February 29, 2012

February 28, 2012

“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.” H. Jackson Browne - I needed this today. Things have just been intense and crazy lately. Lots of personal stress, and while I'm determined to get my jewelry business at a full and fruitful pace, for the first time in about four years, I'm getting contacted about design work. I guess I should post changes on Linkedin more often.

I haven't finished my design portfolio or even started trying to work on the CAD program yet and I just got an offer for design work. Freelance, but it could be steady work. It could possibly be decent income too. Funny how life just happens. I'm thinking that I might contact a few other people I've worked for and see if they're interested too.

This has been a remarkably long week already. It feels like Thursday and I just can't believe it's only Tuesday. I've been on the phone half the day today and yesterday, and I never use the phone. Life has just been surreal this week. I see a positive light at the end of the tunnel though.  

February 28, 2012

February 27, 2012

I haven't much to say today. The whole day I was listening to news, reading news, and watching news. I was doing other things, but I was keeping up with the day's events. The shooting that took place at Chardon High School is just a few miles from my home. The Walmart that they used as a triage is My Walmart. And the School is one we were recently considering sending my Grandson to. This is hitting a little too close to home.

I won't say much more, only that no matter how mature and sensible you think your teenagers are, they all have the ability to be confused, or hurt, or angry in an instant. No matter what you think, your teenager can be unintentionally hurtful, or confused enough to hurt back. Don't let them just sit in their room with their computers, talk to them about life and what they think about the world. They won't want to talk to you, but it's important that you let them know how you feel about things.

A boy in my son's High School class killed himself in his grandparents garage. A girl in my daughter's class, took her friends out for a drunken joy ride, and killed herself. I know the girls mother and she was a good woman and mother.

Follow your kids on Facebook and Twitter.

I am so sorry for the family of DannyParmertor who lost his life today. I am also sorry for the young man who did the shooting, because I think he was confused and didn't really realize the end result of his actions. His life is lost too. 

And to the families of Russell King Jr and Demetrius Hewlin. And all their loved ones.

February 27, 2012

February 26, 2012

The best plans can come head on with a child's report that has to be finished in two days and cuts out 3 hours of your day. And it wasn't even my child. I started the day with another photo shoot and plans to edit and list and cut out some things to sew. After editing I had to rescue the grandson from a failing grade.

I did learn something from all this. I learned how to download a cursive font so that the poor kid who is behind his class could copy his huge report that I typed and printed in cursive. I think it will be a good way for him to learn.

I also managed to list a few of my new things. I'm really pleased with my selection. I can't wait to get my new headbands modeled. I need more than 24 hours in a day. 

February 26, 2012

February 25, 2012 - Progress Report

Was so tired today, but I did some relatively inactive work. Early in the morning while there was light and the family was sleeping, I took loads of pictures of new product. It looks like I have a lot, because I use the same headband and just add different flowers to them. I'll do the same when I have them modeled too.

So progress for the week. I finished and presented my new website. I had no idea it would take that long to make just the way I want it. And by finished I don't mean really finished, I just mean the overall look and design. I still have to add a shop, but I didn't just want to slap it together and throw on things. I wanted it to look perfectly beautiful and professional. I wanted it to have the essence of what my flower jewelry is about and I wanted it to be enticing. I think I did that (I hope).

Weight loss is a serious meh. Five pounds in almost 2 months. It's progress, but I really have to step up my game next month. I thought that not smelling food for 2 weeks would do something, but I guess the sitting around counteracted the not eating thing. I'm going to start walking more in March. I usually don't hurt myself doing that.

I still have the brochure and display packaging to design, but I've started on that. I was thinking of doing shows, but it still gives me the creeps just thinking about it. I am not a direct sales person, that's why I sell on the Internet. Not that I can't do it, I just hate it. My last boss tried to get me to do sales, he thought he could turn me into a sales person. It really isn't that I can't it's more that I really don't want to. It I have to go to shops and talk to people about my wares, I'll be fine. If I have to go to an interview for a job, I'll be fine. I've managed to talk a lot of people into believing I have talent. But to sit for a whole day at a table talking to people about my work and how much they would love wearing it, not so much.

Once again, I spent no time on the product design portfolio, or the CAD program.

I also got our taxes to the point of near completion. My daughter needs a few more expenses tallied and added and my taxes will be sent in April 15 as once again I owe more.

I finally got my student load forbearance and amazingly enough they removed $2000. Now I only owe 56 K of a 38 K loan after paying for 10 years. Oh how I would love to have the money, to make them an offer for payoff and just get all my debts out of my life. Student Loans, IRS, every creditor I owe.

Well that's about it for the wrap of the week. Back to editing and listing my new merchandise. 

February 25, 2012

February 24, 2012

Oh this virus will not quit. My resistance is so low. Still in my lungs and I'm getting a fever blister on my lip. I only get those about every 3-4 years now. Like when I get the flu really bad. Just making me tired and last night I couldn't sleep. But I have much more energy.

Today I made 5 new headbands. I'm making some Baby Photo Prop, so I worked on one of those and the new tie headbands that can also be worn on the neck. They are really cute and I can offer them at a much better price. They will be great for wholesaling. Just have to figure out the packaging. I also made a new bangle bracelet, heather gray. I think that will be a great color too. I hope I can get some pictures tomorrow, but I'm not sure when I can get them modeled.

