Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Finds

Whoops!  Looks like I almost forgot about my pledge to post once a week!  Luckily I already had this one started so I could add some lovely finds that I thought you might enjoy as well.

I came across a lot of green living, bicycle transportation, and living intentionally small this week.  I posted a lot of my favorites on twitter.

On top of that, I finally responded to an email from Bicycle City which was in response to my request for more info.  First time I actually heard from someone (I've been following them since 2007) and I was tickled to death!!

My husband taught me how to use Pocket to save articles for later reading instead of leaving 15 tabs open on my browser (and thus slowing my browsing to a CRAWL....).

After "meeting" Sarah through Liesl's 3 Question interview series, I proceeded to pin about a dozen recipes from her blog: The Vanilla Bean Blog.  One of which I have already tried my hand at.

This board has some great eye candy for contemplating yarn storage as we continue to plan our addition (and my little etsy corner).

This might be a great way to use up my wool scraps & also allow us to stop buying dryer sheets.

And I've been doing a lot of swagbucks these last two weeks to reach my daily goal for the whole month to get a bonus 300 points.  Does anyone else use swagbucks?  Once I got the hang of it, it has been a great background addition to my daily computer use to earn a few giftcards toward fun things :)  We are currently saving for Home Depot giftcards for home improvement projects.

What did you find worthwhile this week?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tools I Use for Selling My Products

Along the same lines as Blogging Tools, I found myself getting into tools/sites that I use for sales so I broke that off into this post:

Even as I am starting to branch out into physical booth for sales (and possibly consignment??) I still like to have Etsy as a landing page & sample of work available by me.  Along the same lines, I like to keep a dedicated Pinterest board to my previous work, especially when it comes to one-of-a-kind pieces to be referenced by customers or used as inspiration for future work.  This has also been handy in knowing what needs to be duplicated for popularity's sake.

I also use Pinterest to brainstorm my craft show set up, new patterns to try, and any marketing or advice I might come across that I find worth referencing.

Square has been a great tool for accepting credit payments in person plus generating a neat, digital sales receipt for anyone requesting one.  So far the only draw back has been that my particular smartphone (LG Spectrum 1st gen.) is not fully supported so I always have to type in the card numbers which results in a higher fee.  I still did fairly well at the Make It Indie fair in November but it sure has me thinking about that next phone upgrade this spring....

Facebook - to promote art/craft shows I am participating in, send customers to for product & experience feedback as well as interaction, share new items listed in the shop, latest blog post link, and anything I find interesting that I think my followers may also enjoy.  I like to keep my Facebook light-hearted but centered around the knitting/crocheting/crafting theme.
Maybe not so surprisingly, I have noticed that some have even used my Facebook page as a way to contact me via message instead of my email.  This is how I was invited to join the Merchant's Landing Arts & Craft Show!

Free "scrap" bracelets

Speaking of physical shows, I've also found that a little freebie is a great draw to your table.  I like to crochet long leftover scraps of cotton yarn into bracelets which I offer for free to whomever.  I find it is a great way to strike up a conversation with anyone "brave enough" to pick out a free bracelet.  :)

So far I haven't branched out into wholesaling (purchasing or selling) but it has crossed my mind several times.  Does anyone have any wholesale experience?

And as always, word of mouth through supportive friends and family members has helped generate a fair handful of sales this past holiday season.  Plus a few times when asked what do I do for a living (a question that always makes me cringe), I mention that I am a knit/crochet instructor as well as an Etsy shop owner.  I like to show pictures of what I make via my smartphone (images taken directly with my phone as well as pulling up my Etsy shop on my phone) and hand them a business card, encouraging them to explore my shop more when they are home.  I don't know how well it works, but I figure it can't hurt, right?

I'd love to hear what tools you use for "pedaling your wares" :)  If you already have a post about it, would you mind pasting a link to it in the comments section?  I'd love to read it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Merchants Landing Arts & Craft Show

I'm so excited that I have another show on the calendar!

These ladies participated with me at the Make It Indie fair back in November and reached out to me to join them in their first annual show this April.  I have to say I was definitely honored that they reached out to me and were patient as I searched my mind for an answer.  Of course I wanted to scream yes right away, but knowing that the show weekend (April 12 & 13) is the weekend after my due date, I had to consider newborn care first.  After talking with my midwife, husband (who was supportively pushing me in this direction), and a few other friends with kids, I decided to go with the "ambitious" decision to commit.  And now I'm so excited & ecstatic that I did!

