Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do What You Love

print by letterhappy

Time to answer another one of your questions!

it's like this, cat asked...

i've had an etsy shop for years now - and feel like i'm coming to the end of it. i'm wondering if you ever feel 'done' with the things you're well known for making, and what you do if this happens. do you just power through, knowing that your items will sell and that is motivation enough? or do you never make an item that you're not still passionate about?

No. I don't make anything that I'm not passionate about.

If while I'm sewing product for the shop & my thoughts keep going over how I never want to make another such & such again, I know I'm done. You will notice that the product in my shop changes & evolves just like I do.

In the beginning of my etsy shop, I used to sell tote bags. Simple, basic tote bags. You'll notice that I don't sell them anymore. That's because I just got sick of making them.

I've mentioned before that productivity is based on your mood. If you're not in a good mood, you're not going to happily whip out a ton of product. You're going to drag your feet wishing you just didn't have to do it at all. And if you're not keeping productivity up, then you're not listing often & you're not keeping your sales up.

The great thing about running your own etsy shop is that when you're not feeling it, you can walk away for a bit & pick up again when you're feeling more motivated.

Here's my suggestion for keeping the positive creative energy flowing: Keep a journal & jot down any product ideas that may come to you from time to time. Refer to it when you get to the point that you are feeling done with your current offerings. Try making some new & different things, until you come across something that's more enjoyable to make.

I am motivated by money as well. A couple weeks ago I was thinking about the shop & how far it's come. Then I wondered how long we would continue with it. Then I thought about how our kids will need braces & college educations & I thought that maybe it'd be around for a long time. And that sat well with me. I felt fine with that. We never know what the future holds though. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recent Thrifty Finds

So I know that I've complained time & again about how the thrifting out here is just not as awesome as it is in the midwest. But I don't think it means I should give up on it all together. Just means I need to be a better looker.

Remember how I said that I was having the hardest time finding vintage sheets in the shops here in Vegas. Well, look what I stumbled across all in one week. I know this isn't much, but I feel like it's a huge success for this area. The pink one is a great find. I always need pink sheets & I am really smitten with this yellow one. It's so granny & so perfect. Love it!

Dylan & I stopped in a thrift store on one of our dates when we had a little time to kill before a movie & we found this globe. It's my first globe & I love it so! I hope to have an awesome collection some day.

This one cost us $7. Pretty cheap for an awesome decor piece. I'm hoping that the thrifting gods smile upon me & let me find some more lovely globes in my future shopping trips.

Have you found anything good lately?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Every Heart Beats True

Need a festive & fun party garland for your 4th of July party this weekend? I've got two available in the shop now. :)

Giveaway - The Wishing Elephant

I have a super fun giveaway for you from The Wishing Elephant. Check out their really cute onesies & toddler t-shirts featuring eco felt.

One lucky winner will win 2 shirts of their choice!! If you don't have little ones at the moment, think baby shower gifts!

To enter this giveaway, please visit The Wishing Elephant & leave me a comment with your favorite item.

Don't forget to include your e-mail address in your comment so that I can easily get in contact with the winner.

Once again, followers get an extra shot at the prize. If you follow my blog, please leave one additional entry letting me know.

This giveaway is open until Monday, July 5th.

Good luck!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Top 4 Tips For Etsy Success

Today's question comes from Kate of Foxs Lane. She asks:

"So I have been planning to open an Etsy store for a while now. I have a bunch of stock in a pile waiting to be listed. My question for you is; what are your top 4 tips for running a successful Etsy venture?"

Yay! I love this question! I get asked this a lot by friends when they are getting ready to open an etsy shop. Here they are:

1. List Often. If possible try to list an item once a day. If you don't have a new product to list, then relist an older item. Say I have 10 new items ready to add to the shop....I have found that listing a couple a day over the span of a week works better for me than one big shop update where I sit down & add them all at the same time.

Listing an item in the shop keeps you at the top of the lists when people do searches. It also increases your chances of being put in treasuries & treasuries are what end up on the front page of etsy.

If you have items that are easily relisted once sold this works wonderfully in your favor. In our shop, we are able to relist posters as soon as they are sold. We don't have to rephotograph, because all posters printed out end up looking the same as what we originally photographed & listed. This has helped us to be able to list & relist often & has really boosted our sales overall.

