Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Discount! And Some New Pendants :)

Today is my birthday! To celebrate, I want to share some birthday fun by giving you a coupon code for 25% off of anything in my Etsy shop for the rest of this month (good through midnight, Sun. Sept. 30.)

Use Code:  happybday

I have already enjoyed some birthday bead shopping and am looking forward to a nice dinner out and some dessert from my favorite pizza place in town (Silvio's Organic Pizza, if you are ever in Ann Arbor. They do a fantastic dessert pizza with nutella and sweet marscapone cheese on their thin crust. It's addictive!!)

I also wanted to give you some details on the new pendants I have been creating. You may have seen these popping up in the shop as I add them. I created a number of new pendants for the BookFest and sold several of them (yeah!) I was really pleased at the response to my local stones - particularly the Kona Dolomite pendants.

I have some terrific stones on hand again and am looking forward to creating more!

Petoskey Stone

I received a shipment of some more beautiful, large Petoskey stone nuggets and have 3 pendants made so far. One of them is listed in the shop. The Hexagonaria fossil pattern is just gorgeous on these:


Dogtooth Amethyst

I found this fantastic variation of amethyst with angled bands of calcite, giving it a chevron pattern. It is, in fact, also known as chevron amethyst. I sold one pendant with this stone on a purple cord at BookFest. This pendant is on a black, waxed cotton cord and is currently listed in the shop. I have some more stones, so look for more of these soon!

Kona Dolomite (oval and rectangle)

I received a sample of these Michigan Kona dolomite ovals and rectangles with another package of beads from one of my favorite shops, Nawbin Beads, in Traverse City, MI. I created two pendants and sold both of them at my booth. I'll be creating more variations with this great, local stone soon!

These photos are not the best as I took them quickly the night before BookFest to have some record of what I made.

However, the rectangle Kona pendant is on the far left. There is an epidote pendant second from the right. That is another local stone. This particular pendant sold at BookFest, also.

The oval Kona pendant is on the far left of this photo and the two dogtooth amethyst are next to it. The dogtooth on the far right is on a medium purple waxed cotton cord, a nice combination.

It was really interesting to see what people responded to and were interested in. It definitely gives me some great feedback and ideas on what to do moving forward.

Brecciated Jasper

This fantastic deep red stone with some dark pink variations is perfect for fall. I made one of these for myself and wear it all the time! I added this one to the shop yesterday:

Which stone of these is your favorite? Why? I would love to hear your feedback. Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Giveaway Time!

Update, Sept. 27, 2012:
CONGRATULATIONS to Samantha A. who is the winner of the giveaway!
Your bracelet is on it's way. I hope you enjoy it! :)

Who doesn't love a good giveaway?!

And this one is a big one!

HorseFeathers Gifts is celebrating reaching 6,000 fans by hosting a huge giveaway! You will have a chance to win over $1,600 worth of fantastic items.

And guess what? One of my wrap bracelets is one of the prizes! I am giving away a new Kona dolomite triple wrap as a part of this great prize package:

You will have to head on over to HorseFeathers Gifts blog to see the fabulous items up for prizes and how to enter:! See what fun is in store - just could get all of your holiday shopping done in one fell swoop. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What was that you said about pricing?

Flower Jade and Mum Macrame Bookmark

Well, ahem, let me just get it out in the open. You may have noticed an increase in my pricing over the last few days. Are you seeing things? Nope. I did it. And it needed to be done. Why, you may ask? Your prices were so affordable!

Affordable for the customer, yes, but not sustainable as a business. And I want to run a business! A business that shares my creativity, attention to detail, and unique perspective on natural history, botanical and nature art, the book arts, and more.

Before I get into the why, I would like to cut to the chase and let you know that I take pricing very seriously. I want to assure you that you can still get any item in my shop for the original price through October 21st:

Use coupon code LOYALTY for 40% off in my Etsy shop

So, what made me rethink my pricing?

Wholesale inquiries. I have had a few people ask me over the last few months if I do wholesale. Expecting that they want great quantities, which I don't produce, I hadn't given it much thought. 

