Artisan Feature - Exquisite Studios

I am so excited, I get to feature a very dear friend of Butterfly-Crafts, Emily from Exquisite Studios. I interviewed Emily a while back now but here was her interview:

1. If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? My mission is to keep the bar high and over deliver.

2. Have you had any creative disasters?-While making berries from hand-torching glass stringers, I burned the floor in my kitchen in about 4 different spots. When I was working while tired, I would lose control of the berry and drop it or I'd accidentally hit something else and the tiny piece would go flying somewhere. Yeah, you couldn't see so you had to find it by smell--melted vinyl!

3. What is your favourite item in your collection? A rainbow flourite cube bracelet. I love all my designs, but the colors there are amazing

4. Sum up your collection for me: somewhat eclectic, always fantastic

5. Is there another craft you would like to try? not right now

6. What is your favourite craft store? Kasson Variety Mart & Hardware Hank! I get all my butane from HHank. I buy local as much possible!

7. From where do you draw your inspiration? Emotions, colors, seasons, the most unexpected places--even the gas station

8. What made you do this for a business? I finally found my confidence in my abilities

9. How do you like online selling? I don't really know yet

10. What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Ask for help when you know you need it, stay positive

11. Describe yourself in 5 words: Loving, artistic, creative, hilarious, happy

12. What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? Our first-ever family vacation last year to Florida! We visited/stayed with friends who moved there and the girls loved the ocean as much as we did.

13. What's a good book you have read? Ummm, what?

14. Which season do you relate with and why? My favorite is hands down, FALL. no jacket, cooler out, and no mosquitos

15. What is a favourite film of yours? Please, there's only 1 and is and has always been "Terms of Endearment"
Emily is such a wonderful person, a true enhancement to the Artfire site. Here is a showcase of her work.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 | 0 Comments

Book Review - Friday Night Knitting Club

I'm not a fast reader, I'll be the first to admit it takes me a while to 'get in to' a book let alone finish one. However, when I read the Friday Night Knitting Club, I could hardly put it down. No, it's not a classic or book of the year, but it is one of the first books I came completely engrossed in and could hardly put it down. I will admit, I have actually read it twice.

The book is set in NYC, in a knitting shop called Walker and Daughter run by Georgia and her daughter Dakota. The knitting club meet every Friday (shocking revelation I know) to knit, chat and share in each others lives. There is KC the aspiring lawyer, Lucie the music video producer, Darwin the PhD student, Peri the aspiring handbag designer, Anita the always there older woman and Cat, the long lost friend. The book follows their ups and downs, lifes, loves and laughs.

There is a bit of a twist towards the end, I would say a shocking twist because it actually made me shed a few tears! That is the first time I have ever reacted like that to a book, especially a fiction story which just went to show me how involved I felt.

I could not recommend this book highly enough. It is just an easy going read but I loved it, it was a good story and allowed me to dream of having my own craft store!

What books have you read that have had a reaction like that? Please share and comment below.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 18 - Being your own publicist

For most independent crafts people like myself, publicity is a good strategy when you are short on money but have some available time. But, before you rush into getting yourself known, it is important to know that getting press mentions is more about raising the profile of your business and your products than driving sales. I would love to get Butterfly-Crafts and my handmade cards mentioned in the press!

In an ideal world, you should aim to spend at least two hours a week working on publicity and getting your brand and products into the media. If it is applicable, might I suggest a trip to the local newsagent or library to research your target publications?

For magazines, bear in mind that the lead time is often three to five months and if you have Christmas products, you need to approach them in the Summer time. Take note of the Editor for the section your work would fit in and send them a press kit. Double check that the address you have found is not for advertising or subscriptions as often these are managed separately to the magazine. Once you have the information you need, write the Editor a letter, talk a little about your business and show that you have read their publication bt explaining why your product would be a good fit.

Editors are looking for something that stands out against the crowd so it is likely you will write to many editors. What ever you do however, don't get lazy and send off a generic letter or just fill in the blanks of a stock letter, tailor each letter to the editor you are writing to.

Happy researching!!

Monday, 28 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 17 - Blogging

Wow part seventeen already!

If you are after more web space for your business then a blog may be the answer. However you chose to manage your blog, whether it be business or personal, it can help keep an audience interested in you and return to view your recent posts and updates.

It is vitally important to know that blogging is time consuming and if you do it well you will need to post frequently to maintain an interest from your audience. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or the other social networking sites, a regular blog reader will search for authenticity and honesty in a posting not a complete sales pitch of new listings and special offers. If you were to use your blog as just another marketing tool then you may lose regular readers.

