February 27, 2011

Collaged Crystal Necklace

Here is a necklace I recently finished. I'll probably just keep it, or perhaps switch the crystal out for another one and sell it. I accidentally put the collage on crooked. If has some character, I suppose, but I wouldn't sell it like this.
collaged, chandelier crystal, collage, necklace, handmade, jewelry
I've had that crystal for quite some time now, but I never knew how I wanted to use it until now.

February 24, 2011


Chandelier Crystal, Czech Glass, Cluster Earrings, Handmade, thingsuncommon, things uncommon, artfire
My First Sale!
OK, I don't use the term very often, but OMG! I had my first sale today and I hadn't even realized I started! I actually put a few pairs of earrings up on my free Basic ArtFire studio a few days ago, created a quick and dirty banner for it, and tried to start familiarizing myself with how things work there. I asked my husband and my sister to take a look at it just for some feedback. My husband wanted to tell everyone right away, but I said, "I only have four things on there! I'm not ready!!"

So he held back and I've been frantically trying to purchase more supplies. This week has been busy with other extracurricular activities so I haven't had much creation time. I made 1/4 of a necklace on Monday, but that's not really getting me anywhere!

So today my sister posts my studio link on her Facebook, and one of her awesome friends bought a pair of my earrings! Woohoo! Oh, but wait. I haven't figured out my packaging yet. What am I going to put the earrings in? It has to be pretty, and unique. I want the buyer to feel like she bought herself a little gift. I also wish I actually had a solid logo figured out. Business cards would be nice. So would a custom rubber stamp. But I want to get her earrings in the mail ASAP! I guess tomorrow will be an interesting day of figuring out something cool for my packaging in a pinch. Then I need to really sit down and thing about what I need to order!

February 22, 2011

Indecision May or May Not Be Your Problem

My husband says this to me a lot. I'm frickin' indecisive. It is a tragic flaw that has certainly impeded me in many situations. I've now got to overcome this crap and make some executive decisions, dammit!

Here are some of the decisions I'm facing as an aspiring craft entrepreneur.

Should I go high-end, low-end, or middle-of-the-road? Base metals, sterling, both? Glass, plastic and acrylic or gemstones, or both? Should I purchase findings that are already antiqued or do it myself? Should I buy from Chinese wholesalers to make a better profit margin? Should I purchase my supplies from my local bead store because I prefer contributing to my local economy even if it means I have to charge my customers more? Should I make every piece one of a kind or just create a few designs that I can make with a few minor variations? And this is just for the jewelry side of the house. What about when (yes, when) we expand our offerings to other items? Just thinking about that makes my head spin.

No, I'm not a booking agent for musical acts or burlesque shows - where am I going to sell my wares? Clearly, I will have an online store. But which one? Etsy is the original virtual craft bazaar, but it is no longer the only place where you can sell handmade items. There is also Artfire, 1000Markets and a bevvy of others to choose from. They each have their own quirks and advantages. Etsy is almost to the point of being "mainstream" in that many people know about it, but it is also flooded with tons of competition. Artfire lets you set up a store for free so you can test the waters, but it isn't as well known at this point.

I like the idea of creating Anthropologie inspired jewelry, but I know that is limiting. Plus, I dont' want people to think I am making knockoffs, because that is not my goal. In the end it will come down to what sells and where the demand lies, but first I'll need to make some inventory in a variety of styles before I can figure that out.

Once I get all that figured out, I still have to make myself "legal" before I start doing business. Yes, even someone who sells handmade crafts as a hobby still has to pay sales tax on those items sold to customers within the same state. Tune in next time for more on that ball of fun.

February 21, 2011

Anthro Inspiration

Here are a few items at Anthropologie that are inspiring me right now.

February 19, 2011

Just Doing It

Today my husband, two good friends and I joined a group of local cyclists on the CircumRaleigh Greenway Ride. This was a 24 mile bike ride circumnavigating Raleigh utilizing the greenway system. Yes, I said 24 miles. I haven't ridden my bike that far in...ever. We were lucky to have an absolutely beautiful day for this great feat, and now I am just about ready to turn into a big pile of jello.