I've also worked on my material cost and profit per hour for the headbands, photo props and necklaces. The profit per hour is very good. Nothing under $10 wholesale. That's right where it should be. That is if I can keep the speed up on the manufacturing. It's partially because my cost of materials is low. I'm mush faster at the crocheting than I thought I was. I timed myself today and manufacturing was better than I imagined. Some things are as much as $20 an hour wholesale, but I'd have to say $15 average. That's still a pretty low income, but manageable. If I add full priced shop sales and a few weddings a year, I could live on it.

Next project is to present my work to potential shops. I could use a bit more publicity. I have to work on that too. I have to send out some things and hope I get people to wear them. I'll do a giveaway too.

I'm feeling positive, because I know that a good percentage of success is self fulfilled. It's not the product, it's the presentation and the attitude. 

February 24, 2012

February 23, 2012

I'm so tired of looking at arts, and crafts, and butterfly shoes and loofah chairs, and cucumber feta rolls. I loved Pinterest at first, but it's burning me out. Is there such a thing as too much creative input? Too much saturation? One thing I've thought though is that a long time ago, I was a pretty good artist. Not just a craftsperson, but an artist. I was particularly good at portraits. I haven't done that in such a long time. I should try even if it's with the kids crayons.

Mi mind is reeling again. I just can't seem to make any decisions. My gut says stop making the flower jewelry. Move on to something else. There are a few things I'm working on that I haven't had the time to try yet. I'm going to add them to my shop soon. We'll see how that goes. I can't sleep my mind is so full of Pinteresting things. I think I'll do some listings.

I weighed myself today, not so good. Not bad, just stagnant. I need to get out there and exercise.

I have a lot on my mind too. My son needs surgery and the young man next door was put in a group home supposedly for 2 months to find out what can be done for his health. I'm sure they plan on keeping him there, as he's not doing well at all in his own home. I'm really not sure how his parents will manage without him, they rely on him for a lot, including the money he pays toward the household.

I guess I'm upset because once again my selling venue is trying another trick to increase sales. A trick that can't possibly work the way they think it will. It had the potential of becoming such a great venue. It was growing, but they keep doing things that make it climb backwards instead of forward. I think they are thinking in a vacuum instead of under the sky. Maybe that's my problem too.

After my walk yesterday, I planned on taking a walk every day. Would have been nice today, but I never got the chance. I was babysitting most of the day. Guess I'll just have to start taking the baby for a walk with me. 

February 23, 2012

February 22, 2012

Got a lot of work done today, shipping, photography, networking and even some around the house stuff. I thought I was feeling better, but seems it's pretty good in my lungs now. I can get bronchitis, but chances of my getting pneumonia are slim as I had the pneumonia vaccination when SARS was just starting out in China and no one knew what it was. The people I worked for were ruthless and sent us even thought hey know people were dying, even in some of the factories we worked with.

Funny, I've been hearing about the factory that Apple uses in China and how employees commit suicide over working conditions. I've been in a lot of factories in China, and even the bad ones aren't that bad. I just wonder if it's more the pressure from peers and family that if they are making Apple product, they shouldn't have to be like the rest of the working class. Maybe they think it will be so much better, then when they find it's the same, they can't take it.

Yes they work 14 hour days, but that's usually with a one hour lunch and a 1 ½ hour dinner with food provided by the company. And maybe they get paid $50 a week, but they will get food and a room also. I don't know about the dorms with beds stacked 12 high though. I've never heard of anything that absurd, so maybe the conditions really weren't so great there.

Enough of that, I'm wandering again. I discovered today that I've been neglecting my bread and butter shop. I added a few new Bow Ties and noticed that I had like five aprons that I haven't listed yet. So I started listing some and have to add more later.

I was so exhausted doing the work I did, but was very pleased to finally have a semi clear mind, although I did leave the water running, over filling a gallon with filtered water, while I walked to the bus stop to pick up my grandson. I think that's how my lungs got started. Cleared out some junk that didn't belong there in the first place.

Tomorrow I hope to feel even better and will list more and have a chance to create some more flowers. I also need to get my daughters taxes done so she can get some money back soon.

February 22, 2012

February 21, 2012

Today I felt better than I have in over two weeks. I only had to take some pain meds once in the morning. I rarely ever take any meds, just my supplements. I've been taking acetaminophen four times a day for over a week. So not like me.

Even though I felt little pain, I guess I'm still shaky. I've been dropping and spilling things all day. Starting with an egg that I miraculously caught after it slipped out of my hand and flew up after bouncing off my hand. It was funny.

Then the sewing machine would just not work right, and when I finally got it to stitch right, I ran out of bobbin thread. Really, three times with three different colors on three orders. After one order was finished I noticed a stain on the vintage fabric. I got it out, but not easy on a finished piece and not necessarily something I wanted to deal with. A few things to be made, should have taken very little time and with cutting ended up taking about 4 hours. And I never even got packaging done yet.

I keep my onions, apples and oranges on hooks on the wall. Just easier that way. The onion bag fell on the floor near the litter box in the dustpan. Gross! Now I have to wash them all and peel them and store them in the fridge. I just realized it was probably because it was on the same hook as the rolling pin my daughter used to make the beignets today.

