Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mommy-ing and Etsy-ing:

Many of us here on Etsy are mothers. Some of us are stay-at-home moms, some of us work outside the home, but I believe all of us have the dilemma of finding a balance to our “real life” and our “Etsy life”. I, personally, am a stay-at-home mother of two young children (5 and 2) and I started an Etsy shop with the idea that I could easily work on my glorified hobby and be the same dynamic, take-my-kids-everywhere-have-activities-planned-every-day mother I have always been to my children. That would work out super IF I had just a glorified hobby. In reality, what I have is a full-fledged, small business and I make no apologies for wanting it to be successful.

But to what end?

I have seen many a forum thread discussing this topic and I have a few suggestions to work toward a more harmonious Mommy Life and Etsy Life:

Get Organized. This is beyond the basic to-do list.

Get Real. We, unfortunately, are not superheroes. It’s a reality we have to face.

Get Help. A support network is crucial to our success.

Get Happy. Remember why you are a mother and a shop owner.

Getting Organized:

Okay, I know all of us have sat down and crafted lists thinking that if it’s on paper, we’ll get to it. The only thing I know it does for me is overwhelm. BUT, lists are crucial. They just need to be broken up. I have two notebooks – one is my “work” life and one is my “home” life. Each evening, I plan out what goals I have for the following day – not the week or the month, just the day. I limit it to eight things. ONLY eight. (more on that in the “Getting Real” paragraph).

Use a timer. Make a schedule for yourself so you know that in fifteen minutes, you’re done answering emails/convos. You have twenty minutes to fold laundry – if it doesn’t get done, so be it. You have thirty minutes to get your packages ready for shipment, and so on and so forth. You will be amazed at how your day moves along and how you have accomplished more because you’re managing your time better. I take breaks between each “event” for fifteen, twenty minutes and have some tickle time with the kids or read them a book. It’s focused one-on-one time that is vital to them, especially, but it renews you, as well.

Clean up. Make sure your work area is always in order. Your shipping supplies are always neat, tidy and available. Your inventory is easily seen so you know when to reorder. Have your “to do” orders set by date so you know what to work on when.

Share your space. Set up an area in your work space with a small table, or just one of those lapdesks, with a little Rubbermaid container of washable crayons, envelopes, stickers, tape – anything that will keep your mini crafter(s) busy while you get your work done. They will be thrilled to be “working” with you.

Getting Real:

I’m sure we all feel that we could do it all (if everything worked out just right) and that we deserve to do it all (whatever that means), but, unfortunately, we are only one person, so we need to be realistic about our goals and expectations of ourselves.

When you sit down each evening and write out your goals for the next day – for both work and home – limit it to eight specific things. Say, for instance, on Monday, your goals for work are: 1- Research a new promotion lead (set timer for 30 minutes). 2 – Ccomplete two orders (set timer for one hour). 3 – Make line sheet for local wholesale opportunities (forty-five minutes)…and so on and so forth. You’ll have your “regular” items such as spending time working on shipments and convos – but you still need to have it on your list of the Eight goals The same for your “home” goals – if the timer goes off and you’re not done straightening up the bedroom – let it go. This keeps you focused and realistic and not self-defeated when your list isn’t necessarily complete. And yes, you will be interrupted by many things in between those ‘timer’ times – but that’s the magical thing about timers – they can be stopped and started right back up again when you are ready – but when the time is done, it is done. Lovely.

Getting Help:

I have been blown away by forum threads regarding unsupportive spouses. That is another article in the making because, honestly, you cannot succeed without support and support from your spouse is so crucial.

Make a deal with a neighbor or someone who lives close to trade off play dates. Look into getting a mother’s helper for the summer (girls around the age of 10-13 that come to your house while you are at home and entertain your children –they are far cheaper than babysitters or nannies because you are still home to manage the “big stuff” – like a puking child!).

If you can swing it, get a housecleaner to come just once a month for a thorough scrub down so all you have to do for the rest of the month is maintain.

