Monday, June 30, 2008

Featured EtsyBlogger -- Alicia Mae!

This month's featured EtsyBlogger is Ms. Alicia Mae, Etsy seller extraordinaire. Miss Thing has not one, not two, but THREE Etsy shops in her name, and manages to crank out some fantastic work to boot. I bow before her multi-tasking greatness...

Alright, so I confess that I waited til the VERY last minute to put this post together, and unfortunately procrastination has bitten me in the butt - all three AliciaMae shops are closed as she makes a major move on July 1st. But, never one to be deterred, I perused her sold items to find some things to share with you. Check out a few of my faves below:

These pretty prints came from Alicia Mae Art & Photography (which will be opening back up soon, don't you worry). You can find more Alicia Mae creations at Eclectic Design Gifts (also closed for the move, so be patient!). And also check out her destash shop for handmade beads and excess supplies.

Of course, it wouldn't be an EtsyBloggers feature if I didn't point you toward her blog, so be sure to take a peek at Alicia Mae's Xanga site for more info, straight from the crafter's mouth.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Flourish Boutique Grand Opening -- July 8th

I'm excited to announce that Flourish Boutique and Gallery, the first brick & mortar boutique to carry the Macaroni and Glue line, will be opening its doors on July 8th. Ms. Vanessa Cooreman-Smith, owner and curator, has been very hard at work making sure everything is perfect for the grand opening. Let me tell ya - this lady's got it together! All participating artists received an update last week detailing plans for the opening, a preview of the web site, an update on the recent Flourish trunk show/VIP party, and a sneak peek at the shop. Take a look!
How fun is that?! I'm thrilled to featured alongside such talented artists and designers and in such a gorgeous venue!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Moving Target - What is the Definition of "Success?"

This will likely be short and sweet (or less sweet than simply to-the-point - you be the judge when we're done), but when I saw that the EtsyBloggers blog carnival topic for the week was "Success," it got my wheels turning...

It's interesting how much the concept of "success" has changed for me since I started the business (or, more accurately, since I opened my Etsy shop). When I started, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in February, I was very focused on sales and specific sales goals. As we discussed in May, I'd hoped to reach 100 sales by a certain point, and I achieved that. That, I thought, was the definition of "success." The more sales that came rolling in, the more "successful" I felt. In fact, at one point after I'd hit 100 sales, someone convo'd me and referred to me as a "successful Etsy seller." I was thrilled!

But, ironically, when I read this week's blog carnival topic, my sales weren't the first thing to come to my mind. In fact, the first thing to come to my mind was my schedule! I know, I know... If you read the blog regularly, you undoubtedly think at this point that I'm a time-obsessed nut job, but my schedule represents something really important to me - my ability to balance my "selfish" endeavors (i.e. the business and my volunteering) with my more important endeavors (i.e. mommying). It represents my ability to separate the designer me from the Mommy me, and the fact that I'm finally able to do something for myself without compromising my kid's confidence that no matter what, she's my first priority. Thanks to that schedule, although I assembled 60 custom thank you cards, printed 170 invitations, listed several new designs, upgraded my Trunkt portfolio, blogged, and participated in promos today, Natalie and I spent no less than two hours together huddled over her favorite puzzles, had a fabulous lunch together, took an always-exciting trip to the craft store, and managed to get Daddy’s birthday present wrapped before he got home.

And that, my friend, after all the trial and error and desperate attempts to figure out how I would get it all done and still feel OK about my role as Mom... that is what success means to me right now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Agony and the Ecstasy -- First Craft Show Set-up

This weekend marked an important milestone for Macaroni and Glue - my first attempt to showcase my product for a live, in-person audience. It wasn't any major thing - just a little bazaar-type sale with my local women's group. But I used it as an opportunity to evaluate my product line, create new designs/retire old ones, and to work on my overall branding in an effort to create a cohesive mini-shop that would be as closely aligned with my online shop as possible.

