Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Happy Holiday Weekend! Whatever your plans are for this weekend, I hope you have a wonderful time!

I told you a couple of days ago that I was going to reorganize my workshop this weekend. It really was a mess from the craft show preparations and the fact that we removed one of the tables. It doesn't usually look like that, and I couldn't stand it. It made me hyperventilate every time I walked in there this week. It has also been a catchall room for years and when I started using it for my crafts, I just moved stuff in and never moved anything out.

I got up this morning knowing what was on my agenda, and let me tell you, it was hard to drag my butt out of bed. That isn't like me at all, I'm the happy little morning person that everyone else hates. I bounce out of bed singing most mornings. Disgusting I know.

Well I got up, got dressed. I opened the door to my workshop and closed it again. I went and sat on the couch for a few minutes trying to find the courage to start. It took me a little while, but I soon ventured in....

Have you ever started a major project and about two hours into it you just want to sit down in the middle of the floor and cry because the room looks worse than when you started? That was me a couple hours into the job this morning. I knew looking at it that there was no way I was going to get it done today. I had pulled everything off the shelves and stuff out of drawers and even the closet. I knew what I wanted to do, but it was like I just kept moving things from one spot to another! UGH!

About that time, I snapped a couple pictures of the mess for my blog, and Irv came walking in with egg and cheese croissants from Dunkin' Donuts!! Woo hoo!! We sat on the deck and enjoyed our breakfast and a little chat. It's amazing how much energy and happiness that greasy, fattening puffy little pastry brought me. In no time I was able to head back into the workshop to continue the task at hand.

I am happy to report that six hours after venturing in here this morning...I AM DONE!!!!!!

I can't believe I finished, and the results are just awesome. See what you can do when you put your mind to it....or you realize you will not be able to access your workshop to create anything if you don't?I have to tweak a couple of things like the little rolling has everything in the right drawers, but it needs some little bins to separate things and tidy it up a bit. I also need to clean out my file drawers since I never removed the 2008 stuff, and now we are halfway through's getting a wee bit crowded in fact I can't shove one more piece of paper in it!!

Irv already cleaned the kitchen and living room while I was cleaning in now I need to go start on the bathroom and bedrooms. Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Marketing Your Business

As most of you know, I have two shops on etsy. I opened my first shop, FourDogDay, in July of 2008, and added MyOtherShop soon after. I quickly realized that I no clue what I was doing and closed the second shop after a short time. Once I felt more comfortable with the entire etsy process, I reopened MyOtherShop. I can't believe I've been at this for almost a year already!

The growth of my shops is S-L-O-W, which I've heard is okay. I would definitely like more than one sale a week, but it is what it is. To help get my name out there, I did my first craft show last weekend. Although it wasn't a huge financial success, it was an awesome learning experience and I plan to do many more in the coming months. You can read about my first craft show experience here.

People that follow the craft shows will start to recognize me and my shop names after a while of consistent attendance and that's part of promoting. Eventually I would like to have a sign in my booth that says something like, "You can also find me and my creations at" or something like that.

My daughter, Tresa, sent me a link this morning to a wonderful ABC News/Good Morning America article all about etsy and turning crafts into cash. It highlighted five successful shops. It was a good article. You can read it here.

Between publicizing our own shops through means like blogs, craft shows, flyers and business cards.....and articles like this one.....success is attainable for us all.

Do you have an online business? If so, feel free to share any promotional or marketing successes you have had.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Lot of People This Month!

Do you have a particular month filled with family birthdays? May is ours. My niece, my two boys, two of my sisters and my brother, all have birthdays in May. My boys turned 26 and 29 this year and that just seems so absurd to me. I wrote about Matthew on his birthday, and I will be writing about Michael soon. His story is complex and I need to think it out a bit. Michael was a very sick baby and we came very close to losing him when he was four days old. Writing about it makes me cry when I recall how frightening it was and then I cry because the story is such a happy one. So, one of these days I will share Michael's story with you.

Yesterday was my younger sister's birthday and tomorrow is one of my older sister's birthdays, then on the 26th is my brother's. We don't buy gifts for one another, in fact we are lucky if we get cards out on time...except for my one sister. She has her act so darn together she never misses a birthday. I'm usually late with the one on the 20th, right on time for the 22nd and early for the one on the 26th because once I remember, I send them all at once!

Isn't it funny how you can't wait when you are little for your birthday? You can't wait for the party and the toys and the cake and ice cream and for getting older.....then little by little those birthdays become such a nuisance. In your 20's you start to realize they just aren't so cool anymore. They seem to stay uncool for quite a while and then all of a sudden one day you decide you really don't give a crap. (I had the word poop in there instead of crap and it sounded so dumb. I really wanted to say shit, but decided that crap would do) There isn't anything you can do about them, so why fret? I've been in that stage for quite a while, but then I really don't fret about much. It is what it is.