Finally I went in the kitchen to clean up and put the last of the food away. Huge pot of rice, plenty for another meal, so I put in in a bowl covered with foil. It was like the thing was made of rubber. I put it in it bounced out on the floor. Dumped over and all the rice fell out.

I even had to take a break writing this, because one of the cats dumped a full glass of water all over the table and floor, and the paper masks my grandson made for Mardi Gras so that the black marker ran all over the table.

I did have two very wonderful things happen though. I became a Top Seller on eBay today. I don't even know how that happened, but I'll take the discount that goes with it.

I also wrapped up my website enough that I feel proud to post it. akacinders.com I don't have a shop on it yet, but there are lots of links to my Artfire shop. I'm still not throwing in the towel yet.

February 21, 2012

February 20, 2012

I'm not one to give up on things, but sometime I feel like the Christian in the flood. Do you know that one? The dam broke and the town was about to flood. But the Christian man prayed to God and knew that he would be saved. There was a knock at his door. A man asked if he could drive him to safety before the water reached his house. The Christian man said thank you, but I know my God will save me.

The water came and rose and the Christian went to the second floor. There a boat came by the window and another person came to offer help to get the Christian man to safety. The Christian man said thank you, but I know my God will save me.

The water came and rose higher and the Christian went to the roof. When he got to the roof, a helicopter came and offered the man a ride to safety, but once again the Christian man greatfully refused, claiming that his God would save him. Then the water rose and the Christian man drowned.

When the Christian got to Heaven and met God, he asked why he was forsaken. “I prayed and had faith in you God, why did you forsake me?” God answered. “I sent you rescue 3 times.”

I think maybe I'm just not reading the signs. My shop was closed on Etsy, and I've hardly made any sales on Artfire. I believe in the jewelry and I think it could sell, but maybe I should read the signs and move on to something else.

I started to work on my Taxes today. That's depressing. I made less this year than last and owe more taxes. I do not understand.

I guess I should start work on my design portfolio now. Maybe I really need to start looking for design work. I really did enjoy overseeing sample production at the factory in China. Maybe I need to find a job somewhere in the states doing that, or quality control. I just don't see who the hall is going to hire someone my age, no matter how experienced or qualified I am.  

February 20, 2012

February 19, 2012

I suppose it's just the flu, sinus infection, cough, headache, muscle aches and cold lasting well over 2 weeks, but I'm ready to pack it all in. I'm remembering Maslow's hierarchy of needs and my jewelry is about at the lowest rung of the need ladder. But I guess that's where marketing comes in.

I really have to create need and desire for my product, my flowers. I sometimes think it would just serve me better to do something to earn money, a little closer to base needs. If I asked my friends what they need, I know most would say money. I'm pretty good at making facsimiles, but I might go to prison for that.

So I either have to create a driving desire to possess my product or move a little closer to basic needs, like air, clothing, food, or even love, shelter, health. I know, maybe the flowers should be edible, no, maybe they can be made with like rose quartz crystals to bring love.

Oh I know, they are pretty durable, maybe they can be bath scrubbies. I'd have to mkce the centers with plastic findings instead of metal though. If they were glow in the dark, you could use them as locaters. Maybe I could make them Solar and led lighted, and they can be used for airplane landing strips.

No, I just think they should be pretty flowers that make you feel special wearing them. That is if I don't decide to do something else. Like – what do people need, not want need. People need ______. OK so maybe want – people want _______. I just need to fill in the blanks.

Oh I'm tired and I'm tired of being funny. I just want to earn enough money to live in a tiny place of my own and afford meager food. I can do so well with that. Yesterday I fed dinner to 5 mouthes on about $6 worth of food. I was so proud of myself. Pulled pork on buns and coleslaw. We actually had leftovers for lunch too. Maybe I should write about how to live on a very tight budget. That could get published.

February 19, 2012

February 18, 2012

I've been working on a crocheted baby afghan for a friend. I've been working on it for about 5 days. Mind you, this is a baby afghan. I am about to loose my mind, because it isn't finished yet. I have absolutely no patience or attention span for anything that takes over 3 days to work on. As a matter of fact I have completely remodeled kitchens in just 3-5 days including cabinets, sink, dishwasher, flooring and paint. With one extra set of hands. So much easier to hang cabinets with an extra set of hands. Although I have done them myself.

The bathroom in our house is another story. I haven't gotten it completed yet for several reasons, one of which is the money to finish it, the other is finding the right freaking caulk for the tub. So far everything has cracked and pulled away. I think I have the right stuff now. It will be nice to finally take a shower.

The fact that I can't work on the same thing for more than a few days is what lead me to product design in the first place. I can design a LOT really quickly and move on. I'm actually a pretty prolific designer. But I'm also pretty good at production. I can't work on the same thing for too long, but I know how to mix things up so I don't get too bored. I'm also good at challenging myself to speed up production and improve quality. I can work very fast on repetitive things. Maybe to get it all over with quickly.

I just have to make sure that whatever it is I do, It's not going to bore me. Obviously crocheting afghans or making quilts are not for me. I guess I could make a simple quilt if it only takes a day or two. And I sure hope I get this darn afghan done tomorrow.

