A lot has happened since my last post in April, 2015. I developed some serious chronic pain issues that have hopefully, finally been resolved by a recent surgery.
I am now trying to get back into the swing of things, but have been brainstorming on what those “things” should look like. A few years ago, I set up various blogs and online shops with the intention of trying to “piece myself out” for better presentation: For example my jewelry blog here, is somewhat disconnected from my photography blog, which is somewhat disconnected from my writing blog. I have been wondering if it isn’t time to “piece myself together” instead.
In the meantime, I have also been giving a lot of thought as to where I want my jewelry designs to go. Right now, I am contemplating branching out into metal stamping on upcycled scraps of metal including old spoons, tins, washers, pennies, etc. The writer in me is excited about the prospect of spreading my favorite quotes around via stamping.
Other areas of possibility include working with leather, more advanced wire wrapping, more extensive crystal pieces, and making embellishments. One thing I have decided to introduce is my photography. There are a LOT more pretty photos coming down the line!
I wrapped up last year with a new line of super-sparkly Swarovski crystal necklaces, new caged mini-dice gamer earrings, and expanded options for my full-sized dice pendants. Finally, I experimented with resin and put together my first wreath (woot!), and made some unique wooden decor items including trays, chalkboards, and clothespin clips.
I am really looking forward to 2016!
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by Loura Lawrence
Four years ago I was stuck in bed for several months. To give my hands and mind something to do during that time, I revisited my childhood passion of beading by making little window charms out of a broken mobile I loved.
Those little sun catchers really cheered me up! I enjoyed seeing them glow and sparkle, sometimes casting little rays of light everywhere. Ever since then I have made little mobiles and suncatcher/window charms from time to time.
I had always wanted to bring these to people stuck in bed to help cheer them up, and a lady I recently talked to online encouraged me to do just that, but in the form of craft kits.
Many years ago, this woman’s daughter had struggled with a long medical condition, and one of the things that helped pass the time was making crafts and decorating the hospital room. Soon after our conversation I
had another one with my local children’s hospital.
“We would love to have those for our patients!” said the cheerful Child Life Department representative. And that is how “Happy Kits 4 Kids” was born. These little craft kits are donated to hospitals, and the Child Life rep I spoke with said they would take as many as we could give! That is exciting news, but I’m gonna need some help.
3 Ways to Help!
1. Monetary Donations
These mobiles are pretty simple, but for this on-going project we’re gonna need a lot of supplies! Your contributions will go toward the purchase of supplies, helping to get the word out, and gas/shipping charges to get these little kits to young patients. You can make a donation via PayPal here.
2. Supplies Donations
We are looking for the following items to make our Happy Kits: Colorful wire, 22-18 gauge; pony beads, plastic beads, metal beads, wood beads, flat buttons, ziplock bags for packing, paper for printing instructions.
If you have any other suggestions or questions about these or other possible supplies, please contact us using the form below.
To make this a success, we can’t do it on our own! Would you like to join our team of awesome volunteers to help package and maybe even deliver these craft kits? Please send me an email, or fill out the form below.
We don’t have a website right now, but you can follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HappyKits4Kids/
Running a business, no matter the size, is extremely time-consuming. One way to help manage your valuable time is by balancing and prioritizing a cycle of what I have come to call “The 3 M’s of Running a Business”. Each “M” requires an equal amount of time and effort for a business to run well, and each “M” is dependent on the others.
For many creative people, making things to share with others is likely what inspired them to begin a business selling their wares in the first place. It is incredibly fun to create something that never existed before, or to capture something through art that has meaning. And that first sale can be very satisfying.
But you don’t necessarily have to make your own products; there are plenty of companies like Avon, Premier Designs, and PartyLite that make their own products for sellers. Whichever method you prefer, know that without new items or different items from time to time, potential buyers will become bored and lose interest in your business. Once a perspective customer is lost, it is really hard to convince them to come back.
Don’t be discouraged, think of it as a challenge to see what else you can come up with but remember the old adage of quality over quantity. If you are with a company who rarely seems to introduce new items or designs, you might consider the pros and cons of moving along to a more dynamic and interesting one.