My birthday is in October...I'm one of those "balanced" Libra people or so the calendar says! HAHA! What month were you born and how do you feel about birthdays?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I Need A Dumpster

I have run out of room in my workshop. I have no idea what people do that don't have an actual room to work in. My workshop use to be just my computer room. The shelves held just stuff that we used occasionally. Then I started using it for my crafts and all of a sudden it just somehow...filled up. The six weeks before the craft show, I was a crafting machine. Nothing got put away properly. I was digging for things I needed and not putting things back in boxes. Then we took the table that held all of my supplies for the craft show and piled all of that on the other table and the floor and the shelves and oh my is such a mess that I can't even stand being in here. Therefore, I am moving...just kidding, but it is tempting. I think it would be easier than cleaning this up. Right now it looks like someone turned my room upside down and shook it, like you would do with a snow globe...and just like the snow, everything just fell wherever!

Being in here makes me feel tense and makes me hyperventilate! There is nowhere to move. I have supplies, completed work and just stuff everywhere!

I sat in bed last night redesigning my booth for the next craft show, got tired, turned off the light, layed down, started thinking about my workshop, got up, turned on the light, grabbed my paper and pen and started jotting down ideas on how to make this room more user friendly.

What I decided was that everything on every shelf in here, in every drawer, on every table that is not work related is going to get packed up into bins and stored downstairs. Bye bye little Boyd's Bear collection I never look at, see ya' Cubbies water bottle I don't use, so long games we never play and adios Teenie Beanie Babies Boxed Collector sets that have never been opened....

That should free up some much needed space!

I also have a small plastic thingy with drawers and it's on wheels. It's so jammed with stuff...I don't even know what is in there because I can hardly open the drawers. What a great place that would be for my smaller supplies!

We are also T.V. sitting for Michael and Bernadette's HUGE T.V. and stand until they get in their house this summer. Once they take that back, my entertainment center and my teeny weeny itsy bitsy T.V. can come out of the spare bedroom, the dresser that was in there that is taking up space in my workshop can go back in that bedroom and the bookshelf Irv painted for the craft show can go in that spot. It will be awesome for finished products!

Are you following me here? I am making MAJOR progress!

I can put back the other table and put my sewing machine on it so I don't have to haul it to the kitchen every time I need to sew something!

So, the vision is complete. Now I just need the time to put the vision into action....can you say three day weekend??? Problem solved!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Change Is A Comin'

The school district office where I work is undergoing some major changes this summer. First of all, our superintendent is retiring and one of his assistants is taking his place. Other staff will probably move up a notch to replace other people that are moving up. It's the ladder thing....

In our Special Ed office we have a director and a coordinator. The coordinator's position has been eliminated and I'm not sure how that is going to work. Time will tell.

They are moving another person from our office to an office down the hall and are bringing in someone from another related department into her space. They also might change the other secretary's position from part-time to full-time and give her more responsibilities.

Yikes! That is a whole lot of change!

People get nervous and worried when change is upon them, but not me. I welcome it, because you never know how change might work out if you never give it a try.

Same goes for life something you've been wanting to change? Something you've been wanting to try? Go for it! How will you ever know if it will work, be fun and improve your life if you don't give it a shot.

If it doesn't work, it doesn't mean you failed, it just means it didn't work. As they say, "No regrets!"

The pictures are from a little kayaking Irv and I did on the river last year. Never in a million years did we think we would ever try kayaking. Well, we tried it and we love it. Right now we have to rent the kayaks when we want to go, but one day we will own our own!

Monday, May 18, 2009

One Down and Many More To Go....

We got to the staging area for the show at 5:00 a.m. I had spoken with one of the organizers during the week and she said the out-of-staters often are there by 2:00 a.m. We anticipated a long line when we got there, but were actually 8th in line. We decided we would never get there so early again, but quickly decided 5:00 was a good idea when they started to direct us onto the town square at 6:20 so we could unload. The chaos that ensued was beyond belief....350 crafters times two vehicles or one huge trailer each equals a very congested road and a traffic jam like you have never seen. Lucky for us, because we were 8th in line, we were able to pull pretty close to our entrance to the park and hauled our stuff to our spot.

Set up went fine. No problems at all. It was kind of fun and pretty exciting. Nice music was being pumped into area and we went about our merry way. We were done by 9:00 a.m. and the show didn't start until 10:00. Note the picture of poor Irv sitting a putting eight straight pins in each and every one of the little pin cushions!