February 18, 2012

February 17, 2012

I was a day behind in my measuring and weighing this week. I lost another pound. Not a big deal as I couldn't smell or taste food, so I didn't really eat too much. I hoped to loose 10 pounds a month and only lost 5 in a month and a half. But it's still progress in the right direction. I'm afraid many of my other goals have fallen short too.

The past two weeks have been a mess fighting off what I thought was a cold, but turned out to be a pretty bad flu virus. My daughters' version involved a very bad sinus infection. Mine was mild sinus and hit my joints and spine, leaving me with a horrible headache for days. I'm better now, but all the extra work I wanted to do was delayed and only the necessary things got done. I was still able to write every day, mostly because there were times I couldn't sleep.

The house is a horrible mess, because my daughter and I were not able to even bend over to pick up after the kids. I did manage to throw out garbage, but bending over to pick up things was out of the question with the headaches we had. Looks like a tornado hit here and now that we're better, cleaning will be a priority next to the product we have to catch up on from sales.

I always try to add a little cushion into my plans. Usually I add a day or two to a project for mishap, but a two week illness is really unexpected. It could be worse. Serious illness or family issues can really mess with life. What would happen if you broke your dominant hand? Would you be prepared for that?

Sometimes it's good to prepare yourself mentally for all possible events. Like having an emergency supply or storm kit. We have 6 gallons of water and a camp stove and a nice little tin can stove that I could use to cook with if we loose power. Six gallons is not a lot of water, but we do have a lake to wash with. Six gallons of drinking water could last us a few days

What kind of “storm kit” could you make for your business?  

February 17, 2012

February 16, 2012

Sometimes I hate that I have the kind of mind that can calculate how much profit I make on an item and how many I have to sell to make X amount of dollars. But in so many ways it's better, because this way I can see which of my items are best to offer wholesale.

I first have to calculate the cost of materials for each item. Then I have to calculate the time to make each to figure out what my dollar per hour rate is.

So I took my profit and divided by how much time to make the (necklace, brooch, etc) then multiply by 60 (minutes in an hour) that way I can see how much profit per hour.

In order to make 30,000 a year off broaches, I would have to sell nearly 7000 of them a year and work 65 hours a week crafting and packaging. That is at a 50% off wholesale. My profit and $ per hour on my venue are great if I could sell anything. Wholesale could be a viable option if I can sell at a bit higher price and pick up speed on my production. Nice to know there are variables.

Let see, if I made 10 pieces a day at an average of $8 profit each wholesale. That's $80 a day or for 5 days $400 a week, or $20,800. That's manageable, but not a lot of money. OK, I just figured that I can live on that. And it would be about 3000 pieces a year or 50 a week. Working only 5 days a week too. The publicity might even increase shop sales at which I make a much larger profit.

If I could place 20 pieces in 150 stores across the country that's manageable. I think I could make more than that and find more stores. It's a big country.

I suppose I'm not factoring everything. I did round up cost a lot, and I didn't include time for promotion and customer contact. But I also think that wholesale sales of less expensive items can lead to sales of more expensive items.

I can also sell at craft shows, but I need low cost items that I can sell pretty reasonably. I think a simple tie headband with single flower would sell well. They can also be worn on neck.

One of the things I found interesting, and I only did the calculation for 4 different items, was that although some had a much higher profit, $ per hour was less on them. I'm going to go over a few more items tomorrow and make some decisions. With the spread sheet I'm making, I can actually see if new items will be worth offering at all.

I'll post how I came to my results on Cinders Says so others can see how they're doing if they want to. Sometimes though, if you have another income, and you're doing this for fun, I think it's best not to go into it this deep and be blissfully unaware.  

February 16, 2012

February 15, 2012

Today was wasted running my daughter to the Dr for her sinus infection and grocery shopping. By the time I got back and got everything put away and everyone settled down, It was pretty late. We are all feeling pretty bad, so it's hard to get anything done.

I know this is crazy to talk about here, because I want to talk business related thing, but I guess when you look at it, everything you do relates to how you run your business, and the product you make, so here goes.

I shop at an international discount grocer, because we don't have too much money at this time, and their prices are half to one third of the other stores. Selection is not great, but we can feed 5 people for about $250 a month. Beat that! They had packages of Red Velvet cake mix on sale for $.99, after Valentine's Day clearance, so I HAD to buy 2.

Why did I have to buy them? Because I have never had Red Velvet cake in my life. I have eaten trilobite looking sea creatures in China, but never Red Velvet cake. We made it last night and although I can't smell or taste much, it was OK. By that I meant that I really don't like cake. So with a super moist cake and cream cheese frosting, it didn't really taste too much like cake. It was OK.

Now I can say I've had Red Velvet cake. I'll have to try homemade sometime too.

I started calculating profit of my flowers. I have to calculate time and profit to see what I would make on each version. I'll start with brooches and one and two flower necklaces. I should have some results tomorrow. I hope it will be worth my time to wholesale.  

February 15, 2012

February 14, 2012

Today is Valentine's Day. One of the worst ever for me. Not that I don't have a love, but that I've been sick and my daughter is very sick. Her baby is cranky and I've had to help take care of her a lot, because my daughter has a horrible sinus infection. One of those days, when you try to work and it's so hard.

