TAG Treasury Team

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shop of the week: Mannia & Titta

Please meet the lovely twin sisters Maria and Christina, the owners of Mannia & Titta.  
Both sisters are married with no pets.  However Maria has a young son that helps keep her busy.  They live on the island of Cyprus, which is in the Mediterranean sea.  They like the fact that you can gaze at the stars at night and watch children play freely in the streets during the day, without worry.  They love having grown up in this small country.

The Sisters have "day jobs" They work in the economic department of a private company and are bookkeepers for a second company.  As busy as they are they try to steal time from the usual routine to, as they say, "give life to our ideas".  They like to spend their free time with family, cooking and watching the local football (soccer) team the Apollons.  They admit to having constant energy and being u stoppable when in a creating mood.  For them 24 hours in a day is not enough for all they want to do. 

Floral Clothespins
The twins started with jewelry making about 4 years ago.  They were drawn to handmade and simple design ideas.  As their own weddings were coming up and they were eager to use vintage and Bohemian styles (not common in Crete).  With unique inspired ideas in their minds they took to the internet.  They chanced upon Etsy in their search to fulfill those ideas.  Discovering Etsy was what made them decide to form Mannia & Titta. 

Woodland Fairy Wreath
In their own words their favorite inspirational quote is "HOW TO BE HAPPY:  think about how much better off you are than some people.  So wetry tobe thankful for the moments we live in this beautiful world the Lord created for all of us."

Social Media: 

Article by Gail Entwistle of;    Digital Expressions and Artful Papers, Vintage Splendors & Entwistle Studio 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shop of the Week: Pillar of Salt

In keeping with our team goal of supporting all Etsy sellers I am introducing my first interview of a non team member.   This is Sara owner of Pillar of Salt.
Sara told me she grew up on a farm in west-central MN.  She met her husband of 13 years at Judson University, where she majored in Visual Communications (graphic design).  They have 3 children , 4 goats, 3 cats, 2 dogs and chickens.  They currently live on the farm where she was raised.  Along with the animals they have a large organic vegetable where they grow heirloom produce for themselves and the farm animals.   

Although she does not have much time for hobbies she enjoys reading historical fiction and her favorite author is Francine Rivers.  She loves arts and crafts and has tried many medias over the years.  She hopes to eventually get back into digital scrapbooking.  Sara claims that creating is in her blood. 

Opalite Ring

In discussing her business she talked about discovering wire wrapping about 3 years ago.  She was in awe of the art and worked hard to develop her technique and personal style.   A couple of years ago she was encouraged by friends to try Etsy to sell her rings.  She overcame her fear of rejection and failure, which had kept her from pursuing a career in art, because as she said "the wire wrapping just clicked with me and gave me the confidence to push past that fear...".  Losing the fear she says "I've seen God open doors for this business that I would never have dreamed of".  She now has her jewelry in 6 shops and through The Artisan Group she has gifted stylist of 2 network shows.  She hopes to one day see her designs on the screen.  Shown in the picture with one of the stars of the film "Selma", Keith Stanfield, is the ring that was included in the swag bags for the 2015 Golden Globes.
Rose Quart Pendant

Amazonite Pendant
Sara says she love the business because there are always new challenges to tackle.  Whether it be new wire wrapping techniques, improving her photos or working on the shops SEO there is always something to do or learn.  She also loves discovering new stones or beads to work with and say the variety is endless!
Fossilized Coral
Advice seems most often to com in favorite quotes and Sara's is by Madelaine L'Engle.  "Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it".   Sara finds this to be absolutely true. When she feels her creative juices running low and doesn't feel like making anything, she just begins.  Soon ideas will be building on ideas with not enough time to create them all.

One of the things Sara has a passion for is helping the poorest of the poor.  A portion of each of her sales goes to "The God's Child Project" which educates, feeds, clothes, and rescues children from human trafficking and abusive situations.   They also aid families by building humble but clean homes in Guatemala.  They have clinics and more programs than I can list. You can click on the link to find out more about their important work if you are interested.

