Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recent Handmade Purchases - What I've Bought Lately!

I am long overdue for another handmade purchase blog post!  The goal of these posts is just to have a little fun!  You get to be nosy and see what I spend my money on, and I get to introduce you to a few Etsy sellers I really like!  So, let's get on with it!!

This year seemed to be a lot about aromatherapy for me.  I go through phases where scents feel very motivating to me.  And when I can combine my aromatherapy fetish with my soap fetish, I'm extremely blissed out.  Topping it off with awesome packaging and I'm likely a lifetime customer, lol!  First up is my Juniper Seed Mercantile purchase:

My soap fetish was in full swing after this as evidenced by my discovery of Naiad Soap Arts!  The owner, Erin, puts a ton of care into her products and I found a couple of scents that I'd been trying to hunt down for awhile.  One of these is Beach House.  Virtually every Etsy scent and/or soap seller offers a version of a beach scent, but (surprise! surprise!), I'm very peculiar about what I like.  I want something that doesn't overwhelm me with coconut and palm trees, something that feels right in summer or winter.  This is it:

You can even try out her sugar whipped soaps in smaller batches before investing in a big jar!  I also recommend her key lime & grapefruit combination if you're into soap that smells so juicy, you accidentally eat it in the shower.  It has sugar in it for exfoliating purposes, so it's not a complete caloric mistake, lol.

If you read past posts on what I buy, you'll see that this next seller, Chicks in Hats, is a favorite. This is the second year in a row I've purchased this calendar for my Mom.  She's a complete chicken addict/collector.  Julie, the shop and chicken owner, takes these pictures of her own chicks!  They are beyond adorable.

Now, onto some other gifts given this year.  This summer, one of my nieces turned 11!  She's big into swimming and an inspiring kid to be around.  Here's what she got on her special day!

I customized the purse with the quote: "DON'T WISH FOR IT, WORK FOR IT!" and had her first initial, A, as the scrabble tile. She absolutely went BONKERS over it.  

Signage must be on my mind this year!  Because I work from home in my fabulous studio, I get kind of annoyed at the number of people who solicit in our neighborhood.  Every ring of the doorbell is an interruption of my creative spirit, lol!  I bought this sign to help cut down on that.  It's sort of working.  Now, I just get folks who ring the doorbell and then explain to me that they're not actually soliciting whilst they are trying to sell me something.  I think some folks need to review the definition of  'soliciting.'

Awhile back, I wrote a post about all the packaging fun we're having in my shop and forgot to include the fabulous washi tape I got from the Sewing Post!  If you decide to enter this shop, you do so at your own risk! It's unbelievably addicting! Washi tape is worse than beads--addiction wise.  You will start putting tape on your tape.

And finally, the gift I bought for my Dad for his birthday this year (and last year, lol!), Cherry Pie Heart Pops!  They are delicious (he tells me!!).

Well folks, that's the latest look at where my money goes. I'm happy every time I get to support a handmade micro-business because I know how having a successful shop can truly change your life.  If you've never shopped on Etsy, why not give it a go this year?  You can read these posts for previous purchases!!

Be sure to check out all the new products we launched in 2013 HERE!  And all of our personalized Christmas ornaments HERE.

Talk soon,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christmas 2013 - New Products We Launched This Year!

Well, as I write this, it's 44 days until Christmas. It's crazy, isn't it? How time flies this fast, I have no idea.  The studio is hopping already!  With the addition of a second assistant this year, it feels like Santa's workshop as the three of us zoom around answering customer questions, printing orders, making pieces, and shipping our little hearts out.  But I am NOT complaining!! Being able to work for myself is a blessing every single day.  Anyhoo, having help this year also meant that I was able to launch several new products in my shop this year, and I'm so grateful that they turned out to be winners. This post is dedicated to these newbies, many of whom are now best sellers in their own right!

One of our new products and big sellers this year has been memorial jewelry, accessories and ornaments.  Many of the prototypes you see in our shop were made for friends and family who lost a loved one.  I'm always saddened when an order comes through, but I feel better when I ship it out knowing that it will hopefully help someone through a difficult time. See all ornaments - memorial, new baby, newlywed, pet, family, etc. here!