I had to sew and both machines were fighting me. Popped thread on the serger, bunching bobbin thread on the straight stitcher, this is one of the reasons I hate sewing, obstinate machines. I had some imperfect vintage fabric to work with that needed a LOT of work on. Pilling, I hate removing pills. It took a long time. And then I had to package to ship, late at night because it was the only chance I had.

I was able to review and decide on my logo while I was cradling the sleeping baby. So hard to work with one hand. I admire those who work with disabilities. I really have a hard time using the computer with one hand. I even did some photo editing, but the commands I use with 2 keys simultaneously are so hard to do with one very small hand. At least I have a touchpad, not a mouse. That would be so much harder.

I made the final decision on the logo, and although it's not finished yet, I can start working on the things that will use it. Then when I get it back, I can just drop it in the places I need. Finally progress.

I've also decided to calculate how much profit I will make at wholesale, and how many pieces I need to sell to make a decent wage. I hate doing that, because thats why I decided to go into product design in the first place. Although now I do know of better ways to sell my product than back then. Artists and Crafters are much more respected and placed than they were 20 years ago.

I will have to post my results on both my blogs for you to see and see how I came to whatever conclusion I made. Wish me luck.

February 14, 2012

February 13, 2012

I took another break on the flower shop today, I worked on some aprons and bow ties I sold. I keep thinking that maybe I would just be better off resigning myself to sewing, because although I could make a lot of money designing, I'm really not sure that's what I want to do.

I started sewing by hand when I was little, and then by machine when I was about 14. I did a lot of embroidery when I was younger. Kits, but they were well done. I was not a patient crafter though. I could only finish things if they took a few days at the most. I still prefer design to making, because it's over and passed on really quickly. I also learned how to work really fast, because I get bored quickly.

I got my first sewing machine for my 16th birthday. It was a wonderful machine. At that point in my life, I planned on becoming a fashion designer. I even took tailoring classes in high school and designed a lot of my own clothes.

I had some money for college, but not enough to get into any fashion schools. I didn't know anything about financial aid or loans. My high school counselor advised that I take typing, because a secretary was a good career for a woman. I sometimes with I knew where she lived so I could have left her a flaming bag of, well, you know. At any rate, she was no help to me at all, and I missed out on college, because of very bad advice.

It took quite a few years, but I finally went back to school and what did I do to earn money for tuition? You guessed it, I sewed in a drapery shop. I made beautiful custom drapes, bedding and slipcovers for interior designers clients.

Not sure why I have such an aversion to sewing now, but I really don't like it. Maybe it's a stat of mind and I should learn to like it. Maybe I need to create my own thing or my own process of sewing.

I don't plan to give up on my flowers just yet, but it is nice to know that I have something to rely on
in the mean time.

February 13, 2012

February 12, 2012

I was remembering the first time I built a porch railing. It seemed so daunting. There were 2 columns (actually 4, 2 at each corner) and I had to construct 2 newel posts railing and balusters. I also had 2 old flower boxes I wanted to save and mount on the front balusters.

My pictures are in a box in storage somewhere, but I found this picture on Google Maps. I also found my childhood home. You can move around the whole street, the whole neighborhood. I find it very creepy that someone cam out to those neighborhoods and took all of that photography to post on Google maps. I always thought those guys hanging out on the streets were surveyors. I think some of them were Google spies.

The Newels were the hardest to construct. I didn't just buy them. I built a frame and constructed a hollow post over it. There was a square plate with a short 4X4 screwed to the porch, and a 4X4 piece at the top. Then a square top with a round finial.

The railing was not as hard as I thought because the railing has spots for the balusters to sit. It was a little tricky, because you either assemble the whole railing and mount it or assemble the bottom with balusters and try to fit on the top. I opted for that, because I really didn't want to try to hold up the completed piece and attach the top and bottom rails all at the same time. I had some help, but it was not an easy thing to accomplish with even 4 hands.

It was something I wasn't sure I could do, never did before, and in the end, was very pleased with the results. I wish I could show you a picture of the porch with flowers in the boxes.

If I was a bit younger, the challenges I've given myself would not be so daunting. I would be sure I could accomplish them and tackle anything that got in my way. I'm not so young anymore. Not that age should matter, but sometimes it can be a barrier to others.

Did you know that health insurance can cost an employer twice as much for employees over 60 as for employees under 60? Not really fair, but a fact. So what to the people who turn 60 with no job prospects do until they turn 66 and are eligible for Medicare? Or depending on their age, maybe older.

Well if I don't get the Flower Jewelry business going, or get a job designing product, I can always install porch railings.

February 12, 2012

February 11, 2012 - Progress Report

I have been sick and sitting around all week so today I had to catch up on Housework. ALL DAY. I didn't really do anything other than sprucing up my other blog today and doing a little promoting.

I thought tonight might be a good time to check my progress. I'm going to let you know how I did. I made a spreadsheet with completion dates for projects and lets see how good I did.

Weight loss is a miserable minus. I've lost some, but no where near what I wanted to loose.

I did complete, photograph and list Bangle bracelets. But I still have many new things to make, like rings, bouquets and baby photo props. But my deadline for those hasn't passed yet.

