Category Archives: Craft Fairs

Season’s Greetings

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Hello Friends! I’m sure you have been anxiously waiting for me to blog again. Right? (If not, just lie to me and say you were.)

I haven’t posted in a while (SHOCKER!) so why don’t I give you a quick run-down on what I’ve been up to since I posted last.

The main thing that has kept me busy the last 4 months *cringe* is that I got a job. Like the for-real, comes-with-a-paycheck kind. I’m just a substitute paraeducator, so I have a bit of freedom with when I want to work, but honestly, I have worked a lot more than I had expected to. Which is so great on so many levels, but it has also made the transition a bit harder. I haven’t had a job in 13 years. Boy, let me tell you, that interview was SCARY. Plus, you know, the sad little resume that I had to compile. And then there’s that whole “when do I do laundry?” thing, and all those other little things that I used to be able to do during the day. Well, I had the option of doing them, anyway. I can’t honestly say I kept up on housework THAT much better. I’m lazy. It’s one of my special gifts. But anyway, that’s the basic gist of what my biggest time-sucker has been. I must say, though, that I really enjoy hanging out with those kids, even with the behavior obstacles. It’s been a lot of fun.

We also had a couple rounds of company come through, plus a couple of ho-hum fall events. Then a family trip for Thanksgiving. THAT is always a blast. My whole family gets together, the cousins play, the adults adult, and we just have a wonderful time. I tend to unplug as much as I possibly can during those days. There’s just not really anything that important that I need to keep up with that trumps family time.

But. The day we got back. Things got real.

You see… my youngest child’s school hadn’t had a book fair in 4 years. We’ve been here for 2, and it took about a year of me waiting and waiting for the book fair to come before I asked when it usually is. Which is how I found out we hadn’t had one in a while. And let me tell you… that bothered me. A bunch. Which also says that it was my job to make one happen. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like something, and have the ability to change it, then it is YOUR job to do so. I don’t agree with sitting on the sides and grumbling about how much you don’t like something. Nope. That doesn’t sit well with me. So, this fall, I started the process of putting together a book fair. It was set for Parent/Teacher conference week, which just happened to be the week after Thanksgiving. Yippee!!! (please read that with plenty of sarcasm)

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There are so many things I learned, and even though it went far better than I thought it would, I have a lot of things to adjust and do differently. It definitely consumed an entire week, plus all the prep, so it was a lot of work, but it was so completely worth it to see how excited those kids were. Most of them had never seen a book fair. So even if it hadn’t been a huge success, it still would have been worth it.

But once that was done, I had what was supposed to be my biggest vendor event of the year. Last year it was my best event to date, so while I tried to not get my hopes up too high, I figured it would be a decent event. Well, it didn’t work out that way. In fact, it was really pretty lousy. But I had several custom orders come in, so sad, pathetic event aside, the holiday season went very well for me. And the orders keep coming in! I feel so so blessed. There have been so many times that I have wondered if it’s just time to sell the bulk of my supplies, and shut B.Accessorized down. But then I have a stretch like I have had the last 6 weeks or so, and it gives me a lot of hope.

Now, toss in a giant amount of running all of my kids to their various events/games/church/friend’s houses plus having friends over here, and Christmas, and all the other family type things, it’s been a busy few months. My days run from 6am until 8:30pm most days. It has made it hard to build much inventory. But I’m making it work.

Now, what are my plans for the near future?

Well, my main goal right now is to give Etsy another big push, and see if I can find more success there. We’ll see if I can really buckle down and get a lot of things up and on the site. I need to re-photograph pretty much everything, organize everything, and then there’s the dreaded description of everything. I’m hoping I can get into a good groove with it, and it’ll start to feel easier.

Here are a few of the pieces I have made recently…

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Stamped Cuffs
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My Challenge Entry!
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This is my most requested piece. And one of my personal favorites!
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These were a custom order. They are horse bridle charms stamped with each horse’s name.
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Custom order, in memory of a loved one.

