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Archive for the ‘Craft Business’ Category

Oh, the things I can get done in the dark hours when I know I don’t have to get up with the birds the next day.  I listen to the chime of the mantel clock strike a late hour as I’ve just finished producing, pricing, and recording a load of inventory for a drop at a gift shop that’s been waiting for my goods for three months.  If I were going to the day job tomorrow I’d have been in bed hours ago, probably tossing and turning with thoughts of how I could better spend my time.

The calendar flips its days, weeks and months to the finish line when I can say goodbye to the day job.  It’s all I can think about these days.  To spend time in this life exactly how I want to seems to be my purpose.  Nothing specific, just my whim.  How glorious that will be.

I’ve been avoiding writing lately, and I can’t really understand why.  It’s not that I don’t have time; I do have some, enough, yet I’ve been avoiding it.  Maybe it’s because that’s all I want to do, and the snippets of time afforded me only tease and torment.  Or maybe I don’t really want to write at all.  I haven’t figured it out yet.  But here I am in the silence of the night, fulfilled with what I accomplished without a solid bedtime, writing.

Day after tomorrow I’ll be going to the family cottage for the holiday weekend, and I’m taking my laptop with me.  Some of my family members might smirk at my bringing technology to the rustic nature of the cottage, but I’m not the only one bringing things to smirk at.  Enough said, eh Charlotte?  Perhaps I’ll find some time between roasting stale Peeps (a new delicacy Charlotte is going to try with Easter leftovers) and cleaning out boats and cottage rooms to return to my work in progress, rewriting/editing the first draft of the novel I wrote last November.

Such ramblings I have when I can relish the dark summer night.  Bear with me, for there may be more to come.  My blogging may take a turn, or continue to wane; one never knows.  I’m just getting in practice for that time when all I have to listen to is my whim.

Serene Muskie Bay

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Caught in a generation with one foot in the old school and one in the new I have a hard time realizing how important being online is to a business these days.  Keeping up with an online presence is exhausting for someone in my predicament.  I get all kinds of advice on what platforms to appear on, and then hear that it doesn’t make any difference at all.  Some say Facebook and Twitter are the way to go.  Others say those platforms are useless and a e-mail list and monthly newsletter is the way to go.

I admit, I’m utterly confused.  And what do I do when I’m utterly confused?  I retreat.  I’ve put my Etsy shop on vacation simply because it’s online.  Online selling is the new school way of doing things and I’ve become overwhelmed.  I’m not keeping up with my Facebook page or Twitter and and quite frankly updates on those platforms are automatic and take no thought on my part at all.  I feel like that’s really bad because I’m not actively engaging my customers.

The simple fact is, I don’t know how to do online stuff and quite frankly I don’t care what everyone says.  I don’t want to be consumed with what works and what doesn’t with an online business because you know what?  I have a business that’s live too!  But I’ve been falling behind in that also.

Work work work.  That’s all I do, whether I do it right or not.  You know what that means?  It’s time for a vacation.  And guess what?  I’m going to have one!

Right now I’m looking forward to a trip to my beloved Door County with my beloved Husby.  And what makes it even better is the fact that I’m not going to do a show while we’re there.  For the past three years or so I’ve done shows in various locations in Door County and they all turned out pretty much disastrous for me only because I had to travel six hours to do shows that weren’t too lucrative or else blew my canopy to the other side of town.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be basking in the glory that is Lake Michigan.  I’ll be sipping wine with Husby at our favorite haunts and hiking the rocks and dunes that surround the great lake.  I’ll be watching sunrises and sunsets that make all of life worth living, and I’ll be eating food so good it should be illegal.

Until that time I’ll plug on, even though I’m not completely plugged in.

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It’s a misty evening, overcast and humid.  There was a bit of rain, and when I looked out the window I noticed the lily of the valley sprouts have shot up at least two inches since yesterday.  The hummingbirds have arrived with their shiny green and red feathers.  The snow is gone and the grass is green.  I believe spring has finally sprung.

I’m indulging in the leftovers of Mother’s Day.  I hosted a group of eight for the occasion including Charlotte (the mom of two wonderful nephews) and my mom (the mom of Charlotte, me, and Diggy) and everyone else in my immediate family.  Right now I have some champagne in my glass, a nice hostess gift from Charlotte, and a piece of red velvet cake.  Mike Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarre are on the stereo and I am just about as content as I can be.

My Etsy shop is now on vacation and the next couple of months loom before me.  They’ll be a busy couple of months, so I’m taking advantage of some down time until I need to be “on.”  Right now the craft business is secondary, family is first and foremost.  One thing I’m really looking forward to (and Husby is even more) is our upcoming getaway to Door County.  “What’s the big deal,” you may ask?  “You go to Door County at least once a year.”  This time our trip won’t include a craft show.  This is a good thing.  Husby and I are looking forward to a little R & R without one thought of Auntie B’s Wax.

After our trip to Door County we have a few events to attend, one of which is the spring festival at the Chateau St. Croix Winery.  It will be my first show of the season and we’re really looking forward to seeing the gang at the Chateau, as well as seeing returning customers and meeting new ones.

The summer is sprawled out in front of me, busy, as summertime in Minnesota usually is.  With all the activities and celebrations awaiting I look outside my window tonight and shrug my shoulders as sigh.  It’s a quiet night, one to relish in anticipation of an action-packed summer.  All is good.

And the night falls.

