Monday, September 28, 2009
I spent the last two days going from one store to another looking for a new serger. For those of you that do not sew, a serger is an overlock machine that gives you those nice finished seams in store bought clothing. Those of us that do sew know that some items just can not be made in a professional manner without one of these little machines.
I have seen numerous brands and although they all do basically the same thing, some of them could break the bank. I even have been looking on ebay to see what is available, so I have let my fingers do the walking and not just spent the day driving all over town. I have spoken to dealers that were knowledgeable and some that I was not sure if they new what they were selling and I am still not ready to take the plunge.
The serger I have has been in the family for the last 15 yrs and although it still runs it needs to be retired to a backup and not my primary machine. As all of you out there that sew know, buying a new machine is a big decision that requires "test driving" numerous models and asking tons of questions. So my quest continues and I hope that by next week at this time I will be the proud owner of a new serger that will meet my needs.
Wish me luck, or at least wish me patience so that I don't loose my mind as well as my wallet along the way.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Fall is in the air and it is time to take out the Autumn decor for your home. I love changing my table decor with the seasons and up until lately have been using some really yucky plastic placemats. I wondered how many out there are doing the same thing, so I decided to work on some seasonal placemats to welcome in the cooler weather.
My favorite so far is this dark green set that features the falling leaves of autumn in a nine patch design. They are made of cotton fabric and quilted in a cross hatch design using cotton batting.
Another item I listed today is a cute set of Scarecrow Potholders that are large enough to use as hot pads or trivets to protect your table or countertops. They are made using cotton fabrics and have a layer of insul-brite and cotton batting to keep you hands protected from hot pots and pans.
Last but certainly not least is a second set of Fall Placemats that are reversible, giving you added wear.
They are made using cotton fabrics and are quilted in an all over meandering design using polyester batting.
With Autumn arriving I think I will be doing some more seasonal items along with my usual quilting. Tomorrow is another day and I will let you all know how things turn out in Monday's Mayhem.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
This would make a great little gift pocket that you could stuff with any small goodie. I can just imagine this on my refrigerator door, a great place to leave notes for kids, husbands or friends.
2.) The next feature item is this beautiful pair of handmade chopstix. They are not only handy but versitile as the description states, "perfect for use on your next sushi or Chinese food run, or simply to put your hair up for an elegant touch to your attire". You can find these and many other lovely items at Wind and Rain Handmades http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6204785
3.) With the holidays fast approaching what better way to deck the halls than by adding this festive "Christmas Tree Wall Hanging" to your decor. A fellow member of the Quiltsy Team, SieberDesigns, is the creator of this 13.75 X15.5 inch beauty. http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=6116896
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I am not an expert in this area but I will share some of the things I found out as I did some research for my own company.
There are many different companies and banks that can fill the need but I can not stress how important it is to do your research. When I first decided to do shows last year I Googled "merchant services" and I was given a number of options to choose from. I did my online research but there were many questions with the big one being about costs. Although very quick and easy to have a card reader especially a wireless one, it can add up to more than you are willing to spend.Some of the charges that can add up are:
1.) monthly service fees
2.) monthly wireless connections fee (just like a wireless phone fee)
3.) credit card processing fees, these vary between types of cards and sometimes depends on the amount being charged.
4.) statement fees (there is a charge for the company to provide you with a monthly statement of all transactions)
5.) equipment rental or purchase fees and a wireless card reader can run up into the hundreds of dollars.
Just be sure what you are getting and what it will cost before you sign any type of a contract. Some companies will offer a "no contract" setup but often these require that you process a minumum amount of transactions per month. When I was contacted by one company I was told that I could get a refurbished card reader and I later found out that these so called refurbished card readers would be obsolete within 4 months because of new laws concerning the type of printouts they were using. I found this out after researching the equipment model and cross referencing with a number of other companies. Just as with any purchase be sure of what you are getting and what it will cost you in the end.
The next two options can be accessed online through a wireless connection. You can check with the show organizers if there is wireless services available, sometimes it is free and sometimes there is a small charge. You could also use your own wireless connection card for your computer, if you own one or an iphone.