I have seen many friends set up an etsy shop, not get many sales, get discouraged & quit. All the while, the items that they'd listed continue to sit in their shop getting older & older & slipping down the lists so that they are not ever viewed by shoppers who may be searching for that specific item. For example...I just searched "tote bag" on etsy & 1592 pages of results showed up. Ideally you'd like your tote bag to appear on page 1 rather than 1592. Does that make sense?

If you want to have sales, continue to keep your shop active by listing & relisting. Don't let it dwindle away.

2. Ship Internationally. Many sellers do not offer to ship their products internationally & are missing out on a lot of sales. I would say that 25% of my sales come from international buyers. Last summer our shop sales decreased a great deal with the U.S. economy struggling. During that time, I noticed that almost all of our sales were going out of the country. Had we not shipped internationally, we wouldn't have and any sales at all during that period of time.

If you have a really heavy product, this may not be an option for you. But if you have a product that always weighs about the same, it's really easy to figure out international shipping rates. Here's how you do it: Figure out the weight of your product all packaged up. Do this by getting weighed at the post office. You can then figure out the shipping at Click on 'Calculate Postage' & enter in the necessary info under 'Calculate International Postage'. You basically enter the destination, weight & what type of package it is.

You may find that your package will cost around the same amount to ship to different areas of the world & so you can choose the 'Everywhere Else' shipping option on your etsy item listing & offer it worldwide. We have found that our posters cost about $6.00 to ship most places via first class international mail & so that's what we charge for worldwide shipping.

If you are not shipping internationally right now, you could increase your sales by about 25% by offering international shipping.

3. Share Your Work on Social Media Sites. A good portion of my customers are blog readers, flickr & twitter friends. If my blog is successful, my shop is successful as well. All of these social media sites allow me to stay connected with people that are already interested in what I do & when I share what I've been working on, they tend to want to buy what they see. I do it as well with bloggers & etsians that I follow on social media sites.

I will say that a blog & flickr account are probably the most important. If you don't have a flickr account, get one for sure & be sure add your photos to lots of relevant groups.

4. Present Yourself Well w/ Good, Clean Photos. The only way that potential customers get to experience your product is through the photos. Make sure that your photos are clean & crisp. Make sure that they are well lit with natural light. It is important to have great photos.

One last thing I will add is, don't get down when sales slow down. It happens from time to time. Know that sales will pick up again & spend your time working on more product. If you allow yourself to get down, you won't feel like creating & you'll waste a lot of valuable time. Keep working & work hard & before you know it, sales will snowball & you'll be more successful than you ever thought you'd be.

It takes work. But it is oh so fun work.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This & That

Photobooth photo of Sadie & I last Sunday. I did my hair wavy & pulled back in a loose pony tail. It's been a while since my hair has been long enough to style it like that. Dylan really liked it. :)

Did you know that Dylan makes fun of me because I use the smiley face emoticon a lot? Well he does. But it's because he loves me. :)

Danielle received the quilt I made for her & took some really awesome photos. I could not be happier with where this beauty has gone to live. Such a perfect fit!

Speaking of my handmades ending up in awesome homes. This one is another absolutely perfect fit. I really adore Rachel. She's super cool for sure.

Something else that's super awesome? The new LCD Soundsystem album. Here's the first track. Watch out because it gets mind blowingly awesome around 3 minutes in. Oh, yes.

What are you listening to right now?

Lena's Patterns Winners!

Alright! The winners of the Lena's Patterns Giveaway are:

You each win a pattern of your choice from Lena's Patterns! How fun is that?!
Congratulations & check your e-mail!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Glasses

Look at her. She's growing up!

It was time for Sadie to get some new glasses. Kids glasses sure do get thrashed. They are so rough on them! It's great to have a nice new shiny pair. She had so much fun trying on lots & lots of different pairs, but when she tried on these pink ones her face lit up & she had the biggest smile on her face. We knew these were the ones. :)

Just a few more weeks of school left! I cannot wait for summer break! I think we're ready for it. Then I'll no longer have a kindergartner, but a first grader instead. It is so hard to believe. Not sure if I'm ready for her to be this big.

