Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Features - ♥

I can't believe this is the last full week of January and next week already brings us February! Which means that Valentine's Day is creeping even closer! Today I went in search of some items that I thought would make great Valentine's Day gifts, but that can be worn all year long. Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BBA Challenge - Goals or Hopes for the New Year!

To start off the year, our first BBA Challenge is brought to us by Beaded Tail. She writes:
"What do you hope to accomplish this year? What are you looking forward to doing in 2015? Do you have plans to travel some place exciting, move to a new home/city or how about get a kitten? Will you be taking your shop in new directions? Let us know or give us a hint of your year to come! "
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn't have any traditional goals for 2014. And 2015 is much the same. I'm really in a happy place both personally and professionally. But that doesn't mean I don't still have plans for the new year.

As I also mentioned in an earlier post, I'm planning to buy a second laser this year! This is a really big deal for my small business! It's a very large investment that I've put a lot of thought into. I must say that my first laser was the best investment I ever made for my business and I hope this one is equally rewarding. The machine will be larger and allow me to cut thicker material and engrave taller items.
I go to see a demo machine on February 19th!!! And as soon as I can get my taxes finished up, I'll be placing my order!

Another thing I would like to accomplish for my business is to finally start a business Facebook page. I've been asked numerous times if I have a page and I feel it would be a good place to branch out and meet new potential customers. I very rarely post my work on my personal page as I don't want to spam my friends. A business page will allow me to snap pictures of my daily work and just write a comment or two.
As most of you know, I don't do much with social media. My blog is really the only form I currently have. So I am proof that you don't have to participate in every form of social media out there to run a successful business. But I do feel adding a FB page will help me grow my business without taking up too much time.
What are your plans for 2015?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

2014 - My Year of Growth

Last year I didn't set any real goals for my business. I dubbed it The Year of Growth. And my only goal was to continue growing my business and continue doing the things that were already working for me. I outlined three areas where I wanted to focus my growth.
The first was to grow my space. And boy was that a big one! I had previously been working out of an 11' x 11' spare bedroom. That is, before I started taking over the whole house! I moved into my studio last June and expanded to 850 square feet dedicated to just my business!
This space has allowed me to grow my business by keeping me organized and more efficient. There is no way I could have gotten as many packages out each day had I been in my old work area. I now have a dedicated shipping station and two entire shelving units full of shipping supplies. Everything is (mostly) organized making shipping packages so much easier.
And I have space to store the rest of my inventory as well. It's more easily accessible and more easily found. No more searching through stacks of boxes hoping to find the right one.

The second area I wanted to grow my business was by hiring an employee during the holiday rush. And let me tell you, it was one of the best things I did. As I mentioned in my "things I learned" post last Wednesday, I just wish I would have had my shipper here more often. She was only able to come twice a week and I will definitely have someone here five days a week this year.

And the last area of growth was in equipment. This is one that I'm really excited about. I wanted to get moved into my new studio and see how things would get arranged and see if I would add a second laser or new equipment to make new/different products. Things are still doing well with the laser engraving and honestly, I don't have time to dedicate to new/different products. If this crazy holiday season taught me anything, it's that I need another laser! Not only could I produce more with a second laser, I would have a backup if something happened. Right now, if my laser goes business is basically down! A very scary thought in mid-December! So I'm working on purchasing a second laser now and hope to have it by mid-March.

So while I didn't set any goals in the traditional sense, I do feel I reached all my hopes and plans for the year. Now it's time to start planning for 2015!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Features - Marathon

Last fall I blogged about some medallions I engraved for a local marathon race. And I recently found out that the medallions will be featured in Marathon & Beyond Magazine in the article One of the Top 25 Marathon Medals in the U.S.! The article won't be published until May, but I'm super excited about the announcement! I'll be sure to get my hands on a copy when it is printed and share it with you all.
For now, I've gone searching on Etsy for other cool marathon items. Enjoy :)
Clockwise from top left:

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Top 5 Things I Learned Holiday Season 2014

The holiday season of 2014 has been my busiest yet! Things went from busy to CRAZY busy in what seemed like overnight. While I'm thrilled with the success of my shop, I will admit that I was completely overwhelmed for about 2 months! I've put together a list of the top 5 things I learned during that time and what I plan to do differently next year.

1. Order 3 times more supplies than I think I'll need
Okay, this may seem like a rookie mistake, but I ran out of supplies at some very critical times. I was so busy making things, that I forgot to restock supplies (face palm)! And then when supplies did come in, I didn't have time to put them in their proper place. My studio turned into a sea of boxes.
This year, I plan to order more supplies than I think I'll actually need. And order them early. That way I can get them put in their proper place and the excess can be organized more neatly and efficiently.

2. Plan extra time for answering emails
I did not anticipate for all the extra convos/emails that the busy-ness brings. I could spend 2-3 hours each morning answering emails, while more and more came in. My regular routine is to answer convos/emails in the morning so they are out of the way and I can begin my day. During the holiday season, I had to change the way I worked or I could spend all day just answering messages and not getting anything else accomplished. I finally had to switch up my routine and have things ready for the laser each morning so it was running while I was answering messages.

3. Revise listings for holiday shoppers
One of the reasons I was getting so many messages/questions is because shoppers tend to not read the entire listing description. Sometimes they don't read it at all! A lot of the questions I was receiving were answered in the listing, if people would just read. I finally starting putting the most important details and the most asked questions at the top of the listing before anything else. This did help some and I wish I had done it sooner. I will definitely be doing this before the holiday shopping season begins this year!