We were very fortunate to have couples on both sides of us that do craft shows for a living. Really nice people and we learned a lot about the craft show "circuit" from them.

Tresa drove the 60 miles from Chicago to Woodstock and spent a couple of hours with us. She said she knew she was getting close when she started to see cows. :) Tresa is in marketing and she gave me some great suggestions. The first thing she noticed is that I had all of the light switches at the front of the table, and a small round table with all of the pin cushions on it right out front. That meant as people were walking by, if light switch covers and pin cushions weren't their thing, they would walk by. People don't come into every booth to look around. You have to "grab them" as they are walking by.

So, she moved some things around and at the end of that table we put some of everything. We did the same thing on the small table and the result was instantaneous. People started stopping and looking and then if they saw something of interest, out of the many things displayed, they came in and looked around.

The next thing she said was that I had no sign that said "Blank photo note cards", and for people that don't know what I do, you wouldn't really know what they were because they were in cello. We took some out, put them around on the table and hung some of them out of the cello on the display boards. I didn't sell any cards, but people did start looking at them.

Next, was my pricing. I have a tendency to price things $5, $10, $15, $20 and $25 if it's close to that price. Tresa suggested I start doing $4, $9, $14, $19 and $24 if I can. People see prices in categories and even if it is only a one dollar difference are more apt to buy something they like that is $14 than $15. It's a mind thing...but that is very true. I thought about when I shop and realized I think that way as well. I couldn't change prices this time, but I will definitely do that for the next show.

One other thing she suggested is that Irv make something for the front of the booth that I might be able to hang things on or something with shelves that I could display some items on. I thought that was a great idea as well.

I didn't make near what I thought I would make, but I still consider the show a huge success. The fact that Tresa's suggestions will help me from here on out and the info I gathered from the craft show pros next to me was well worth the time and effort I put into the show. Of course, I wish I had made more, but I did cover my entry fee and will be able to pay some of my canopy off, so I am happy.

I will say that I am not the only one that didn't make a lot. The pros on both sides of me were very disappointed in their sales as well. In fact, the pros don't get disappointed, they tend to get a bit angry. They expect a successful show for the fee they paid. I have to disagree with them on this one. There were tons of people at the show...and I mean tons. The organizers can get the people there for you, but they can't make them buy things.

Our location really didn't help matters. The main loop is on the road and by the time people do that loop, I think they have seen enough. Then they scoot through the park where we were to get to where they parked their cars. Many people that came through the park had bought things, but they bought them on the main loop and not in the park.

The pros had many other pro friends that came by to chat. Many of them said that their sales were down about 50% from what they normally do at this particular show. I guess that wouldn't make me happy either. I am not one to make excuses, and I would have been much more concerned if the booths around me were selling like mad and I wasn't....and that wasn't the case. No excuses...just an observation. are some things I learned all on my own:

1) People are very happy in the morning when they are setting up. A couple hours later when they realize they aren't going to make a lot of money, they turn into their alter ego!
2) When people are packing up after a not so great show...get the hell out of their way!
3) Be sure to check on the ground behind your tables for items that got knocked down. They could be sitting there all day and you would never know it!
4) Things that you have in little zip lock bags form condensation in them when they sit in the sun!
5) Never tell your friends and family that you are Booth 311 by the gazebo because they take the little number stakes away after you set up and no one has any idea what your booth number is!
6) No one in or around a craft show sells food for vegetarians and if they do it is nasty crap!
7) Be sure to keep reapplying your sunscreen about every 30 minutes on a sunny day or you will get a nasty sunburn and sometimes it is only on one ear and one side of your face!
8) That music that sounds so nice at the start of the day is looped and that same music keeps playing over and over and over and over and over again all day long for 12 hours...after a few hours, it isn't so nice anymore!
9) Bring something with to shoot out the speakers that the nasty music is coming from
10) Items that you bring TO the show, seem to reproduce during the day, so that when you go to pack up...even though you sold some doesn't fit in the boxes it came in anymore!
11) Don't take so much that it doesn't fit in your booth and don't put it all out at once even if you really, really, really want to because someone just might be looking for that exact color, print, shape, design!
12) Appreciate a husband that is so amazingly supportive that you know there is no way on the face of this earth that you could do what you just did without him...even if the next day, he unloads everything into the middle of the kitchen floor and heads outside for the day to work in the garden! :)

So, I was already online last night looking for two more summer shows to do. I have already been accepted to a big two-day show October 3 and 4 and Tresa wants me to apply for one in Chicago in September.

I've been sucked in and I think I'm gonna love it!

My Oh My Oh My

What a day yesterday was at my very first craft show! I have some things I have to do first thing this morning....but check back later for some pictures and all the scoop!!

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