Despite the fact that the weather turned bad and sales were DISMAL (and, no, I don't want to talk about it...), I got great feedback on my product and on my "booth." And I was very proud of both! What do you think?

But for the DISMAL sales (oh, did I mention that already?), I'm really glad that I was able to muster the courage to put a display together. It gave me focus in the weeks leading up to the sale and provided a great incentive to spend time designing new items to help round out my Etsy shop.

The new designs, by the way, will be popping up in the shop over the course of the next week or so. Look for more variety in my greeting card offerings and a couple of great new boxed sets. In fact, I've updated my shop sections to accommodate some more diverse pieces. Here are a few of my faves from the new batch:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

T10T - Take Ten Tuesday is Back!

T10T (aka Take Ten Tuesday), the FAM street team Tuesday sales event, returns tonight at 5:00 PM EST. Come join us in the Etsy forums (search for "T10T" in forum titles) for details about all the participating shops and their one-night-only specials.

Stay a while and chat! Some of our stores will have "secrets" as well as great savings on fabulous handcrafted items. Intrigued? Join us at 5:00 to find out what all the fuss is about!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan - My New Mantra

As my tone of late might be implying, I've been having some trouble fitting everything into my ever-busier schedule. With orders going up (woohoo!) and shopkeeping activities a necessary part of daily life, even my "foolproof" system has been failing me a bit. While it definitely helps to designate certain days for certain areas of focus - Monday Monday, Trashy Tuesday (not what it sounds like), etc. - I find that I'm constantly frustrated at my seeming inability to ever get ahead. I'm able to maintain, but just barely, and when it comes to exploring new ways to grow my business... forget about it. I constantly feel like opportunity is whizzing by me and I'm just an hour or two shy of being able to take advantage of it.

Recently a friend and fellow work-at-home mommy gave me some great advice. She suggested I create a schedule for the week that includes everything - meals, chores, my daughter's classes, showers, workouts, and even transit time. Once that was complete, I'd be able to see how much time I really had to devote to my business, and could schedule individual activities into each available block of time. Since I was tearing my hair out and willing to try anything, I actually made some time two Sundays ago to do it. It was an elightening exercise, let me tell you. No wonder I was feeling frustrated! It wasn't just that I was feeling like there were never enough hours in the day to get everything done, there actually weren't enough hours in the day to get it done! When you factor in all of my daily responsibilities and keeping up with my orders (the best part of my day, by the way), there are, on average maybe ninety minutes a day in which to promote the business, pursue new opportunities or explore new avenues.
Seeing my daily life on paper was a serious wakeup call. I realized immediately that I was going to have to reset my expectations. Although I hope it will be someday, my business is not my full-time job, and to expect to approach it as though I have 40 hours a week to devote is to set myself up for constant disappointment. I'm not going to pretend like that's sitting well with me, but I know it to be true, and am working on aligning my mindset with my reality.

To that end, I made a long list of things that I wanted to accomplish and began to plug them into the open spaces on my calendar, literally in 30 minute increments. Some promotion-type things I set up as recurring appointments just so I don't have to remember to do them on a regular basis. For a few biggies (like finishing those new designs or working on my invitation portfolio), I actually blocked out 2-hour chunks and simply re-arranged some of my daily commitments to make it happen. I have to admit that the activity was really empowering. It forced me to accept that I cannot do it all. And it challenged me to find creative ways to re-arrange the boring stuff to allow for more exciting pursuits. And you know what? So far, think it's actually working. So far, at least. I mean, look! Here it is 12:30, my calendar says "Blog," and I'm blogging! Wha'dayaknow...........

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Me (or maybe you didn't want to know, but so what? it's my blog after all...)

Thanks to Mama's Magic blog for the fantastic Friday feature on Macaroni and Glue. Check it out here and, if you're so inclined, leave her a comment. Also known as bfbeads on Etsy (as in "baby-friendly" beads - very cool), Jen is one of my new fave bloggers. She's witty and insightful, and has lots of great stories related to mommyhood. Definitely give her a look! Thanks again for the great feature, Jen!