Wednesday, August 31

Alternatives to Etsy

It's no secret Etsy is the most well-known, established site for those looking to sell or buy handmade goods. But did you know there are tons (and I do mean tons) of other options? Last week  stumbled across this post  on Etsy Alternatives from CraftGawker, which lists over 50 alternative sites.

As a buyer, why should you look outside of Etsy? Options. Etsy doesn't have a monopoly on quality products. You can find that perfect one of a kind birthday present without searching through 10,000 items.

As a seller, why should you bother with XYZ handmade site instead of Etsy? Well how about sheer numbers? As of February 2011, Etsy had over 29,000 registered sellers (I'm sure this has increased since then). You have to work very, very hard to make yourself stand out in the crowd. With other sites, who have significantly less sellers, you have a greater chance of benefiting from their internal marketing programs. Case in point - I joined LilyShop less than a week ago and today one of my coaster sets is on the front page. I have been selling on Etsy for over two years and never had an item featured on the front page. Of course, wherever you sell, the larger responsibility for marketing is on you, but it does help when the numbers aren't so incredibly lopsided.

For myself, I am experimenting with shops on Zibbet, ShopHandmade and LilyShop. In future posts I will share my impressions of each sites. I'm certainly not advocating abandoning Etsy. I love it. But I don't think it could hurt to have everyone on both sides of the handmade table expand their horizons.

On the front page of LilyShop! Upcycled Coasters, Repurposed Vinyl with White Hearts

Monday, August 29

Bright Skies After the Storm

People often mention the calm before the storm, but what about the calm after the storm? Since Hurricane Irene passed through the DC-area has enjoyed sunny skies and mild temps, well below average (which was helpful when I was without power until last evening!). Not sure if the calm after the storm is a real phenomenon, but either way it inspired this collection of items from DC and Maryland artists. A couple highlights are below, and be sure to check out the whole collection...


Seafoam Green Necklace by HappyFoxStudio

Fairytale Garden Folders by CoupCoup

Rustic Small Coin Purse by 2handsstudios



Saturday, August 27

Sneak Peek From the Studio

Heavy rain has just started falling here around DC, so it looks like Irene has arrived! I have stockpiled plenty of art projects to work on while we ride out the storm. Here's a sneak peek of what I'll be working on...


The vases were a thrift store find. I bought a few others in fun shapes, but already broke two of them :(

In other news, a big pat on the back to me for delivering on my promise of five posts this week - yay! I'll be back on Monday, assuming the power is up and running. Stay safe everyone!

Friday, August 26

DC Craft Happenings

For all the DC-area crafters out there, here are the details on some upcoming shows and events you may interested in checking out...

Sept. 18 - Etsy is holding a mini conference at the Smithsonian as part of their Hello Etsy, Berlin event. It's free - so check out the details and sign up here: http://helloetsy.com/us/washington/

Oct. 16 - Etsy CREST is still accepting applications for their annual show, Falling for Handmade II. This year it's in Annandale, VA. Check out the current vendors (including yours truly) and apply: http://fallingforhandmade.weebly.com/

Also, the minds behind Fenton Street Market just posted this great promo video. If you haven't heard, the market is in danger of closing after this year due to changes in the county fees. If you're a fan and don't want to see the market go, sign the petition.

Thursday, August 25

Riding Out the Storm

Here on the U.S. East Coast we're batting down the hatches for Hurricane Irene. It seems to be all anyone is talking about (anyone remember the earthquake we had two days ago?) I'm not usually one to over-react to weather reports, in fact I'm usually the one making a little fun of people who do (a very common occurrence in the DC-area) but I admit the latest weather reports even had me making a trip to the grocery store today for batteries and water (and goldfish, a staple in my mind). So in honor of the impending storm, I created this round-up of weather-related goodies. Enjoy the highlights below and be sure to check out the whole list.




Storm Cloud Necklace by DeliciousHobo


Storm Catcher Watercolor Print by ThBarberShop

Whale Weather Vane Photo Print by Knight27

Wednesday, August 24

Crafty Book Review The Martha Rules


When I decided to make the leap to full-time craft business-lady, I knew I had a lot to learn. So naturally I started reading - everything and anything about running a small business, running a craft business, marketing, etc. I’ve come across some great resources, and some others hardly worth the $0.25 library late fee. To save you some time (and library late fees) and help narrow down your own reading list, I’m going to share my thoughts in a regular book review series. First up is a surprising favorite...

To start off, let me say I am not a Martha fan. Yes, she makes a mean homemade lemon poppy seed cake, her DIY Thanksgiving centerpieces are adorable and she produces a drool-worthy line of craft supplies, but I’ve heard too many rumors about her less than cheery off-camera personality to jump onto the Martha bandwagon (plus there’s that whole comparing her own jail term to Nelson Mandela’s thing...seriously Martha?). Coming in with that attitude, I’m still not really sure why I picked The Martha Rules off of the library shelf. Maybe it was calling to me. If so, I’m glad it did.

