Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween BOGO at Risky Beads!!!

WOW, I love my customers so much's spooky!

Welcome to the Risky Beads Halloween
BOGO (BUY 1 GET 1 FREE) Sale!!

Behold, le's no trick,
you gotta click!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Breaking Free - My Only Option?

Those of you who frequent my blog, know that I sometimes blog about health care/insurance and that I'm a hard-core progressive when it comes to Universal Health Care. Don't bother trying to scare me with the concept of 'government run' health insurance because that doesn't scare me one bit. I want to live in a healthy and intelligent society. I believe in single payer health care and public schools. But as of Nov. 1, 2009, I will be uninsured and more or less uninsurable. In this last week, I'll spend about $500 on all of the co-pays for the meds I need. Most will last me just 3 months. Some I've been filling and stock-piling in anticipation of this.

But on Nov. 1, I will be freed from Blue Cross Blue Shield, COBRA, and in many ways from 20 years of my life that I've spent trying to dance, stand on my head, and otherwise survive through the restrictions my insurer put on the amount of say, Imitrex, I was allotted each month. I'm a rock star at my pharmacy--one whose tour is ending. I've given a lot of thought to how I feel about being uninsured, and I have to admit, there's something liberating about it. I'm not interested in paying premiums to a soul-less entity anymore. I care about myself much more than they ever did.

During the health care debate in this country, there's a lot of chatter about the public option, about how to pay for it (which is doesn't matter; you pay for it nor matter what), and whether or not there are real savings to be had to health care reform by stopping fraud, waste, and abuse. There is. Here's an example that happened to be about a month ago:

My doctor was concerned about my blood pressure and in addition to meds, wanted me to get a BP cuff for my home so I could take regular readings. I called BCBS and asked them if this was a covered item. "Yes," they said. "100%?" I asked. "Yes," they said. My doctor wrote me a prescription for one, I took it to the pharmacy and they said it wouldn't go through. I called BCBS back. "I don't understand. You guys said this was covered." "It is," they said, "But only if you get it through your doctor." "My doctor doesn't sell medical equipment," I said. "Well, in that case, here's a list of vendors that will give you 40% off," they suggested. "So, let me get this straight," I said, "A BP cuff is covered in full only if sold to me by my doctor's office. Otherwise, the best I can do is get 40% off?" "Correct," they said, "That's your plan." "Fine," I said, "I'll call an approved vendor. I did that and found out that their prices were marked up so high, that I would be paying twice as much for a BP cuff from them than if I just paid retail for the damn thing at CVS. We're talking $75 vs. $182. I called my doctor's office to let them know. The nurse said there was nothing she could do.

A month or so later I was back at the doctor for a follow-up, and when my doctor finally made it to my room, she was clearly upset. Upon inquiry, she told me that she's just spent an hour on the phone with BCBS because one of her patient's needs a nebulizer now. She then learned that she could get it covered for her patient if only she sold nebulizers at her office. "Why would I want to do that?" she asked, "I'm a doctor, not a med supply house." She went round and round with them about the idiotic rule, hung up on the phone, and announced to the office that they would now be selling nebulizers. "You need to sell BP cuffs, too," I said. I'm in the same situation. My doctor wasn't done with her tirade, "I just went off on them because--get this--I can buy BP cuffs for $72, but they're going to reimburse me for $185 for everyone I sell! That's ridiculous. They want me to defraud them. I'll get double the price if we sell equipment out of the office. I'll make money. I've never heard of something so assanine. Why would they do this? This is why premiums go up and up and up. Unbelievable."

I nodded and smiled, "Yep, just think of all the money you'll make with this deal. Might as well open a side store for med equipment. You'll make a killing."

She opened up the door to my exam room and bellowed into the hallway, "We're now going to sell BP cuffs, too! Stock up!" and shut the door.

So, if you think there isn't real, concrete savings to be had in reforming rules that, think again. And I have a message for every health insurer that rejects the public option because it makes their gravy-train, anti-trust hold on the industry a wee bit less profitable: I'll make a deal with you. You kill the public option, and I'll kill every single drug commercial I see and every print ad in a magazine. If you're not interested in serving the public, then I don't think you should be allowed to advertise to us. I don't need to know what diseases are awaiting me when I won't be able to afford the remedy. I'll live with my impending Osteoporosis, PAD, Restless Leg Syndrome, depression, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Boy, is it ever.

