Wednesday, September 30, 2009

affordable treats.

Quick thanks to everyone who has entered the giveaway over at oh, hello friend! All of your comments have made me smile. I am also incredibly appreciative of the kind feature Liana posted at Mixed Plate. Check it over here if you have an extra minute.

I received an order earlier this week from someone who was purchasing some vintage playing cards for a friend. She asked me to send the gift directly to the friend without any note to add a little mystery. How fun is that?! Wouldn't you just love to find a surprise sweet treat in your mailbox? If you have a few extra dollars this week, consider sending your own mystery gift to a friend who could really use it. Any of these affordable treats would do!

$5 and Under

$10 and Under

$20 and Under

1. AliciaBock; 2. theloveshop; 3. cutiepiecompany; 4. wiyomu

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

another giveaway opportunity!

I'm thrilled to be the giveaway of the week over at the oh, hello friend blog! Up for grabs is a 100 Page Mixed Paper Journal - Travel Edition.

To enter, head on over to her blog and leave a comment. Giveaway is open until Monday, October 5 at 8am PST. Good luck everyone!!

P.S. - I added a Sale Section for vintage finds at extra great prices!

Monday, September 28, 2009

new week, new shop - tips, tricks, and a little advice.

The regular "new week, new shop" feature will return next week (with a fun twist!). This week I want to share a few tips and tricks for starting up an Etsy shop. It is easy to get your shop up, but can be a disappointment when you don't have sales coming in every day.

I am by no means an expert, but have been on Etsy for a few years now and picked up lots of advice along the way. Now it's time for me to share that advice with you.

1. Put together a plan. To have a successful shop you need a banner / avatar, shop policies, products listed, promotion, packaging ideas, and shipping plans. Rather than tackle this all at once, set goals for yourself and then break those down into mini goals. Finishing your mini goals will give yourself a sense of accomplishment and keep you on track. Consider actually writing down your goals and mini goals. Being able to physically cross them off can be extremely motivating.

2. Capitalize on what you're good at. If you are a good photographer, focus on photographs that will make your products stand out in a search and get you on the Front Page. If you have impressive graphic design skills, focus on a striking shop design, professional packaging, and eye catching promotional materials that will create a strong brand identity. If you are a social butterfly, attend craft shows and talk up potential customers, utilize Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites, and approach store owners about carrying your products.

3. Know when to ask others for help. You will save money by doing everything yourself, but be honest with yourself. You probably don't have the time and talent to successful accomplish everything - graphic design, photography, promotion, taxes... I knew I needed help with my shop banner / avatar. I found a graphic designer on Etsy, gave her my ideas, and she created the design for a very reasonable fee. Knowing it was time to reach out to others saved me a lot of time and gave my shop a more professional appearance.

4. Create a brand. Branding isn't something that should only be left to the big box stores. Jot down words that represent the products you want to sell and the feeling you want to portray. Incorporate this style into all aspects of your shop - banner / avatar, photography styling, packaging, and promotional materials. Consistency is key.

5. Deliver a pretty package. Some might not agree with me, but one of the reasons I shop on Etsy is knowing my order will be packaged with care and will be pretty! I am more likely to purchase from a shop (and pay a little extra) if I know my order will come looking professional and like the owner put in some effort. For me this is what sets independent shops apart from the big box stores. This is especially true now, when I am starting to look for gifts to give at the holidays. It doesn't have to take a lot of money to make your packages look good. I wrap all of my orders with kraft tissue paper, red baker's twine, and a red label. Simple, but reflects my brand and looks better than just thrown in a bubble mailer.

6. Communicate with your customers.
Answer questions promptly. Acknowledge custom order requests, regardless of whether you can fill them or not. Thank customers for their order and let them know when it will ship. This may seem like common sense advice, but I cannot tell you how many times I have placed an order and never heard from the shop owner. I have even contacted a shop about purchasing an item from their Sold Section, was told she could likely accommodate the request and needed to check on her supplies, and then never heard back. That is an easy way to lose a customer that was ready to purchase from you.

7. Ship quickly.
This is another simple one. Think about how you feel when you place an online order. You are probably anxious to receive your products, and might need them by a certain date to use as a gift. Try to get all of your orders in the mail within a couple of days. You can utilize Paypal and automatic shipping centers at the post office to lessen the burden. If you know it will take you awhile to ship your orders, be clear and up front with your customers. Be sure to let them know how long it will take to ship in your Shop Announcement and Product Descriptions to avoid disappointed and frustrated customers.

