Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I've had a really fabulous and surprising holiday rush! My business this season has more than doubled from last year and I'm thankful beyond belief. This business growth has allowed wonderful opportunities for my family and that's just huge. Thank you to all my friendly and thoughtful customers for supporting handmade and following the growth of an individual artist along this rewarding journey! I hope that you love the pieces you've purchased and that they are big hits with your "giftees" this holiday season.

So, as a big thank you to my customers, twitter friends and facebook pals, I'm doing a quick stone tile coaster giveaway today! Just visit my shop on Etsy and let me know which coaster set you're dreaming of this holiday, leave me comment here telling me who you'd gift them to and why (or if it's just a special something for you!). Around 5PM, my family will pick a number and gift those coasters to that number commentor on my blog! It's that easy! Make sure you've left me a way to get in touch with you! Your new coasters will ship on Monday and be delivered in plenty of time for Christmas gifting!

So, there's no strings attached... no need to follow me on twitter or friend me on facebook, no mailing list signups... just me wishing YOU a happy holidays!

Have a very blessed and joyous holiday season!!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How To Shop Handmade and Local This Holiday Season

The holidays are here! The malls are bombarding you with deals and your inbox is filled with emails from retailers all fighting for your holiday dollars.

But did you know that there are shops right around the corner, in your own community that offer lovely, one of a kind, handmade delights that you'll never find at a big box store? If you like to give thoughtful holiday gifts, (and who doesn't?) you've got to check out what your small local retailers have to offer!

If you're in the Pennsylvania area, I've got some fabulous suggestions of really neat little shops that deserve a visit this holiday season. These are some of my favorite places to shop for gifts and places that have wonderful collections of goodies sure to please everyone on your gift giving list.

First off, in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, you've got to stop by Square Peg Artery. This shop is bursting at the seams with a colorful array of fun and funky goods that are made locally by artists and craftspeople. There's even a monthly art show that features a local artist in a small gallery setting in the back. It's a must-see for cool holiday gifts!

Another one of my favorites is Earth & State in Media, PA. This shop is full of fabulous finds with an earthy and fair trade vibe. Many of the pieces are local but there are also things from around the country and the world. The staff at Earth & State is super helpful, friendly and so knowledgeable about the products and artists that create them. This is often my first choice when shopping for an unforgettable gift.

And there's a new kid in town this year! Harrisburg's super successful Hodge Podgery has opened up a new shop in Lancaster. It's in right heart of the cool Queen Street area, located in the Stahr Center, which also houses Theater of The Seventh Sister and Lancaster Creative Reuse. This building is quickly becoming a hub of arts for the city. The Hodge Podgery's new Lancaster location is downstairs and is shaping up nicely and the staff there is working tirelessly to get all the new stock out and ready for purchase. It's only been open officially for a week or two and is already looking great! Lots of goodies are being offered there so be the first of your friends to check it out!

Another favorite of mine is The Sassy Tassel in Lititz, PA. The gals there have really expanded their already awesome space and now offer sewing classes and workshops. The shop is utterly breathtaking with a huge collection of lovely home goods and decor. They support local artists and host a local artist during Lititz's monthly arts events. If you have someone on your holiday list that has caught the sewing bug, you've got to swing by The Sassy Tassel to check out their awesome fabrics and sewing books. They also carry a fabulous line of bath and body products that makes the shop smells amazing. Even that is worth the trip!

Nick from Handmade in PA and the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen has set up an incredible resource for finding shops in your area of PA. It's a map that links you directly to the shops in your area. It's a fabulous idea and you can check it out here!

With the economic struggles going on in our country, the most powerful way you can spend your holiday dollars is by supporting your neighbors, local artists and the small businesses that are keeping your communities growing. Keep your money in your neighborhood!

Happy, happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Handmade Holidays

Rustic Birch Tags from Twigs and Blossoms - $20.00

So, you've committed to a handmade holiday and have vowed to give as many handcrafted items this holiday season as possible. That's great!

But don't forget to include yourself in that pledge!

