that scrumptious copper card-stock, I bought decorations for the table, so I guess I’m ready to roll.  I’ll take pics and post them next week.

So we’ll see if I’m getting it right.  With the packaging, the marketing, the pricing, the product.  With everything.  It’ll be interesting, to say the least.  As for the pricing, the other phenomenon I’ve noticed is people that drastically over-price their products.  But that’s a topic for another blog post.  I’m sure I’ll address it at some point.  Stir the pot a little.  Make a different kind of mess.  *evil grin*.