A couple cute things about Sadie right now:
* She is way into lip gloss.
* She has been working really hard on learning how to do a cartwheel. She's getting pretty good.
* She just got a bell for her bike & thinks it is the coolest thing.

I wish my kids could stay this sweet & innocent forever.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Home Sweet Home Posters

Brand new Home Sweet Home posters are now available in the shop. They are happy & cheerful & adorable. They come in our signature colors: orange, aqua blue, yellow, light blue, lime green & pink. Please do check them out!

Monday, June 21, 2010

How Do You Get It All Done?

Alright. I'm planning to start posting my answers to your questions from last week & hopefully I can get through them all this week, but no promises. We'll see how it goes. :)

Many of you asked in one way or another: How do you get it all done?
So let's tackle this one today. But first, as far as the postcard set winner goes for this of you asked about this so I drew one name from that bunch and Anna gets the prize! :)

This is by far the number one question that I get asked when it comes to being a work at home mother selling in the handmade marketplace. Here's the answer....I don't. I don't get it all done. I do feel that I accomplish a lot & it's taken me a few years to figure out what works for us & what doesn't. Here are a few of my tips:

* You Don't Have to Do Everything. There are a lot of things that I don't do everyday. I don't wear makeup. I don't go shopping often for myself. I don't leave the house much at all. Don't start feeling sorry for me now. This is the way I like things. I like being at home. This gives me more time to do what I love the most. Hang out with my kids & make things.

* Don't expect yourself to be perfect & Keep a good mood. I really enjoy making & sewing. It makes me feel happy. Finding time to do this whether I'm making product for my shop or clothing for my kids makes me a happier person & a better wife & mother. But in order to find time to do this, I sometimes let other things go a little housework.

For me there is definitely a back & forth that goes on with housework & sewing. If I feel like all the mandatory chores are starting to weigh on me then I have to take some time to sew in order to keep a happy mood. On the flip side, if I have too many mandatory sewing obligations with shop orders, I have to take some time away to clean & organize the house in order to feel happy & sane. There is a balance that has to be watched & guarded.

Don't expect to do it all perfectly all the time. I am happiest when I listen to myself. I figure out what will make me happiest at the moment & do that. As long as I am moving forward, I am proud of myself. I don't have to measure myself against anybody elses standards, but my own. It is okay to work at my own pace. The last thing I need is to stress my own self out. There are plenty of other outside sources of stress. Bringing it on myself with unattainable expectations is a recipe for disaster.

Plus I'm making & selling my handmade goods because it's a way to earn an income while doing something I love. I do not want to feel stressed or unhappy doing what I love.

Keeping a good, happy mood will help you to work at a faster pace. Depression will stop you in your tracks for a few days. Make sure you take care of your mood & overall feeling of wellness. Exercise, eat right & listen to your needs. (still working on being better at exercising myself)

* Be organized. When trying to juggle family life & a business it is important to be organized. I struggle with this one for sure, but I've found that organizing my life helps me to accomplish more each day & wouldn't you know it....I feel really good about myself when I accomplish a lot.

Keep a schedule. I generally package & ship orders on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday mornings. I ship on Tuesday & Thursday because they are the least busy days at the post office & Saturday because I can leave the kids home with Dylan & I don't have to worry about them while I wait in line.

Most of my sewing is done after the kids go to bed at night. I typically sew about 5 nights a week. Dylan & I watch TV or movies & instead of laying on the couch while watching, I cut fabrics & sew.

I spend time in the morning answering e-mails & catching up on re listing any sold items. This is when I tend to write my blog posts as well. The rest of the day I will try to spend away from the computer, returning again in the afternoon when we all need a little quit time to ourselves. Sometimes I'll write a blog post for the next day or I'll upload new product photos or just browse.

I've also organized my fabrics & grouped them together in a way that works for me. In this photo the bottom bin holds smaller vintage fabric pieces for cutting flags from. The middle bin hold larger vintage pieces for quilts and pillows. the top bin holds some solid pieces. I have similar bins that hold fabrics for colorful banners as well. When I need to cut flags, I just grab the bin I need & it saves me time sifting through everything.

*Decide that your kids come first.

I work from home so that I can be with my kids. They come first. I walk away from what I'm doing multiple times. This goes for anything I'm doing. Whether it's shop work or house work. If they need something, I stop & get them what they need, then return back to it later. That's how life is with kids. There's no need to be angry about it or try to fight it. It's easier to just go with it.