8. Listen to what others are doing, but stick with what works for you.
It is a good idea to take into consideration what has and hasn't work for others. The vast majority of sellers will say paying to be in a Showcase did not produce extra sales so save your $7. (Sorry, Etsy!) However, just because a seller in the forums reports $500 in sales after sending out a newsletter doesn't mean you should rush to put out your own newsletter. There is a long list of reasons why a newsletter may have worked from them, but won't work for you - long list of newsletter recipients, many repeat customers, certain price point, experience with newsletter design... Think about your shop and your customers, and the best ways to reach them. It may take some trial and error.

9. Make yourself visible. Unfortunately you can't just set up your shop, list your products, and watch the sales roll in. You can easily be lost in the sea of Etsy shops if you don't work hard to be seen. Spread out your listings over a few days so you will be closer to the front of searches. Email blog owners whose blogs you enjoy reading to introduce your shop for a possible feature. Pass out business cards to friends and family, and ask they pass them on to others who might enjoy your shop. This is something you will have to continue to do to continue growing your shop and customer base.

10. Be professional. Some people are a little apprehensive to shop on sites like Etsy because they don't know what to expect. Make sure to include all relevant information in your Product Descriptions - measurements, materials used, care instructions, and such. Clearly list your shipping times and method of delivery. Explain your return policy if a product arrives damaged or the customer simply doesn't like it. These are the little details that aren't always fun, but will relax your customers' possible fears.

That should certainly give you a starting point, but definitely isn't all the tips / tricks / advice out there. If you have your own Etsy shop, or just like to shop on Etsy, please share your own words of wisdom and what makes you return to a certain shop over and over!

Friday, September 25, 2009

friday favorites.

[The Secret Message Stack Rings (#4) are already on my Christmas Wish List. I told my boyfriend I was giving him extra time to come up with a romantic and witty message to have engraved!]

Greetings from New Jersey! My boyfriend had a job interview in New Jersey this morning, so we made the drive from Connecticut yesterday afternoon. It was an "interesting" trip, including some nice traffic on the George Washington bridge and getting lost once we got to New Jersey despite having written directions and a GPS. Good times.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, to everyone who signed up for the Scrap Pack Challenge! I wish I could send one to each and every one of you. Instead I had to pick just two of you at random. And the winners are...

I will be emailing both of you shortly. Check back in a few weeks to see all of the fun creations they come up!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

in case you missed it.

A few fun posts / websites / products that I found recently that you might be interested.

#1 - 10 Dollar Drawings (via Ponder & Stitch)

Do you want a piece of original art, but just can't afford it right now? If you choose the image and pay $10, this artist will provide with you an original drawing done on a 5"x7" piece of brown paper bag. I love this opportunity, and think it would be awesome to wrinkle the paper and then flatten and frame. An instant "vintage" art piece.

#2 - Pocket Town Print (via Oh Joy!)

I don't have much to say about this one. I just love this print. Perhaps you do too?

#3 - Cards for Kate

I am guessing a lot of you that read my blog love playing with paper and creating handmade cards. The next time you pull out your supplies, consider making an extra card for a extra special cause. Kate is a 5 year old girl who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Jennifer McGuire, a big name in the scrapbooking world, is collecting cards for her and her family.

#4 - My Last Polaroid

As the expiration date for the last remaining Polaroid film looms, these guys want you to share the very last polaroid you take. Really interesting idea, with a really interesting gallery for you to submit yours and browse others.

#5 - Kraft Notepad (via simplesong)

I always love getting a new notepad. Somehow everything feels fresh and full of possibilities. I don't think I have ever seen one with kraft pages like this one. Of course Anthropologie would think of it!

P.S. - Last day to enter the Old Sweet Song giveaway and Scrap Pack challenge!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

affordable treats.

Just want to say quickly how excited I am that so many of you are interested in the Scrap Pack challenge! To be honest, I was a little worried I would be playing the game all by myself, and that would have been no fun. You have until tomorrow night to enter if playing with paper scraps is your idea of a good time. I know it is for me!

Now onto my weekly favorites, all under $5 / $10 / $20.

