Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Website for Dock This Way!

Ahh! So, after much back and forth about purchasing a website through vistaprint.com (the place we get our business cards, and YOU SHOULD GO THERE because you get your first 250 cards for free, and just pay for shipping :) I finally caved yesterday and bought it. A whopping 6 hours later, here is the final product!

http://dockthiswaydesigns.vpweb.com/default.html

I like the color scheme (watermelon) because lime green and hot pink are awesome. So far I like it, but it hasn't shown up on google due to its ultimate newness. So check it out, play with it...and maybe you could get one, too!

We're also playing with an idea for a new line, which I hope to do in the memory of my grandfather who passed away in September. We've ordered some merchandise, and are working on the vision...so stay tuned!

Here's another line from this summer that has done really well - they are 100% organic tees in pale blue and chocolate brown with a single word embroidered in opposite colors on the front. The line is called "Positivity: OneWord" - words to live by! We sold a great deal of these for Christmas, and are hoping to make some more online sales. Here are our "GRACE" and "INSPIRE" shirts. Good gift ideas for you now that the holidays are over :)


Friday, December 18, 2009

Back in the USA and Bearing New Products!

So I came home from 4 months in Italy on Monday, and it has been a whirlwind of activity since. I had all these ideas for new products and business ideas, I've been trying to do them all at once! I can't, but I did manage to get two new recycled sail wallet designs and up on etsy, and wrap my Christmas presents. Schweet.

In addition to my original tri-fold wallet, I created a simple clutch wallet and a bi-fold wallet with a velcro change pocket, because I'm so damn clever. It's really cool and you should check them out, especially if you are into green products.



I also threw up the prints that I did in my screenprinting class while abroad on etsy, to see how people reacted and gauge the interest. I had really wanted to do jewelry, but that class was full and I did Serigraphy (screen printing) instead, which was amazing and I'm so glad that I did. My first print was inspired from my constant drooling over Italian shoes but not buying because of need to buy food and my ridiculous size 11 shoe size.



Then I did a carousel piece that I had done in memory of my late grandfather who passed away in September. One of my most vivid childhood memories was of him taking me to the carousel, and in Piazza Repubblica in Florence there was a carousel that provided the inspiration. My last print was of the Duomo; I took a photo and seperated the colors in Photoshop to come up with the final image.

Check them out on my etsy site!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where did the Fall Go?




So I'm starting to get ready for my return to Boston...classes, final projects and papers are wrapping up like crazy. I'm sad but excited to come home, especially to hit the ground running with all these new ideas I have for my business. Muah ha. I'm going to miss Italy sooo much - especially now I won't have anyone to talk to in Italian!

I have so many new ideas for new jewelry, some new prints from Serigraphy that I'm going to throw in my etsy shop, and some new business strategies to implement for calligraphy. I'm moving back to Boston, and that = crazy rent, so gotta bring in the big bucks!

Sorry about my lame not-writingness. Here's some pretty pictures of Italy in the meantime, and I'm going to restart the weekly featured seller pieces, and have some cool ideas for etsy treasuries, too. Yay :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Month 2 From Italy!!

Hey guys -

Just wanted to keep you guys updated -
School's been pretty crazy, and I've been planning lots of travelling around Europe (well, as much as I can on a budget. So help me out and buy from my etsy site!!! yaaaay! :)

We're thinking Greece for the week break, I'm going to Paris next month, and I'll hopefully get a few more things lined up. I REALLY want to go to London, and I hve to make it to Rome and Sicily before I leave. Because it's October already!!! Ahhh!!!
Here are some pics from Pisa (obviously) and Ravenna. I went to Ravenna the second week, Vinci the week after (like, Leonardo di Vinci-Vinci? Yeah.) Then two weeks ago I went to Pisa and Lucca. All of them were amazing; I'm going to Sienna this weekend.

So I'll try not to overload with pics, but it's very hard. I've uploaded all of them to my facebook in photo albums of like 80 photos!! Crazy stuff. I've started to also think about coming home and getting organized. Since I've lost internet at my apartment, I've had a lot more down time, which is kind of good, as I've been forcing myself to really write my business plan. It's been helpful already thinking about implementing new business strategies and after analyzing this past year, I can establish what has been working and what hasn't. It'll be a challenge to get through the holiday rush 8,000 miles away, but I really don't want to miss out!

Featured seller articles should be coming back soon, as well as treasuries and all sorts of funn stuff. So stay tuned - and I'd love to hear from you!

Kisses.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Google Analytics: DO IT

Okay, I know that the very word "analytics" make some people cry out in the night. You don't have to, I swear that it's completely fine. And, necessary; sales today are all about metrics, understanding trends, knowing when sales are up and down, and how to prepare for that. You can also determine what marketing techniques are working against what is not; in the long run, this saves you both time AND money :). So you can do it, I know you can.


First, set up a google analytics account here http://www,googleanalytics.com/. Follow the prompts to get you up and running.




1) Enter your etsy website (or blog, etc.) into the "website URL". Name your account.


2) Enter your contact information.


3) Agree to the terms and conditions, and then hit "create new account"


4) They will provide you with lots of code; find the code that is in the parenthesis or in quotations. It will most likely begin with U and look something like this "UA-10294920-1"


5) Copy the code, and go to "Your Etsy". On the left hand side, scroll down under "Shop Setup" to the "Web Analytics" link.


6) Paste the code, and wait 24 hours. You're good to go!


Now you can track and see what is most effective in terms of driving traffic to your shop. Be sure to check out all of the cool features, like where and what countries are checking out your site (it's soo cool seeing that I have gotton 5 hits from London!), and the primary sources driving traffic to your site. You can also do this for your blog.

Happy analytics!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sail WALLETS!

So I have been creating Bowline Bags Crazzzy like, and I had a ton of scraps, because you have to cut the sail a certain way in relation to the unique shape. And as an avid green-er, I hate waste. SO, I needed to get creative and make something with the scraps - I'm still churning an idea for a smaller Bowline Bag, but in the meantime I have come up with Sail Wallets!