We got wrapped up in wrap bracelets this year big time. Our leather wraps - beaded and bar - are big sellers and a lot of fun to make.  They look great on men and women and even teens! We get to do so many different styles of these that it never gets boring!

The leather wraps were such a hit that we immediately branched out into silk ribbon wraps! We carry 16 ribbon colors and some of these suckers sell so fast that they're constantly on re-order, lol.  Our most popular colors are Deep Blue Sea, Terracotta Twist, Ocean Waves, Newspaper, and Chocolate Truffle

At Risky Beads, we're not shy about loving leather.  We launched our wide variety of hand stamped leather cuff bracelets last March and never regretted it for a minute.  We carry 1/2", 1", and 1 1/2" widths and customizable plates in aluminum, copper and brass.  These sold like crazy at Father's Day, so we stocked up like crazy for Christmas!

In the summer of 2013, we were contacted by CaliLiliIndies™  and asked to help design and ultimately produce Cali's new line of pride jewelry! The pieces we designed will actually appear in her upcoming indie film eVe N' god™ as well as being for sale at Risky Beads!  Cali's movie and message are about female empowerment, sexuality, and acceptance, so we were definitely on board!

Now don't go thinking that just because we're pro-female around here, that we forget about the men!  No way!  We launched our Wallet Insert Cards to give people another way to express love, commitment, and anything else on their minds, and they've sold very well!  Say whatever you like and give it to that special someone to tuck away in their wallet and peek at it whenever they like.  It's a great option for people who don't wear much jewelry.  (P.S. We also launched personalized collar stays, a great gift for spouse, dad or boyfriend!)

And, finally, we got a little cuckoo crazy this year and decided to open a second Etsy shop called The Twisted Screw!  You can read all about the new shop here and see all the BDSM and fetish jewelry we've made. The shop is doing well, and it's nice to have a home for my side. LOL.

So, in conclusion, we hope you'll shop with us this Christmas. We promise to answer convos quickly--most folks are amazed at how fast we respond.  We take our time with each and every order and are happy to send a gift to someone on your behalf.  We'll even include your note!  Thanks for reading and happy shopping!

~Lori, Blair, and Shantel

Friday, November 1, 2013

Risky Beads Expands! Welcome to The Twisted Screw!

Well, boys and girls, madness has officially sunk in at Risky Beads. For a long time, I've wanted to open a sister store where I could explore the more...well...twisted side of my brain, and in October 2013, I did it!

Welcome to.......

The Twisted Screw is a new shop on Etsy dedicated to personalized BDSM and fetish jewelry and anything else naughty we decide to think up.  We've already had a few sales (hooray!) and here's just a sampling of the pieces you'll find there...

We're adding more inventory weekly, and you can see everything HERE.  We hope you'll come by and take a peek and help us spread the word. You can follow the shop on Twitter @TheTwistedScrew.  

The Twisted Screw and our first shop, Risky Beads, are stocked to the hilt for Christmas! Time's a wasting, so start shopping now! Our international order deadline for both shops is Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013.  After that, we'll be taking only U.S. orders for Christmas. 

More news soon.......stay tuned and happy shopping!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Risky Beads International Order Deadline for Christmas is Wed., 11/6/13

The Risky Beads international order deadline for Christmas is fast approaching!! (International = all NON-U.S. orders.) Wed., November 6, 2013 is less than a month away. Shop now for affordable personalized and custom gifts for everyone on your list... right down to your pets!  See our Christmas countdown clock right here ----------------------------->

After November 6, 2013, we will only be accepting U.S. orders through the end of the year.

Enjoy FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING on orders of $99 or more for a very limited time using code WORLDFREESHIP at checkout.

