Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog your way to a best seller

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

How do I set a price on my handmade item???

As a gallery manager I have many hats each day…the “face” of the store, the customer service expert, the display and decorating whiz, the engaging and charming blogger *sarcasm*…but many of our customers do not know a huge perk to my job description, and that is to build wonderful relationships with the artisans.  I must say that our group of talent continually surprises me with their inventiveness, but it’s astounding how humble they truly are.  Truly.  And it’s so surprising to find that because they are literally oozing with creativity…they have every right to have big-head syndrome.  I am always in awe.
We have lots of artisans that have been working with their craft for many years, but we have some that do it as a side-passion or have less experience.  Many times pricing comes up as a HUGE question…”Just what do I charge an interested customer for something I put my blood, sweat, and tears into?”  It can be daunting to overcharge for your work…but even scarier to UNDERcharge.
I have a few suggestions.  Now keep in mind, I don’t consider myself anywhere near an expert, but I do read…a lot.  I’m constantly checking out books, websites, magazines, blogs, even message boards where artists literally ask others for advice on a specific creation.  I wanted to not necessarily give my opinion on the matter (I am a bit biased because of my job), but to pass on valuable information so that you can make a more informed decision.  Here are a few resources I found helpful:
  • Etsy is always on the top of my list for inspiration, but also for a reference.  Where else will you find that many people who all make stuff by hand???  Nowhere.  If you already have Etsy as a resource for purchasing beautifully unique items, think of it also as a resource to find useful blog articles or discussions.  Here is an Etsy message board posting that I came across…lots of comments on an artist’s actual earrings for sale from real-life crafters.
  • I’m currently reading Craft, Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco…a very quick read that maps out how to make your craft your full-time endeavor.  I recommend it for an overall look of the business, and it includes many quotes from successful craftsmen, along with a section on pricing and suggestions for an “equation” to use when calculating all of your expenses.  Check the book out on Amazon here.
  • Crafting, MBA is an extremely interesting resource…basically a blog written by an exceptionally clever and knowledgeable woman, Megan Auman, who gives endless advice on how to make crafting not just a hobby.  Here are some blog articles she’s written about slapping a price sticker on your work: Defensive Pricing Strategy and How I Raised My Prices and Lived To Tell the Tale.
  • One more blog, Glue and Glitter, is more based on eco-friendly craft ideas and how-tos, but I found a quick read on the author’s take on what to expect when you purchase something that’s handmade…here is the article. It’s nice to hear about her personal experience with customers scoffing at her high ticket prices.
I try to encourage artisans to never forget the time and skills necessary to create any handmade item.  Don’t sell yourself short…not everyone possesses the expertise to create an item such as your own!  However, on the flip-side, keep in mind current trends and what other stores (aka mean and ruthless corporations) are charging for an item that is similar.  Though the item you’re creating is undoubtedly more interesting and creative, don’t price your item out of the ballpark (for instance, a decorative wine glass at a home decor store may cost $12 each…I wouldn’t price your handpainted glass for more than a few dollars above that).
Sometimes artisans cannot price their items competitively…or somewhat competitively…with what the current market is.  They just can’t make a profit on the item they are selling for a reasonable price.  That’s when you must step back and really ask yourself, “Is it worth making more to sell?”  I’d hate to tell anyone not to continue something they love, but it quite possibly might not make you money.  This is something you must be willing to admit.  If you’re doing your craft to make money, reassessing the materials and time may be necessary.
Best of luck creating…and ultimately pricing to sell, sell, sell!!
 Thank you so much Lauren for sharing this information with us and for allowing me to share it on my blog.  Pricing is always a concern and I think the most difficult part of the business.  Every little bit of information is helpful - Cheers and best of luck to you too, Sally

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Giveaway is in the works

Check out my friend Jaime's great giveaway.  She is a wonderful metal artist and she is giving away 2, yes 2, great pieces of hers.   You can also check her out on FB

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Senior Moment

The cute young officer told me that I should slow down on the frontage road today. ME, of all people.  The person that ALMOST always obeys the traffic laws.  The one that is constantly nagging DH to slow down and not follow so close behind the car in front of us.  I ALWAYS, well, almost always, maintain the 40 MPH speed on the frontage road.  Mainly because I am a law abiding citizen and also because I know that this cute little motorcycle officer sits in this one little out of view spot and has his radar going.  Well, today was my day.  I'd had a nice shopping and lunch date with my girlfriend who leaves Wednesday for Ohio.  I'd made my bank deposit and was on my way home to work on some projects.  I'm just humming along, minding my own business when out of the corner of my eye, BAM....there he is and he's starting his cycle up.  I'm had, I thought.  No point in even trying to adjust at this point.  Sure enough, I pass him and he pulls in behind me.  No light yet but he wouldn't pull me over on the frontage road - too dangerous.  I make my right hand turn to go up the road and sure enough, he follows.  About 30 seconds later (the first opportunity I would have to pull over safely) blip, blip, blip go his little blue lites.  I pull over and start looking for my paperwork.  He appears at my window and we begin the polite conversation..."how are you today?"  I reply, "great, how are you?"  "May I please see your lic. and reg."  I've never had to show my registration before, where would I look for it?"  He smiles politely and replies, "Wherever you put it, there is no designated spot:O)"  I look and I find it in the glove box where I knew it was all the time.  He takes my paperwork and informs me that I was going 53 in a 40!!  Yikes, I'm dead!!.  I spend my time while he's away preparing paperwork putting my papers back in the glove box.  Oops, here he comes and I fumble with these damn automatic windows until I find the right button.  He smiles, hands me the paperwork and tells me he is only giving me a warning and nothing will come of it.  I breathe a sign of relief and return the smile, along with a pat on his hand.  I said, "you know, if people go the speed limit on the frontage road, those old people about run you over."  Again, he smiled and told me that that was why he was there and to have a nice day.....vroom and off he went.  I made sure before he got away that I thanked him for his services to the community and I would slow down - really, I will.....I felt lucky today and I'd rather spend my money on beads and silver that speeding tickets. 

