Sunday, August 30, 2009

Craft Show Table Cover

This has been a very productive weekend! I have gotten a lot of work done. Two plush monsters added to my shop and finished the covers for my craft show tables! Last weekend Jay and I went to the local Flea Market looking for tables for the craft shows. I found one online that I absolutely loved. It was 6 ft long, and folded in half with a handle to make it easier to carry. We both have short cars so thought this would be perfect. However, cheapest we could find online was $80 a piece! And we would need two! That's a bit expensive for the tables. So we went to the flea market thinking we could find some of the old 4 ft card tables to use instead. But low and behold we found the exact table I was looking at online! And there were two of them! A total steal, because they both still have great condition. $25 each! We were amazed and got bought instantly. Quickest trip ever to the flea market, loved it.

So this weekend went to Bed Bath and Beyond looking for a sheet to convert into a table cover. Sheets are so expensive! And who cares how soft it is for covering a table? So instead we went to JoAnn's and bought fabric to make my own. Now I didn't save any money, probably spent more than would have at Bed Bath. But I love them! They turned out perfect and will coordinate with my sign.
As soon as I put the cover over the table, Thirteen ran under. She just loves pretending to live in forts! You can see her in the back left, contemplating her next adventure.

I have a matching one in pink which will be the main table when I do 1-table shows. Still working on my sign, have to learn a bit more about my new machine and wait for a hoop to come in.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: Crafting a Business

This past week I have been reading Crafting a Business. I must say this is one of my favorite books so far. It is very inspirational, and it is one of the newest books I got from the library. The book goes through almost 30 different women artists in all different craft fields. Amy Butler is mentioned, as well as Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes! From jewelry to antiques, to running a business online from home or a brick and mortar shop. Each woman(or small group) gets roughly 4 pages to show fantastic pictures of their spaces and crafts and to tell their story. They each give tips on what they have learned to do and what not to do. There is a small inspirational section, look at designs for business identity's, as well as a business section in the back to starting your own business.

Other books I have read have far more business topics in running a business. But this book is far more inspiring. In some margins there are quotes from the women which are inspiring as well. My favorite quote is from Te Junk Gypsy Company: "If you want to start your own business, don't copy everybody else. You can really sell it better if it comes from what you believe in." I thought this was a perfect statement for my mind set. I am reading all of these business craft books to try and break into the business. But you have to keep in mind your own opinions at all times. don't do something you are not comfortable with!

I really like this book, and once I have a higher profit than loss, I might buy this book for my own library.

Support Local!

So the past few months my sewing machine has been driving me crazy. The buttons on the screen kept going in reverse. As in I select a stitch, it goes to the previous menu! Then whenever I finally got the stitch, and set my knot settings, to click OK I would have to click three inches above the button! Needless to say it was in dire need of service. Then it started switching stitches in the middle of sewing. That was the last straw! I took it into my local dealer to get serviced. Found out she was having a fantastic sale. Turn in your old embroidery machine, get the new machine at 1/2 price!
Luckily Sewing Santa found out (i.e. Mom) and bought me a new sewing machine! Oh how wonderful it is. The deal for the machine was Pfaff just released Creative Vision 5.5. The store had V.5 to sell and I was one of the few lucky ones to get it!
During my lessons to learn the new machine, which by the way is absolutely fantastic, I found out I am able to post my business cards there and a plush monster! Below is the monster I decided to show at the store. I got the front blue fabric and the yellow laurel burch fabric from the store, so thought it would be fitting! The monster also has a laurel burch pocket in the back to hold sewing supplies, ipods, whatever. He turned out really nice, and I really like the colors. Am working on a similar color scheme to sell.
The plush will be sitting in Scrap and Sew in Lutz, FL starting next week. Let's hope it brings business! Buy Handmade, support the local arts!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Book Review: Crafts and Craft Shows

Well this week I have been having major problems with my sewing machine and had to take it in for repair. Sniff! So in turn I was able to finish a book this week with all the time left over where I usually would be sewing!

I read "Crafts and Craft Shows" this week to hopefully find ideas on what to do for my upcoming first craft show on December 5th at the Handmade Holiday Bazaar in St. Pete. This book was pretty decent, I didn't learn anything new. But it did help come up with a lot of ideas on how I want to setup my booth. The author writes about crafts shows with a lot of detail in producing the craft, setting up the booth, pricing your work, and dealing with customers. I found it interesting to read, but a little dated. The author did craft shows for roughly 15 years as his sole income. The book is design specifically on what to do and what not to do to make a profit. The book has a few images on examples of craft booths they found selling well. Some of the images I though looked a little tacky, but that could just be my style choice.

If anything, the book made me aware of how much more work there is to craft shows then I thought. And for that I am glad I read it. My list of things I need for the show has gone up, but I think it will make me better prepared. I am glad my first show will be an 8' x 5' space and not a 10' x 10' space. After my first show I can decide if I want to invest in the equipment that is needed for a larger space. I do think I will only be doing shows near holidays, as in I believe that's when my craft will sell the best.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Craft Apron!