 

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Back in Action

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Hello hello! I’ve been gone for a while (again…) but I’m hoping to be back in action regularly for a while to come. The last 6 months or so have been a little on the crazy side. But I THINK most of the crazy is over.

I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seats, wondering what on earth has kept me away. Well, you can sit back and relax, and I’ll tell you. I’ll try to keep it short though.

After the holiday madness, including my best show to date, we had a couple of weeks off. Then, insanity began. We took a 9 day trip to Disney, which included getting snowed in on our way home. About a week after we got back, I had knee surgery. I had fully intended to keep up on blogging, etc., while I recovered. But I didn’t. I binge watched NCIS instead. And napped. There was a lot of napping. It was amazing.

For week 3 of my recovery, my better half had to go out of town for the week, so my Mom came to hang out with me. THAT was amazing. We had so much fun, even doing basically nothing. We played with polymer clay a bit, and might have had a few cups of hot chocolate… I don’t get to hang with my mom very often, so I really enjoyed having her here.

A few weeks later, we had company for Easter.

Then 2 weeks after that, we had more company.

I had a vendor event in there somewhere.

And my in-laws just came for two weeks.

I love having company. I really really do.

However… My workshop is in the guest room closet.

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This is what my workshop looks like when I have to pack everything into it. It’s a little scary.

So, as you can imagine, my things have spent a LOT of time packed away over the last several months. I did manage to make some newer pieces, and I also took some time to purge a LOT of stuff. When we moved from Ohio to Iowa, I did an initial purge, but it wasn’t enough. I went from a huge, for-real workshop to a closet. I really needed to scale back. I still have more I could probably get rid of, but for now, I’m just happy to have removed a significant amount of extra stuff I wasn’t using.

Now we just have baseball, the summer musical and all the rehearsals that go with it, swimming (at 6:45am. Super fun!!!), athletics camps, a mission trip for one of the kiddos, a family trip to Montana to see my folks (YAY!), and a trip to MSP to babysit my niece and nephews for a week. You know, a nice relaxing summer. There will be as many afternoons at the pool, friends staying over, and fire pit nights as we can manage. Most of the busy stuff is for the soon-to-be 13 year old. The boys have it pretty easy.

So, now I am hoping to get into a bit of a groove, and carve out some dedicated time for working.

I have an event coming up this fall that I have some ideas for. I will be making some fairly specialized pieces that I hope will really go over well. However, it’s my first outdoor event. I’m a bit nervous about it. If any of you out there in cyberspace have any tips for me, or recommendations for a canopy, I am all ears (or is it eyes?)

I’m really sorry I have been missing in action lately. I hope each and every one of you is doing well, and enjoying life. I know I am.

And feel free to nudge me if I’m not keeping up! And tell me what plans you have for the summer. =D

May God bless you all. Thanks for reading!

 

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Bring it on, 2016

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Last January, I wrote a post about my goals for 2015 (read it here). I figured now was a good time to reflect and look ahead. So that’s what we’re going to do.

As a person who stinks at follow-through, I gotta say, I feel pretty darned good about how this last year went, as far as jewelry making went. I most definitely had some ups and downs in the level of my effort and commitment, but I definitely spent more time focused on getting where I want to go. I feel like I made a lot of progress. Not so much on actual makering techniques, though there was some of that. But more on the whole business side of things. Let me tell ya, the amount of time making the jewelry takes a lot less time than everything else does, once you finished making the piece. And that’s where I struggle. But this year I did better.

The Build a Line Challenge offered by bsueboutiques.com was AMAZING. I learned so much. It’s being held again, and while I’m not participating, I definitely plan to follow along. I probably drove them all nuts with my constant stream of questions, but there was just so much to learn, and I knew that I had a lot of holes that needed to be filled in.