As far as exercise is concerned, I think that riding a bicycle is my favorite variety. However, it isn't something that I do on a regular basis, so today's ride was a challenge. I admit that I had some doubts about how I would hold up for that distance, but I didn't really say anything about it to my husband, who happens to have way more confidence in my athletic abilities than I do. But I got out there and did it. Not to say that I wasn't cursing many of the hills we had to climb, the wind, and the chafing from the padded shorts I borrowed (I did this loudly and with gusto). Still, despite all that, by the end of the 24 miles, I really had a sense of accomplishment and surprise that I completed this monumental physical task without much trouble.

What does this have anything to do with my current endeavor to make and sell handmade jewelry? Not much other than the fact that I just need to do it. Much of my indecision is the fear of failure, or the evil little voice in the back of my head that makes me doubt my abilities from time to time. I enjoy making handcrafted jewelry and creating other handmade items, I can do this!

I've ordered a few supplies and have many more to order. I'm a bit gun shy on the amounts of chain, beads and findings I should be purchasing at this point. The prices get better with higher quantities, and as much of a bargain shopper that I am, I am just going to have to suck it up and purchase the smaller quantities at first until I actually start making some sales. I just have to "do" it.

February 18, 2011

Research, Research, Research

I’m super risk-averse. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to make the right decisions and the best choices possible, based on the information available to me. In the age of Google, that now means that just about any information that exists in the world is available to me – and that is a scary thing. Why? Because I will look for it. If I have even the slightest inkling that there is more information out there somewhere, I’m going to try to find it. What does that mean for getting my handcrafted goodies business started? It means that starting out will be s l o w.

So where am I at this point? Well, I'm still researching, of course. But I'm forcing myself to start taking meaningful steps toward getting this baby off the ground. For all intents and purposes, I could research forever - and I will! Just because you get something going doesn't mean the research stops. At least, that's my theory to having a successful business model. I guess we'll see if it works. But I need to start putting some of my research into action. The question is, which comes first, the product or the branding?

February 17, 2011

Creative Rebirth

I’ve basically thrust myself into this attempt at a creative business due to my boredom at work. I have a job that pays enough for me to live a relatively comfortable lifestyle, and for that I am extremely grateful. For the past eight or so years I’ve been content with performing my job as well as I can, but not really being that challenged by the nature of my work. I had a rough time after I graduated from university with a Bachelor’s in Business-Marketing, battling a recession after a national disaster, depression, and lots of confusion about what path I would end up taking. It didn’t really feel like a choice when I finally got my first real job. It was definitely more about feeling lucky to even have a job. It was something I knew I could do well without too much stress, so I didn’t really think about how my creativity would be affected.

Over the course of the next eight years, my creativity waned and eroded. I would still have spurts here and there, but inspiration would usually just sit idle in my brain. I quit writing the blog I had started, stopped taking photographs, and basically quit making things for myself.

People always say that you have to hit bottom before you can crawl out of a hole. I think that happened for me sometime last year. I was planning my wedding with my husband, and even though I didn’t think I really even wanted to have a “wedding”, I started becoming absorbed in the creative process of the planning. It happened a little too late in the planning process to be able to go into the painful detail that I normally obsess over, but it happened with just enough time to actually teach me that painful detail is not always necessary, nor is it always appreciated by those you are doing it for to begin with.

So I’m starting to crawl out of my creativity vacuum. And I am all in. It’s almost as if ideas have just been stockpiling in some forgotten closet in my head, and now that I’ve opened the door, everything’s falling out. It’s quite difficult to focus on work, because what I really want to be devoting my time and brain cells toward is working on my ideas. I can’t wait to start creating things!