However, for gift shops and other similar venues, the quantity requested is often quite small to start out. Hmmm...maybe I should look into this. So I did. And I discovered that wholesale prices are typically 50% of retail. Whoa! If sold pieces at 50% off I would be losing money and essentially doing this for free! Who does that? Well, no one, if you are not pricing your goods the right way. Clearly, though, there are people who do wholesale and do it quite effectively as part of their business model.

This started me looking into pricing formulas, and I discovered that although I thought my prices were decently marked up from base costs, they still fell about 40% short of what they should be to get close to a sustainable business.

I found fantastic advice on pricing from a post on artist Jenny Hoople's blog. Check out Jenny's work on her site, Authentic Arts, by the way - absolutely gorgeous natural stone jewelry. Well worth your time!

Jenny pointed me towards business expert, Tara Gentile, who has been consulting on the Etsy Success Symposium as well as giving recent advice on her blog about how, "82.2% of Business Owners Should Double Their Prices."

The advice is terrific and Tara states is much more eloquently than I can, so do yourself a favor and pop over to her post to read the details. In addition to the post, there were comments (including some by Jenny) that led to the following pricing formula recommended by another business blogger, Megan Auman:

(Materials + Labor + Overhead + Profit = Wholesale) X 2 = Retail

Note that “labor” is calculated as the actual time it takes to make a piece of jewelry and you need to have an accurate hourly wage. This needs to include not just making the piece, but designing it, ordering supplies, photographing, writing descriptions, posting online (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), packaging up and shipping orders, etc. Tara recommends charging at least $25/hr (and that $50/hr is actually a more accurate number) and when you think of all that goes into the work of a retail business, this is a very reasonable rate.

When I actually did my calculations, accounting for all of the above details, I came to the conclusion that I needed to put up a 40% increase to get into a more sustainable business model for my business. 

And so there you have it. If you are a small business owner, read up and make sure you are charging an accurate price for your time, talent, and business. You and your creativity are worth it!

If you are a customer, thank you for your support!  I hope this post can help everyone from business owners to customers better understand what goes into pricing the handmade, unique gifts and jewelry that we all enjoy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beauty of Bookmarks Treasury!

I have created a new treasury in Etsy! It's called Beauty of Bookmarks and features a range of gorgeous ways we can use to mark our favorite reading material.

Of course, I am a little partial to bookmarks since I make them (and I am a librarian and avid reader!), but I happily found a number of different styles on Etsy to include here. Check out the wonderful work of these various artists!

What are some of your favorite bookmarks? Do you make your own? I'd love to hear all about them.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kerrytown BookFest!

Last Sunday (September 9) I had the opportunity to have my first, official, by-myself booth at an event. I had a table at the 10th Annual Kerrytown BookFest!

BookFest is a fantastic, local event focusing not just on authors and the literary arts, but also on the art and craft that goes into creating the physical books, including bookbinding, printing, and papermaking. As a librarian and artist, I couldn't resist the combination!

Held in the space where the weekly Kerrytown Farmer's Market occurs, my booth was in a great location just outside of Sweetwater's cafe, next to the information booths for BookFest. I was also right at the T-insersection of the first aisle of the market.

I had consistent foot traffic all day, so much so that when I took a couple of brief breaks, my volunteer relief (both BookFest volunteers and also my husband!) reported that I had folks stopping by and browsing and asking questions. Great to hear!


My offerings included the full range of items that I have in my Etsy shop, including wrap bracelets, jotter journal sets with prints of my original artwork on them, natural stone pendants, hand-knotted macrame gemstone bookmarks, and some handbound mini-journals.

<-- Jotter Journals with Prints of Original Art

Handbound journals, bookmarks and pendants -->

In addition to my products, I had a couple of other things that were incentives for folks to stop by and linger:

1) A giveaway! I thought it would be a nice sign of appreciation to the folks who came by to have a chance to win a gift card to my shop. I put a sign on the front of my booth and had a  sign-up sheet on the table for folks to win a $50.00 gift card to my Etsy shop. I had over 60 entries and picked the lucky winner (Ellery) during the week after BookFest.