Every Thanksgiving, my immediate and extended family asks for my Christmas list. I've already been scouring my favorite sites that sell handmade pieces and am compiling my list. I'm including all those really neat things in my favorites lists that are things I might not normally buy for myself but that I really would love to own and use everyday.

It's just a quick reminder that taking a handmade pledge doesn't necessarily have to be just for your purchases for others but can also be for your own wish list!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Design Sponge event @ Terrain

What a fun way to spend a warm fall afternoon! I spent the day at Terrain in Concordville, PA with about 24 other diy-ers and Grace Bonney from Design Sponge. We shared cocktails and crafts and some great conversation!

Afterward, Grace gave a presentation about her upcoming book, which she calls a "design bible." We got sneak peeks at some of the artwork, some of the sections, the layout of the book and learned a lot about the process of how the book was "born." It was really interesting to hear about the journey she's taken to create such a comprehensive and lovely book.

It was a pleasure to meet fellow Team HiP member Stephanie Corfee in person and to catch up again with Tara from Scoutie Girl and Megan from Craft MBA and Cozy Cuff. And, of course, it was great making new friends and learning about other artists, crafters and designers out there in the real world, making beautiful things happen.

One of the joys of attending this event was that it happened under the auspices of Terrain, an incredibly beautiful and hip nursery, home and garden "experience." To call it a shop just doesn't seem to cover it. Terrain has taken a nursery to an entirely new level. Every turn holds a beautifully designed display and the main shopping building holds everything from plants and planters, greeting cards, a vast selection of gorgeous books, thoughtfully designed kitchen and cooking gear, lovely homegoods and an extensive line of bath and body products that tempt the senses.

What a lovely way to gift a bulb for the holidays! Perfect for the garden and vintage lover!

Every little corner of Terrain holds inspiration. These robins' egg blue rooms were just perfection... rustic burlap upholstered chairs paired with rusted metal framed lanterns? Heaven.

Pretty wrapped soaps from Fringe in a holiday display. Love those candles!

And the day was topped off with a raffle of some fabulous pieces from shops and artists featured in Grace's new book. I walked away with these exquisite fabric flowers from Emerson Made. So pretty!

A vibrant sunset of oranges, golden yellows and bold reds on the drive home ended the day perfectly. Thanks to Grace from Design Sponge and the staff and employees of Terrain for a terrific event... inspiring, festive and perfect in every way! Thank you!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why You NEED To Do A Craft Show

Have you ever done a craft show? Think it's not for you?
Let me tell you why it IS!

A craft or art show puts you in direct contact with your customers. If you only sell online, you never have the personal experience of seeing someone handle your product, ask their questions and decide what they like.

Handmade Mart in Silver Spring, Md. Photo courtesy of Nestor Diaz

In a live selling venue, you get to see which pieces people are generally drawn to and which ones just never seem to catch anyone's eye. You might be creating a series or style of product that you love but that just doesn't work with many buyers. Or you may have a piece or style that surprises you by being a big hit that you never expected. It's this kind of "crowd sourcing," or creating new products based on the likes and interests of your customers that is a really cool way to get inspired.

You'll get to use your conversations with buyers to sculpt a selling technique that fits your product and your personality. You'll gently fall into a sales pitch that won't sound "pitchy" or pushy. It will cover all the main points of your product, technique or background without many of the extras that don't need to be said to everyone. A deeper sales conversation can happen as the customer becomes more interested, asks questions and sticks around in your booth to chat.

Essential Paper show booth - photo courtesy of Nestor Diaz

You may find that you're getting the same questions again and again. So, this is something that needs to be addressed in your online sales pitch or Etsy item description.

Only when selling to customers in person can you see how your pricing is working for you. Do people love your products but cringe at the pricetag? Or do they immediately bring it over to purchase? It may help you to decide if your pricing is in line with the current market.