So if everyone will just send positive, slightly early-labor thoughts my way, I'd really appreciate it! hehe.  :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Soap Savers

You may have seen me mention these little things in passing (I believe the first time I even mentioned them was Flower Weekend back in May & then again in July at my first Art Walk) but it doesn't look like I've ever really talked much about my Soap Savers on the blog.

If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen their debut at the Toledo Farmer's Market:

This handy bath item is the perfect size to collect those little shards of soap in to get every last bit of use out of your soap, or you can even store a whole bar of soap in it!  I describe them as self-refilling loofas/washcloths because once you have added soap to the inside of the pouch and started working a lather through its walls, it will continue to lather every time it is massaged.

Here is one of my friends who has used hers since last summer (about 6 months at this point).  She loves how well it lathers:

I've even found that it makes a nice scrubbie and would probably work to scrub dishes or the bathtub walls!  Does anyone else use a soap saver?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More Granola: Maple Cinnamon

While in search of the perfect granola recipe for us, I discovered Sarah's blog through Liesl's 3 Question series.

Yesterday I tried her recipe for Maple Cinnamon Granola with only slight hesitation at the inclusion of cinnamon.  I've been looking for a healthy, tasty granola to pair nicely with my homemade yogurt & a drizzle of honey (my favorite snack ever!) and the idea of cinnamon just didn't seem to fit the bill - at least in my mind.  I've always thought of cinnamon as more a holiday flavor and pairing with sugar & sweets.  But I decided to try it anyway since my last two batches have been quite dull in flavor.  I also omitted the water she called for and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.  :)

Fresh out of the oven & cooling.
So far the flavor is smokey & delicious (I licked the spoon after pouring it into the baking sheet) and the sweet maple aroma is just starting to waft from the oven.  I'm so excited to try this latest batch with my yogurt.  The only downside is I'm almost out of dried cherries!

5 cups rolled thick oats
2 Tbs whole flax seed
2 Tbs wheat bran
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted almonds (I would have added a whole cup but this is all I had today)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup applesauce, homemade so it has a few chunks in it
3 tsp vanilla extract

Mix oats, flax, wheat bran, cinnamon, salt & almonds together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix syrup, applesauce and vanilla together.  Pour wet over dry ingredients, being sure the oats are fully coated.  Pour onto a greased baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake at 325*F for about 30 minutes (until oats are golden brown & no longer wet), stirring about every 10 minutes.

While cooling, add in 1 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts and 1 cup dried cherries.  Stir occasionally while cooling.  Store in an airtight container.

Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Goals

I know it may seem a little late to be posting goals for the new year, but these have been swirling in my head since the end of January and I think they are finally ready to be listed and documented.  Not to mention by publishing them I can hold myself accountable and keep myself on track for the year.

  1. Finally get my Tax/ Incorporation in order.  Aka, am I a sole proprietor or LLC?  I meet with my uncle who does taxes for a living to figure this out next week.  :)
  2. Commit to at least one show/fair/market per month.  Obviously I missed the first three months this year but so far I'm on track to start in April with the Merchant's Landing Show April 12 & 13.
  3. Post to this blog once a week.  If more is happening that's worth posting about, I'll be sure to post it as well, though it may be less wordy.  Who is ok with just a picture post once in a while?
  4. Get my wares into a physical brick & mortar store.  More to come on this once things are settled.  I'm currently talking with two different shops and it just makes me super excited for new possibilities!
I've also started reading this great book that has some nice exercises (I'm not usually a fan of "exercises" in a book) that really spoke to me after I met my goal of doing 1-3 physical shows in 2013.  I felt so empowered and excited I couldn't wait to make more goals for this year & feel an even bigger empowerment at the end of this year.  Thus my mind has really started opening to the possibilities because of this book & it has really inspired some energy in me for this year's success.

So far my favorite passage is on goals & goal setting (thus inspiring this organized post instead of just a note to self on a scrap piece of paper):

Goals are really amazing things.  They give you focus and set your course.  [...]  Goals support Intentions.  By actively working on these goals, the end result will be accomplished.  You can use your intentions to make sure you keep your business on track. [...]  Your goals should be your friends; they should excite you, and you should look forward to working toward them.  Goals are not chores.
Exercise: Make a list of all the goals you've had since you decided to be a creative business owner.  Now circle all the goals that you've already accomplished.
Quote from Jolie Guillebeau: "Take small steps consistently.  Do something every single day to make a little progress toward your goal." 
Grow Your Handmade Business - Kari Chapin

Anyone read anything inspiring lately?