Take up any and all offers of childcare or help of any sort without feeling guilty.

Getting Happy:

We had children because we knew it would fill our lives in a way nothing else can and, truly, they are glorious creatures, aren’t they? We opened a shop because we love the creative process and know how it feeds our souls. Remind yourself of that – constantly – and find your harmony.

(All photos in this post are courtesy of the Fabulous Artistic Moms team on Etsy)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

~ FEATURE ~ Vanessa of Photos By Van














I love Etsy and all the incredible talent on it. I'm going to be featuring an artist that has either just started out or is well established - either way, they are fabulous, fresh, and FEATURED here!!! Show them some love!


Considering how digital our lives are, I looooovvvee the whole process of sending (and receiving!) a handwritten note or card - it makes me feel connected and intimately a part of someone's day when I know that they are receiving a message that I wrote with my hands, in my handwriting and not some pretty font I picked out on Word. Vanessa of Photos by Van combines her beautiful photography and the personal nature of cards together to create uniquely beautiful paper goods.



What’s your craft, how long have you been doing it and how did it start?
My craft is photography. I've always loved taking pictures but I would say I really starting taken photos to sell about a year ago.


What’s new for the upcoming holiday season in your shop?
I am trying to vary my shop with cards, mini cards and eventually prints. I am looking forward to the fall because I would love to capture the autumn colors in nature.


What’s your favorite item in your shop and why?

My favorite item is because I've taken a dandelion, which many consider a weed, and made it into something beautiful.


Do you think formal schooling in your craft helps or hinders?
I don't know, I've never gone to school for photography, I would think that you naturally have to have an "eye" for the craft before going to school.


How do you keep your creative energy?
I try thinking outside of the box. When I get bored with an idea or a subject I know it is time to try something new!


What are two of your favorite Etsy shops and why?
I have so many shops that are favorites but I especially love the jewelry ones that work with metals such as silver. It amazes me that someone can take a piece of metal and turn it into something wearable and beautiful.

What are three tips you would give to new Etsians?
Stay positive, have fun and learn to think "outside of the box".

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

~ FEATURE~ Lauren from MayBeads

I love Etsy and all the incredible talent on it. Every week - maybe twice, I'm going to be featuring an artist that has either just started out or is well established - either way, they are fabulous, fresh, and FEATURED here!!! Show them some love!










I feel in love with this shop the moment I saw it! It has to be one of the most imaginative, colorful, creative, cutest shops on Etsy! I love every piece !!

Come meet Lauren of Maybeads on Etsy

What’s your craft, how long have you been doing it and how did it start?
I am a lampwork bead artist. I make glass beads by melting soft glass in a torch. I have been doing this since February, 2008, when I took a lampworking class. I had signed up for a jewelry class at a local craft shop and I really enjoyed it, but I wasn't crazy about the bead choices. I started looking online at beads and I soon discovered lampworking. I was mesmerized! I found a place to take a class and I have been lampworking ever since. It was my original intention to make bead sets to use in jewelry design, but somewhere along the way I found penguin tutorial and I never looked back! I make all sorts of "critter" beads, with a heavy emphasis on turtles and kitty cats. I also love making penguins, owls, wiener dogs and anything else that pops into my imagination. I do make some "regular" beads, but I always go back to the animals.












What’s new for the upcoming holiday season in your shop?

For the upcoming holiday season I plan to feature more gift-type items. I make fun stretchy necklace for girls with charms such as cupcakes, flowers and butterflies on them, and I'm busy stocking those now. Little girls really love these!

What’s your favorite item in your shop and why?
I'd have to say my favorite item is my stretchy cord necklaces. The picture shows a good variety of the beads I make.








Do you think formal schooling in your craft helps or hinders?

I think formal schooling in my craft helped me. It gave me a starting point, but from there I am self-taught, as many lampworkers are. It just takes a lot of time and practice, and when you love doing it, it becomes easier and vice versa.