Renegade Holiday Craft Fair, Chicago - photo courtesy of E. Bartholomew

And best of all, at a craft show, you get to meet your "people." You may not have a very specific picture of what your perfect customer might look like but I think this is essential is knowing how to market your product. Tara Gentile from ScoutieGirl always says that the more specific you can get when defining who your customer is, the better you can sell to them. Is she a mom, does she believe in green living, is she a business woman, does she like frills without wanting to pay a lot for them? I was surprised to find that my customer, or the people most often interested in my product, was a much different person than I had imagined and doing live shows with my products is the number one thing that introduced me to her... the person who loved my pieces and just couldn't walk away without taking something home with her.

Many artists and crafters shy away from craft shows thinking that they are too much work, too much time investment or sometimes too much money for a table space or booth. There certainly will be some time, thought and work that will go into preparing stock and a pretty booth space that will draw in the customers but there are many opportunities for shows locally to fit in your budget. There are shows through local churchs or community groups that may charge $20-30 for a space and shows that may charge hundreds (or more) for the very same size space! The only difference is the size of the event, the advertising budget, the area in which it's being held and the size of the crowds expected. Just be sure to think about whether the crowds attracted to the event you're considering would be interested in your product. And check to make sure that the show has a good following or substantial advertising to ensure that there will be enough people to sustain the event and make it worth your while. Nothing is more frustrating than putting in the effort and time to get things ready and then having a very slow day with few customers. Trust me, I've been there!

It's a great time of year for shows and I'm sure that there are a bunch of shows in your area still accepting applications. Check out for shows in your neck of the woods, or ask around with local crafters, team members or join a local group, guild or Etsy street team to get the inside scoop.

A craft show can be a great learning experience and a terrific way to get directly in touch with the people who are buying your products. It's a fun way to get inspired and re-ignite your creative spark by crowd sourcing for some new ideas. You're going to make some great contacts, hand out a ton of business cards, meet other artists and crafters selling at the show and come away with a clearer picture of your work, pricing, product line and who is ultimately buying your goods.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start selling!

**What great lessons have YOU learned from doing a live show? I'd love to hear how it helped you to sculpt your online selling experiences!**

What's The Story, Morning Glory?

Inspired by Johnny B Truant's post over on Etsy about telling the story of your products inspired me to to reveal a little of my life, by explaining one of my favorite products in my shop. These are my vintage Kellar magic poster stone coaster set.

Before I became an artist and a mom, I was a professional magician. My husband and I traveled the country, and the world, performing for Fortune 500 corporations, on cruise ships and at private parties. We ended up in Las Vegas for seven years, headlining in our own show at Caesars Palace. It was a dream job with the really cool benefits of getting to hang out with celebrities, see our names on the same marquee as Frank Sinatra back in the day and live a truly fabulous and exciting life.

One of my favorite things about the world of magic are the very rare magic posters from ages long gone. These vibrant and colorful stone lithographs are hard to find in some cases and VERY large in others. It's very difficult (and expensive!) to find these posters as originals and it's sometimes hard to find wall space large enough to display them in your home.

These stone drink coasters are the perfect way to display the bright and bold history of these very rare and sought after magic posters. Favorites of magicians, circus enthusiasts and design professionals, these Kellar posters are classic collectables from the era of big traveling shows. This coaster set is a nice way to own a piece of this magical history without making the huge monetary commitment to owning an original stone lithograph poster.

I'd love to hear the stories of some of the pieces you've created! Feel free to tell your story on your blog or website and link it up here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Southern Charms

Deer Valley rag quilt - $175.00 from Southern Charm Quilts

I'm a southerner at heart. Although I was born in the middle of Pennsylvania, my family is deeply rooted in the south and every summer held a trip for my mother, father, sister and I into the south to visit relatives there. It's a place that holds memories for me of the warm embrace of family and the romance of moss hanging from a canopy of trees.

I love sweet tea, a good front porch swing and a lazy warm Sunday in the sun wearing a long, effortless sundress.

Please enjoy this collection of handmade goodies... inspired by and/or made in the south!