Social media links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PillarOfSaltStudio
Twitter: www.twitter.com/PillarSaltJewel
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/lotterino/jewelry-pillar-of-salt-studio/
Tumblr: www.pillarofsaltstudio.tumblr.com/
Wanelo: wanelo.com/pillarofsaltstudio

Article by Gail Entwistle of;    Digital Expressions and Artful Papers, Beaded Splendor & Entwistle Studio 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Tips, guides & resources


Alankar of Spectracraft recently attended his first craft fair and has written this wonderful article about the experience.  It contains many of the things he learned by trial and error.

I participated in my first craft show/ fair in November of last year.  I owned my store, Spectrakraft for exactly a year and was solely dependent on online sales for survival.  I figured it was time to establish a face-to-face and more personal rapport with my customers.

The fair organizers contacted me via Etsy, and encouraged me to apply.  The fair was juried and I had to send in a completed application form, photographic samples of my work and a fee.  I did my research on what to expect in terms of footfall levels, pre-fair advertising, publicity, facilities, and space.  Once I was accepted, I paid the fee.  The show was for 6 hours and my space was 10 by 10 feet.  This show gave you the option of outdoor or indoor space.  I preferred the latter simply because I didn’t want to invest in a canopy, and didn’t want to deal with inclement weather.  I was really nervous going into this but, in hindsight, there was really no need to feel the jitters.  I was anxious because, I’d never participated in a fair before.  I went into Pinterest overload trying to figure what I needed to do to get ready for D-Day. 

While ensuring I had the right amount of inventory was of paramount importance, I also had to determine the right types and amounts of props, displays and decoration, since the fair had a very strong Christmas theme.  I won't go into much detail about the checklist because resources already exist online. My focus, in this blog, is really to highlight what I learned.  And, since this was my first time, I’m sure for many of you these lessons are already commonsensical.  But if there is a first timer like me, I hope this helps in their experience. 

My final checklist looked like this:
  • Print-out of my business license Signage saying credit card accepted (Etsy has its own credit card reader now and they send a free signage in the mail)
  • Easel: To hold my poster
  • Risers or steps to give different levels or gradations to your items
  • Credit card reader
  • Print of my resale license
  • Busts for necklace display
  • Foam boards, on which I had attached my earrings
  • Bracelet rolls
  • Tables and chairs
  • Table Cloth
  • Visiting Cards
  • Push Pins
  • Sharpies
  • Scissors
  • Bags and jewelry boxes for sales
  • Change or small bills
  • Lamps since my stall was indoors and I wasn’t sure of the lighting

I am sure I brought some other supplies too, but the ones above struck me as the ones I absolutely had to carry.  Again, the list would differ from person to person and type of business and is definitely not exhaustive.  