How do you keep your creative energy?
I just love making beads, so it's easy to keep my creative energy going. My kids make suggestions for beads, and I also am inspired by other artists. I love challenging myself by trying new things.

What are two of your favorite Etsy shops and why?
TeriPersing -- I love her fat cat lampwork beads!
Raspberrykidz -- Very fun and cute kid art (plus, it's my sister's shop!).

What are three tips you would give to new Etsians?
1. Take good pictures! 2. Promote yourself in the forums, on chat and by listing often. 3. Be patient -- success takes a while.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Colloboration Etsy Style

I decided that I wanted to work with other Etsians on a collaborative jewelry piece. It was a long process of thinking how and what would work. I wanted to stay true to my style since the piece would be in my shop, but I wanted to incorporate the work of other talented Etsians, as well. I have always been fascinated with vessels - I cannot even begin to explain why, but I have. I love the idea of wearing a little vial of sweetly smelling pick-me-up essential oils and have the vial be a lovely piece of jewelry. So, an idea was then born. Phase I: I searched Etsy and came across InfiniteCosmosGirl and the glasswork that is done there is fun, festive, full of energy and good juju. I contacted them and they created lovely vials for me to my specifications, but with their artistic integrity. They are all gorgeous.

Phase II was the essential oil. I am working with three different Etsians to create scents that will go with my vessels, however, the first piece I have created has a scent crafted by RosemaryGrace. She named her creation "Peacock Feathers" and it's the signature scent for my shop - very cool!!

Phase III was to include my touch to the piece. I created a fine silver charm with the world "awaken" hand stamped onto it, added a Hill Tribe sterling silver flower charm, and sprinkled a freshwater pearl into the mix. Strung it creatively onto a sterling silver rolo chain, and voila! My new aromatherapy vessel pendants have launched.

These pieces are sold as sets - the pendant/vial set along with a dram of essential oil and a handy dandy pipette to transfer the fluid.

I love this piece for so many reasons. Collaboration in art allows you to grow. I learned quite a bit in the process of creating this piece. This is the first of probably five pieces. Look for them - they are all one of a kind and incredibly unique!! Hope you fall in love with them like I did!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

~ FEATURE ~ Angela of Mailled

I love Etsy and all the incredible talent on it. I'm going to be featuring an artist that has either just started out or is well established - either way, they are fabulous, fresh, and FEATURED here!!! Show them some love!

I love jewelry - that's why I design it myself! Angela, of Mailled, is an incredibly talented jewlry artisan who specializes in chainmaille pieces. Her jewelry is nothing short of exquisite.





Etsy
Buy Handmade
mailled

What’s your craft, how long have you been doing it and how did it start?
My craft is being crafty! Necessity,
being the mother of invention, has driven me to constantly create. As a child I was dyslexic which made me always search for a different way of doing things. My creativity blossomed from there. I knit, crochet, sew, wire wrap, bead.... well the list goes on! My closest friends often use the term 'industrious' to describe me.
In February of 2007, while hunting for a new wire supplier, I stumbled upon a chainmaillers forum. As someone who studied history I was immediately
drawn to this ancient art. I believe it translates well into a modern world - it gives me a sense of being connected with the past.

What’s new for the upcoming holiday se
ason in your shop?
Since I dabble in a lot of other jewelry related projects, I am working on bringing other elements into my work. I am in the design stages of projects that will co
mbine chainmaille, wire wrapping and stones.



What’s your favorite item in your shop and why?

My favorite item has to be my japanese weave chainmaille necklace. This one in my shop is a reproduction of a unique design that I came up with while using up leftover rings from other projects. It uses 4 sizes of wire and 6 sizes of jumprings. It has taught me to think outside of traditionally used weaves and how chainmaille can be incredibly versatile.


Do you think formal schooling in your craft helps or hinders?
I am self taught in my craft. I do think that perhaps a couple of classes on soldering or really tricky weaves would have saved me some time though!

How do you keep your creative energy?
I have a beautiful garden. When I'm feeling particularly uncreative all I need to do is go outside, take a break and enjoy the beauty of nature.