I actually took my brother's wallet and studied it for a while. I took measurements, and came up with a pattern and stitching order. It requires very little material, so my scraps were definitely put to good use! So the final product is a tri-fold wallet, and has 6 Initial card pockets, that each pull back to hold additional cards - (I even included a "see through" pocket on the far left that can hold your license! I used the Racing sail material for this part)




The wallets are made from two types of recycled sails from a 30 'sailboat, the see-through (used for the inside) and typical canvas. I thought it would be cool if numbers were available on the outside of the wallet, and since the numbers are huge and found only on a certain part of the sail, I decided to embroider them. And, how cool would it be if you could choose your own numbers? Even though I have a few wallets made up in stock, I accept customizations with the numbers. I have discerned that red and navy (especially NAVY) look great embroidered on the canvas. 2 numbers also look the best, although I have done 3.

I also can attach Velcro if specified to help keep the wallet shut. But some guys do not really care, and keep it in their pockets anyway.

Click here for my Etsy listing and to get a sail of your own wallet:)


They are very nautical, and boaters love 'em!

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=29721760

Monday, September 7, 2009

Don't Be Afraid - Freelance Business Contracts

With all of the calligraphy jobs that I did this summer, I came across one client who requested a contract. I freaked a little, but calmed down and drew one up. Since then, I've used them for every client.



Never be afraid to ask someone to sign a contract: you are providing quality work and deserve to get paid for it. Many individuals would be happy to provide you a signature. In fact, it may make them rest a little easier as well; in my case, brides were handing over their wedding envelopes for their invitations, and having a contract made them reassured that I would not make off with their invitations. All the contract represents is that you will do the work, and that they will pay you for it. Everybody wins.



Also, this will avoid headaches about pricing and pieces completed in the long run. If any changes are made during your meeting, NOTE THEM and be sure to charge accordingly.



If the thought of contracts still makes you cry out in the night, here's a sample for you. I'm in love with the simplicity of the format, and I provided myself with a revisions section. Also, all contact information for both parties is present. Just break it down to understand it better, and to create your own contract.




Ashley Osgood – Calligraphy Services SERVICE TERMS CONTRACT

Professional Artist

000 Sumner Street

Weymouth, MA 02188

Phone #: 781-555-6861

Email: aosgood123@yahoo.com

Client Name: Andrea Tewburrn

Email address: andrea.tew

Job Description:

Calligraphy job for outer envelopes for wedding, and an estimated 130 invitations must be completed. The total job cost is estimated to be $130. Anticipating to send out invites at the end of August. One week is given to complete the job – the $15 rush fee is waived due to referral.

Meeting and Contract Date: August 13th, 2009

Upon viewing and discussion of sample work, the undersigned is clearly informed of creative nature of artist and knowingly accepts the style in which the work will be completed. Payment method requires a deposit of half of the total job amount upon receipt of materials (invitations). Amount outstanding is due upon completion of job.

Any additional names/addresses not originally supplied and factored under original cost will be charged the standard price of $1.00 accordingly – this includes misspellings and wrong addresses that must be redone. Conversely, if the artist makes a mistake on any piece, it will be redone free of charge. The undersigned must provide additional envelopes upon initial meeting to address either situation.

Tipping is not necessary but appreciated.

Estimate:

130 Outer Envelopes @ $1.00 each (130 Pieces) $130.00

Deposit Due $65.00

Meeting Revisions:

Total Pieces $

Deposit Due $

Ideal Date of Completion:

I, the undersigned, accept these terms and promise to pay for services rendered.

Client Name & Date


I, the undersigned, accept these terms and promise complete services expected of me within the time agreed upon.

Artist Name & Date


(Good luck! Hope this helps :) go get 'em!)


Friday, September 4, 2009

Buon Journo from Firenze!



Hey guys,
This is officially my first post from Florence, Italy!! Very exciting. Soon the vacation-esque euphoria will dissipate, and I will be but a busy art student yet again. Aww, poor me. I'm taking Intermediate Drawing, Serigraphy, Photography, Museology, and Beginning Graphic Design. I'm still not completely sold on Serigraphy, which is like printmaking, but I really do want to try something new. That, and I didn't get into Jewelry Design. Oh, well. I still have one semester left when I return! (W.O.W.)





Classes start on Monday, and until then I'm going to continue exploring and maybe do some shopping? For some reason, I brought NO summer clothes, except like 3 tank tops, and no flip flops, because they were too American. Well, my feet can't breathe. And I'm hot. That's enough of an excuse to shop, I believe. This week was hard on my Euros, though (1 Euro is currently 1.50 Dollars!) I had to pay roughly 100E to exist (Insurance and extended permit of stay) but I think I'm legal at the moment. I have an adorable little apartment right next to the open markets. I've recently seen more leather then I have ever seen before in my life, and am so excited about it. The shoes are gorgeous. I must have them. Please stay tuned for further Florentine adventures, such as me getting lost and getting gelato to figure myself out.


Pictured here is my tour around Il Duomo and the surrounding Piazzas. The giant archway houses the Post Office and International Bank, as well as a strip of open market vendors and art supply places :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Social Media Overload: What it is and how to use it

Online social media applications for mainstream consumer use are becoming more and more popular. Entrepreneurs and small businesses have started to accept and utilize social media to their advantage. But what can social media do for you? What should it be used for? What shouldn’t you do with it?


The ambiguous term “online social media” is an online platform by which individuals communicate. Website tools that fall under the umbrella of this definition are Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and blogs. All these online resources require a large and consistent investment of time, and an increasing number of companies are investing in job positions intended to only manage all of their accounts. But the most appealing attribute of online social media is its low cost, immediate response capabilities, and the equal opportunity of large and small businesses to compete.



The basic concept of social media is that it, like your business, is all about relationships and accessibility. You want to generate and retain relationships online just as you in-person. When it comes to your online profiles, however, it is important to note that these are NOT venues to market your business by publishing content-related information. Content, sales, and promotions should all be reserved for your advertising and website. No one likes a salesman when one is browsing these social sites on their personal time. Think of it this way: if you had a Twitter account, would you follow someone who is constantly promoting themselves, or someone with a sense of humor with their status updates?



The purpose of profiles like Twitter and your blog are to give a face to your company. Social media implies an “interaction” with your customer, or informational “sharing”, not a one-way channel for just slamming them with content. With applications like Facebook, you can go to where your customers already are, and catch their interest with your personality and dedication. People also find value in articles or blog postings that are relevant to your shop or industry, but have a more universal appeal for browsers that may turn into customers. For example, if you have a chain of bakeries, you could post an informative article to your blog “10 Easy and Unique Cookie Recipes”.