I decided a while back that if I was doing shop work & the kids came to me asking me to play with them, I would stop what I was doing to play. They are only little once & I don't want to miss it. They need a mom that is involved with them, not a mom that always has her face in the computer or the sewing machine. The great thing about this work is that you can leave it when needed. And I believe that it's a good thing that you do leave it as often as needed.

* Find time here & there. At this point my kids are really used to what I do. They are used to going to the post office. They are used to seeing the sewing machine sitting on the dining room table. They don't turn knobs or pull the thread off my machine anymore. It's like a regular fixture to them & they don't cause trouble anymore when they see it. So I am able to sew sometimes during the day while they are busy doing other things.

I keep stacks of projects around. If I have 15 minutes before I need to pick up Sadie from school, I'll iron the flag pieces that are sitting on the ironing board. Or hand stitch part of a quilt binding. It seems like you're not doing much, but before you know it your project is done. Every little bit ads up. No matter what the pace, you're still moving forward & accomplishing little steps throughout the day.

My kids play really well together, so this gives me more opportunities to find time for shop work as well. When they are happily playing together, I can do some sewing & not feel guilty.

* Make multiples. Do not work on one item at a time. If you are making something, make a number of them. I'm currently working on 6 flag garlands at the moment. Rather than going through all the steps for one garland, I'm going through all the steps for six of them at the same time. You can get a lot more done this way.

I recently heard Dana of MADE say that if you are passionate about it, you will find time to do it. This is so, so true.

This may be the longest post in the world, but I hope it helps! :)

To Our Rad Dad

(this is an older photo, but it's a favorite of mine)

People say that it takes a village to raise a child. I agree to some extent, but ultimately I believe that it takes both a mother & a father.

There is no way that our family could function as well as it does or that our girls could be as good as they are without such a wonderful dad. Thank you for being so amazing, Dylan. We love you! Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It Just Keeps Happening

And I just keep taking photos of it.

I'm remembering that we went through this with Sadie once upon a time as well. It's just part of being 3 years old. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sponsor Giveaway - Lena's Patterns

Okay first off, there are a couple of Sparkle Power posters up for giveaway on a couple other blogs right now. Check out Blessed Little Nest for a chance to win a poster of your choice. Also, the aqua alphabet poster is up for grabs over on The Patriotic Peacock. So be sure to enter those!

Now...on to the giveaway here. I've already introduced you to Lena's Patterns this month. This awesome shop has a variety of really cute PDF patterns for babies & kids shoes. Check out some of my favorites:

For this giveaway, Lena's Patterns is offering 3 winners one pdf pattern of their choice!!

To be entered for this giveaway, please visit Lena's Patterns & leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite item from the shop. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can easily contact the winners.

Followers are allowed one extra entry. So if you follow this blog in any way, please leave one additional comment letting me know that you follow.

You have until Wednesday, June 23rd to enter. Good luck!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three Tiered Skirt For Sadie

After seeing the three tiered skirt that I'd made for myself, she asked if I could make one for her. I used the good old Simplicity 4206 pattern.

Three tiers in different pink colored vintage floral sheeting. I made a size 6 for her. I'm not sure that she's actually a size 6 yet, but I knew that I wanted the skirt to be a little longer.

I think it's adorable & she was really pleased with it. She's also a great model. She gives me all the angles. :)

I've used this Simplicity 4206 pattern to make a top, pajama shorts, have lengthened the top into a dress & now the tiered skirt.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Question & Answer

I've had some kind comments about my new profile photo. Thanks! I had my super photographer sister, Heather, take some photos of me recently. I really hate being on that side of the camera, but I trust her. I knew she'd make me look pretty.

If you are local, she can take photos of you & your family as well. Check out her website.

Lately, I feel like writing a little more in this space about being a work at home mom & specifically working in the handmade market. People often ask, "How do you get it all done?" and I feel like discussing that a bit more.

I'm wondering if you have any questions for me? Questions about the behind the scenes of our etsy shop business? Questions about my views & my passions on motherhood, being environmentally aware & eating less meat? Questions about anything really?