Ignorance... my simple win.


Artwork is Comfortably Numb by The Little Fox on Etsy.
Read all of my health care/health insurance posts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Little Girls Are (Hand)Made Of?

One of the biggest joys in my life are my nieces. Three of them are 7 and younger, so I have a blast buying them unique, fun, handmade gifts for every holiday and sometimes just for fun! Here's a peek at some of my most favorite purchases:

Ribbon Wands!

My nieces now have 2 each, and they absolutely LOVE these things. It's a great way for them to burn off some energy while pretending to be beautiful fairies or princesses or dancers. We play with them every time I visit them, and we wear ourselves out! As a former teacher, I really appreciate the 'open-ended' play these wands inspire. It's so much fun to see how creative the girls get.

My nieces are each getting an America Girl doll this Christmas, and boy was I excited when I found this handmade doll clothes seller on Etsy! Christine from Lavenderlore does amazing work! She's great to work with, and I know I'll be back in her shop soon! I want my own baby doll now. :-)

Crocheted Cupcakes by Crocheted Little Things

Aren't these the sweetest things? Luisa, at Crocheted Little Things, whipped these up for me. They open up like a little box so I can put some extra goodies in there for the girls!

Suzie the Grass Gal by ARTechniques - Before


These little cuties were a summertime gift. Each one of my nieces got their own grass head and together we soaked them in water and then put them in little bowls near a window so they could start growing some hair! This was a fun and easy project and they loved it!

I adore handmade soap, and I'm always sending the girls different funny soaps I find on Etsy. This whole trend started about 2 years ago with Karen's Soaps Fish In A Bag:

Aren't they hilarious? (I'm easily entertained, lol!)

Wee Vermont Fairies - Sea Fairy Mermaid Doll

No little girl's life is complete without mermaids! This little angel was a birthday gift for my youngest niece last year. She loved it!

Well, I could go on ALL day about the wonderful handmade toys you have a your disposal! I don't ever set foot in a 'real' toy store anymore. My nieces love knowing that something new and neat-o is always on the horizon. My 7-year-old niece knows how to surf Etsy now and bookmark her favorites, lol. You gotta get 'em handmade and start 'em young!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

6 Things to Help Your Handmade Holiday Sales

This is my third holiday season as a handmade seller, and as I prepare my shop(s), myself, and my stock for the holidays, I'm also reflecting on things I've learned since I started down my own personal handmade highway. They might help you as well.

1. Much of your success as a seller and community member in the handmade world is all about perspective. Take time to consider the perspective of your customer as you decide what products to make, what sales to have and when, etc. Maybe half of Etsy is having a 25% off sale for some reason, but that if that doesn't work for you, that's okay. No need to run a crowd of customers screaming, "SALE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" when you're time is better spent getting to know those customers. A targeted sale to your mailing list, blog followers, or Twitter/Facebook followers/fans will almost always bring better results. That, and staying 'present.' Hang out in the forums a few minutes each day.

2. Take a cue of the big bad world of retail when you stock and arrange your shop. Customers are often more likely to buy if they feel like they're 'walking' into a store with a nice inventory. Use your store announcement (and listings) to your advantage. If you're inventory is low because you just did a huge craft fair, then let your customer know. If you'll have new items listed in 2 days, then say so. Offer a tease of the new product on your blog.

3. Remember that your product listings can contain more than just your info about product X. Take a peek at one of my listings: Winter Sugar Necklace. There's more in that listing than just info pertaining to that necklace. Your customers don't all come through the 'front door', so having that info in each listing is very helpful.

All of your listings, your shop announcement, and your shop policies should read like they were written by someone who's been in business for awhile. Try to anticipate any questions your customers might have and answer them. 90% of being successful is acting successful.

4. Offer enhanced value at no cost to your customer whenever possible. Do you gift wrap for free? Say so! What about stating that you offer free delivery confirmation with each U.S. order. I saw a seller touting this the other day, and I thought, 'That's pretty ingenius.' Delivery confirmation is basically built in when you ship through PayPal or any other online service, but why NOT emphasize it? Do you offer personalization, customization, expedited shipping, free gift with purchase, % off coupon with next purchase... the list goes on.