As much fun as creative people have with making things, marketing those items can be the bane of their existence. Let’s be honest, we creatives would prefer to simply post a photo on Facebook or Twitter and have the “likes” and gushing comments roll in along with an auction you never had to initiate: (Fan 1) “I want to buy your photo for $50!” (Fan 2) “No, I’ll buy it for $75!!” (Fan 3 to Fan 2) “I’ll see your $75 and raise you $25!!!”
Ah, fantasies! Because the sad truth is that as awesome as your art may be, it is in stiff competition with all the other awesome art out there. And if you’ve ever done a search online for art like yours (which you should, by the way), it can be a real depressing eye-opener. But take heart, not all artists will be as marketing-savvy as you.
Marketing is the art (pun intended) of letting people know that your product or service is available, and doing it in such a way that potential customers feel in control, informed, and not harassed. You want to connect with current customers and future ones to advertise your abilities or wares, but you don’t have to be everywhere all at once (See my previous post: Adventures in Social Media Land). There are a zillion ways to advertise but keep in mind: Quality, over quantity.
This could be summed up in three words: Have a plan. Maintaining means to keep on keeping on, but you need a business plan to remind you from time to time what you want from this business, why this business is important to you, and what your limits are. Maintaining is the behind-the-scenes stuff of commenting in a friendly, genuine manner on other blogs or sites, staying active on social media like Etsy, Pinterest, and Facebook by sincerely liking posts, items, etc. and sharing the occasional, appropriate comment (not spamming). Maintaining includes passing out well-designed business cards, making sure your website and/or social media pages are current in information and perhaps style (but don’t change too often or you will confuse and lose people), and the part in which you focus on customer service and a good business image.
May the Circle Be Unbroken
As you proceed in your business, keep in mind the three “M’s” of making products, marketing those new products and your business, and maintaining a good image. Be sure to dedicate an equal amount of time and effort to each “M”, and remember that they work in tandem with each other, like a cycle system. Thanks for reading and may your business ventures be successful!
*Do you have any tips to add? What are some ways you have found to balance the “M’s” in your business?
I am so excited to tell you all about this website I stumbled on about a month ago called Ebates. Maybe you are already familiar with it, but if not, you should be!
(Awkward pause for disclaimers: I have never done a website review before, but there is a first time for everything, right? *Also, this post contains paid referral links.)
Ebates is an online, cash-back rebate program that is so legit and works so well, I had to write a blog post about it. In less than one month after signing up in May (2014), I received a FREE $10 Walmart gift card (see my photographic evidence below) just for signing up, plus over $6 cash back from purchases made online with gift cards, no less.
Ebates is always offering different deals to increase your cash back amount, as well as one sweet referral system which can earn you up to $75 with just 3 referrals; plus $5 for every referral after those first 3 (be sure to read the legalese on the refer-a-friend page though)!
Ebates‘ site is very user-friendly and allows you to save your favorite stores on your “MyEbates” page. You can see at a glance all the current coupons and deals for different stores, as well as view the current cash back percentages for each. You can browse their list of stores, stick with your favorites, or search for a store by name or product. All Ebates stores also feature a prominent “shop now” button next to every store for your convenience, and they automatically add your cash back within 48 hours or less.
You can use Ebates even if you live outside of the U.S. or Canada (there are a few limitations, and they only pay in U.S. dollars. Please see the site for details), and they offer 3 ways to get your money to you: PayPal, a check in the mail, or you can forward your earnings to a charity, organization, or family member of your choice. As long as you have at least $5.01 in your account, they send you your cash, FEE FREE (meaning they pay the PayPal fee, the stamp, etc.) every 3 months on the 15th.
All you need to provide is an email address: No membership requirements, no annoying “offers” (I HATE those), no subscriptions, fees, or surveys. Ebates also offers an optional toolbar they call “The Ebates Cash Back Button” so you don’t have to login to their site before you shop or if you forget.
Ebates features a very wide range of popular stores including Amazon, Walmart, Lowes, HomeDepot, Nordstrom, Legos, Groupon, Xbox, and many, many more, plus my hubby’s favorite: NewEgg. They have deals with some stores for up to 25% cash back, although most are in the 1-3% range. Still, they often have double deals as well as extra coupon offers you can layer on, which is how I got my $6 so quickly.
If you shop online a lot, or even only once a year at say, Christmas time or Black Friday, it would definitely be worth your while to sign up!