So now, here’s what I learned:
  1. Ask for help: If you have friends or family who are willing to accompany you to the venue and spend the time setting up the table, wrapping sales, engaging with customers, and breaking down the display, then accept their help by all means. Lugging everything you need to set-up and then dismantling it is arduous, so one or two extra pair of hands is always a good idea. I was very lucky to have two of my very close friends volunteer to help me. I cannot reiterate enough how easy that made my job.
  2. Indoor versus outdoor display space: As I mentioned, I had opted for an indoor space because I thought setting up display outside would be twice as much work. In hindsight, I may not have made the right decision. The organizers had several outdoor activities planned such as performances, food trucks, jumpy houses for kids and etc.  The outside was brimming with activity and quite naturally, the majority of the crowd concentrated there.  In contrast, it was relatively quiet indoors and every time a performance was announced, the small crowd was asked to go outdoors to enjoy the fun.  As a result, it never felt like there was the avalanche of buyers that I hoped I’d see.  In my opinion now, if I had to do the same fair again and choose between outdoor and indoor space, I might decide to set up stall outside.
  3. I was fairly na├»ve to expect that I’d be able to sell at least 30% of the items I had brought along with me.  To that end, my inventory was enormous.  In all, I had 200 items of handcrafted jewelry, because more is always better than less, right? However, for six hours of show time, that is a massive inventory and quite frankly excessive. My guess and I could be wrong would be that 50 items would have sufficed. 
  4. Rotate your inventory: I didn’t do this at the fair, but it seems like a good idea.  At any point in time, one should rotate their inventory or move pieces around. This way, when the same customer comes into the booth twice, he/she notices some novelty.  In future, I might display a limited number of items and keep changing them every couple of hours, as opposed to putting everything out there at the same time. 
  5. Eye level display: I had read about this while preparing for the craft show and I think it really is sage advice.  It is useful to have items at eye level. That way, when someone walks into your booth, they don’t need to bend or stoop to get a good look. Risers or steps are a tremendous help to achieve this eye level effect. Besides, by using them, you accord a certain sense of layers to your items, which really enhance the overall result you are trying to achieve. 
  6. Scale your expectations: This was perhaps the hardest to do.  Going in, I told myself to enjoy the experience and learn from it.  But who was I kidding? I wanted it to be a sold-out affair!  I wanted my first craft show to be a smashing hit!  So here I am, secretly hoping my items will make an instant connection with buyers resulting in significant sales. In actuality, what happens is, people walk in, look around, and walk out. Naturally, buyers want to take mental notes, see all the stalls and then make informed decisions.  If two people make a similar kind of jewelry, there is a chance the buyer will opt for a cheaper price, or a different iteration based on color, length, etc.  What I am trying to say is, there are so many factors that go into making that sale and most often those factors are beyond your control.  In addition, the demographics at a craft show are so diverse that your line of jewelry will not appeal to everyone.  Of the 20 people who walk in, there is a very high likelihood that only one will stop to look around leisurely and buy something.  However, no matter what the outcome, you cannot take the rejection (if I may sound so dramatic) too personally. Your creations may not have appealed to one buyer, but it might be a knockout to somebody else. 
  7. Defining success: I still grapple with this.  How does one define success at a craft show?  Is it recovering your costs and making something extra?  Is it forging a connection with someone who becomes a regular customer?  Is it letting people know that your brand of jewelry exists?  Success could mean different things to different people.  I was looking at it from a solely monetary perspective.  I wanted to recover my costs and make a profit.  At the end of the day, I did achieve that but not to the extent that I’d hope.  But thanks to the fair, I have repeat customers who have been very generous spreading the word about my store.  From a personal experience, I learned about what works or doesn’t work at a craft show.  So, all in all, I’d say my show was a success. The experience hasn’t curbed my enthusiasm to explore other fairs.  It has only motivated me to try again. 
In conclusion, my first craft fair was a lot of work, but also tremendous fun. For my second craft fair, I would definitely do the item rotations, display a small portion at any given point in time, and set up a stall outdoors, if there is such a choice.  I might also attend craft shows that I want to be a part of in future.  This would give me the opportunity to observe the kinds of people who come to the show.  If I find there is a match between my genre of creativity and their preferences, I might participate.  What have your experiences been? Please share your advice and tips!

Editors notes: 
  • To the supply list should be added water, snacks, receipt book,
  • Arrange for someone to give you relief every few hours
  • Along with not displaying your full inventory, moving your inventory around you should add and subtract a few pieces so buyers are not overwhelmed when making a decision to buy
  • Be sure to have your business card prominently displayed

Article by Alankar of Spectracraft
Edited by Gail Entwistle of;    Digital Expressions and Artful Papers, Beaded Splendor & Entwistle Studio 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shop of the Week; Green Ribbon Gems

Meet Genevieve who is the artist, designer, owner and craftswoman of Green Ribbon Gems.  When you visit her shop you will see it sparkles with color and light.
Genevieve, Cora & Aidan
Genevieve, as you can see in her picture has a great sense of humor.  She is married with 3 (soon to be 4!) kids and 2 gerbils.  Currently she is a stay at home mom with her kids and the gerbils.
Before reading the entire interview I wondered how she ended up in Newark, DE after growing up near Portland, OR.  It turns out she attended Virginia Tech getting a degree in geotechnical engineering.  She worked as an engineer until about 6 years ago when she took time off to have her daughter.  Now she works part time at home on her Etsy shops.  She spends her weekdays taking kids to school and activities, going to the playground and sometimes out to lunch for a special treat.  

Purple Glass Earrings
 As I said earlier Genevieve has a real sense of humor and part of her response when I asked how she spent her weekends proves it.  She said "On weekends we usually do family activities like raking the yard together (and jumping in the leaf piles for those of us under 6)"  They also work on  home improvement projects and some kind of craft or baking with the kids.  They like spending time as a family just being homebodies.  As for hobbies she said there isn't much time what with being a mom and an entrepreneur but she does like to read and do photography.