I came home and finished my projects.  Here is a picture of the clasp I made for a new necklace - I love it.  It was a silver disk that I cut the hole in, stamped, domed and textured.  The bar is a silver tube that I added the beads and wire to.   What do you think??  This project was in the April issue of Step by step Wire Jewelry and the author is Cassie Donlen.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It was time for a change-a makeover-a new blog and it was time to re-brand myself.  I've had the official title of The Bear Affair for 20+ years.  It all started out when my sons gave me a gorgeous bear for Christmas one year.  Her name is Gloria Vanderbear and she still holds a place of reverence in my home.  I was doing alot of crafting in those days and bear collecting became my addiction.  At one point during a family visit, my grand daughter exclaimed to everyone in sight, "Grandma, I counted 450 bears upstairs last night."  I quickly redirected her conversation to another topic and off we went.  After all, if I kept moving them around no one would be able to keep track, right???  Well, over the years I have amassed quite a collection. 
Some of these bears are very rare and collectible.  One of them roller skates and another one marches along while beating his drum.  While on a visit to California one year I spotted this HUGE brown bear in an antique shop and, well, I just had to have him.  His name is Benjamin and I flew him home with me......well, not on the same plane but he did go by air.  I have a lovely collection of Robert Raikes bears and in future blogs I'll include some pictures of them.  For now though, it is all about changing and updating.  Silversmithing is my game now and I figured that I needed a name that would do justice to my art so now you know the rest of the story - MY ART AND MY SOUL will be my new business name and I love it.  What do you think?  Tell me how you chose your business name.  I love hearing from you so please leave me a comment or two before you leave the blog. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Patina Tips & Tricks- Carnival Blog- March

Getting just the right patina on metal is always a challenge.  Here is an article I found on Whole Lotta Whimsy's newsletter site.  Tonya Davidson is a teacher, mentor and founder of the Artist Success Program as well as the CEO and founder of Whole Lotta Whimsy, a mixed media, jewelry tool and supply company. Tonya  has the most wonderful website, newsletter and shopping site I've ever seen.  She is always challenging the artist and offering advise on self improvement.  Please check out her site and sign up for her free newsletter now.  Enjoy this article on Patina Tips and Tricks.

Patina Tips & Tricks- Carnival Blog- March

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friends from childhood

Hi everyone.  We had a wonderful day today with friends from John's childhood.  He and Tom grew up together in Pa and I've been friends with Charlotte since John and I met in 1962.  They visited us two years ago in Green Valley and we all went to Mexico together and really enjoyed ourselves.  This year they came with their Airstream trailer and are staying in the local RV Resort.  They've been here for 3 months and we have had such a good time together.  They will be leaving in 2 weeks and I'm really sad to see them go.  John and Tom have had such a good time shooting together and Char and I have never been at a loss of things to do.  We've checked out all of the quilt shops locally and enjoyed many great lunch dates, both with the 2 of us and several times with other friends.  It will certainly be hard to bid them farewell but we know they will be back next year so we have that to look forward to.  We are beginning to get ready for our trek to the mountains for the summer.  Pinetop is calling us and I'm ready.  We are so very lucky to be able to enjoy all of the opportunities that life has presented us with and we are happy to share.  We certainly wish our children and families lived closer and could enjoy this time with us but that is not the case so we will continue to include our friends in on the roster of activities and live life to the fullest. 

Have a wonderful evening and enjoy the huge moon looming over us tonight;o)

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things (and Friends)

These are some pictures from the trunk show that Madeline Thorpe and I did in November.  We had a very successful show and the weather couldn't have been nicer.  We sold our etched metal art, etched glassware and lots of our copper and silver jewelry.  We are in the process (aren't we always in the process of one thing or another??) of preparing for our next show.  I will keep you the meantime, I hope you enjoy our art and soul.  Thanks for looking and I would love to have you comment.

Madeline does this beautiful glass etching on these perfume bottles.  Aren't they just the most beautiful works of art you've ever seen?  I think so;o)
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Welcome to my world

Happy spring to everyone.  The air is warming and the buds are bursting with color already.  It is marvelous to watch nature take its course.

I've been busy working  with my copper and have created some delicious goodies.  I will begin posting in a few days. 

I've had house guests for a week and am busy washing clothes and linens today.  Of course, my washing machine died the day they arrived.  My new machine was delivered today and it has been humming ever since;o)

I hope you all remember to watch the moon tonight - it is the brightest moon we will see for the next 17-20 years.

Have a great evening and hug someone you love.