Just by chance a show organizer was the one that told me about "Propay", http://epay.propay.com/, an online service with fees that start at $34.95 per year and can be upgraded depending on the services required and of course, the fees increase with the amount of services. I found it very easy to sign up and was ready to go by the next day.
With this service you can process cards online with the ease of a card swiper(card reader is an extra charge) that attaches to your computer or you can store info on the card swiper and download it at the end of the day. If you do not have a laptop you can use your iphone or process individual purchases by phone very easily. My one bit of advice if you plan to process by cell phone is that when you sign up use your wireless number as your business phone. When processing transactions use the cell phone that is listed as your business phone on your account, this will make it easier and cut down the number of steps required. Your funds are processed within 1-3 days and can be transferred to you bank account or you can get a prepaid mastercard to use your funds directly through Propay.
There is also another online system called "Intuit" http://www.intuit.com/ that can be used with Quick Books and although I have not reasearched all its aspects it does sound very reasonably priced at $12.95 per month. This is a good price for someone that is just starting out and there are no contracts to sign, so cancellation can be done at any time. This service can also be used to process cards on sight with the use of a laptop and a wireless connection or you can use your iphone. With Intuit your funds are deposited directly into a business bank account within 1-3 days of when transactions are processed.
Both of these last two options are user friendly and you can access your statements online and print them out at home if you like. I do suggest that if you choose to do Propay or Intuit you do the online sign up at least a week ahead of time just in case you run into any problems.
Remember you are not required to take credit cards at all and sometimes show organizers will provide a check cashing, credit card station for a small fee that is either paid by the vendor or the customer. Another idea is to check and see if there is an ATM available where customers can use their debit or credit cards to access funds. Some vendors will set a minimum charge that they will process, be forewarned, this is against credit card rules of use. According to Mastercard Company, it is considered discrimination to only allow charges of a certain amount or to charge a processing fee. You can read the rules of use for Mastercard at http://www.mastercard.com/us/merchant/support/rules.html
Visa rules of use can be found at http://usa.visa.com/merchants/index.html#/page2
I do hope this information is helpful and I do not claim to be an expert in this area, so please do your own research before you decide which type of credit card merchant account to use, if you decide to accept credit cards.
As always remember to have fun and smile.
Monday, September 21, 2009
I spent the day with my daughter trying to ease her pain and anxiety over her pets accident and we both felt better when we picked her up at the vet this afternoon. Her dog will be fine, just a bit frightened and nervous but after a good nights rest I am sure both will be much better tomorrow.
This little dog has been part of the family for the last 8 yrs and it is always difficult to see our pets hurt or ill, almost as difficult as it is to see our children that way. Pet owners do not own their pets, their pets own them.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Needless to say we were flattered and a bit leary, it had been humid all day long and well you could say we were having a bit of a "bad hair day". We agreed to have our picture taken and today it is in the paper. It is very exciting for us and we do hope that the publicity brings in more traffic to this once a month show.
Leon Valley is on the West side of San Antonio and the community/conference center is located on Evers Rd. http://www.leonvalleytradeandmarketdays.com/
Friday, September 18, 2009
The first item in my favorites this week is this lovely "Bohemian Tulips Wooden Trinket Box" by Anycards. You will find many different styles and designs in this shop that are great gift items for yourself or someone else. Check this shop out just in time for holiday gift giving.
My next three picks for this week come from members of the Homefront Team. This team is a group of military spouses and significant others that help support and serve this country in their own way. Behind every soldier there is a family that loves them, supports them and prays for them daily and these three are some of those dedicated people.
At "D-Lightful Designs" I found this cute little polymer clay dragon named "Pansy" and at a petite 4 inches tall she is a cutie. The detail in this sculpture is amazing and she can be found frolicking with some of her friends athttp//www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=22429798
My next pick is on the more practical side but is still a fun and unique little item. The banner in this shop reads, "reduce, reuse, recycle", and by the looks of this little notebook this shop lives by its words.