I have been reading and talking to a lot of people about what they do with their cash at craft shows. Many say they wear an apron to put the money in so they don't have to worry about watching a cash box. I thought this was a great idea and scoured the internet for a free apron tutorial. Found lots of tutorials, and this one is my favorite! Just what I wanted, small and lots of pockets.

Apron Pattern

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Review: How to Run Your Business Like a Girl

The past few days I started reading "How to Run Your Business Like a Girl." From the title I thought it would be a fun, inspirational book about women in business and how they run their businesses. I was mostly right. The book is broken into sections about starting a business, guides, being a boss, where you work, and so forth. However, the book does not 'teach' anything. I learned absolutely nothing from the book. For each section/chapter there are a few pages on the actual topic. Then there are three examples from women who run their own businesses describing how they reached the current chapter's topic. Then there is so anywhere from 2 to 6 examples of a questionnaire of other real life women who started their own businesses.

When I started the book I liked the format. I liked reading in depth how these three companies started. And then the individual start up questions and answers. But it go boring and repetitive fast. I found myself reading about these other women, who were inspiring, but not learning anything. The first few chapters were actually inspirational. But after that it seemed like the questions and answers just repeated themselves. And I got bored with the three life story sections. There is no actually 'running your business' information, just ideas from others.

The book itself is a very easy read. Under 200 pages, when I would say 50 or so of those pages are questions and answers. I wouldn't recommend it for learning about how to run a business. But it was a little bit inspirational for a while until I got bored.

Only good thing I got out of this book was two sales on etsy during the time I was reading! At least my shop is still going while I learn how to make it better!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Review: The Boss of You

This past week I have been reading "The Boss of You: Everything a Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run, and Maintain Her Own Business." This book is by far better than the "Anti 9-5 Guide."

First off, this book is more business minded, but still craft/handmade inspired. The book goes into a lot of sections of starting a business, opening it, and keeping it going. My favorite section was the beginning, where they have you list your goals and you skills. Then they continue on to help creating a mission statement and how to apply it to your goals and overall business plan.

They do not go through the detail of creating a business plan, but do highly suggest you create your own. There is a lot of discussion on budgeting for your business, and they leave it open to an online business or a brick and mortar business.

There is a large section on marketing and advertising which I skimmed through. Most of it read like common sense, but for those with little marketing skills there is good information. They even go into the importance of networking, which should be a no brainer for a start-up business.

The fourth and final section of the book is more around business that are already started. It talks about keeping your business going and how to expand. I figure when I get to that point in my business, I'll recheck out the book and read it.

Overall I really liked this book. It is written with great information, but light-hearted adding in a bit of comedic writing along the way. There are nice examples that help explain what they are discussing, and the authors go into a lot of possible scenarios. This book I would recommend!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: The Anti 9-5 Guide

This week I have been reading "The Anti 9-5 Guide: practical career advice for women who think outside the cube."

Overall I would call this book decent, for someone else. I did not receive any help from the book. I like how it is written and structured. Light hearted with many stories of other women who quit their long time careers to do what they truly wanted. Each section is inspirational, if you are still in the mindset of not liking your current job and needing the push to break out.

I am not in that position. I love my current job and its current hours. I hoped this book would be more about business advice on what to do with your career and company such as marketing and branding. There is a nice appendix to other resources of books the author recommends, one of which I am getting out from the library. But as far as business advice their is a lot of information on ideas on how to get information for your intended new career. And lots of advice of "out of the cube" working styles.

Maybe the reason this book does not work for me is I am not in a cube to begin with.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Going Batty!

I started working on my Fall line this weekend, and went a little batty! I love the design I came up with and made multiples of each. I have two - three more color combinations that I'm going to try as well!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Moving right along!

I got a lot of important stuff done this week!

1. Accepted into Handmade Holiday Bazaar. My first craft show, very excited. It will be with a lot of ETSY FESTers (The Florida Etsy Street Team) Bought two cheap folding chairs today in fact. Next is the search for the best table.

2. Officially opened my business! I have "Handmade3D" registered with the state and IRS. I have a tax ID. I also opened my Small Business checking account. I'm really doing it! Very excited and a bit nervous. Main goal for Year 1 of Official Business = Break Even!!

3. To accomplish main goal #1, I want to get into more of a business mindset. I'm not jumping into this completely blind. I have base ideas and markets to start with. But to further my chances I ordered about 8 craft business books from the library to help guide my craft research! I will post reviews to them as I complete them. I want all the help I can get to make this not necessarily profitable, although that is a long term goal, but as a successful business.

4. Updated main shipping options for ETSY shop. Sadly my Pillow Monsters will have to stay at priority shipping due to their size, but I was able to switch to first class shipping for the rest of my items and in turn was able to cut shipping in half for those items. I hope this will boost my sales.

5. Since the summer months are slow online sales, finding this myself and through many other sties, I have decided to start working on my fall line. Need to get it done early so I can move on to my holiday line for the craft fair!

6. And finally, today I sent off my submission for STUFFED magazine. I had made a couple fun plushies this week but didn't think they were over the top! So I decided to send "Ulla." I think she encompasses my current style and passion for plush.

Lots of great things happening and can't wait to keep going!