4. Have someone shipping packages 5 days a week
I was very fortunate to have a friend help me with shipping this year. The only problem was, she could only come twice a week. It was so nice having a helper to do all the packaging and labels. That allowed me 4-5 hours each day to work on actual items.
I will admit that it was VERY hard for me to give up that part of the process. Shipping is the final stage before it leaves my hands and I like to do one last quality check and make sure everything is perfect before it goes out the door. Having someone I felt confident in made all the difference in allowing to give up this part of the process. It helps she's a little OCD like me :)

5. I am not a factory
Number 4 actually leads me to number 5. While I was able to give up the shipping part of the process, there are just certain things I am not willing to give up and may never be willing to give up. When discussing the holiday craziness with a family acquaintance, they mentioned that I should have more employees and each person have a station...blah, blah, blah. I'm not running a factory and I don't want an automated, bulk-order business. I specialize in one-of-a-kind, custom items...and I like it that way.
This individual also said that I should have someone answering all my emails/convos for me. While that sounds nice, this is also an area I'm not willing to give up. When you do custom work, you have to work very closely with your customers. When I begin working on a piece, I've dealt with the customer first-hand and know each request they made because I took the request. I answered their questions. And I will give them the perfect item because I know what they want. It all comes down to customer-service and that is something I choose to keep for myself.

So going forward, I will seek help where I can and plan extra time for the things I will continue to do by myself. Being efficient is really what's key in staying sane through the holiday craziness!

Okay, if you're still with me, thank you for reading. This got a little long!
Do you have any tips you learned from the holiday season?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Valentine's Day - Just Around the Corner!

Wow, I'm just now starting to get caught up from holiday orders and it's already time to start thinking about Valentine's Day! I still have a post planned about everything I learned from my busiest holiday season ever, but wanted to get this post up since Valentine's Day is less than a month away! (how did that happen!)
Last year I had 3 designs available for purchase in my wooden card collection. And this year I'm adding two more designs.

I'm so glad I'm starting to get caught up because that allowed me time over the weekend to actually work on new designs! I love coming up with fun new themes and expanding existing lines. First up is the ever-popular tandem bike design. This design still does very well for wedding items and cuff links. This design is a little different from my other tandem bikes as it has a basket on the front full of hearts spilling into the air. I thought it added that right amount of "cute" to the card :)

And I've always enjoyed this LOVE design based on the sculpture by Robert Indiana. I recreated the design in my software program and added a simple sentiment to the bottom. All of these cards can be customized with any wording of the buyer's choice.

Look for these new designs in the shop soon. I got them created and engraved, but haven't had a chance to photograph them quite yet.

Are you working on any new items in your shop for Valentine's Day?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Features - Marsala - Pantone Color of the Year 2015

I don't know about you, but any color named after a wine has to be great, right :) If you don't believe me, take a look at these beautiful features below. They're sure to change your mind!

Marsala - Pantone Color of the Year 2015

Any color named after wine has to be great, right :) These beautiful items prove it!
Marsala red flower. Original abstract watercolor painting. A unique gift for birthday, for wedding. Wall art for home. Psychedelic artwork.
DOUBLE PEARL EARRINGS, tribal earring, earring double side, black earrings, opaque, shiny earrings, color marsala
Velvet and Organdy Marsala Rose Millinery Flower Soft Wine Burgundy with Leaves for Hats, Wedding, Corsage
Leaves - Maroon Czech Glass Leaf and Crystal Niobium Earrings
Wine II Crochet Fingerless Gloves with Flower
Marsala Swallow Scarf Bird Scarf Pinup Scarf Rocker Scarf Wine Scarf
AS SEEN IN Beaded Wrap Bracelet Necklace - Maroon Red Brown by randomcreative on Etsy
Mens Wedding Boutonnieres - Marsala Boutineers for Wedding - Rustic Hand Crafted
Leaf Patterned Earrings with Carnelian
Marsala Dishes, Burgundy Lace Ceramic Dishes, Cranberry Plates, Burgundy Pottery, Lace Dish, Burgundy Home Decor,Square Plate,Cranberry Dish
marsala red earrings. jasper stone earings in hammered sterling silver.
Damask necktie. Marsala Spiced Wine silk tie, raspberry print. Silkscreened men's wedding tie. 100% silk, choose standard or narrow width.
Celtic Lattice Knot Wedding Pen Hawaiian Koa Guestbook Pen - Best Man Groomsmen Guy Gift Segmented Woodworking
Marsala Garnet Earrings
Oven Mitt - Red Floral Pot Holder - Gift for Foodie - Gift for Mom -  Gift Under 25
Marsala Color Pearl Bridesmaid Jewelry Set Brown Crystal Rhinestone Bridesmaid Jewelry Gift Burgundy Set Of necklace earrings

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - New Toy?

Harley, enjoying my new slippers :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hello 2015

Welcome to 2015! And welcome back to my blog! I sort of fell of the face of the bloggy earth at the end of the year. I kept telling myself to write a post letting everyone know I would be away for a while, but never quite found time.
My bloggy break was for a good reason and nothing bad. My holiday selling season went from busy to CRAZY busy in what seemed like overnight. This was by far my most successful holiday season on Etsy yet! I'll be sure to tell you all about it in a post soon. Letting you know what I learned and what I'll do differently next year.
While I won't be back to a normal blogging schedule quite yet, I did want to check in and say Hello :) I've been stopping by a few blogs here and there as well getting myself back into the bloggy scene.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that your 2015 is off to a great start!
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