As a business owner, you can also gain a more thorough insight into your customers. You can learn from their questions or concerns and what is really important to your customer. The most successful companies are usually identified as those who respond quickest to market changes. Through appropriate use of social media you can always have a finger on the pulse of your customer base.



To conclude, social media shows your customers how much you care. The passion that you have for your company and doing what you love will shine through. This will make you stand out among your competitors.





Some take-away tips:



  • Make sure to stay committed to your blog and update it at least 2-3 times a week.

  • Twitter at different times of the day to catch different customers in multiple locations.

  • With the rich mix of users now on Facebook, it’s a great time to create a fan page for customers to search, read, and follow you.

And lastly, if you haven’t already, be sure to create a profile on LinkedIn, which is an excellent networking resource for small business owners.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Featured Seller: GladRaggz

"I consider myself to be a somewhat complex and 'back to basics' person, all at the same time. Few people really know the real me, and that's OK." - Pat, shopowner of Gladraggz

GladRaggz = bags. Omg, bags! I LOVE the look of her shop and the funky accessories that she carries. The colors all work and are bold, the deep greens and reds are a theme that carries through all of her images.


As an artist living in the Great Lakes area, Pat's goal is to take whatever artistic abilities she has to a less "practical" level, and make them more abstract. "It's a bit difficult to break out of the mold of structure and practicality, and what you see in my shop is more "mainstream" in style. I'd like to break the mold in this sense." I can really appreciate this attitude!

Pat feels as though her greatest strength is striving for the best workmanship possible in her pieces. A job well done is important to all of us, as Pat reemphasizes with "- that's my name and reputation being sold" Her "weakness", which I can see but I think is also a positive attribute, is taking longer to complete a job because the finished product has to be "perfect". Artists by nature are defined as perfectionists; it HAS to be right!!

There were too many favorite shops to comment on a favorite, but Pat has a broad range of passions and appreciations, ranging from fine photography to fiber arts. Her favorite shop is one that has a well made, innovative product, and is run by a true professional. For new artists, she encourages them to learn as much as they can and to keep trying. "I believe that the path to artistic enfoldment is an ever evolving process - and artists need to allow themselves to evolve."

Here is all of Gladraggz's sites; check them out!!




Vintage shop:
RekindledPassions - vintage
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=7074665

Blog:
http://carpetbaggercreations.blogspot.com/

Below is my favorite item in her shop, "Silk fabric and ribbon embroidery embellished handbag w/ beads" ($46). The detail work is absolutely exquisite, and I love the olive green tones against the contrast of the deep reds. The subtlety of the color makes it a great accessory to match a variety of outfits!





Got lost in the blogosphere...

Hey readers,

Sorry about totally peacing out over the last couple days! I finished my internship, and was like, oh! I have sooo much time to get ready for Italy!...yeah, not even close. I've been changing bank accounts, securing financial aid, and trying to fathom packing 2 suitcases for 5 months. I know, omigod.

I'm officially down to 6 days before departure to Florence. I wanted to amp up my blog to be about my experiences abroad; I've left inventory at home in the case of sales, which I anticipate as we get closer to the holidays. But I'm back in action, and check back tomorrow for the featured follower!!

I hope everyone has been having a happy August :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Importance of Leadership

Entrepreneurial Leadership? Bring it.

Class 2 during my crazy spring semester this year was all about leadership, and how important it is to understand what "leadership" really means. It's about accountability, honesty, responsibility, and my favorite quote, "take blame, give credit". It is not about power, or telling people what to do. You have to inspire your employees, work with them and understand how to negotiate.

Our first project was to create a company based around a toy. As the artist in the group, I was stoked. My team members and CEO made it clear that they wanted something really simple; a stuffed animal. But that's boring, so I spent hours trying to conceptualize something with more of a twist. I came up with what ended up being called the "Cudlee", in which I combined a stuffed animal, pillow, and carrying case into one item. The billowy arm of the bear reaches across to reveal a pouch that's kept closed with velcro. (I'm also very sorry to say that yes, there was one teddy bear harmed in this process. But he was only $1 at the dollar store, and I made him into something even better!) I used a soft soft fleece and the bear was also soft to the touch.



It was a hit with its unisex and poppy colors. (I also embroidered a little tag, and sewed it on the lower right of the pillow, of our "company's" logo!) The little Tufts people lost their damn minds, and it was fantastic. ("How did you DO that?" - umm, a sewing machine? With 10+ years experience?) It was one of the moments I had where I felt that I did belong there, that even though I wasn't an engineer, I had skills that were valuable. My experience gave me a bit of a real-world edge over my highly intelligent tufts counterparts. Ha.


Then I was selected as CEO for the next team. I had to lead one girl and three guys in a project. Not to be sexist, but the guys were sooo much work - they had to be constantly reminded to meet deadlines, and I had to nag them when they did not. I set deadlines, kept us organized, and REFUSED to pull a last-minute all nighter, which they resented at the time but all said how it paid off in the end not being stressed out (gee, what a novel concept?) We made it through the project successfully, and I was very proud of all of them.

It's one of the issues I think is so difficult to reconcile; being a woman of power in a male situation, like giving orders without being "naggy", or for lack of a better word, "bitchy". When I found myself having to speak to them, I tried not to make it about "me" wanting it done, and made it about doing it for the "team".

I'm writing about this experience now because my professor was such a great teacher to me, and I ran into him at work the other day. He continues to offer his help in my job search, and even asked my opinion on some mock up logos he had hired out for (don't even get me started on those - NOT GOOD).

So, this may be an item that I will offer in the future - I'm looking into patents, as I've already gotten a lot of interest in it :) Stay tuned -

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Featured Seller: (My 100th Heart!) Junkyjunk



I realized the other day that I just got my 100th heart on etsy! Yaay! (Now I just have to follow up with 100 sales... ha ha.) That heart belonged to Nora, the shop owner of Junkyjunk. There's something quirky yet comfortable about her shop, and she has a great pastel theme running through it.

