Friday, July 17, 2009

Custom orders and something new

Lately, my Etsy shop has been getting steady traffic, I think, plenty of views, but not many more sales. Now, I haven't been adding many pieces lately because I've been getting ready for the show last weekend more than anything, so I'm sure that's not helping, you know, not getting into the new items feed. That should change this weekend though, as I have a few new pieces coming soon.

In the meantime, I seem to be having a little luck with custom orders, thanks to my mom! Apparently she's been selling my services to all the ladies at work, which is very nice of her. I've made her a couple necklaces, which I'm pretty sure she wears on a regular basis and shows around too.

This earring and necklace set is a mother-of-the-bride ensemble for, of all people, my 2nd grade teacher, who actually works with mom these days. It's so weird when I think about it. I remember her from when I was so young and now she's buying jewelry from me? Anyway, from what I hear she loved the set, but her oldest daughter snagged it from her, telling her she could borrow it for her sister's upcoming wedding. Too funny! The focal points of both the earrings and necklace are (one of my new favorite stones) chalcedony. It is just so pretty! Oddly, the Swarovski crystals that appear more brown here in this pic are green. Not sure why they looked that way, but everything was very cool and water-like in tone, paired with sterling silver.

Another score from mom was this pair of larkavite and sterling silver drop earrings. Larkavite is sometimes called black labradorite. It's also from the feldspar family. These were made for another co-worker of my mom, who was looking for a birthday gift for a friend. She didn't want to give them away, but did. She reported back to mom that the lady wears them all the time. Always nice to hear! I liked them enough to make a second pair for my store which you can check out here.

Some may remember these earrings from my store. They sold over the weekend at Ladies Fair, to the mother-daughter pair. The daughter actually got them and her mom liked them a lot also, but she wanted the same earrings in a smaller scale, so I made her up a smaller pair and shipped those out to her this past Monday. They've always been a favorite pair of mine. I really like the way the copper works with the carnelian and the turquoise.

And finally, I'm going to try something new. Metal stamping! I bought a set of metal letter stamps from m.a.t.'s beads, a fellow Etsy seller, and I've been picking up sterling silver stamping blanks whenever I see them. I know, everyone says to "practice on inexpensive copper"... I probably should too, because I have no idea what I'm doing, really, but, eh, what the heck. I'll figure it out. I'll be sure to post an update and some pics. This should be interesting, to say the least. I'd be happy to hear any advice from my readers about stamping!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A few snags, but overall a successful show.

For the last few weeks, I've been frantically running around trying to prepare for my next show. Well, this past Saturday was Ladies Fair 2009. Leading up to it, there were vendors meetings and several emails back and forth with the two ladies who were coordinating the event. It was the first year for it. It was the first time I have actually run a printed ad for a show or my business, which I submitted well in advance of the deadline, so I was pretty excited at the idea of that.

Saturday morning I picked up my mom at about 8:40 am. This was the first time she was joining at a show and she was a little keyed up about it, I think. In fact, I don't think she'd ever been to anything like a craft/art show before, so this was all new to her. She is the type of person who has to be doing something and it was a little challenging for me to keep giving her tasks. I'll just say it – I'm a total control freak. I'm very bad at delegating. Very bad. I managed to keep her somewhat busy during set-up though, so she was happy being useful.

When we arrived at Crossroads Community Church, the auditorium was pretty dark, there were people running around and there was no central location for vendor check-in. "Hmmm..." I thought. I started looking for my contacts and quickly located one of the ladies. We were told that booth spaces would be 8' x 8', and that they would be numbered and assigned because the booth numbers would direct people from your ad in their handout booklets to its corresponding booth. Well, there were no numbers. They were deciding as people arrived where to put them. I was asked if I would need electricity, and normally I do so I can light my pieces, but in the midst of everything going on and in the interest of time, I said it wasn't necessary. So I was positioned right where she happened to be standing, which happened to be under one of the canned spot lights. That turned out to be a blessing because they never did turn the lights up all day! Apparently they were not allowed or didn't know how. As you can see from the pics below, a lot of vendors were pretty much in the dark. It was not good.