5. When you're going to have a sale, remember these important things (that I've learned):

a. Lots of people will visit and heart your shop when you're having a sale even if they don't buy. Sometimes the exposure itself is worth it.

b. No sale has to kill your profits. If you believe or know that you'll make a killing if you do a buy 1 get 1 free, for example, then limit the time span of the sale. You can always extend it later if you want to. Remember, your sales are customer appreciation events. Treat them that way, and if they appreciate you a little too much the first time, then re-calibrate the next time!

c. Be sure to be specific about what is and isn't included in your sale. Maybe your sale doesn't apply to necklaces or to gift sets. Make that clear in your sale verbage.

d. Offer your mailing list customers an extra incentive. My mailing list customers get advanced notice of any sale and therefore first pick! Let folks know the benefits of being on your list!

e. One big sale/order does not a trend make. When I first started out, each time I got a substantial order or a certain pair of earrings was selling quickly, I'd immediately go stock up (like crazy) thinking that the onslaught of demand was coming at any moment, and OMG, what if I wasn't ready? But here this... OMG, that almost never happened. If a customer loves a design that you've sold out of, they're usually more than happy to wait while you procure the supplies you need.

6. Finally, LOVE your product- to death. Make sure it shows in your pictures, banner, announcement, listings...everywhere. Happiness and excitement are contagious. Make your customers feel happy in your shop. Happiness sells. If you don't believe me, ask her:

Pictured above are: Money Mask by SpalenkaArt, Light Blue Abacus Necklace by Mrs. Dazo, Cash Money Print Gold on Tan by orangebeautiful, Shopping Shelly Clothespin Doll by Creating From the Heart, all from Etsy.

Hope this helped!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday-Natalie Wyatt on Etsy

(Okay, so I know this is 'Wordless Wednesday,' but I have to say some words. I found these crayons by searching 'spooky' on Etsy. Had I seen these beauties as a kid, they would've scared the beejeebies out of me because it looks like she's reaching out of a grave.... 0_o. But now that I'm all growed up... aren't they FREAKIN' AWESOME? )


Monday, October 5, 2009

Acorns-A Reconnaissance Mission

Acorn earrings are 30% off in my shop this week, so I thought I'd go on a little acorn reconnaissance mission in the Etsy search engine and see what I could find. I love seeing everyone's different interpretation and presentation of the same object. Here we go....

1. sewsewsuckertoe
2. Jamie's Jewels
3. amye123 (Note: The acorns aren't for sale in this pic. The bowl is a glass representation of a tree stump, but those acorns were too amazing to leave out!)
4. GraceFilled Hands
5. sakatagin
6. The Graphics Fairy
7. Broken Road Farm (cookies!)
8. Nixie
9. JooJooLand
10. Trampoline
11. Blissful Images
12. Amber Sky
13. Jack Rabbit
14. Adrienne Kinsella Handcrafted Goods & Artworks
15. Teachable Moments Felt Board Stories
16. LORIOLA (Isabel's Rose)
17. Paper Follie
18. Cute Designs
19. Peacock Garden
20. The Sparrow's Nest
21. Kim Sun Designs
22. The Social Seller
23. KcSoapsNMore
24. Lisa Rivas

But you certainly don't have to take my word for it! Go have a look-see yourself!
Acorns - Handmade
Acorns - Vintage
Acorns - Supplies

Yes, I'm a nut. :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Special - October 4, 2009

Today only.... buy 2 get 1 FREE at Risky Beads! You can get up to 3 free items in this deal, so it's a GREAT opportunity to stock up for the holidays! Take this opportunity to adorn yourself with some fall pretties!

Autumn Nurse Purses are back in stock, a fabulous gift for a new mommy.

There are tons of items in the Clearance section as I'm discontinuing my Risky KIDS line. Many have free shipping.

Don't forget your child's teacher. Bookmarks and keychains are timeless gifts!

{Free item must be = or less expensive than least expensive item. Do not purchase 'free' item. Request it in notes to seller or via convo. A custom order cannot be free item.}

There's still time to win a FREE Premium Zibbet Account for life!