I believe I sold 8 things on Etsy this year. Not as many as I would have liked, but definitely more than my first year. I am hoping that that means that when I get my act together, and really get active on there, that I will be successful. I created an inventory, and keeping track of everything on there was interesting. I think I still have some kinks to work out there, but at least it’s a start, and a big step in the right direction. Keeping track of everything, including whether it is listed on Etsy, and all that jazz, takes a lot of time. It’s not just doing the things. It’s thinking about the things, deciding when and where to do the things, and, most importantly, why you are doing the things. Moving with purpose. It has been a big change for me to not just go through the movements, but to decide which movements suit me and my product, and what will help get me where I want to go. I have made an effort to not just buy a component because it’s cool, or try out a design because I saw something that I thought was fascinating. If it doesn’t fit into what I want my product to be, I don’t make it. Except every once in a while I play. Because I need to. But my makering is so much more focused.

I had a few months that were very frustrating as far as sales. I strongly considered being done with jewelry making. There are a LOT of jewelry makers out there, so it’s a brutal market. So I have spent a lot of time thinking, and pondering, and considering. I really like making jewelry. But really, I just like making. I don’t have the artist gene. But I have the good-with-tools gene. And the desire to create. For now, that means jewelry. And, thankfully, I ended the year with a very strong show, and I think some of the crowd will be looking for me at future events. That feels pretty darned good. So I will be continuing to make jewelry.

And that means buckling down hard. While I made progress with staying focused and getting more of the business pieces in place, I still have a long way to go. Here are my jewelry making goals for this year:

  • designate specific time each day/week for specific tasks
  • have way more things listed on Etsy
  • 2 (or more) vendor events
  • research so my product reflects what people want
  • work out an efficient inventory system, then use it.

So, basically, be more business-y.

I have personal goals, too, of course. And another sort of business-y effort on the side.

I want to do a quick plug for the Passion Planner12331376_1504055689890030_42941538_nI used it this last year, and really loved it. So I got another for this year. And it’s bigger, and pretty, and makes me super duper happy. If you want something to help you set goals, and stay on top of everything, this is, no joke, the best planner for the job. I have been dissatisfied with every planner I have encountered over the years. And, as a disorganized person, a planner is really important in my life.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I wish you all the very best in 2016!

 

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Best Dad EVER!

It just so happens that I have the best dad ever. Well, the best dad for ME anyway. He’s a mechanic, so he knows all the ins and outs of tools. And considering my love and use of tools, this comes in handy.

This summer, my tumbler bit the dust. I use my tumbler a LOT, so I was really bummed. I hadn’t had it very long either, but it was past the warranty date, so I was out of luck. I had just started to hit my groove with a new style of jewelry, and, unfortunately, that style was much more easily made with the use of a tumbler. I make these discs that I have shown you before:

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For the Copper Dreams Collection

Well, I’m sure you can imagine how much fun it is to file the edges of each and every one of those suckers. Yup, that’s right. It’s not. fun. at. all. So I had a handy-dandy tumbler to do it for me (it saves me a lot of time, and therefore saves $ for the buyers!) Until it pooped out.

So of course I talked to my dad about it the next time I spoke with him. I just like to discuss tools with him. I was certainly not expecting anything from him when I mentioned it. But he just happens to casually mention that he has a spare tumbler that he doesn’t use anymore. Well, shoot. Of course he does. Who doesn’t have a spare tumbler, or anvil, or vise, or wire-twister, or… (a large portion of my tools have come to me courtesy of my father) At some point who knows how many years ago, he needed a bigger one. He tumbles rocks and such all the time. (Eastern Montana is an amazing place to find cool stuff. Moss Agates, petrified wood, etc) So, he said I could have his smaller one.

I had to wait until Thanksgiving to get it, but it was so very worth the wait! I have already tumbled a set of discs, and turned them into pretty things. I was practically giddy the first time I used it. And the creative juices were just flowing. What an amazing gift!

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BOOM!

It’s not pretty, but I’m of the opinion that if your tools look pretty, you haven’t used them enough. At least with some tools.