The book is organized into ten chapters, each describing one of Martha’s ten business rules. Though many of her business rules seem like common sense, the way the rules are phrased elevates a piece of easily overlooked advice to something that will stick in your mind long after closing the book. For instance, the common place ‘connect with your customers’ becomes Rule #4 Teach So You Can Learn: By sharing your knowledge about your product with your customers, you create a deep connection that will help you learn how best to build and manage your business

Supporting Martha’s rules are anecdotes from both her own past experiences and those of other entrepreneurs who have crossed her path over the years. These anecdotes, particularly those from outside the world of Martha, reinforce these rules and save the book from being too self-congratulatory (though on occasion it does get a little too close to the edge for my taste). I enjoyed it so much I even photo-copied each of the rules before returning the book for easy reference. My favorite takeaways? Rule #4 - above - and Rule #8 So The Pie Isn’t Perfect? Cut It Into Wedges: When faced with a business challenge, evaluate or assess the situation, gather the good things in sight, abandon the bad, clear your mind and move on. Focus on the positive. Stay in control, and never panic. 

My Verdict? Recommended Reading

The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart
205 pp., 2005, Rodale Books

Monday, August 22

Sneak Peek From the Studio

So clearly my promise to post five times a week was a big fail last week. Sorry guys! Though four out of five the first time out isn't too shabby. I have a fun post planned for tomorrow, so as I pull myself together today let me leave you with a sneak preview of new items soon to be added to the shop. Can you guess what upcycled material these magnets are made of?



Friday, August 19

Heart Me, Heart Me Not

After several days of quiet (maybe too quiet!) at Maryland's Eastern Shore, I'm back to the DC grind. With the mostly rainy weather, I had lots of time get my hands dirty creating new pieces. Most of these will be added to the Etsy store over the next several days, but first up is this fun heart magnet set. I love the color combination - kind of simple but with a bit of a rocker edge. Use the pink one when you're feeling warm and fuzzy, the purple-striped one when you want to stand out from the crowd and the black one when he won't return your call...

Repurposed Fabric Magnets - Set of Three Hearts by PurpleCloverEcoHome

In other news, the Crafty Bastards 2011 vendor gallery is up. Very sad you won't find Purple Clover on the list (maybe next year, fourth time could be the charm?) but until then there are lots of great vendors to check out. I'm particularly loving the expanded eco-friendly craft section. Can't wait to see them all in person!

Wednesday, August 17

Are You Ready for Fall?

Since I spent most of my morning laying out by the pool enjoying the surprisingly low-humidity in the area today (in case you don't know, August in DC usually equals soup for air), my answer to this question would definitely be no. But since it's inevitable that the change of season is just around the corner, a girl may as well be prepared. Hence the theme of today's treasury - fun options for upcycled fall accessories. Enjoy the highlights below and be sure to check out the whole list!




Upcycled Yellow Button Bobby Pins by TheGreyDeer



Upcycled Brooch/Hair Clip by LynnMinneyDesigns



Upcycled Hand Beaded Cuff by TrailerParkGypsy



Tuesday, August 16

Make Art, Not Waste with ScrapLab


I came across this a few days ago and wanted to share for any like-minded upcyclers out there...

ScrapLab is sponsoring a design contest to showcase innovative ideas for upcycling and repurposing waste materials. Besides getting my inner-wheels turning about which of my upcycled items to submit, I’ve also enjoyed checking out what other people have submitted. My favorites so far include a chair/footrest combo made from vintage suitcases, jewelry made with VHS tape and a clock made from a vintage phone. 

Submissions are due by Sept. 18, so put on those sustainable thinking caps and get creating! 

Monday, August 15

Welcome!

In this debut post I want to do a quick round-up of who I am and what you can expect. So who in the world are you reading about? Well, I’m Jennie. A 20-something trying to make the switch from hobby crafter to full-blown craft business-lady. I recently quit my day job (event planning) to pursue my dream work-from-home lifestyle. Only time (and my bank account) will tell if that was a smart decision.

The goal is post five days a week. I’m putting this down in writing so you can feel free to call me out when I slack on this promise (seriously, forceful, but friendly, reminders encouraged). And now, on to the things you can look forward to on this blog...

  • laughing along with me as I stumble my way through establishing a handmade craft business
  • fun DIY projects
  • a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the DC craft show scene
  • the ups and downs of practicing what I preach on sustainability and eco-friendly living
  • adorable finds from the crafting and vintage world