I wanted to have my Logo finished by January 31st and it's almost done, but I can't decide if I need changes or not. It should be soon, because I need it to finish my new business cards, packaging and brochure.

I have almost finished my website. It was so much more complicated than I thought it would be. But I'm very happy with it now. Just a few more touches and I'll start promoting it.

I have 3 more days to master my CAD program and I haven't even started. I'd better get on that. I might be able to use it for my flower designs too. I really like to draw on CAD, I'm just not familiar with the program I have.

I have my Design Portfolio half finished and that is not due until March 1 so I'm pretty good there.

I've also made some contacts and discussed the possibility of working freelance in the lighting industry again.

I have made some progress in the past five weeks. I hope there will be a lot more to come.  

February 11, 2012

February 10, 2012

This has been a rough week. I'm down physically because of a miserable cold. I've been too tired to do a lot of physical activity. Fortunately I have sold some and most of it is already made. Yay!

I've been spending the quiet time thinking a lot and defining what it is I want out of life and my business. It's much more thinking work than I ever thought it would be, and I realize now, why so many people aren't successful. Most people, like myself, just jump into it, without any thought to what they are doing. Some are lucky that success falls into their lap. It does happen. Most are not, because they are not taking on their product with a holistic approach. They are just making pretty (or sometimes not) pretty things, and expecting them to miraculously sell.

By holistic I mean that you are proud of every aspect of your designing, crafting, marketing and identifying your buyer. Think like a business, because that's what you are. I've been toying with this. Artists tend to not be organized, if you're not, get your accountant sister-in-law to help. You need to define your product, what makes it unique and prioritize. I've done a lot of that, but I'm going to do some stream of consciousness brainstorming to get more ideas. You just visualize your product with pen and paper in hand and write whatever comes into your mind, related or not, just write for at least 10 minutes.

I need to do this before I finish me website, because I know I'll discover more about me and my work and myself. I really need to identify my buyer, so I can gear my marketing toward them first. Then I'll work on talking the rest of the population into loving what I sell. I need to market myself as well. I need to make myself someone that a buyer can trust to hand craft them what their heart desires. Trust me, I have some lovely property in Florida.  

February 10, 2012

February 9, 2012

Did you ever notice that on TV, mostly on sitcoms, when the cast eats at the table, they only eat around one side. You never see the back of one person. Watch for it, you'd be surprised how many shows do this. Another thing you might watch for is the color of the clothing people wear.

You would be surprised how many shows, all cast members in a scene, even an entire episode are color coordinated. Really, trust me. I've watched way too much TV over the years. I've even watched so many shows as a child and young adult, that I've seen shows use the exact script as another show years later. Ever get deja vu? It's not deja vu, it's just a lazy producer not using a new script.

I've been told I should write sitcoms about my family. I have to admit, I have had an unusual life. I am not sure I could write well enough for TV. I don't have the training or experience. Even though I've seen so many shows over the years.

OK so half the shows I watch I find so darn boring, because they're so cliché that I know what's coming. At least there are a few good shows that surprise me. But as for predictability, I think a lot of people don't like surprises. I think a lot of people like the comfort of predictability.

Why talk about TV when I'm trying to organize my life and design a website? It's not about TV, it's about design and above all I am a designer. That is what I am, I am a designer. Glad I just realized that. You see we are all designer, just, some of us are better at it than others. Not that I'm saying I'm that great, just that, that is what I am.

I will figure this all out I'm sure. Just because I'm a designer, doesn't mean I have to be a product designer. It can mean that I can design my life and my business if I look at all the elements carefully.

February 9, 2012

February 8, 2012

These posts are getting harder and harder to write each day. I'm trying to do so much an when catch a virus, it just saps every remaining drop of energy. I realized today that I'm writing this so you get the whole picture of my thought processes and I failed to do that in writing about my website so here goes.

I did say that I decided to cut what I was presenting on the website. I decided that just my flowers was all I should focus on. That's what I want to sell to retail shops and brides. There are so many links to my Artfire shop on the site, that if a potential buyer follows through they will see everything else I make.

Once I everything else I had to fill the space, so instead of showing every type of jewelry I made, I featured every type of flower jewelry. I wasn't happy with the graphics so I played with those for days. I realized that designing a website can be very easy, but not so easy if you don't have experience. The Weebly site I have is very easy to build with, no HTML if you don't want to use it. But doing the graphics and just the thought process and page layout is not easy. I don't like having my site live while I'm playing with it, but I seriously doubt anyone will find it yet.

I also wanted to say some things about my flowers and I had them all in one very large messy paragraph. I didn't like that either. I had to prioritize what I wanted to say. I wanted to say that they are handmade, flame sculpted, eco friendly, made of recycled plastics, look beautiful, remind you of nature, attract attention, make you feel special, like wearing a garden, made from renewable resources, I'll do wedding, I'll do wholesale, I tint any color.

I have so many things I need to prioritize and maybe place what I want to say around my site instead of all in one place on the first page. Otherwise, I'm going to scare people away. So I need to figure out what is the most important thing to start with. Is it eco friendly, is it handmade, I really need to focus on the most important, most marketable aspect of my product, then move on the the other aspects.

I had another thought today. I should work only maybe 50 hours a week max on this business. Maybe not at the startup, but if I'm not making money and I'm putting in 80 hours a week, I could so make more money at McDonalds.  