Also, I noticed something when I picked up one of the barrels. There was some stuff rolling around inside. So I open it up and what do I find but a bunch of chips, with a few larger bits of rock, all polished up. I’m thinking some of them are destined for a resin piece. But we’ll see.

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Look at those pretties! Most of them are Montana Moss Agates. My favorite!

I am one lucky girl!

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to follow me on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I looove new friends. 😉

The Wagon

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Oh the wagon. It is so easy to fall off. And I did. Though, if you look at it a certain way, I didn’t really fall off. Maybe. I don’t know. Here’s what happened:

I was all set to participate in a show at the end of Aug. It was an outdoor show, which I have never done before. The people putting the show on had actually approached me about participating, which I thought was cool (and a little strange since I’m still pretty new to the area, but I’ll take it!) So I was excited. They asked me to participate about 4 weeks before the event was scheduled for. I didn’t think it would be a problem on that amount of notice. So I set about trying to find a tent to borrow. We don’t have one, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to invest in one yet.

I also started looking online for tips on doing an outdoor event. I have a background thing that I used once, and liked, but it had some kinks that needed working out, especially on uneven ground. I found someone willing to lend me a tent, so that was awesome. Until my reading informed me that I needed sides and weights for the tent. *deep breath* Okay. More research. And money I didn’t really want to spend, especially on a tent that didn’t belong to us.

I should probably tell you that the event was scheduled for the weekend before school started, which meant meeting teachers, gathering supplies, and all the fun stuff that goes along with back-to-school the week before my event, which is prime time for running pre-event errands. (also, my oldest had a large amount of special circumstances to work out for the school year, AND she got braces the day before my event was supposed to be) *deeper breath*

Phone call. My inlaws are coming to visit! The week before school starts, and through the weekend. Hmm. Hey, they can help! Oh wait. I have to clean the house, which is something I tend to let go when a lot of other things are happening. Toilets become low-priority. But they CAN’T be low priority with my husband’s family coming in. Shoot. Okay. Well. Hmmmm.

(Oh, and let’s toss 3 birthdays in this time period… two of the kids and me, plus sports practices have begun)

Another phone call. This time it was my husband (who was scheduled to be out of town the week all this was going down). The poor guy just called to tell me he was on his way home, and gets me all stressed out, breaking down, primarily over the tent sides and the expense. And he calmly mentions that maybe I should back out of the event.

Wait… WHAAAAA?!? THIS from the most supportive, let’s-make-it-happen guy? And I knew he was right. I have NEVER backed out of something like this, and hope I never need to again. But as soon as I made the decision, I felt better, felt lighter. I was very disappointed, but mostly because it sounded like a fun event to be part of. And the final week and a half before the event was happening, while I was cleaning and running errands, I just kept thinking how glad I was that I wasn’t trying to get the vendor things in order too. So I know it was a good decision. But MAN was it a hard one to make.

So, now I’m scheduled to participate in an event at the beginning of Oct. I’m trying to stay really organized and on top of my to-do list so I’m not scrounging around at the last minute. I probably still will be, but hopefully it’ll be minimal. I’m also working on creating an inventory. And going through my eleventy-seven million pictures and sorting and cataloging them all. Yikes. But I’m getting there. And I’ve managed to work on orders (yay!) and get other random bits of things accomplished. So I’m feeling more ready for this show than I think I have for any others.

I’m sad I had to back out of an event, but I really think it was for the best. And now I’m feeling even more motivated to make things more organized and functional so I can STAY on top of things, and get my listings moving again. I haven’t listed anything in a while, though I have managed to get some photos taken. Etsy, unfortunately, had to take a temporary back seat through all of this chaos. But I think this week I should be able to start pushing that again, and all that jazz. Long story short, I’ve had some set-backs, but I think I am still moving in the right direction. And that’s what counts in the end.

Here’s a peek at some of the pieces I have managed to get made the last couple of weeks. I LOVE them! They make me happy.

