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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Christmas is 100 days away! Time for new Ornaments!

Okay folks, guess what?  Christmas is 100 days away today. Yes, 2013 has flown by, hasn't it?  It's insane. This year, we've decided to launch a slightly larger version of our ever-popular personalized Christmas ornament. In the past, we've only had a 1.5" disc that held up to 47 characters. This year, we'll have an additional 1.75" disc that will hold up to 57 characters. Both of these are made with nickel silver - a weighty metal that doesn't tarnish like sterling and is affordable! In addition to these options, we'll still have our tiny 1" aluminum square ornaments too -- perfect thoughtful gifts for friends, pets, colleagues, etc.

One caveat I want to stress about these ornaments.......ORDER EARLY.  Every year since 2011 we've had to turn people away.  These ornaments are very popular and time consuming to make and sometimes we have to deactivate them early just to have time to fill all of our other orders. If you're shipping to an address outside the U.S., ORDER NOW! Okay, so, let's start trimming the tree!!

First up, the traditional Personalized Christmas Ornament which holds up to 47 characters.  You can even choose your own symbol for the middle from a snowflake, fir tree, or snowman.

Next comes the bigger ornament that holds up to 57 characters!  It can be customized the exact same way. Same material (nickel silver), just a bigger disc!

Included in each listing is a picture that compares the sizes of these two discs as well:

We also have some brand new designs this year shown in the 1.5" (47 character) size.  First up, Baby's First Christmas!

And Couples First Christmas.  We are LGBT friendly and welcome any pairing!

And here's an example of our 1" aluminum rounded square ornaments.  Aren't they adorable?

You can view all of our ornaments HERE - including bulk deals!  Our entire shop can be viewed HERE.
More new pieces coming soon! ~Lori