I have put a lot of planning into my blog and if you are a follower you will see I post business tips, an artisan feature of a fellow Artfire artist, the Crazy Marketing Train, some of my new listings and more personal nature to let my readers learn more about me as a person and artist.

Image from Brainscan

Monday, 21 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Artisan Feature on Shiny Adornments

It is time for me to feature another wonderful Artfire seller and today it is Kristy from Shiny Adornments.

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? Create what you love. After creating jewelry pieces for about 6 months in, I had an epiphany of sorts. I was making things I didn’t particularly like. Making things "to sell". Not fun for me and wasn’t filling the creative void nor was the act of creating them particularly stress reducing. I decided that going forward, I would ONLY create things that I loved. Items that I would wear if they weren’t purchased. So that’s what I do today.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Besides spilling a large bead stash on the floor at least once a month? I also have to admit whacking my fingers more than once with a texturing hammer or jabbing myself with a pair of pliers.

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? I’ve become very
partial to these sterling knotted hoop earrings

4) Sum up your collection for me: ShinyAdornments is artisan handmade beaded and wire wrapped jewelry, handcrafted in Wichita, KS. I use sterling silver, gemstones, SRA lampwork, glass, and polymer clay beads in my work, which includes bracelets, bangles, earrings, necklaces, hair sticks, and cocktail rings for both work and play. I make jewelry I would wear myself. The materials depend on my mood and inspiration. My goal is to create wearable items for work and play that offer an interesting statement about the women who wear them.

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? I’m taking a silversmithing class this summer in order to further my skills. I’m most interested in learning about enameling.

6) What is your favourite craft store? Wow, that’s a tough one. There are multiples online that I love. Monsterslayer and Otto Frei come to mind.

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? More than anything else I am inspired by color, specifically botanicals.

8) What made you do this for a business? I started making jewelry because I couldn’t find pieces to coordinate with my work attire. I love being able to hammer components into submission. Creating little wearable expressions of color has become a stress reducing therapy for me.

9) How do you like online selling? I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years. One of the things that I like the best is that my pieces are being worn by wonderful buyers from all over the world. That makes me smile.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Develop a business plan. Stick to it. Get a really good camera and learn how to take really really good photographs.

11) Describe yourself in 5 words: Silly, geek, Mom, sarcastic, analytical

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? A cruise, any cruise, any time

13) What's a good book you have read? Anything trashy and scary, preferably with guns, ghouls or crime, or all three

14) Which season do you relate with and why? I’m a fall, all the way. The color palette is my favorite, I don’t have to sweat. Love the fall.

15) What is a favourite film of yours? Shawn of the Dead, The Big Lebowski, Star Trek
Thanks Kristy! Now here comes my showcase of your fantastic work.......

Thursday, 17 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Business Set Up Tips Part 16 - Having an online presence

The primary reason for having a website or online presence is to connect to your customers! Whether you choose to host your own domain name or use a site like Artfire, you can easily create a site that reflects your company image. Having a website can maximise your marketing potential, but keep these points in mind:
  1. Include a bio so that customers can learn about you
  2. Use a domain that is not too lengthy, isn't confusing and more importantly is easy to spell
  3. Update the site frequently with news or new products
  4. Consider running a mailing list
  5. Include details of other sites / social networking you are involved in if it is appropriate

Another aspect of being online is the online communities or social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Plurk. If you are looking to aggressively promote your business, social networking will allow you to post pictures and descriptions of both your business and product. Following this, you can invite your friends and customers to connect with your pages which will in turn connect to their friends and so on. As an enhancement you might also like to consider a giveaway or discount to those who join your community.

I use Facebook for personal use but I also have a Butterfly-Crafts fan page where I talk about projects I am working on, offer special offers and giveaways, show new products and brainstorm. Followers of my Twitter are able to see new listings shortly after they are created along with blog posts. Plurk is more of a social tool for me but I do use it for some business purposes.

Next time we will look a little into writing blogs!

Friday, 11 September 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Set Up Tips Part 15 - Photography

I will say from the outset - I am in no way an expert on photography! In fact, I really struggle to take good photos and when I first set up Butterfly-Crafts, my photos were shocking! I thought it would be good to photo my cards on a black so that they were the main feature, that was until someone kindly pointed out to me that the black was washing out my cards.

So, after a long hard think I decided to use a silver background, I just bought some wrapping paper, and use two props in all of my photos: purple butterflies and a purple pen, that way my store front has a uniformity to it and I am so pleased!