February 8, 2012

February 7, 2012

I am so excited about my website. It is not perfect yet but It is almost just what I want it to be. I still need to finish packaging and show examples and clean up my bio and some of the information, but overall I love where it's going. I'm not crazy about it changing daily, but I'm not really promoting it yet.

I'm using it as a gateway to my Artfire shop and the Artfire shop as a Gateway to the website. I really rather have my items for casual sale on Artfire and my Shop and Wedding sales through the website. Which reminds me, I need to do a Bridal Page.

I'm really excited about tying up my website. It will drive the direction the rest of my packaging and brochure. Oh and I'm going to do baby props too.

I want to keep the website simple, but there is so much more to do with it. And then there's the design website to do and I gave myself a deadline of February 15th to learn the new CAD program. Too much to do in too little time. I need to ask others that have set up websites if they are getting any business there too.

February 7, 2012

February 6, 2012

Every day I think to myself, you can do this. You have a lot of experience in design and retail and you know marketing, trends and you have an uncanny insight to what all people like. I was given such a hard time in school for my product designs, and yet many of my designs look very much like what was developed in the market shortly after I graduated. I really did know where the market was headed after all.

Every day I think to myself, I can't do this. There are so many talented people out there trying to do the same thing. What would make a person want to come to me, instead of them? My flowers are nice, and cute, but what makes them more special than anyone else?

I spent some quality time in the bath today and came to the conclusion that I will not be doing embroidery on my flowers. I'll leave that to someone else. I need to focus on just 3 things, the flame sculpting, the crocheted bases and the watercolor painting. I will expand on those as the sculpted flower and the watercolor are my own processes. The crochet is the only thing I really want to add.

I also spent the evening working on my website. I was so frustrated with it and then it came to me. It still needs a bit of work, but I know the direction I'm going now and it will be easy to finish. I'll be finishing my packaging soon and other than my brochures, I'll be about ready to start approaching shops.

I don't know exactly how my brochure will look. I do know that they will be half letter size sheet. I have spiral binders, small black so that's how they'll be bound, save me a little money. I will have a picture of one of my broaches, actual size on the cover and I will attach an identical sample through the cover. That way they can wear it, but there will still be the image if they should pass it on to someone else.

I also have to design the labels for the tags, which will be seed packets. I think I have an idea for that one too.

All in all a pretty productive day today.  

February 6, 2012

February 5, 2012

Once again I'm torn with my decisions. A week ago I was positive I needed to sell my flowers and feeling so positive that I could. This week I have my doubts. February and March are the worse months for sales for me. Last year I sold a lot of old gold jewelry to make ends meet. This year I have none left. Not really sure what I'm going to do.

I've been working on my website and have changed the fonts and re made the banners so many times it's not funny, and in reality the changes are so minor I don't know that anyone would even notice the difference. I'm so anal about things like that. Even after I tweak things I'm still not happy.

Remember when you were a kid and things were so simple. There were no choices to make, you just did what you were told, ate what was put in front of you, went to school and spent your spare time playing. I think I need to dream about playing with the neighborhood kids tonight.

I don't think I mentioned this before. I had quite an imagination and a lot of ambition as a child. I also knew how to delegate, and I don't know where that talent disappeared. Every summer, I organized some big event, a circus, a puppet show, some kind of huge money making event in our back yard, Actually I had a stand of something or another going on all the time. I'd sell lemonade, or comic books Sometimes I'd just haul out everything I owned on our front lawn and waited for sales.

The circus was fun. I was a fortune teller, in a tent made from laundry poles and blankets. Friends were in charge of the animals, a cat and several jars of insects, Other friends performed. We didn't have too many customers, other than younger siblings, because most of the neighborhood kids were involved.

You would think that someone who was that clever, industrious and totally in charge as a kid, wouldn't be so dysfunctional as an adult. Maybe if I dream about being a kid, I'll find some clarity.  

February 5, 2012

February 4, 2012

Today was a sewing day. Mostly I cut fabric, but I did do a little sewing. Have to finish the rest today. Business is dismally slow this week and it's kind of depressing. At least my Daughter is selling well now. She always does better online than I do. But maybe I'm better at other things.

I also spent a little time on my website. I did have all my product on it, but decided to only offer my flowers on the site as I really want to focus on that. But will still offer other things in my Artfire shop.
I still have a lot of work to do before I start sending people to my site, but it's a lot closer. I don't want the site to have radical changes over time, just gradual changes. I think it's good to keep an identity that people can recognize. I wish I had my logo set, but I'm not done with that yet. My banner is close but still needs some tweaking.

I'm resting my brain today. I don't want to over think. I've been working hard and need a break. Maybe I need to do something fun for a change. I really rarely have fun anymore. I need a little fun to stimulate my creativity.  

February 4, 2012

February 3, 2012

I spent a little bit of time today working on Taxes again. My daughter Poppy did very well. I did not. She is very resilient. When things start to go sour, she just perks up and does whatever it is that earns the money she needs.

I've been trying to make a go at my business and spending so much time at it that I didn't notice how hard the change has been on my daughter. She has finally decided to close her designer clothing shop. It just doesn't have the sales that she had on Etsy. Artfire is a different type of site to sell at. She does very well at her genre merchandise. I mentioned that I make almost all of my sales in my genre shop. It is not my favorite thing to do. I am sure that what she is selling is not her favorite either.