$5 and Under

$10 and Under

$20 and Under

1. SweetLoveVintage; 2. AlvinaAbramova; 3. larkpress; 4. BrightWallVintage

[I can't decide which is cuter - the owl or elephant?!]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

anyone up for a fun challenge?

I made a bunch of Scrap Packs for the shop today. As I was digging through my vintage map / ledger paper / sheet music / scrapbook paper scraps, I was thinking about all of the neat projects that could come from these bits of paper. I was planning a few projects for myself to work on because, believe me, I still have plenty of scraps left! However, here is where you can come in.

I want to send a free Scrap Pack to one reader, and in exchange see how many fun and creative projects you can come up with! Scrapbook pages, cards, tags, collages, treat bag toppers, mini notepads, little cupcake flags... Here are the details:

Me: I send you a Scrap Pack, along with a few extra goodies!

You: You play with paper until your heart is content! All I ask is that you send me a handful of the pictures of the projects you have put together to share. No hard set time limit, but let's shoot for about 2 weeks after you receive the pack.

Interested? Leave a comment with your name and email. If you have a shop or blog, leave that info too! I will pick a lucky crafter on Thursday night around 9pm EST. If there are multiple folks interested, I might pick two people!

Monday, September 21, 2009

new week, new shops!

According to The Storque, 186,000 new members joined Etsy in August. If even 10% of these new members are sellers, that is almost 20,000 new shops in one month! With so many new shops popping up on Etsy, rather than focus on one shop this week, I want to share a group of really wonderful up and coming shops with you.

Perfect for: heirloom quality leather pieces, including suitcases and other bags to hold your belongings while you are on the go and leather cuffs to keep you stylish each and every day.

Perfect for: art prints that draw inspiration from the past to create a style that is modern and romantic.

Perfect for: simple yet interesting jewelry designs that can be worn every day, or dressed up for more swanky occasions.

Perfect for: warm and cozy finds for the cooler months ahead, such as knitted moccasin slippers and crocheted hats.

Friday, September 18, 2009

friday favorites.

Sometimes I love a lot of color (especially if it's yellow or green!), but other times a little white and gray is just perfect. This group almost reminds me of the overcast and cloudy day we had yesterday (in the best possible way).

I also want to share these with you today:

I'm so, so excited to share this sneak peak with you guys! These are part of my newest group of mixed paper journals - travel edition! I found a vintage travel journal last weekend that had really fun papers, but a less than desirable cover that was falling apart. I deconstructed the book, and used the pages in these journals. Some of the pages include: "Places Visited", "Friends to Write To", "Articles Purchased", and "Expenses".

Each journal is filled with the vintage travel pages, ledger/graph/lined paper, vintage maps, as well as airmail and glassine envelopes to hold small mementos. I can honestly say these are my favorite mixed paper journals yet!

There will be a total of 6 available - 3 red and 3 blue. There are both 50+ page ($18, 2 per color) and 100+ page ($30, 1 per color) versions. I hope to have the first few up in the shop by tomorrow or Sunday. If you don't want to wait, email me ( and I'll set up a special order for you!

UPDATED: Added to the shop here and here!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

want some free paper?

If you want a chance to win some vintage paper, head on over to Old Sweet Song. I put together a special 30 piece paper pack for one lucky reader!

It is comprised solely of vintage paper, including a handful of old flashcards and an airmail envelope. You have one week to enter! To enter, go here. Best of luck!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

affordable treats.

Is it too early for me to suggest thinking about Christmas (!) and stocking stuffers (!) when you browse this week's affordable treats? If you ask my mom who has her Christmas shopping done by the end of September, she would say absolutely not! Just think about picking up an early Christmas gift or two. You'll thank me once December arrives...

$5 and Under

$10 and Under

$20 and Under

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

thank you!

I really adore shopping on Etsy because there is a good chance your order will arrive in a lovely package with a little extra something thrown in. I never expect anything extra and certainly don't think all sellers need to include anything more than what the customer ordered. However, it's hard to deny the excitement over finding an extra postcard or such tucked in your package. It almost reminds me of a little "random act of kindness".

I wanted to return the favor with my customers so I took an hour or so and put together some mini paper packs to include with orders. Each has a handful of vintage papers along with a flashcard and savers stamp. I wrap my orders with kraft tissue paper and red baker's twine, so the yellow and orange mixes in nicely.