Mom and I got everything set up in our booth that was not even nearly 8' deep. We were bumping into the people from the booth behind us. It was fairly uncomfortable actually. There wasn't much room to move around or get bags and boxes out from under the table for my customers' purchases. Thank goodness my tables are on the small side and that my set up is somewhat flexible. I took a few minutes to thumb through the booklet and, to my surprise, my half-page ad was nowhere to be found! I was furious. I spoke to one of the coordinators and she told me that I was not the only one whose ad didn't make it into the book. She blamed the printer, but I think they just sold more space than they had available. Pretty sure that's what happened with the booth sizes as well. It was very frustrating. 

There was no time to even worry about it though. They had a steady flow of people the entire time (10 am - 3 pm). I had one very good experience with a mom and her daughter who were so fun. Very friendly and good to chat with while they were shopping. They ended up buying several pairs of earrings, a necklace and the mom even ordered a custom pair of earrings, which I dropped in the mail to her this afternoon. They were awesome and seemed to really like my designs. Throughout the day I also sold another bracelet and a few pairs of earrings, and had lots of lookers take my cards. My sales were just under $200, which is awesome. The space was only $25, so that is a tidy little profit to reinvest into what else... more supplies! :)

Below is my booth set-up and that is my mom sitting there behind the table. She would probably love to know that she's all over the internet! We just won't tell her. See how dark it was in there though? Yikes!

This was the booth next door to mine. The lady wasn't in it at the time of this pic, but she was very sweet and she just happens to be an Etsy seller, Ariel Michelle with the most adorable cosmetic bags on earth (that she makes herself, of course)! She just opened her shop on Etsy and doesn't have any bags listed yet, but you can see how great they are here and send her a convo! I suggested to mom that they'd make great gifts for all the granddaughters for Christmas, and she ended up buying 6 sets for them (they were in sets of a large and a smaller bag). 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Oh boy, searching for a new bank...

I hope this doesn't come across as too much of a rant. I'm actually much calmer about it than I was last week when I received a letter from Fifth Third Bank regarding a credit card account I had with them. The letter came to me on Tuesday, June 30. It had the "Important changes to your credit account" note on the envelope, but I tossed it in the pile of mail to open later. Naturally I forgot to open it that night. I did, however, think of it Wednesday and remembered to open it when I got home from work. More times than not when I get letters like this, they are telling me about changes to terms that really don't affect me, like cash advance rules and such. Much to my surprise, this one was informing me that they were increasing my rate to Prime + 14.99% but never less than 19.99%! Do what now?

A little background... I do have a good amount of revolving debt, I won't deny that. I actually opened this card a few years ago and consolidated a few others with it. It is one of two credit cards that I have that I actually use still and really only when I'm in a pinch for cash for something like dog food and I'm somewhere that doesn't accept AmEx. I generally like to use my American Express card because I have to pay it off every month, so that keeps me from using it excessively. All of the cards I have have been getting paid down for probably 2 years now. I don't even use them, because I've been busy trying to get out of debt once and for all!

Anyway, Fifth Third decided all of the sudden that the couple hundred dollars they already get from me in interest every month was not enough. In a nutshell, they don't like the way I've used my account, my balance is too high and I don't keep enough money in my checking account to suit them. It really infuriates me. They set the limit. I've never gone over that limit. I've never been late on a payment and I always pay at least a few bucks more than the minimum due. I was instructed that I had 7 days to reject the new terms, which would result in my account being closed. Fine by me. Really. It was a little bit odd to me that the 7 days included a 3 day long weekend. As I fired off my rejection letter on Thursday, I wondered how many people would miss their 7 day window and end up paying some ridiculously inflated rate of interest. 

I'm positive I am not alone in this. So anyway, I told them I don't feel it's fair and a whole lot of other stuff in that letter. That I am a good customer, albeit small in comparison to some, I'd imagine. And that up until this point I had recommended them to pretty much everyone I knew. Well that is over now. Now I have to find a new home for my checking accounts, mostly because I told them I would. lol. I am not really looking forward to that.

Here's some advice from my dad that I really wish I'd have taken to heart sooner: Pay as you go and you'll never owe.


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