If you are like me I am always hunting for something to write on and this notebook would be perfect for jotting down those grocery lists or to keep notes on your next project. This is also a great holiday gift and great for a stocking stuffer. You can find this and a variety of other designs at "The Chameleons Attic" http//www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23783429
When I saw this picture I found it so moving, inspiring and close to my heart, especially as a member of the Homefront Team.
This 5X7 photograph of a bronzed flag that is part of a War Memorial in Powell, Wyoming titled, "Our Flag Was Still There", is one of the many beautiful items you will find at CreationsAnew. Note cards and frameable pictures that are beautiful as well as inspiring are the items you will find in this shop. Another shop with some great gift giving ideas. http//www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=26544860
I hope you enjoyed my picks this week and will help support our military families and other Etsy artisans by buying handmade.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
1. ) Booth appearance, your booth should not look cluttered. I know when I shop a craft show the first thing that turns me off is a cluttered looking table. You can have the next big craze on your table but no one will see it if you pile it up with too many things. Try to keep like items together and remember, you don't have to have everything out on your table. If you have space under the table keep some of your inventory close at hand. You can always offer more selections if a customer is interested but doesn't see what they like.
2.) Seasonal items look best when displayed together and in a themed setting. You don't have to make your whole booth look seasonal but holiday items such as ornaments look best displayed on a table top tree or even a full size tree. Remember, you don't need to display all items at once.
3.) Business cards, you can never have too many. Toss a business card in the bag with a customers purchase and if you can maybe a freebie to boot. Customers love getting free items. The free item can be anything, this year during my holiday shows I plan on using last years leftover Christmas cards as my free item for purchase.
4.) Want to hire help but don't have the cash? An Etsy shop owner, "The Chameleons Attic" gave us this tip. "Don't pay cash if you can avoid it. Pay in product or go half and half". This way "if your sales are not what you want you are not feeling shot in the foot". A great idea for cutting down costs.
5.) Another cost saving tip is to share a booth with another artisan. This is great if you both have small items or as in the case of a recent show I attended, one sold totes and the other did face painting. Just make sure that you can keep sales separate and inventory in check. Also, if you decided to do this you must advise the show organizers to make sure they are okay with it. Sometimes organizers will not allow sharing a booth or if they do and it is a juried show you will have to submit photos of both of the artisans items for approval.
6.) Find out if an ATM will be available for customers or check cashing/credit card area. Some larger shows offer these services at a small fee for the convenience of their customers and merchants. If you don't have credit card capability this could be a lifesaver. (I will cover credit cards in another post)
7.) Have plenty of change and get a counterfeit money marker. At a recent show I was approached early in the day by a customer with a $100 dollar bill for a $45.00 purchase, luckily we had change. The markers are available at office supplies stores and I use mine on all my bills over $10.00. It is not likely you will find someone trying to pass counterfeit bills at a craft show, but you never know.
8.) "Do you take checks?" This is a question you hear very often at a show so decided before you get there if you want to take this risk or not. Another tip about checks is that although your bank says 10 days for approval the purchasers bank can take up to 4 weeks, and sometimes more, to return a check. If this happens you will not only be out the purchase price but a returned check fee and your merchandise. I personally do not accept checks but I do accept debit cards and credit cards.
9.) Credit cards. There are many companies out there that offer all types of credit card acceptance systems and if this is what you want make sure you do your research. There are many fees involved and the final cost may not be worth making. I personally use Propay which is an online services that is both convenient and easy to use. Next week I will cover more about credit card services.
10.) Don't stress about sales. Try to keep your attitude in check even if the day looks like it is a bust. You never know, when that last sale of the day comes it could be the winner, so try to keep an upbeat attitude till the end.
I do hope that some of these tips and ideas are useful to anyone doing a show or thinking of doing a show this holiday season.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
These are a few things that we learned and feel every craft show vendor should keep in mind:
1.) make sure you have a variety of price points in your inventory, don't overlook the budget concious buyer, they may become your best regular customer. Create what you love.
2.) If you are willing to take orders or do custom work make sure you post a sign and have plenty of business cards. Be prepared to answer questions concerning deposits, payment plans or any other financial considerations, if a customer is interested in your work they want serious and straight forward answers.