I blogged a bit about her shop closing. It's been a rough year.

February 3, 2012

February 2, 2012

Fooled around with my website again late last night. I have so much to do on it it is not funny. I can't contact shops yet, and I need to design a little brochure. I want something nice. I will give samples of mini bouquet pins as giveaways with the brochures. I guess they should be part of the cover, I think I should have a photo of a mini bouquet brooch and have the real matching brooch pinned on top. I like it! I hate the idea of using too much ink. Maybe I should have post cards printed as page one and cut the inner pages. I have to price things. I do like the pin on the picture idea though.

Today I didn't think much about my flowers. I had such a down day yesterday I gave it a rest. I did taxes and that was a interesting. I thought we were down so much in sales since my daughter and I were kicked off Etsy. Turns out she made almost the same. I made almost as much this January as I did on Etsy last January. I looked at my 2010 sales and it was almost $1000 more, what a shock, but the bottom line was much closer, I forgot that it was when I was selling supplies and my cost of materials was way higher than crafting supplies.

I've heard so many Etsy friends say that their sales have gone way down, but I did OK and Poppy's sales were really good. She did have a decline, but not that much. It will be nice to see the economy pick up some day. I think we're all heading in the right direction though.

I also heard from a former associate, about the possibility of picking up some work in China. Maybe I won't have to make the decision I've been thinking about. Maybe the choice will find me. The work would be part time, which would leave me plenty of time to work on my wholesaling of the jewelry. It will also give me a bit more income (maybe enough to fix the car) and to help with material costs to boost my own business. I hope something works out, because I would love to go back. I was beginning to think I would never get the opportunity again.

I also lost a little more weight this week. Was hoping to loose 10 pounds in January. I lost only 4, but I'm heading in the right direction.

February 2, 2012

February 1, 2012

I saw a skein of yarn online and I thought of how many interesting things we used to touch and do with our hand when I was young. Seems like all we do is touch keys or buttons these days. \

When I was young, yarn came in a huge skein. You untwisted it and two of you would make a ball of yarn of it. One would hold the skein, while the other wound the ball. It was a wonderful sensation, so relaxing. Letters were typed on a typewriter. When you got to the end of the paper, a little bell would ding and you hit the carriage return to roll the paper up and start the next line. Telephones had rotary dials that had this kind of tug and your fingers when you spun the dial and a clicking return.

I used to use an old egg beater to make eggs when I was young. You held the handle with one hand and turned a crank with the others. My grandfather mowed our lawn with a spindle mower. No need for gas or wires. And when you needed to change the channel on the TV, you got up off you butt, walked over to the TV and changed it. OK so maybe there WERE only three channels to choose from back then.

I love to work with my hands. I love to craft, to build and to garden. Maybe the reason so many people are making and selling crafts these days is to do something with their hands.

I'm feeling the weight of nothing going right today. Recent purchases are screwed up. Sales are dropping rapidly. I remember last year feeling the pinch. I don't even have tax return to look forward to because I owe about $3000 in back taxes, long story. We could really use the car repaired too, but I'll be lucky to make enough to survive on.

The thing that amazes me is that each of the past 5 years, we earn less and less, and yet we seem to do OK. It really can't get too much worse. I'm trying to make a go of my craft, but I think I may have to “get a real job”. Just a little down in the dumps today. Feeling there are just not enough people out there who like my product, to support myself, no matter what I offer.

February 1, 2012

January 31, 2012

I have a little confession to make, well, besides the fact that I have just not been motivated to do something with my flowers since I was booted off of Etsy. One of the reasons I don't make longer necklaces is that the flowers sitting on chain tip. They sit nice close to your neck, but if they are hanging on a chain they tend to go all wonky. There I said it.

So, I guess if I want to make longer necklaces, it's back to the drawing board. The flowers sit well on a crocheted or fabric band, but I think chain would be nicer (although more expensive as I'd need twice as much for each necklace. I'd love to come up with some kind of recycled eco bead that I could wire. Maybe that mass of dryer lint we always have.

Back to the flower pendants. I could either make a “ballast” on a single flower, with maybe a stone hanging from it's chain loop, or I could make some kind of posey pouch that the flowers hang from, like a little envelope with chain on either side and filled with 2-3 flowers. I kind of like that Idea. I think most of the necklaces need to be simple. Maybe a tiny flower vase or handmade “stems”

I have another confession. I hate artificial flowers, or silk flowers. Always have. You might think, “why is she making artificial flowers and trying to push them on other people”? I think of my flowers as not reproductions of real flowers, but little impressions of the flowers we love. Kind of like an impressionistic painting. I love paintings of flowers, like Van Gogh's Sunflowers or Art Glass flowers, like the ones L. C. Tiffany made in his mosaics.

I'm glad I'm writing this blog, because it's giving my mind clarity about what I want to do with my flowers. And I'm finding that that is my heart's desire. Which is a good thing to know. Is it starting to show?

I was also inspired today by this post on Handmadeology by Tuckoo and Moo Cow. It's short, so please take the time to read it. I think this is why I haven't sold much, and what I am missing.