2) Something informative! One other item I had on my table that seemed to be helpful in drawing folks to the booth and giving them something "no-pressure" to do was an informative display about Stones of Michigan. You can see the sheet in front of my jewelry stands:

It included samples of five different stones, all from Michigan, with descriptions of the origins of each.  Most Michiganders are familiar with the state stone - Petoskey Stone - which is a fossil coral, specifically Hexagonaria, found off of the shores of Lake Michigan. In the course of making wrap bracelets and researching the state's natural history, I have discovered a number of other stones that I have started to use in my creations. These include Leland Bluestone, which is actually a glass/stone mix that resulted as a by-product of smelting in the 1870s; epidote, a gorgeous, green stone; mid-mitten alabaster; and kona dolomite (a fossil algae.) People were drawn into the booth and it gave them something to look at, and learn from, while browsing around.

The content of the booth also includes the finishing touches, such as a nice table covering and display stands, professional signage (I printed pricing cards up and laminated them) as well as some decorative items to fill up the space so that the table doesn't look too sparse. All of this contributes to creating an attractive, inviting, and professional display that speaks to the quality of your products and your business as a whole.

I am thrilled to report that I had a nice number of sales at BookFest as well as some inquiries from folks about my presence at other local craft venues. I am very grateful for everyone who came out and who supported my first foray into craft booth selling!

What did I learn? While having a craft booth is invigorating and exciting, and potentially lucrative, it is exhausting! I spent a great deal of time preparing my booth materials, making extra product so that I had enough to offer my customers, and then spending the entire day on Sunday setting up, staffing, and cleaning up the booth. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with my customers and potential customers directly, get my products in front of people, and make some sales, but when I started to tally up my time spent on the whole endeavor, I began thinking about my pricing. I will explain more about that in my next post...stay tuned!

Have you ever sold your wares at a craft booth? Do you do this frequently, or just at a select few shows per year? I would love to hear your perspective on the subject.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy September!

Welcome to September! It is starting to feel officially like fall, even if it is going to be 80+ degrees today. :)

I have been busy with end-of-summer activities and haven't posted in a month, so here's an update for you!

I have been creating like crazy lately, among other things, adding some new mini-journals to my Etsy shop:

 Natural Dragonfly Mini Journal with Bead and Button Closure

Approx. 5.75” x 3”, hand-sewn with walnut brown waxed linen thread in a chain stitch or Coptic style, and designed to lay flat for writing or drawing. Heavyweight, 100% cotton, acid-free, warm-white Wyndstone paper in three signatures included for 18 sheets (36 pages) total.

Thai traditional paper in a natural buff-white color was used to cover the book board and is finished with a flower-shaped, bone-white button and more waxed linen thread for easy closure. The thread has a beautiful dangle of beads that include a 6mm Jupiter jasper bead surrounded by two gold metallic beads. Inside, the end papers showcase gorgeous green and gold dragonflies on a buff background.

Sienna Mini Journal with Mookaite Jasper and Apple Blossom Button Closure

Approx. 6” x 4”, hand-sewn with dark orange waxed linen thread in a chain stitch or Coptic style, and designed to lay flat for writing or drawing. 70 lb, acid-free, Canson drawing paper in four signatures for 128 pages total.


Thai traditional paper in a beautiful sienna color was used to cover the book board and is finished with a delicate, antique gold apple blossom button and more waxed linen thread for easy closure. The thread has a beautiful dangle of gold metallic beads and a Mookaite jasper flat round.

And I am also preparing for next weekend's 10th annual Kerrytown BookFest. I am excited to be participating for the first time as an exhibitor. If you are local to the Ann Arbor area, stop by booth #138 and say hi!  Here is a sneak peek of some of my new items that will be available there:

New! Flower Jade and Mum Macrame Bookmark. Hand-knotted light green S-Lon thread and featuring beautiful flower jade beads and an antique silver-plated mum charm.

New! Lapis Lazuli and Starfish Macrame Bookmark. Hand-knotted medium blue S-Lon thread and featuring gorgeous lapis lazuli beads and an antique silver-plated starfish charm.

Petoskey Stone Triple Wrap Bracelet. A rare find, beautiful, authentic 6mm Petoskey stone rounds were used to create a stunning triple wrap bracelet. Petoskey stone is the official state stone of Michigan. It is a variety of calcite and was formed by the fossilization of ancient coral, Hexagonaria. Petoskey stones are found on many beaches of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, as well as in rock quarries from Traverse City to Alpena.

And more bracelets, bookmarks, and journals to come! Have a Happy Labor Day!

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