So don't end up on the Naughty List, come take a peek at everything Christmas!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Risky Beads Announces Partnership with Cali Lili Indies™ to Produce New Pride Jewelry Line

Today is National Coming Out Day and here at Risky Beads, we're proud to announce our partnership with Cali Lili Indies™ to design and produce her new Pride jewelry line!  Cali Lili Indies™ is producing a new indie film that deals with female sexuality, bisexuality, and the struggles to accept oneself. You can see a teaser here:

Cali Lili Indies™ Pictures Words Music In Motion™ presents 
eVe N’ god™ 
this FEMALE is Not Yet RATED™ 

The jewelry we designed will actually be in the final cut of the film!  We started with one of Cali's trademark pieces, an anklet.  It can also be worn as a bracelet and you can choose from this or 16 other colors!

And then we followed that up with a triangle coiled earring which can be purchased singly or in a pair...

Next came the spiral ring with an inspirational saying for all women:  
▽ we don't FALL in LOVE we RISE™ △

Our final piece is a key chain...

There will be more designs to come!! We're working on two more rings that we hope to have listed by end of day tomorrow!  

Cali... in her own words:

On October 11, 2013, National LGBT Coming Out Day, Cali Lili Indies™ introduces a new avenue in Pride Jewelry worn in the upcoming Indie feature film eVe N' god™ designed for the a "love story in spirals and triangles." Freedom to love is beyond a civil right; it's an individual birth right . When I accepted myself as a Truli*Indie™ film and music maker, I sorted out the challenges by writing my Declaration of IndiePendence™ exploring the relationship between society and the artist; we need each other.

I wear one earring, one anklet, and one spiral ring as expressions of my freedom to love and in recognition that individuals who identify among the many indie variations described as fluid female / bisexual can be especially misunderstood. I offer these pieces in hopes they may spark a conversation about the wide range of the rainbow, the many indie variations of freedom TO love ... because we don't FALL in LOVE we RISE.™

Updates : Cali Lili Indies™ LGBT FeMPoWered™ Civil Rights Indies :

Twitter @CaliLili™



Mailing list:   

♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥ ♀ ♥                  

Stay tuned for the new rings and have a great Coming Out Day!!

Take care, Lori

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Product - Personalized Aluminum Wallet Insert Keepsakes

Ever since I picked up a hammer and started stamping, there have always been customers requesting quotes longer than I could accommodate or looking for a more private way to convey a personal message.  Earlier this year, we answered the privacy issue by creating secret message bracelets, but not everyone wears jewelry...especially men.  So this fall at Risky Beads, we're launching personalized aluminum insert cards! They can be created for all types of occasions, and slip right into someone's wallet with their credit cards.  We can stamp up to approximately 125 characters.

First up, is the personal note...

Next, a keepsake to remind you of a loved one...

They also make nice memorial gifts, military, pet or otherwise...

Or perhaps something sexy and secret?

Or sometimes just a personal reminder for yourself, something I need to turn to several times a day during the holidays, lol.

I've already sold these to folks with their wedding vows and anniversary messages on them!  Aluminum is the 10 year anniversary gift, by the way. The sky's the limit with these.  They come in a sleek black gift bag, and we're always happy to send a gift on your behalf, even including a note on one of our snazzy gift cards!

More soon! ~Lori

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Little Packaging Design Fun for the Holidays!

Packaging orders and shipping them out is actually one of my favorite things!  There is just something about wrapping things up and putting labels on things that makes me uber-happy.  I think it appeals to the OCD-ish side of me that likes repetitive crafty tasks.  This year I decided to try something new....

I was having all sorts of quality issues with the jewelry boxes I was using, namely that they kept coming covered in dried glue. We were having to do so much work to clean them up that it wasn't worth it anymore, so I decided to switch to flocked velvet-like bags.  Once I did that, though, I needed some sort of insert card that would provide stability to bracelets, necklaces, and even serve as care instructions or a gift tag when needed. So, I started designing!  I began with my basic business card:

I kept my trademark syringe and relocated some text for a simple, classic card that leaves me enough room to apply a care instruction sticker or to write a gift note:

Then I started goofing around in a graphics program and created a card to use for summer into fall.  It looks really bright, but these are printed on matte business card stock, so it's actually more muted and doesn't burn your retinas, lol.