3.) don't overload your booth with only seasonal items, most people are there searching for gifts, not just items to decorate their homes. If you have items that they will use all year they may may become a regular customer.
4.) SMILE. Customers do not want to shop at a booth where the sales personel act like they would rather be somewhere else.
5.) Don't be shy, be friendly but don't smother your customer with details. Make sure they know you are available to answer questions if they have any. A good conversation starter is to tell customers what inspired you to create a particular piece or the methods you use, most enjoy hearing about how you create and what inspires you. This also lets customers know this is an art form and you take pride in what you create.
6.) Listen to your customers, sometimes they may give you an idea for your next big seller.
7.) Be friendly but be aware of people eating and drinking near your booth expecially if you have items that stain. You could post a sign indicating you don't allow eating and drinking in your booth but you don't want to chase away a possible sale.
8.) Watch for "sticky fingers" and I don't mean sticky with food. If you have lots of small items be careful that your items don't walk away without being paid for. It is always good to get help from a friend or a family member to help man your booth if possible. I take my teenage daughter that enjoys, understands and knows alot about quilts and quiltmaking.
9.) If you do have employees or volunteers helping you make sure you brief them on your products so that they can help answer questions. They don't need to know everything that goes into your creations but basic info is always helpful.
10.) Have fun. Customers know if you enjoy what you do and are not just doing it for "business".
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My new found Etsy friends in the Quiltsy Team are so very supportive and ready to give business advice whenever you need it. The forum members readily cheer each other on when one makes a sale, small or large, they are all worth a "congrats" from everyone. Quiltsy team treasuries are click and commented on to make sure that we quilters get noticed by the Etsy community and potential buyers of our products. Everyone shares business knowledge and that is so great considering we are all vying for some of the same customers. I am very proud to be part of this great group and in the company of such creative and talented artists.
Today's third favorite is, "Debidesigns", and although I am not featuring one of her quilts, this is still one of my favorite items from this Quiltsy Team member. In this shop you will find some of the cutest fairy dolls and pins I have seen and best of all they are very reasonably priced. Check out Debidesigns and see her lovely dolls, quilts and other handmade items at http://debidesigns.etsy.com/
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Here I have made friends with some wonderful people that enjoy the same things that I do, you may say these are only cyber friends, but they are not. Many of us have traveled long distances to attend quilt shows and exhibitions to meet each other in person, some have dropped in on these "cyber friends" as they have traveled across country on vacation or to visit family.
Here we have prayed together, asked for advice, celebrated weddings, births of children, grandchildren and probably some great grandchildren and we have laughed and cried together at the loss of parents, children and spouses. We have shared our talents and our resources, helped those that had lost everything through no fault of their own and have given to celebrate life as some battle through illness and strife. We have supported our military through gifts of Christmas stockings, pillowcases for the wounded and daily prayers. Projects from the Heart, that is what we called these endeavors and we have all been blessed and made stronger because of each other and the love that is shared on this site.
We have had our pitfalls and there have been some that were less than honorable in their intentions but we have moved past these. We learned that one needs to take precautions when a forum grows beyond certain expectations. yet many of us have remained close and we depend on each other for the friendship that we have found.
On Tuesday, September 1st as I logged on to my computer to share some news with friends I was surprised to see that this site had shut down their forum without explanation or warning. the only message was that there was restructuring going on and to check back for updates at a later time. I was devasted. Where were my friends? How were they taking this news? Who would I turn to when I was feeling so down?
Thank God that some of us had exchanged email addresses so I headed there and reached out to those that I could. Everyone I reached was in shock and struggling to find ways to get in touch with as many as we could. Facebook, blogs and message boards anything to stay in touch with what was happening to our friends, that seemed to be the one thing on everyone's mind.
As of today our forum is still down and either members will not go back or we will find out who the truly dedicated members are if/when we return. As for the website in question, well I do hope it does not affect them in a negative manner but they have thousands of very unhappy members all over the world.
To my cyber firends, I miss you all so very much and I hope that we can "chit chat" again soon and join in on another Saturday night "sew in" very soon.
Take care all and may God Bless each and every one of you "Angels"