I have already used a couple, and look forward to surprising future customers with all of the rest!

Monday, September 14, 2009

new week, new shop - Floridity

Welcome to another week! If you're having a slow morning, perhaps the jewelery of Floridity will wake you up a little.

Floridity is next up in the new week, new shop series. It is a sweet little jewelry shop full of one of a kind polymer clay pieces. Barbara, the artist behind the shop, describes her jewelry as organic, romantic, and sincere. Take a peak at a sample of her work, and you will quickly realize she has mastered one skill in particular - successfully blending lacy, feminine designs with chunky, substantial beads.

Barbara began making jewelry in high school after being introduced via an art class. In college she majored in painting, and later brought these two talents together through her polymer clay beads. Each piece is hand stamped, distressed with paint, and sanded to produce a pre-loved look. Each necklace is finished with a mix of new and vintage findings and beads, and comes with an affordable price tag. Most necklaces range from $20 - 40 each.

Barbara calls Western North Carolina home in the summer, and Cocoa Beach, Florida during the rest of the year. While in North Carolina she lives in an apartment built inside a steel barn. Her workspace is inside the barn itself, and includes a gigantic table measuring 6'x10'(!). While in Florida she doesn't have the luxury of so much space. She carves out a work area in her kitchen and shares an office with her partner Mike.

If you are a fan of Barbara's style but make your own jewelry, you are in luck. In addition to finished pieces, Barbara also offers her handmade beads on their own. Most beads range from $5 - 10 each.

To learn more about Floridity and purchase a piece, check out:

Friday, September 11, 2009

friday favorites.

It's cold and rainy today, definitely making summer seem like a thing of the past. The weather is supposed to clear up by Sunday, so hopefully I'll be able to make it to the flea market and perhaps a garage sale or two. Anyone with big plans for the weekend? Plans to celebrate the very last days of summer?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

nyc mixed paper journal.

**********UPDATE:  Sorry the photos are no longer working!  I have reposted all of the photos on my current blog.  You can view the journal here:  THANK YOU!!**********

I took a little trip to New York last month and just finished a mixed paper journal that holds all of my pictures, tickets, brochures, and other mementos. Here is the finished product:

If you want to make your own to celebrate a recent trip or other special event, follow these simple steps.

Step #1: Collect tickets / brochures / postcards / other paper along the way.

I saved everything that I came upon while I was away, include stuff that's free (ticket stubs, pamphlets) and stuff that I bought (postcards, maps). I would rather have too much to work with rather than wish I had saved a certain little piece of paper.

Before I left for my trip, I put an envelope like this in my purse to hold all of the paper I accumulated along the way. If you use a purse that's slightly large like me, it fits easily and keeps your paper from getting lost or damaged. Every time you are handed a piece of paper, just slip it in and don't think about it until you get home.

Step #2: Document your trip on a variety of mixed papers.

I included little bits of information on the sights we visited, as well as other vintage papers relating to New York including a page from an old dictionary and atlas. You could plan ahead and bring the blank pages with you to fill out as your trip goes on so you don't forget any important details. I wasn't that organized, so I filled mine in once I returned from the trip.

Step #3: Label your photos.

I view these mixed paper journals as somewhere in between a plain photo album and an all out scrapbook. I like to add a little something extra without going over the top. I used a lot of labels and tags on my photos, as well as simple alphabet stickers. I also kept plenty of photos plain - probably around 1/3 with labels and 2/3 without.

You might notice I used both landscape and portrait style photos. I also used a mixture of color and black and white photos. The idea behind these mixed paper journals is to gather your memories in a fun and easy going manner. No need to be strict about which photos you can and cannot include.

Step #4: Combine your travel ephemera, mixed papers, and pictures.

I combined mine in chronological order. It makes the most sense to me and easy to flip through and remember the trip. However, it's up to you how you want to put yours together.

You're done!!

A few extra notes:

For the cover I created a collage in Picasa, a free photo editing program from Google. I uploaded and printed it along with my other photos.

I usually use two binder rings to hold together my mixed paper journals. I added an extra ring for this one simply due to its size. It's packed full with over 40 photos, 20 written pages, and plenty of tickets / maps / brochures / postcards.

It might be a little tough to see, but the journal includes three index tabs which I labeled "1", "2", and "3" to correspond to the first, second, and third day of our trip. This helped to organize my very large journal.