Nora is a mother of one, and looks forward to one day having her help with her etsy shop. Many of her hobbies (when not collecting cute items :) were instilled by her mother and older sister, who inspire and impress her creatively. She's passionate about saving items from landfills, and comments that age gives her items their "character".

Her greatest strengths, which I happen to agree, are her photos, as she makes them interesting and aesthetically pleasing. She admits to needing to work on being more organized in terms of space (I have pretty much taken over the dining room in my house, p.s.,)

Nora's fav shop belongs to her sister, Heather, at http://www.postroadvintage.etsy.com/, and she gives much credit to her for assisting her on her "etsy journey".

For new artists:

"Be organized before you begin. Have business cards, and thank you's printed, so when an order comes they're already done. Mostimportantly, take great pictures, and use your tags! Use them as much as you possibly can. Every tag is another possible view, which is another possible sale."

Visit Nora's site here! http://www.junkyjunk.etsy.com/


Below is my favorite item, the "1930s blue-green typewriter that works" (below, $165.00) is SO COOL! How awesome are ancient typewriters, seriously?! I think they're so fun to play with, when I'm making a thousand mistakes and can't hit "delete"...


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Featured Follower: The Photography of Mara Aspinall



I was actually given the opportunity to assist Mara Aspinall, the former CEO of Genzyme who is now starting her own company, with her photography business. My advisor at my internship with Tufts this summer introduced us, and as an artist and business minor she wanted to solicit my help in getting her photography out there. Above is one of my favorite pieces, "Soaring High", which is representative of all the texture in architecture work she does.

Though I have been pretty thinly spread this summer, I am helping her out and having my mother assist her while I'm abroad, so I can pick up again when I get back. She's a great natural talent, and I find her "hands-off" approach to her images to be similar to my taste when it comes to my work.

Her website is http://www.photographybymara.com/, and I recently got her going on etsy: http://www.photographybymara.etsy.com/, just because the checkout process is much easier to her site and gets a little more traffic - I'm a little concerned right now about the price point, but it's a start!

She has some stunning flower images - the colors are amazing, even more so in person. (That's my only criticism of selling photographs online - something gets lost in translation.)


Her images are available in various sizes, 4" x 6"s to 20" x 30"s -she ships them all over, and she has a custom framer. Contact Mara or me if interested in getting your own print!


Below is my favorite item, only because I'm such a notecard person. Included are 6 notecards and envelopes tied with a golden string. Check it out on etsy!

Check back next week for the next featured seller :)

Michael Scott from Dunder Mifflin: Model Entrepreneur

Okay, I know I'm not the only one who LOVES this show. (The Office)

I have been in touch with Brian Shin, the CEO of Visible Measures, as a part of my Entrepreneurial Leadership Department Internship this summer. I came across his blog, and was reading this post about how the incompetent Michael Scott is an excellent role model for entrepreneurs. Are you as doubtful as I was? That Michael Scott could never and should never be in any sort of leadership position? Maybe, maybe not -

Here's an excerpt of the blog posting, "Top 5 Things an Entrepreneur can Learn from Michael Scott, Dunder Mifflin", and please visit Brian's blog to read the whole thing; he's got some really interesting, easy to read posts that I find both relevant and enjoyable as a small business owner.

"Here are the top 5 Entrepreneurial Lessons that I have learned from Michael Scott:
  • Love your customers – there is an old saying about business: “Love your customers, not your customers’ money.” Michael Scott shows a consistent focus on his customers over the years. For example, he routinely remembers small details about his customers’ personal lives eg. a daughter’s allergy or a story about a fish that a client caught. If you look at the success that great customer-centric companies such as Zappos have had, much of it can be traced back to their obsession on customer satisfaction. In fact, the company that recently acquired Zappos, Amazon, has long had as their key company mantra, “To be the best customer service company in the world.” That just gives me chills :)
  • Love your employees – Michael Scott sincerely loves his team. With respect to tam building in a startup, there are tons of schools of thought ranging from “if they don’t hit their numbers, shoot ‘em!” to “this is a family and we’re in it together forever”. There are certainly tough decisions to be made along the way as a company grows and evolves, and making changes is hard. But keeping employees best interests at the center of your evolution as much as possible will help keep the culture and the vibe right. Just ask Michael Scott.
  • Love your company – how many of us love our companies as much as Michael Scott? The guy is a frickin zealot for Dunder Mifflin! When he served as a guest lecturer at evil Ryan’s business school class, he left the room after saying in response to a doubter of Dunder Mifflin’s viability, “Dunder Mifflin is the future!” His passion and loyalty to Dunder Mifflin is something to sincerely admire."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Featured Etsy Seller: Parkwood Cottage

Parkwood Cottage artistic photography shop has a great deal of fantastic textures within the images. The contrasts in color also literally leap from the page, from the bright blues and greens of the peacock to the simple beauty of the black and white. The representative shop image is pictured above, with the aetherial qualities of the light can be seen as the tree itself coming to life.

Lisa, the shop owner, grew up in as an "Air Force Brat", and lived in Germany, South Carolina, and England, before finally settling in her home in Georgia with her husband. The couple enjoys visiting out of the way locations, seeking out scenes or objects that would photograph well, and "looking for beauty in unexpected places".

When it comes to her shop, Lisa is very confident in her reasonable product price point, adding that she has free shipping for the month of July. As with many artists, she identifies her weakness as being shy, and struggles with marketing herself. For new artists, she advises them to "Be Patient! For every 50 photos I take, maybe one or two are really good. Don’t be afraid to take 20 shots of the same thing in order to get that perfect photo." (I also really appreciate this determination for perfection...keep on going until you get it right!) Lisa's favorite shop on etsy is the $5 French Market, which has great prices and attention to detail in their packaging.

Contact and follow promotions for Parkwood Cottage:
Blog: http://www.typicaldaytoday.blogspot.com/
Blog for photography (in progress) http://www.parkwoodcottage.blogspot.com/
Twitter: www.twitter.com/parkwoodcottage
And her etsy site: www.ParkwoodCottage.etsy.com

Below is my favorite print that Lisa was kind enough to give me as a thank you for this blog posting (which was my pleasure!!). I just received it the other day, and the presentation / packaging is just as professional and impressive as the gorgeous print. I do believe that something gets lost in translation with prints online; they have so much more impact in person, or in your hands. Especially black and whites!!