Ask me your questions in the comments of this post. I will choose a few to answer. If I choose your question, I'll send you my new postcard set as a prize! So gets to askin'!

Bountiful Baskets

Living in Nevada this year, I knew I would be missing our CSA share program that we participated in last year in Ohio. However, I've been really happy to stumble upon a food co-op called Bountiful Baskets. You can purchase produce baskets on a weekly basis, but there is no commitment required. Just purchase whenever you want one.

The baskets are 50% fruit & 50% vegetables. The photo above is the conventional basket that I purchased last week. The conventional basket is the same foods that the grocery stores purchase. The co-op just pools everybody's money together & is able to purchase the food at a great savings to the contributors.

Get this though, the conventional basket costs $15.00 plus a $1.50 handling fee. So all the food in the top image cost me $16.50!

This week we were also able to purchase a tortilla pack which included 3 dozen large flour tortillas (and I mean large!), 2 dozen small flour & 2 dozen small corn tortillas for $10. They look handmade & we are so exited to try them out as burritos tonight!

They also offer an organic basket which I picked up a few weeks ago. (pictured below. sorry for the crappy photo.) The organic baskets cost $25 and are only available every other week. I loved this organic basket! Everything was delicious. Especially the berries & grapes. They were so perfectly sweet. No tartness at all.

Bountiful Baskets are available in Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming & Texas. Check their website to see if they are available in your city. While it's not all locally grown food, I don't feel bad participating, since nothing is grown locally here in the middle of the desert. And I get to experience the excitement of picking up my surprise produce. That really is thrilling to me. Not exactly sure why, but it's fun. Also, I sure do love a deal & this definitely is a good deal.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bloggers Guide to Summer

The adorable Heather over at Blessed Little Nest is hosting a fun week of guest posts & giveaways called The Bloggers Guide to Summer. It starts tomorrow & runs through Friday. Watch for lots of fun guest posts & two giveaways per day! Come Tuesday there will be a giveaway for one of our posters!

She's also running a giveaway right now to help kick it all off. Head over there to enter to win a cute flag garland & a super awesome vintage tote bag. :) Be quick because today is the last day to enter!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Garlands a Plenty

Organizing my fabrics last weekend proved to help my productivity this week. I guess digging through messy heaps of fabric on the floor eats up time. Neatly folded piles make it easier to see & get to what you have.

Well, the result of this organization...I was able to get a few flag garlands completed for the shop. Check them out if you have an upcoming party or a spot in your house or backyard that needs a little something to make it more festive!

Hope you all have the most lovely of weekends! :)

Three Tiered Skirt For Me

Temperatures here in Vegas have been over 100 degrees for the past week and a half or so. We're enjoying a cooler day today. The high is only supposed to be 85 or so, but the heat should return in no time. There is no way that I am going to survive this summer in jeans & denim capris & my wardrobe is seriously lacking in the skirt department. So, I'm on a mission to fix that & get myself outfitted with some breezy skirts this summer.

I started with this aqua three tiered skirt. I was able to start & finish it yesterday afternoon. I wasn't sure about it when I finished it. I modeled it for Dylan when he got home & he gave it the thumbs up. Still, I kept bothering him..."Are you sure it's okay? Is it too blue? too short? too poofy? too homemade looking?" He reassured me it was fine & I let it go. This morning when I tried it on I was super, super happy with it. Don't know where the doubt came from the night before.

I made it in a jersey knit which makes it super comfortable. I used the Simplicity 2609 pattern which I picked up at Joanns for $1.00 over Memorial Day weekend. The fabric I had purchased a while back on sale for around $3.00 per yard. I'm estimating that the total cost of this skirt (including the pattern) was around $6.00. Plus I think that I'll definitely be making another, so that $1.00 pattern will stretch even further.

Hooray for sewing something for myself!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Good Stuff

Check out some of the awesome new stuff from our sponsors that I am loving right now!

CTR Bottlecap Pendant from Just Be.
Need a baptism gift? Here ya go!

Scrappy Rose Brooch tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew
I love this!

Ballerina Baby Bow Shoe PDF Pattern from Needle Craft Patterns
Super, super sweet.

***Interested in becoming a Sparkle Power sponsor? Please e-mail me at for my affordable rates. I may even be able to offer an extra special deal for the rest of June. :)
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