February 15, 2011

It's Just a Start

My husband and I love to create things. I've always gained great satisfaction from creating or physically changing things so that I can see the fruits of my labor. I never really thought much about it until recently, since I've become quite bored with my job and need more personal joy from doing something. It's a decent paying job, but I just don't get much satisfaction from it (other than the complete and utter gratitude that I actually do have a job in these trying times). I've had hobbies that come and go, since my interests range from such things as photography, reading, drawing, and playing music to doing research, doing math (I know, I know - I used to hate it, but now numbers seem to make some sense), and cleaning (yeah, I know, another weird one). I never really ever picked just one thing and focused on it for more than a few months or a year at a time; however, I've always gone back to each of these things (and others) when I get bored with whatever it is I happened to be focusing on lately.

But I really just love to create things. I like to make clean things out of dirty things, functional things out of broken things, and pretty things out of a bunch of what looks like nothing. Mostly, I just like to make things better than they were, or better than their parts. I started making jewelry a couple of  years ago, inspired by my local bead store, Ornamentea. The store is so cute, and there are so many lovely goodies to choose from, how could you not be inspired to at least make a little something? Of course, I hadn't made jewelry since middle school when I taught myself how to make daisy chains with seed beads and knotted friendship bracelets. Needless to say, I've kind of outgrown those styles a bit. This is where Ornamentea really proves how awesome it is: they not only do they offer a variety of classes at the store, but they also offer FREE tutorials for different techniques and project ideas.

From Ornamentea.
OK, so another thing that I've slowly (and painfully) learned about myself over the course of my life is that I love teaching myself how to do things. No offense to any of the awesome teachers and instructors I've had in my life, but I really do learn and retain better by being given the basics and then being left to my own devices. So the tutorials that I found on Ornamentea's website totally tickled my fancy. They had amazing photos and instructions, and before I knew it, I'd made my very own seahorse necklace!

I was so proud of myself! Not only did I now actually have an awesome, unique piece of jewelry, I also had the pleasure of knowing I made it myself. I got so many compliments on it, I couldn't wait for the next new tutorial to come out, so I went to the store and bought a whole bunch of supplies that I hoped would inspire me. I had this wild idea that I'd make some necklaces for my sister and my Mom, which I eventually did. But I also bought a few things that are still sitting in my supply. I think I just jumped the gun, considering I didn't really have a whole lot of jewelry crafting experience under my belt yet. However, those other pretty ingredients will be used eventually, so they were not bought in vain.

So three years later I I now find myself itching to create my own designs. I've been inspired by many of Ornamentea's free tutorials, and I've learned a lot from them. I probably have plenty more to learn, and will likely take a few real classes sometime in the future. But I've also found another inspiration: Anthropologie. I just love the eclectic, yet beautiful, style of pretty much everything they sell. Just one problem - I would not be able to eat if I actually shopped there as much as I'd like to. Sure, they have great sales, and I've certainly found some incredible deals, but so many times I've missed out on something I really liked. And many times I've thought to myself, "I can make that!" This is mostly true with the jewelry, since I am far from being a seamstress with enough wits to even make a simple apron that won't fall apart (I do plan on improving upon that, though).

I've made jewelry for friends and they've had people ask them if I am selling my wares, but I've just never put enough time into it to actually create an inventory. Well, that is changing, my friends. I'm feeling enterprising and inspired, so let's see what I can come up with. I'm still debating whether to open and Etsy or Artfire shop, but I'll save that great debate for another post.

Thanks for tuning in, and we'll talk at ya later.

February 13, 2011

The Keywords

So, knowing how important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is for just about everything these days, my first post will simply establish keywords on my blog. Major search engines tend to favor sites that have a longer tenure when returning search results, so here we go.

I'm hoping to start selling some of my Anthropologie inspired jewelry to just make a little extra money. I enjoy creating things, and I think that people often appreciate handmade lovely items. I'm hoping to keep an affordable range of items for those who love Anthropologie, but who can't always handle the steep prices there.

Jewelry, Anthropologie, earrings, necklaces, handmade, handcrafted, vintage, inspired, one of a kind, ooak, unique, bronze, copper, brass, sterling, silver, gunmetal, antiqued, oxidized, acrylic, chandelier, crystals, faceted, drops, pendants, czech glass