It's titled, "Providence Canyon Car", and available in her shop in 8 x10 ($11.50) and 5x7 ($7.00), both extremely reasonable prices!


Next week: Photography by Mara

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Small Business Budgets and finance - Free Excel Spreadsheet Download

I. Hate. Finance. And taxes.

I had a love-hate relationship with my finance professor. I hated finance, told my professor I hated it, and he loved me for some reason. Go figure. But I worked my ass off and managed a B, which is a big deal for an art student in a math class.

Anyway, the class showed me the importance of budgeting and understanding cash movement within a company through understanding the numbers. Until I started anally recording all of my expenses and earnings, I didn't realize how reckless I was being with my spending. Budgeting your company can really benefit your overall cash, and can be really helpful when tax time rolls around.



Just try it for one month, and see how helpful it is. It might be a pain at first, but it's SO worth it and gets easier, I promise :)

There's a great budget excel sheet that's free for download here: http://www.vertex42.com/ExcelTemplates/personal-monthly-budget.html

Screenshot!:


Now I can make Income Statements and Balance Sheets like its my job. And I'm super proud of my cash flow statements, as well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Featured Etsy Seller: JuliesJems



One word comes to mind when browsing through JuliesJems; Fun.

Pictured above is the shop's representative image, as it will be one of Julie's main shop staples, and she enjoys the earthy tones (my favorite! ;) and it's "nature" feel.

From the pastel, truly fitting banner above her shop to the props and backgrounds in her photographs, it was really cool to look through each one. The handmade cards are so eloquently made with such care that is clearly apparent for all items. I also sincerely appreciate the tiny details on the carefully crafted almost-too-perfect boxes. With each item's image, the same thing is clearly captured; that she absolutely loves what she does.

The shop owner, Julie, has been a graphic designer for 10 years, and has done art on the side ranging from crafts to professionally handpainting Christmas ornaments. She's currently attending college to pursue art therapy; although she points out her graphic design capabilities from custom logos to avatars. Many of her items reflect her love of recycling, and plans on adding painted items to her shop eventually.

Although still fairly new to etsy and still figuring out the site, Julie says that her greatest strengths as an artist are all of her ideas, which she has "had forever!" Her favorite shop on etsy is the one that she helped start with her girlfriend, Uniquenest.etsy.com, which has original inspired wall artwork, bark/wood frames, and cards.

Julie also has a few words for new artisans, "Don't give up. Start small then grow. Don't take on everythnig at once or you'll get overwhelmed. Do what comes from your heart."

Contact JuliesJems:
www.JuliesJems.etsy.com

Additionally, Julie wishes to offer a 50% OFF DISCOUNT to anyone who tells her that they found her site from AshTreeCreations' blog! (Wow, what a deal!!)

"I just wanted to say thank you for taking time out of your day to visit my shop. I do custom orders!" - Julie

My favorite item, below, the Bird Flower Notepad, $3.00 - It's a great price, and I particularly love journals and notepads, even if I never quite get around to writing in them :)
(They just look so pretty, I don't want to ruin them with my writing!!)

Featured Next week: ParkwoodCottage
Check it out and show some etsy lovin'!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Featured This Week: StonesThrowCreations

The earthy green and browns displayed in StonesThrowCreations really appeal to me as my business color is typically variations of chocolate brown. The professional images in this ceramic shop almost glow against the softness of the gray background. The shadows cast by the objects give them weight and make them more real - I see such a distinct similarity between these pieces and those in museums because of the artist's talent for detail and glazing. The image above was the shop's choice to convey how she takes inspiration from nature and makes pieces that are slightly abstract.

StonesThrowCreations shop owner, Rachel, works at a bakery and pottery studio, in addition to creating her own work. She also volunteers in a mentoring program for high school kids, and plays the clarinet in a community band. On her education, Rachel says she was an Outdoor Recreation major in college, and her love for nature definitely comes across in her work.

Rachel feels as though her greatest strengths are the originality of her pieces, as she constantly looks for fresh inspiration from the outdoors. She also struggles with time management, as it is difficult to make pottery one of her top priorities in such a busy lifestyle (I second that!).

Though she is fairly new to Etsy and is unsure of a favorite shop just yet, she does comment on how she stumbled on skinnylaminx's blog, and appreciates her designs. It also was how it led to her discovery of the Etsy site, and eventual opening of her own shop.

For aspiring artists, Rachel advises, "Don't let someone talk you out of doing what you love. Also, it's easy to get sucked into "sell, sell, sell!" and just create what you think people will want, but what fun is that? And you'll never figure out what people want anyway."

StonesThrowCreations contact info:
blog: http://www.seizetheday-rachel.blogspot.com/
etsy site: www.stonesthrowcreations.etsy.com

Below is my favorite piece, "The Seapot", $65. I really like the big handle, and it feeds into my obsession with teapots :)


Okay and JuliesJems is REALLY going next week :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

December 2008

This is the time that I consider to be the true birth of my Jewelry Business. Everything I was making and preparing for had finally come to a head, and I was getting my first sales and recognition as a business.

Mom hosted a jewelry party a few weeks before Christmas, and invited all of our closest friends and family to pick out gifts for others (or themselves :) It was a great success, and I was so moved as to how supportive these people could be. I had the far-off goal to study abroad, and parties like this might make it possible.

We also took part in the SJS Christmas Bazaar; that is, my old elementary school. I had themed embroidery necklaces with gingerbread men or snowflakes that were a big hit, and the always-affordable earrings at $10 sold really well.

This year, we may host another party, as I will be returning from Italy on December 14th, 2009. I'm also studying jewelry in Florence, so I may come back with all kinds of goodies. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Featured This Week: Beadnik Boutique




















I just love this shop. It's so similar to my own taste that it's scary - from the gorgeous chunky glass pendants to the professional images with uniqe photo displays, Beadnik is the place to go for one-of a kind pieces.

When you visit this etsy shop, the unique photo displays (check out the earrings, left) and great image variety resonate with you. I especially love the contrast of the smooth and shiny surfaces of the glass with the texture of the neutral gray wood panel backgrounds.