Whiskey Quartz
Genevieve got started on Etsy after participating in a few craft fairs and hearing about it from other vendors. Her first shop opened in April 2010.  It took some time to establish an inventory, learn how to take good photos, and start making some sales!  And now she has 3 shops Green Ribbon Gems, Bead Spark and The Azure Rose   

When asked about inspiration this was her reply "I'm inspired most by color and nature.  I really like to make simple designs with a splash of color, like many of the Swarovski crystal and glass wire wrapped earrings in my shop.  They are a simple design which translates well to many kinds of crystal, glass, or gemstone pendants.  I also like to incorporate nature such as choosing colors from the fall leaves, or adding charms to my pieces in the shapes of leaves, snowflakes, insects or animals".
Olive Pear Drop
Her favorite quote by an unknown author is;  "PEACE.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all of those things and still be calm in your heart"  With all the noise and busyness of small children she often feels overwhelmed and this quote helps her to remember to try and be calm in the midst of it all. 
Genevieve has a Facebook page, a personal website,(currently under construction for much needed updating) and she distributes a bi-monthly newsletter from her website. 

Article by Gail of;    Digital Expressions and Artful Papers, Beaded Splendor & Entwistle Studio

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shop of the Week: Dragonflight Dreams

Today I welcome Amanda of Dragonflight Dreams as our feature of the week.
Amanda was an Army brat and as a youngster grew up living all over.  She has 3 sister and each of them were born in different states.  They eventually landed in Ohio where she did most of her growing up.  Currently she is "Technically Single" but lives with her partner of 5 years and their dog in a suburb of Austin, Texas.  She said she loves living in Round Rock.
Black Dragon
Gold Clover
 After attending Marietta College and obtaining her BFA in graphic design she became a freelance graphic designer.  Being self employed she works from home handling all aspects of her business from bidding to design to invoicing and all the steps between.  Her weekdays are filled with her work and some small breaks for errands and appointments.
Green Ivy
Of course as with all of us she has time on the weekends to enjoy life with her partner.  She also likes to read, play with the dog, cook, watch Netflix and visit things around Austin. Along with that she also manages her Etsy shop and blog on her days off. 

White Dragonfly
I asked Amanda how she got started on Etsy.  She responded by telling me about how dabbling in screen printing quickly came to the point where if she kept going she would have more T-shirts than she could wear.  That drove her to decide on opening a shop.  Later she would add the art prints to her products.  Her biggest inspiration is stories of mythology and of course nature.  She is passionate about good storytelling in all its forms, good design and being fully self-employed.

Although it was hard for Amanda to choose favorites the photos you see were some of those she likes best.  They demonstrate some of her talents.  Specifically her color sense, style and her ability to design to show a unique blend of influences.
Gold Feather

She uses many social media tools including a blog with the same name as her shop that is quite active.  She also uses Twitter and Facebook.  You can follow her at any of the links.  Of all the media she uses Twitter is her favorite.

As I end all my blogs I asked Amanda for her favorite piece of advice.  Although she did not have advice she did have a favorite quote by Jean Paul Sartre "All I really want to do is go to the book store, drink coffee and read" which she says is basically her. 

Article by Gail Entwistle of;    Digital Expressions and Artful Papers, Beaded Splendor, Entwistle Studio

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shop of the Week: Artful Bits And Bytes

This week we are featuring Artful Bits And Bytes.  Laurie Anne Sikorowski is the owner and artist in residence and this is her story.

"I love that messy total consuming focus of creating something from the heart" she says.  She also loves color, all color, every color and words, lyrics, and stories. Laurie Anne  takes those loves and places them all together to make her art.  She believes that art creates connections.

One of my questions was what was her favorite item and she told me that was like asking which of her children she loved the most- impossible to choose as each is different and liked for different reasons.  She was able to narrow her choices to two.  
First is "Tempus Fugit" or "Time Flies", a large mixed media paint. This is her largest and most ambitious canvas at 48" x 60".   It was created by collaging old journal pages on to the canvas then texturing it with a combination of modeling paste and paints.  She then began painting both directly on the canvas and also on separate papers that were collaged on.  The base of the body is a photo of plywood from an old abandoned church.  The base of the branches and some of the leaves are printed from an old Polish prayer book.  Sheet music is also collaged into the art. There are lots of subtle layers of meaning embedded within it and I am very happy how it turned out.  I find it fascinating that there are so many layers to such a soft image. 