What are two of your favorite Etsy shops and why?
BoonesHooks This is a new seller that has the most beautiful forged home accessories!
MagdalenasAtelier's This woman takes wire wrapping to new levels. Such amazing talent!


What are three tips you would give to new Etsians?
Patience. It takes time to become established anywhere. I'm a relative newbie here too!
Promote. Be warm and welcoming and actively promote yourself at every oppurtunity!
Believe in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will either!



~~ Angela is offering FREE SHIPPING to the US and Canada if you put in "PP BLOG" in the message to seller area at check out! Thanks, Angela!! ~~

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is this a healthy obsession? You can make it so.


How shamelessly obsessed are you with your Etsy life? I am pretty new to Etsy. I really knew very little about it coming into it. I was never even a buyer (I know, booooo on me, but I have bought a load of stuff since then!). In April of this year, I decided to list a few of my creative endeavors and, lo-and-behold, people liked them. My first listing was just over two months ago and I am now shamelessly obsessed with my Etsy life. I know you have all been there and still live here.
I am a stay at home parent with two small children (5 and 2) and I consider the work I do for my shop on Etsy as my ‘work’: My real-life, tangible, get-paid-for-it-in-real-money, work. My children are my joy and butterflies and all those other happy, lovely images one gives when they talk about being a mother. All true –most days.
Being an obsessive Etsy shop owner takes its toll on our little ones, loved ones, friends, relationships, etc. I make no apologies for wanting my shop to succeed or being in love with my work, but I do not want it to negatively affect my life, because, then, what would be the point? So, I invested in an inexpensive little timer with a loud buzzer to keep my obsession in check , and what it ended up doing was help me manage my time and invest it where it needed to go – so EVERYONE is happy! Don’t get me wrong, there totally needs to be more hours in the day, but at least now, I have more definite direction of where my time is going.
I typically set up my email/convo time for fifteen minute segments a few times a day. I make sure that after every thirty minutes of Etsy work, I take a break and hang out with the kids – even if that means just getting out the Play-doh or having ‘tickle-monster-time’. For those more involved projects, I wait until my littlest is napping or they are both in bed for the night. Twenty minutes is devoted to setting up shipments for the next day, another thirty to plan new designs, etc. You get the idea. It is all pretty magical. Oh! And if you get real fancy – you can get a timer with multiple features like counting up, so you can hit “start” right as you begin a new piece so you know exactly how long it takes you to create it for pricing. Shamelessly working the double-duty. Gotta love that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

~ FEATURE ~ Krisybird's Beads and Things

I love Etsy and all the incredible talent on it. Every Friday, I'm going to be featuring an artist that has either just started out or is well established - either way, they are fabulous, fresh, and FEATURED here!!! Show them some love!

This weeks artist is Krista Barth from Krisybird's Beads and Things

What’s your craft, how long have you been doing it and how did it start?
I mostly make handcrafted jewelry, b
ut also dabble in some photography. I have been doing it for about 4 years now. I started because I am allergic to nickle, so I made things I could wear myself. Then people told me there are alot of people with the same problem out there and I should try selling what I make.

What’s y
our favorite item in your shop and why?
I think my favorite item in my shop right now is my photo notecards of baby birds. The are s
o precious and cute!









Do you think formal schooling in your craft helps or hinders?

I don't know, I never had any...but would like to take some specialty crafting classes.
- How do you keep your creative energy? I find it very relaxing to sit and create things with my hands. I helps relieve my stress.

What are two of your favorite Etsy shops and why?

Gillianbeads and Derrellisdesigns I just love the beads they both make! Gillian makes Lampwork glass beads, and Derrelli makes Polymer clay beads. Both are very artistic in their craft!


What are three tips you would give to new Etsians? Post alot...get involved in chat or games or BnR's where people will look through your store.

~~Krista is offering an incredible discount!!! She will give a 25% discount to anyone who puts "BLOG" in the message to seller section at check out! Make it happen people!!!
~~