The shop owner, Cindy, says that she came from an artistic family, and her oldest son is a graphic artist. She always wanted to pursue art as a profession, but decided to settle down and get married. Cindy applies her creativity to her hobbies of gardening and cooking, as she always "creates them to appear attractive and tasteful". Natural and antique brass are her favorite media to work with, and she feels as though that comes across in her jewelry pieces. Cindy has identified her weakness as "not knowing what people like these days" - and as a fellow artist, I agree.

She advises new artists to never doubt themselves or their abilities (aw!), because "others see what you make in a different way than you do". Cindy recommends promoting yourself on etsy forums, twitter, and constant distribution of business cards.

Pictured below is my favorite item, the "Starfish Delight", $28.00. I love the weight of the pendant and the colors :)



Contact BeadnikBoutique:
http://www.beadnikboutique.com/
http://www.twitter.com/Beadnik7
http://www.beadnikboutique.etsy.com/

email: cindy@beadnikboutique.com

Stay tuned for next week; JuliesJems is featured! Check it out and show some support :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekly Featured Etsy Sellers!


Hey everyone,

After much discussion amongst supportive etsy sellers, I've decided to start a weekly featured etsy shop blog posting. I feel as though it's a great way to mutually support one another; I gain followers, sellers get publicity, and as one etsyan put it, "good vibes all around." Good vibes are good.

Especially since last night while driving my car, I literally had an all black cat run across the road.

SO, here's how it works;

I have come up with a few questions that I will pose to shops that have initially elected to be featured (I have enough people interested for once-a-week articles to put me to September!) and from their answers I'll construct an article. I'll include images, and my personal feedback of their site.

I write the articles weeks in advance, so when I convo you with questions, please just be patient; you'll get your posting soon! If anyone is interested in being featured in the future (beyond Sept.) please convo me or shoot me an email.
In the meantime, make sure to follow my blog and get your fans and friends to follow to see your shop featured!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Featured in the Local Newspaper; Bowline Bags!




For those familiar with my Bowline Bag line, they were featured in The Patriot Ledger (A Boston Paper, can't you tell?) on June 23rd of this year. Above is the actual article in context. The writer was on the Mermaids of Duxbury Bay mailing list, and Cindy Cheevers-Nichols featured my bags in her newsletter. The author of the column, "Window Dressings," then contacted me with interest in who made the bags, their cost, etc.


I had received some sails from a friend of ours who had just purchased new ones, and I wanted to make bags out of them. In addition to the cool slanted stitching and different sail textures, I could also embroider numbers onto the canvas to give them a little bit of color (The navy really pops!)


The idea behind the Bowline bag (appropriately named after the popular sailor's knot,) was that they were eco-friendly, being recycled, and are extremely durable. That is, they've sailed the ocean and boaters will be able to slam them around.


What we are faced with right now is our price point - we have a great deal of interest, but we are struggling due to the time-consuming nature of creating the product and the value of the materials. I also feel as though my bag is more "real", then those being mass produced by companies, which have bleached canvases to the point where I question the fact that they are even recycled.



So my solution? I'm going to make a line of smaller, more affordable bags that aren't as large as the totes. I might look into duffel bags and cinch sacks in the future as well.


If you are interested in a purchase, please email me at aosgood123@yahoo.com. The large tote bags, featured right, start at $65. I do custom orders and and embroider the number of your choice onto the bag. The idea is that the number represents something meaningful in your life - Like I just did a bag for a woman's father for his birthday, and embroidered "55", which is the year he was born.


I have quite a few in stock, most are at Cindy's shop, so be sure to stop by and check them out!





Thursday, June 18, 2009

Small Business 101…as a minor? At Tufts?! But I’m a fine art student!

As a SMFA junior getting thrown into Tufts full time for a year, I felt somewhat out of place. My first semester especially I felt particularly isolated; my best friend was leaving in a few months, I was probably antsy because of my lack of creative outlets (no time for drawing or painting) and had started my jewelry making. The summer before, I had decided to pursue the Entrepreneurial Leadership Minor, and was taking the ELS 101 class.




As a class, it really helped me get introduced to and start thinking about the big picture of businesses and their relevance to my life. I felt as though there was a lot of focus on multi-billion dollar ventures in engineering or biotechnology (um, snore? Fine arts, hello!) and I was teamed up with classmates to write our own business plan. Though I wasn't particularly interested in our topic (and I'm sure it showed) the team dynamic really allowed me to start my Tufts foothold. I knew what I wanted to accomplish for next year; instead of trying to blend in with Tufts students, which I would never be able to do, I would stand out through my creativity.

Through the stresses and self-doubt of that fall semester in 2008, I came out stronger and ready for the challenges of 3 work-intensive ELS classes for the next semester. And honestly, It was the most challenging yet rewarding set of experiences in my life.

Pointillisms – A preciousness

























Ah, one of my early loves - pointillism.

It started in high school with a 16"x18" ink image of my brother. In dots. I was hooked from then.

Yes, the methodical dotting, staring so intently that you become cross-eyed. Love it. It's really a meditative process, and can be quite relaxing. The idea is through the buildup of dots, you create shadow and depth, just as though with pencil or paint. Only it takes longer - but because of the preciousness of the technique, the results are soft, realistic and breathtaking.

I took a Film Noir class for an Art History requirement last year. I LOVED IT...I tend to like stark contrasts (exemplified by the master, Caravaggio) and the dark darks against the lights from those movies was just amazing. So I reversed the process to take less time and to change the effect; instead of working up black ink on white, I worked up white ink on black illustration board. The effect is really cool.

The only bad side is that the white ink I used was acrylic, so it dried fast and gummed up my quill. (Oh did I forget to mention I used a quill-dip-into-ink method?) And you don't get as much tone variations from straight white - if you want to get these, you have to mix with water.

I want to do more pointillisms - maybe when I have all that spare time one day :) Sand dollars, starfish, shells, etc...

Pictured above: "My Boys", an unfinished piece composed from several reference photos from last year; my now ex-bf (we're still friends, no worries) and my kitty, Jonah. They were both watching TV, and I found it hilarious and took a couple pictures.

Internships - My experience



















So I figured I would share some of my work experience, before I started my business.