Next, I created a basic winter motif using a variation of a HOPE filter reminiscent of those Obama posters:

And then I went a little rogue and made one that's truly Christmas-y:

I can't wait until November when I can break out the  holiday ones! So now, I love shipping even more... as if that was even possible!

P.S. FREE U.S. SHIPPING with code FREESHIP at checkout. Min. order $25 before shipping. Limited time only!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Evolution of a Key Chain - A Metaphor for A Micro-Business

One of the privileges (and curses, lol) of being a handmade seller running your own micro-business is that you get to wear every imaginable hat day in and day out.  Like it or not, to do this successfully, you have to have a good working knowledge of what you actually make plus photography, suppliers, pricing structures, material costs, labor costs, shipping costs, marketing and promotion, online venues and fees, trends, the postal service, product packaging, payment processing, taxes, and the actual understanding that there are only 24 hours in a day...period.  Some days it's invigorating to wear fourteen different hats and other days, you'd prefer to hole up in your studio and just make what you make and ignore all of those headless hats screaming at you to return to the camera or the key board....

Sometimes, though, it works the other way.  Your shop is running well; you've got a decent mastery of the required skill sets; you're no longer scared of all the hats swirling above your skull everyday.  It's often in those moments when the spooky wail comes from your studio or your garage or wherever your doo-dads wait patiently to become what you'll make them.  "We want to be something more..."

Such is the case with my newest key chain, the four layer personalized key chain.  I've been selling my popular three layer for about four years.  It even evolved into a two smaller pieces - a two layer mini key chain and a standard two layer key chain.  From there, it became a bunch of different necklaces.  About two years ago, I began to get inquiries for a four layer key chain.  I was so happy making my three layers, that I resisted.  "Double up the names," I said, "There's plenty of room on a three layer."  "Besides," I thought, "If I go to four layers, I'm just going to have to go to five, then six, then the key chain will weight so much that someone's pants will fall down when they toss their keys in their pocket." Slippery slope avoided.

Well, sometimes people just want what they want.  I'm certainly that way (x 100), and about half the time, inquiries for a four layer would be happy with a three layer and half the time they'd just go away.  Finally, I decided that that's just stupid--letting people walk away.  I mean, come on! (That sentiment came from one of the other hats that I  must have accidentally worn into the studio one day.  (Probably Marketing.  He's really bossy like me.)

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Seriously, how hard can it be to add another layer?  Well, I'll tell you.  To add another layer, meant finding a disc that I liked in the right finish and the right gauge and that sat equidistant from the other discs.  It meant really thinking about pricing because the amount of text you can conceivably put on that fourth layer could really drive up the labor cost, and there is no money in this business if you don't get real about your labor costs.  It meant mastering the delicate balance between product pricing and product value. A product priced above it's perceived value can sit and collect dust; a product priced below it's perceived value will sell like lemonade in a desert and when you make each piece one by one and to order as I do, that demand will chase you down and run you over.  It meant making sure I had the right tools already to dome that disc when I finished with it or if I needed to buy another dapping block.  It meant thinking hard about demand.  Had it been a hundred people who'd asked me for a four layer over the years or just ten that I really remember well?  So, I pondered and did some experimenting in my studio, did some cost and availability research.  And after a lot of banging, behold the four layer key chain!

And after I was done, I realized that (a) I should've done it a long time ago but bygones, blah, blah, blah, and (b) that it was really fun to make!  This concept that I'd been dreading for some dumb reason came out better than I imagined. The weather outside was perfect for photography that day. And the possibilities are truly endless with four layers.  It gives customers a chance to personalize AND have room for a favorite quote or lyric or bible verse, motto, etc.  It's not too heavy, and you're purse straps won't break.  It's actually quite harmless and kind of pretty, I think.  So since I loved it so much, I went back and deconstructed and let it become every other type of key chain I sell as you see throughout this post.  I think it's already earned it's keep!  