Victorian Blush vintage pearls and rosary chain - $35.00 from Renee Loughlin

You Are My Sunshine poster - $8.00 from Jessica Swift

8x8 turquoise handmade pine picture frame - $22.00 from DA Custom Frames

Tree Of Life print - $25.00 from Not Yo Momma's Handbag

Blush Earrings - $22.00 from Eternal Eden

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Anchors Away! - Friday Finds

This week's Friday Finds are inspired by a recent trip my family and I took to Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Enjoy these sea inspired lovelies...

Art For The Seafarer

My Captain - We've Reached The End Of The World print from HidenSeek - $43.00
Pray The Anchor Stays Heavy, My Child print from HidenSeek - $43.00
Jellyfish - original linocut from The Grey Fox Studio - $60.00
Black Octopus Attacking Ship print from BlackBaroque - $10.00

Jewelry and fashion inspired by the sea!

Anchor ring in sterling silver from SilverBeyondOrdinary- $159.00
Anchors Away earrings from tizzalicious - $7.50
Nautical headband with brass anchor button from Peachy Tuesday - $12.00
Hey Sailor shirt from emandsprout - $16.00


Fun nautical finds for little ones!

5 flag nautical felt banner from Taffie Wishes - $25.00
A B C nautical prints from KZukowski - $12.00 each
Dotty wooden sailboat from willowbaus - $18.00

Monday, September 06, 2010

Weekend Inspiration

Just stumbled across the lovely shop, Tea For Thoughts, on Etsy. It was new to me and so inspirational! I love the soft colors and the sweet sentiments. They are just the thing to start a new week!

*All images copyright Tea For Thoughts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some New Favorites - Friday Finds

River Deep - Ziegfeld showgirl mixed media print from Velvet Morning - $13.00

This week's Friday Finds are handmade goodies pulled from my Etsy favorites. These are just some pretty handmade pieces that I stumbled across this week and wanted to share! Enjoy!

You and Me - photo encaustic from Miniature Rhino - $25.00

Wildflowers handpainted, upcycled mug from Deeds and Petunia - $10.00

Olive everyday hobo style bag from Nuwong - $17.99

Sunday, August 08, 2010

How I Do It

If there's one statement that I hear more than any other it's "I just don't know how you do it."

I've got three kids under 6, a husband who travels often for work, a big house, a big yard, a garden and a business that is growing by leaps and bounds.

My days are full of child care, cleaning, filing orders, developing new products and artwork, internet networking, business paperwork and all the usual household chores. Anyone who hears about my life and the things that I get done in one day, always utters those words... "I just don't know how you do it."

Just between you and me, I've got a secret weapon. No, it's not coffee or some illicit substance that gives me massive amounts of energy to get through the day. It's much simpler than that.

It's momentum.

Pure and simply, once I get going I just let the wave of activity wash over me. It seems that the more I get done, the more energy I produce to keep going. As the "done" list grows, my brain and body just kick in to top off with even more things to add to the list.

I fight the urge to sit down and take a break because it completely stops my flow of work. I find that I feel like taking a break not because I'm tired but more because it feels like a reward for finishing something. I've realized that I'd rather move on and get something else done than give myself a pat on the back and a rest on the couch!

Momentum gives me power.
Momentum gives me focus.
Momentum gives me energy.

But when I'm done... I'm. Done.

The excitement that I'm finding by accomplishing so many things in one day just feeds on itself. When I'm lying in bed at night, exhausted, my brain is still going... excited about the list of things for tomorrow.

So that's my secret. Momentum. I get motivated (as difficult as that may be sometimes) and then just ride it through, keeping continual momentum.

It's what works for me. What works for you? How do you do it?

** Photo by Kelsey LoveFusionPhoto via flickr Creative Commons

Friday, August 06, 2010

Houndstooth - Friday Finds

Houndstooth Hobo bag from cindymars7 - $45.00

Maxwell Romper from Fables By Barrie - $98.00

Houndstooth pom from Pom Love - $6.00

Houndstooth Toddler Necktie from Baby By Stevie - $17.00

I love the classic lines of the houndstooth design. Do you have any really great houndstooth pieces of know of some cool listings on Etsy that might work with this theme? Put your links in the comments so that we can all check 'em out!

Have a great weekend!