Sophomore year, I decided that I did not want a life and became a full time intern and a full time student. Yeah, skill. 3 days a week, I'd wake up at 6:00 to commute to Salem, and I had class full time (9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.) on the other two days. AND I had a boyfriend. Boyfriends suck up your life WITHOUT full time crap going on.

My internship was with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. They have an EXCELLENT intern program, and all art students and interested people should definately check it out; they pay great, and the museum itself is gorgeous. I learned a lot, and because I worked with the Registration Department, I got to check out a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff (They offer positions in all different departments). I loved it so much that after that spring semester, I continued to work there during the summer.

After last summer, I was at Tufts full time. I didn't want to stop working, so I got another (unpaid) internship at GASP Gallery, a small art gallery in Brookline. It was an interesting experience; lots of cleaning. And wearing black. But it was cool to attend the gallery openings, and have the chance to speak with artists and patrons.


And in January of this year, I left GASP to pursue the embroidery and silkscreen business with my mother, and had begun to expand on my jewelry line to make it more of a business, too. I also took 3 ELS courses at Tufts, which one must never do at the risk of losing your sanity in the coursework (more on that later).

I've also worked as a florist and commissioned artist. And most recently, calligrapher. So basically, I have a good mix of small and large business experience, and have learned a lot that I continue apply to Ash Tree.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Calligraphy



So I know I wanted to tell my progressive story, but I wanted to get this plug in before time runs out -

In addition to jewelry, I also have a calligraphy business. I am self-taught, and have been practicing for years. When I got accepted into this Florence program, I wanted to really embrace all of my talents to get there, so out popped calligraphy.

I have some experience within the wedding industry; I worked as a florist for about 3 years, and I got a few calligraphy jobs through that venue. I undestand the stress and desire for perfection of this exciting time for brides, and I believe those on a budget should have their invitations done by a professional and reliable individual.

To date, I have served several clients out of the South Shore-Boston area. And I made sure to do my research before looking at my pricing structure: do you know that the average calligrapher charges about 3.00 an envelope?! I find this absurd, especially in this economy. I'm a student, and I will charge you as such; here are my rates!

Outer and Inner Envelope: $1.75 ea.
Outer Envelope Only: $1.00 ea.

Place cards: $.60 ea.

However time is running out! I may have some time for work available in July, and August is open. So if you've got a fall wedding, now's the time to book - my plane leaves September 1st, and I am willing to work up right until then :)

(Clients are responsible for shipping charges and postage. References available upon request.)

Check out my etsy site for more images, and contact me today to set up a consultation appointment!!!

P.S. - FELLOW ETSY - ANS!!!

I am really intersted in forming partnerships or collaborations with paper or cardmakers. Please shoot me a convo or email to talk ;)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why stop at sea glass rings? Maybe wire wrapped necklaces...

Sorry for the post delay - I was hoping to get some images but this lousy New England weekend escaped me.

So the logical step from seaglass rings was necklaces. That is, wire wrapping as a pendant to hang from a cord (typically black; seaglass looks GREAT against shiny silver wire and anything black). And these necklaces are really cheap to make, especially with my overabundance of seaglass. I've experimented with a couple of different types of cording; frayed, satin, suede, and ribbon - they all look great!

So here's what I did and a good how-to for future references:
To assist the wire in holding the weight of the seaglass on the cord, I wanted to drill a hole at the top of the piece to wire through for better stabilization. Dad helped me out with this one; he lent me his drill, and bought a glass-drilling bit for this project. Also, for those interested, you have to drill seaglass UNDERWATER, to avoid overheating the bit and preventing the glass from breaking. It also takes A REALLY LONG TIME to drill, especially if the glass piece is really thick.

So we flipped this plastic plate (obviously not glass!) and drilled through. You also do not just drill from one side to the other; you drill equally by alternating sides. It's helpful before you start to mark the same point on both sides. Then, keep drilling *patiently* until you see the other side! You'll be able to hear the difference, too.

And in happy unrelated news - I sold a great deal of inventory at the SSYC's Chowder Party this weekend! Thanks to all for your continued support. I also have a large ongoing calligraphy job right now, and my Italian class is almost over!!! YAY!!

Trip to Bermuda - "Hey, I can make that – and cheaper!"





















So my family and I went on vacation to Bermuda last year, and this was about the time where I was getting interested in looking for jewelry inspirations. Bermuda has a lot of turisty stuff, but it also has a very unique style. They just LOVE shells, bright colors, and big dangly things. Which was perfect, because I'm all over that stuff.

So I returned home to the lovely weather of Boston, Massachusetts armed with new ideas. First of which was the dangly necklace, already pictured in the previous post. Second were seaglass rings. (p.s., I write seaglass as 1 word but apparently it's two. Sorry.) I saw a local artisan making them, but she was using sterling silver wire and wrapping them in a really complicated way. So I studied them, tried them on, and was confident that I could make a similar design (without copying, of course!) with silver plate wire and my own wire-wrapping style.




















For those who condemn me - I heard an applicable quote once last year at art school about replicating paintings, in other words, learning to paint by painting masterpieces: " In 'copying' a master of art, it is really impossible to replicate the piece exactly; a little bit of you always shows through."

I had a ton of seaglass from when I was younger and my family and I would go out on our boat and collect seaglass from the Islands around Boston (i.e., Portuguese Cove was GREAT for that!). I still have a LOT more. But anyway, I'm selling them off at $12 each (sometimes $10 if you catch me at a lucrative art sale and in a good mood :) which is a great price! And I just ordered a ring sizer from Nile Corp jewelry supply, so I can get a more accurate idea of what are the more popular sizes - I made a great deal of rings before the 2009 Sidewalk Sale this year, and sold a bunch, but at the last few sales I've had, people have said that I do not have their size. So bear with me!

"Chill out with the necklaces…everyone has a favorite bracelet." - Mom

This quote actually rang true for me...I went a little beaded necklace crazy. Sorry. I like shiny pretty beads, and I get excited. Mom was seeing what I was coming up with, and suggested that I pull back and condense; to start with some bracelets, as people are more likely to purchase those -- and she was right.

Women have two or three favorite necklaces that go with everything, but they really like to change up their bracelets to match outfits or to complement them. So it's easier to match a bracelet with something than a necklace.



And I was getting ready for my first jewelry party at the time, so I thought why not?