So now, we see if it sells.  If it does, fabulous!! If it's a slow-starter, that's okay because I like to just look at it, this silly thing I was afraid of. I guess it showed me, huh?  It's just like the way you grow a tiny business, isn't it?  Layer by layer, bit by bit, until you realize one day, hey! I've actually made something pretty nifty here.  Indeed, key chain, indeed.

More soon,

P.S. FREE U.S. SHIPPING with code FREESHIP at checkout. Min. order $25 before shipping. Limited time only!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More New Personalized Christmas Ornaments from Risky Beads + FREE U.S. Shipping Code

Greetings all! The other day when we had a whopping 100 days till Christmas, I debuted this years personalized Christmas ornaments.  Well, now it's only 90 days till Christmas and time to introduce a few new designs for this year!  Enjoy free U.S. shipping on orders of $25 or more for a limited time with code FREESHIP!

First up is a gift for my sister who lost her precious yellow lab a few weeks ago. :(  Made me so sad to make this ornament, but I know it will make her happy when I give it to her.

And then I made a memorial ornament for my assistant (& cousin) Blair because she lost her grandfather right before Christmas last year.

Next up is a happier occasion! My other assistant, Shantel, got married in June, so we decided to make a newlywed ornament for her!

All of these ornaments can be customized for you or someone you love. They are made out of nickel silver so they have a great weight to them but will NOT tarnish!  Hooray!  They make great gifts for teachers, babysitters, friends, co-workers, etc!! Order early because we always sell a ton end up turning people away. You can view all of our ornaments HERE.

For FREE U.S. SHIPPING on orders of $25 or more, use code FREESHIP at checkout for a limited time!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shopping Etsy Using the Etsy Iphone App

Hello, all!  Today's post is a quick tutorial of sorts. In a recent post on the Etsy News Blog, Etsy unveiled that they've reached 30 million members strong and that mobile traffic is now accounting for 45% (and rising!) of Etsy site visits.  If those figures blow your mind, you're not alone. One of the challenges of running a successful shop on Etsy is being able to meet the needs of both the standard PC customer and the mobile user. (Etsy has even published a more recent post to help sellers cater to their mobile customer.) My shop, Risky Beads, and many, many others have an even bigger challenge - catering to the customer who's buying personalized gifts on their iPhone. Last year, I had several customers contact me asking for help while shopping on their phones, and some of their questions, I didn't know the answer to. This year, I asked and asked until I got the answers I needed.  Today's tutorial is just a quick run through about how to delete something from your cart on the Etsy iPhone app and how/where to leave a note to seller about personalization, etc.

Please note that I can't use my own shop as an example because I can't 'buy' from myself (lol), so I'm using a shop called Caribbean Scents.  Ana, the owner, is wonderful and always takes care of my frenetic handmade lotion needs!  {See end of post for coupon at her shop!} So, in this example, we're going to assume that I've shopped within the Etsy iPhone app and put 4 of her products in my cart:

Notice the 'X' in the gray bar?  You can use that to delete the entire order from your cart. But we don't want to do that!  So, after careful consideration, I've decided to remove the first item.  All I have to do is swipe my finger across the blue bottle listing and a red delete button pops up:

Once I tap 'delete,' I get a different screen asking if I want to delete this item or move it to my favorites on Etsy:

For this example, I'm going to tap 'yes' and then next we see my cart without that item in it:

Now, the second item in the cart is a linen spray where I need to select the fragrance. Since it wasn't an option in a drop down menu prior to carting the item, I'm going to leave my request in the notes to seller area. You have to scroll down to see this box:

See right above the green bar?  That's where I write my scent preference. The same goes for any shop you're buying from that needs information from you to process your order such as color, size, length, scent, flavor, etc. Etsy only supports 2 drop down choices within a listing, so when a seller needs more info, you use that blank white box to fill it.

Hope this tutorial has been instructive and helps some of you this holiday season! I know it will help me for sure!!  And as a bonus, Ana from Caribbean Scents is offering a 10% off coupon at her Etsy shop. Use code TROPICAL13 for 10% off. Enter it in the white coupon code box in your cart!

Take care, Lori