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The other day I watched one of my favorite movies, Baby Boom.  It’s a predictable chick flick made in 1987 that I can watch over and over again because it gives me a feeling of business/creative empowerment.  The story in a nutshell: heavy hitter, single business woman working for a large marketing firm inherits a baby, moves to the country, experiences many pitfalls to owning a country house on many acres of orchard, learns to make applesauce out of boredom and necessity, sells the applesauce as “gourmet baby food” and becomes a huge success in her own right.  Cool, right?  And plus the movie stars Diane Keaton, who I love.

A pivotal scene in the movie is when Diane Keaton is at her wit’s end and is contemplating burning down her money pit country house.  She ordered two dozen cans of kerosene at the store when two yuppie couples come in.  The city couples go mental when they see Diane Keaton, her baby and the homemade applesauce with its cute country packaging.  “Gourmet baby food!  Fabulous idea!”  They buy a couple dozen jars each.

Gourmet baby food! Fabulous idea!

Lately I’ve been working on some new drink charm sets and am pursuing a new way of marketing my bottle cap magnets.  I’m also testing some lovely little beeswax container candles.  New twists on things I’ve been making for years.

Not one of my new sets, but a best seller. Who can resist the characters of Oz?

I’m excited about the new charms and “twists” I’ve come up with.  When I hit the shows this summer I’ll see people look at my wares, pick them up, inspect them and tell me, “fabulous idea!”  Those are the times that make a crafter proud.

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A Cold Winter Day

Such a beautiful day.  The air was clear and the sky was brilliant blue.  Squirrels fed on the seeds fallen from the bird feeders.  The snow drifts were as white and pristine as could be on a January day.  The temperature didn’t get above ten degrees.  In my opinion it was the perfect day to stay indoors and marvel at the beauty of winter from the view of the window.

The beconing bottle caps.

I had twelve dozen (that’s a gross) bottle caps calling my name and saying “embellish us, embellish us!”  What does a craft queen do when her bare-naked bottle caps call to her?  Submits to their every whim, of course.I set up my work station at the table right in front of the door leading to the deck.  Lots of natural light and a lovely view of the scattering squirrels and fluttering birds in the back yard.My time was spent with little circles of paper, freshly flattened bottle caps, and a brand new bottle of glue.  My entertainment was, of course, old-time radio shows flowing from my iPod into my brain, making my imagination work while my hands were busy with production.

The little circles of paper.  That’s right, it’s Carol Brady!

The little circles of paper ran out at nine dozen (that’s one hundred-eight) so I called it quits for the day.  Next in the process is applying the resin, and after a day or two of drying time I’ll create wine charms and magnets from the pieces that, by themselves, are nothing.I’ve been researching my competition and found that some people who make similar items to mine take a less labor-intensive path.  They use pre-flattened, chrome bottle caps (mine are real and flattened by me), they use a paper punch to make those little circles of paper (I use scissors), and they buy fabricated acrylic bubbles, complete with adhesive, so they can just press them on the images and call it a day (I mix polymer and hardener to make a resin and apply on my images with a brush).

That’s a bunch!

I’m not saying the others are lazy and I’m not saying I’m a fool.  Every crafter has her own way of making things.  I’ve found a way that works best for me.  A way that requires attention and precision and a bit more time.  Time enough to listen to some old-time radio shows and frequently glance out the window to see the winter snow drift lazily in mid-air until it lands softly in its place.

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January.  It’s the month I have to think about numbers and spreadsheets and…taxes.  I spent most of Saturday playing with my very specific spreadsheets, making sure they were accurate, so I could print them out for my accountant (Husby).  I also had to make my sales tax submissions to two states, a task that makes me nervous and sweaty every single year.  It’s not that I don’t think I’m doing it correctly, but I’m always a little concerned about making the whole online submission thing work right.  Well, I got my spreadsheets turned in and my sales taxes submitted so I felt pretty good; kind of like a real, live business person.

It’s been a couple of months now since I actively worked on making product.  Lately I’ve been feeling like it just isn’t worth the trouble.  The thought of starting up production again, just the thought, made me bored.  But working with my spreadsheets and seeing the sales I made and where I made them got the fire burning again.  I like what I do, and it’s fun to make what I make.  Over a glass of wine Husby and I started brainstorming about how I can grow my business into other directions and make it more profitable.  Not only is Husby my roadie and accountant, he’s also full of great ideas and inspirations!

January usually starts out as a drudgery for me business-wise, thinking here I go again, doing the same old thing over and over and over.  But when I realize what is and what could be, my motivation and enthusiasm starts up all over again.

Take a look at my shop and let me know what you might like to see listed there.  I’m always open to new ideas.  There will be some new drink charms on the way, and maybe even some candle accessories.  I also have a different plan for marketing my bottle cap magnets.  Be sure to stay tuned, because 2014 might produce some pretty fun suff.

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Charlotte, our mom and I have an annual tradition that takes place the weekend after the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Hey!  That’s today!

We’re heading out to the Landmark Center in St. Paul, MN for the 35th annual Old-Fashioned Holiday Bazaar.

The historic Landmark Center. There’s public ice skating right across the street too!

The Holiday Bazaar is two floors of handmade goodies and treasures you can’t find at your typical commercial stores.  It’s fun to shop with Mom and Charlotte because after we’ve gone through the entire affair we split up and buy stuff for each other.

Even without the Bazaar the Landmark Center is beautiful to look at.

Of course we’ll have a nice ladies’ lunch after our shopping.  Then, after I get home I’ll start decking the halls of my house.  The afternoon the the Landmark Bazaar has become the official beginning of the Christmas season for me.

Before the crowd arrives.

 

 

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