Pictured here are only two of the MANY designs that I have done; the left is the Mix N Match pink bracelet, i.e., a more exciting explosion of charm bracelet. Then on the right is the really simple lentil shell bracelet, which continues to be a favorite and comes in turquoise, white, gray, amber, etc..

And right now I have a really cute stone donut and jump ring bracelet being featured on my website - there's also a great turquoise mother of pearl shell bracelet design that I've sold quite a few of that I have to get up at some point.

Wow, I can make jewelry!



So I'm making earrings, then since I'm also making embroidered pendant necklaces, I decide to try making pretty beaded necklaces, too. I got a jewelry book for my birthday of last year, and started getting inspired by putting my own twist on some of their designs

My style just kind of came though: What I didn't like in the sample pieces in those books, I improved it to make it mine. The process was fantastic, and I really enjoyed it; I still do!!

A few highlights of my most popular pieces: I have this *dangly* necklace design, which is composed of mostly jump rings with stones hanging down. I also have a great mix n' match bracelet design (which is basically a crazy charm bracelet that I absolutely love, being connected by funky wired hoops), and lastly, a cluster necklace design that uses primarily sperical beads of the same color scheme. I also have some wire wrapped seaglass necklaces, and I love shells (turquoise especially!)

The fashion of it is very exciting - I like beads for pieces that are chunky, shiny, and different. Anything to stand out. Always :)

Earrings, earrings earrings!!























I have to say that the most popular item I have now are my earrings. They are unique, one-of-a-kind designs that I make sure to set at a reasonable price. It's important to me that people be able to afford my pieces, especially in an economy like this.

How I got started with these was actually due to my negligence of my own jewelry. I know, bad. I'm always losing earrings, misplacing one and having to trash the other. So while shopping for perhaps my 8th replacement hoop earrings, it occured to me how picky I was in terms of my style. Basically, I know what I like and I know that I could make it.

Consequently, I had an internship at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA at this time, and right down the street is a Beadworks Shop that I happened to stumble into.

I. Was. So. Excited. There were beads of every single color, and I tended towards the natural stones and textured beads the most. From there, I started small, buying beads for one pair of earrings at a time on my lunch break like once a week. It was fun mixing and matching beads, colors, styles, textures, and I always created things that I would wear.

So for about a year now, I've had a mobile rack of earrings that I take to shows, all pairs priced at 10.00. I've noted what is popular, but I always like coming up with something different.

I've actually also been tossing around an idea for my etsy site: that being a "virtual earring rack", in which case I would photograph my earring rack full of approx. 30 earring pairs, then as they get sold I would update the photo. I'll let that cook for a while and may implement it later, so stay tuned!


How I Got Started - The SMFA Sidewalk Sale, 2008

Ah, the SMFA Sidewalk Sale of 2008.

As my first art sale, it was kind of a disaster. I sat at a table for two days, 10-5, and sold two things. Do you know what it's like to sell two things in 15 hours?
Yeah, not fun :(

I had put out some great bags that I embroidered from me & my mom's business - They're being featured in an associate's, Cindy Cheever-Nichols who owns Mermaids at Duxbury Bay Boutique. We've sold a bunch, and I'll be sure to get some images up ASAP.

So I was selling those, some prints from a color photo class, and lastly some images I created using pointillism. Pointillism is a technique involving the buildup of dots of ink to create depth and perspective. I took this great Film Noir class, and I got so inspired with the stark contrasts of lights in dark with the imagery of the movies, and I set up a few images to reflect this (one of my images, above) I got a ton of positive feedback, and so I priced them and put them out to sell.

And I continued to get a ton of positive feedback, but just no sales. And I could not lower the price because of the nature of the technique; the dots take a long time to build up. It sounds crazy to do, but it's actually quite a meditative process. I fell in love with it in high school, and I also picked it up again in tribute to my art teacher. Yeah, AWHS!

Anyway, back on track -


So as I was sitting there, watching everyone else making sales, my brain started concocting things. There was a diverse set of things being sold at this sale, by a great deal of talented people - like jewelry, and fun unique things that were different. So, I kind of started thinking how to make embroidery into jewelry.
Without revealing too much, that is how I came up with my signature product, the embroidered necklace!! They're really edgy, have a dinstinctive look, and I have a lot of flexibility in terms of what I can embroider on them. I recycled fabric from quilters, braided rope for the necklace, and sewed patches onto custom made-backs.

So there you are! I sold a great deal of them at this year's Sidewalk Sale, and plan to continue to :) My big selling categories are horoscope signs, the peace signs, and the "green" design. Check them out on my etsy site!

"The Family Business" - And yes, it's exactly as it sounds



















I got my entrepreneurial spunk and creativity from my parents, and I have to give them credit in this post.

My Dad is amazing. Ever since I was little, I remember being able to bring him anything that was broken, and he could fix it. Like my CD Walkman, which he fixed with a fork and a piece of string. Don't ask.

He also got really involved in projects with me; like I was an angel for a Christmas pagent, and Dad made these crazy cardboard wings that he spray-painted gold and white (airbrushed to look like feathers, of course). He then attached clear fishing string from my wings to little hoops around my thumbs, so that when I moved my thumbs up and down, the cardboard wings would flap.

I'm telling you, absolutely amazing! He's now doing marine canvas and upholstery work, so PLEASE let me know if you need work done, because he is the best, GUARANTEED! He also does a bazillion other things, like make awesome signs and repaints names on boats.

Mom is also one of the most intelligent, passionate and strong women I have ever known in my life. We have co-founded a company together called "Dock This Way Embroidery & Design". She is a saleswomen, very charismatic and inspiring. She's quick on her feet, and worked in corporate situations where she handled clients and stressful people VERY well. She's also got a great eye for color, and does a great deal of interior design work. Pictured here is an item from our *intimate apparel* collection, of cute underwear and PJs...I think its a nice nautical depiction on the butt :)

Dock This Way is a customizable merchandise shop that we are currently negotiating a lease in the new Launch in the Hingham Ship Yard.

We may or may not factor in the constant playing of Aerosmith throught our store in our business plan :)

(Get it? DOCK THIS WAY!!! Ha ha...)

Pictured above: Left, my dad re-upholstered this entire chair. Right, one of the embroidered PJ sets.


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