I have gathered a few tips on photography and would like to share:
  • Do not use a flash as this can distort the product colour

  • Use indirect light as direct light can create harsh shadows

  • Buy daylight, tungsten or halogen lightbulbs as incandescent ones can create a yellow effect

  • Use soft, diffuse lighting such as a photographer's umbrella or a light box.

  • Use a tripod as your hands will shake no matter how steady you think you are.

  • Get to know your camera as some digital cameras have manual settings allowing you to programme the shutter speeds and apertures.

  • Think about using the macro setting (I do!) as this will help focus when taking up-close pictures

  • Be creative with your backgrounds/settings or just use something plain. Something too busy will distract from the product

  • Take multiple shots of the same item (I take about 10) and think how the buyer would want to see the item. I photo my cards from all angles I can think of and then close up on specific parts. Make jewelry? Then make sure you photograph the reverse of the item if appropriate.

  • Learn how to use a photo editing software as you will need it!

Some links you may find helpful:

Coming the next time for Business Tips (Friday) - Having an online presence

Monday, 7 September 2009 | 1 Comment

Artisan Feature: Michigan Mud

Time seems to by flying by lately! Its already time for another Artfire artisan feature and this time I have great pleaseure in showcasing MichiganMud. So here come the questions....

1) If you had to work by a creative mission what would it be? I intend to work with integrity, stay true to my beliefs in handmade art from quality components and to respect all other artisans and their craft.

2) Have you had any creative disasters? Any attempt at needle craft. My mom is a brilliant knitter/crochet-er/cross stitcher, etc. Me. not so much!

3) What is your favourite item in your collection? My asian lantern pendant shown here

4) Sum up your collection for me: It's really just a collection of simple items that I think are beautiful. I really treasure simplicity and hope my items reflect that.

5) Is there another craft you would like to try? I've tried a few and right now I'm very happy playing with my clay!

6) What is your favourite craft store? hmmm, Michael's probably although I'll shop at any of them!

7) From where do you draw your inspiration? Just about everywhere. Nature, especially water, is very good for my muse, but just about anything might strike a chord!

8) What made you do this for a business? My "real" job as a scientist went away a couple years ago. I wanted to stay home with my son and work on my Master's degree, but still be able to contribute to the household budget. I'm still a fledgling business, but every day I learn something new to help get me to my goal!

9) How do you like online selling? I love it! I love being able to "go to work" any time of the day or night and getting to "meet" people from all over the world.

10) What tip can you pass to a new online seller? Don't get discouraged. If you do quality work and promote yourself, you will get sales.

11) Describe yourself in 5 words: smart, sarcastic, caring, impatient and true (to family, friends and myself)

12) What has been your favourite vacation/holiday? So far, it's the Alaskan cruise from last summer. I have lots of places I want to visit though!

13) What's a good book you have read? "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver is outstanding!

14) Which season do you relate with and why? I love all of them! That's why I love Michigan! Four beautiful seasons, each with their own merits.

15) What is a favourite film of yours? ahem, I am a geek at heart...Star Wars original trilogy...

Well thank you for letting us get to know you a little more! Here is my showcase of your wonderful items on Artfire

If you would like to be featured another time, please leave me a comment or contact me through my Butterfly-Crafts

Wednesday, 2 September 2009 | 0 Comments

Business Tips Set Up Part 14 - Marketing & Publicity

Once you take that first step into the world of marketing, you must first consider the materials you use to represent your business. Your stationery communicates a message about your business therefore should feature your logo and represent your brand. My business cards for Butterfly-Crafts shown here are one way I market myself.

You may have business cards, letter-head, post cards and pens but have you ever considered a catalogue? If you only sell online you have the difficulty of not being about to directly show your items, here is where a catalogue can help. Catalogues are typically image heavy with concise item descriptions. It can also help to include company history and contact information. Bear in mind you may change your catalogue with the seasons so print in realistic numbers.

Having catalgoues professionally made can become expensive, especially if you hire a photographer, stylist, graphicdesigner and printer. Services like Vista offer calatogues if you do the work yourself.

Prior to working on the catalogue, carefully consider what it is you want to say. Planning to send them to store who are new to your product? Then a fancier presentation may be required. Handing out at trade shows as a reminder as to who you are? Then just one side may be enough.

There is so much to marketing a small business but it needn't be too complicated. Over the next few business tips blogs I will look into marketing a little more. In the meantime, why not check out the marketing department at Handmade News for some tips.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009 | 2 Comments