The second is her literary ladies.  Currently there are 39 listed in her shop.  She selected randomly, "Magenta" to represent them.   For her painting these women, and the whole collection represents a bit of all women.   She sees women as being beautiful, homely, pious, provocative, joyful, sorrowful, black, white, with so many sides that it therapeutic to give them almost intuitive forms.  I agree when she says that the recycled book pages add that extra layer of depth.

Magenta                                               Cutie Qu (my favorite)          Daydream Believer

When asked about her inspiration, Laurie Anne replied "My need to create comes from an insatiable curiosity and need to explore.  It is the journey more than the destination that keeps my interest.  I want my artwork to reflect who I am and connect to the viewer's heart.  Nature, music, poetry, scripture, mythology, people (I am an avid people watcher), graffiti, discarded scraps of ephemera and daydreams all blend and inspire my art.  There are also wonderful artists who I adore: Amedeo Mogliani, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Picasso, Jennifer Yoswa, Mary Englebreit, and finally the kitchy low brow artists of the 60s with their big eyed kids like Eve, Lee, and Goji". 
Laurie Anne's passion is creating. She can't remember a time when she wasn't making some kind of art but it has only been in the past couple of years that she finally decided to share her artwork with the rest of the world.  After her daughters had gone off to college she had more free time and life changes to sort out.  When a friend asked what she wanted to pursue just for herself, she realized she had not thought about it untill he asked.   She knew immediately that she wanted to be surrounded with simple joys and creating.  Art began to fill her mind and heart and spilled onto whatever was at hand. 
A few years ago, she found herself filling countless sketchbooks.  With her daughters gone she had more free time for her art.  Soon she had quite a collection of artwork, and Etsy seemed to be the perfect fit a place where she says "the fine arsty art and the cute craftsy doodles could co-exist".  She wanted to also be in control and Etsy was so easy to set up and get started.  Unlike other venues, it didn't feel scary or un-doable for a novice and it didn't cost anything - only a small amount for listing and then a small percentage when something sells.

Her advice for others is to set goals and try to do something toward them each day.  Find you niche and promote yourself.  She advises using social media even if you are an introvert like her.  On Etsy join a few teams to find the right fit, create and support treasuries, use tags wisely, make sure your images are the best possible, learn SEO and take advantage of available Etsy tools.  Have fun because it is so important in the creative process for without that, why are you doing this. 
Laurie Anne says "I'm still learning and often feel a bit overwhelmed but its ok, I'm slowly finding my rhythm. When someone loves your art enough to purchase it that really makes all the necessary "business" stuff not so onerous after all".  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Shop of the Week: Bijuterra

I really am pleased to introduce Ioana of Bijuterra
When I asked her to tell me a little about herself she told me her story was a wish come true.  In her words "30 years ago some desperate parents interdicted their 3 year old child to use pencils to draw on their house's inner walls :) Due to this, and to the fact that all pencils, brushes and markers were forbidden, the child found another way to express: all chocolate received was hidden and used to "decorate" the walls when all other tools were not available. 30 years later, here I am, willing to tell a story on every wall there is. Not with chocolate, like I used to :), but in watercolors, as you can find in my shop.

She married in 2009 a man she has know since she was 14.  They live in Romania and both studied design together in high school.  Ioana attended the University of Art and Design in Cluj, Romania  and included fashion in her studies.  She currently works for an international advertising agency.

Ioana's day of rest is Saturday because Sunday she spends teaching design.  Her free time is filled with her painting and she love cooking.  Her fashion illustrations are striking and seem to each have a touch of mystery.  You can see her imagination in each painting.
With working full time, teaching design and having an Etsy shop there is one more thing about Ioana that I discovered by accident one day when surfing YouTube.  Ioana has more than a few tutorials for fashion drawing and illustration.  I have spent some time watching her work and it is fascinating.  Her YouTube is "Fashion Teaching" and is worth the time to see her work.

When asked for her favorite advice she replies "I don't know if it is advice, it is the rule I have in life: If you want to achieve something, all you have to do is Work, work, work and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy it: And after 10.000 hours, the results will come, I am sure".

FB: https://www.facebook.com/fashionillustrationforsale
My sites:
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/isandru/

Article by Gail of Digital Expressions and Artful Papers