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A Humble Request

I like to think I know my self fairly well. I know my strengths, and am pretty aware of my weaknesses. I don’t consider myself to be overly self-critical, just aware of the areas that need work. And I DO try to work on my weaknesses. I am a lazy, absent-minded, emotional, and messy person. But I’m not nearly as lazy, absent-minded, or messy as I used to be. Emotional is one thing that’s pretty hard to change… I really LIKE when things are neat-and-tidy, but I’m not very good at keeping them that way. I adore organization supplies, but don’t really follow through on actually USING them. Though again, I’m better than I used to be. The main part of our house stays in okay condition, but my workshop… THAT is a different story. Yikes.

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My workshop, located in the guest room’s closet… extra jumbled due to lots of recent guests.

Now that you know all that, you should know that I’m married to an engineer. Now, I know that there are plenty of engineers out there that are lazy and messy, but my husband is more the neat-and-tidy sort. He’s really good with things like setting up an organizational system, and then FOLLOWING the system. Crazy, right?

Now, I have a show coming up in a couple of weeks. (I promise this is all going to tie together…) So I have been thinking a lot about my displays and, more importantly, my inventory. A few years ago, I attempted to create an inventory list and labeled everything, etc. But it wasn’t a good system. I didn’t incorporate all of the elements that I should have, so it didn’t work and stressed me out, big time. And I haven’t done it since. Not that I haven’t thought about it, but I have a tendency (here’s another one of those weaknesses to work on) to avoid things that stress me out or make me feel unsure.

So the other day, I had a minor epiphany. I have a fabulous resource IN THE HOUSE with me. Someone that is good at organization, and happens to be very supportive of this whole jewelry business thing. So I asked him if he would help me figure things out for my inventory.

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Now, I’m sure some of you are wondering why it took me so long to come around to this conclusion. But honestly, it’s not the conclusion itself that is amazing. I actually Asked. For. Help. Which, as we all know, is a saying that you are not up to the challenge on your own. And that is HARD to do.

And then you know what I did? I told him that if he ever has any suggestions for general house organization, I would be willing to hear him out. Because you know what? I don’t LIKE being disorganized. I would love to feel more in control of everything. I just struggle with how to go about it, which leads to anxiety and avoidance. Sometimes I do it well, just not for long. Hopefully that will improve, and I will learn some things.

And just because… here are a few more recent pieces that are about to go up on Etsy and Facebook:

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Going All In

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So. I have been making jewelry (and other things) for several years now. I have never really been successful at it. Every once in a while, it seems to pick up, and then it falls back down again. Things have gradually increased overall, though, which is great. But I’m really not where I feel I should, or at least COULD, be by now. I am set up in the most supportive way possible, with a husband that keeps pushing and helping me. He has never once questioned whether this was a good idea, even though I have soooo many times over the years. My friends and family are amazing supporters, too. So, really, it’s just me standing in my own way.

He bought me a jigsaw. Seriously.
He bought me a jigsaw. Seriously.

I just received an email inviting me to two upcoming events in my new “hometown.” One at the end of the summer, and one this fall. Initially, I was excited. And then I had the “Why bother?” moment. I rarely do well at these events. But… And this is a BIG but… My work has always been a mish-mash of pieces. I’ve never buckled down and focused on one style. And now, thanks in large part to Brenda’s B’SueBoutiques challenge class this winter, I feel like I am moving closer to where I want to be. My pieces still aren’t totally uniform, but they aren’t as all-over-the-place either.

And I’ve been working on removing the excess old pieces that don’t fit what I’m making now. (Have you checked out my clearance event on Facebook?) I really have too much inventory.

Okay, back to the email… I decided that I am going to push myself to list more on Facebook and Etsy (especially Etsy), be more consistent with promotion/social media, and give these events a try. If, after all that, things haven’t improved, I might be calling it quits. *deep breath* It’s not for sure. At the very least, I will re-evaluate what I have done, what worked, what didn’t, and then see where that leaves me. But I need to make big changes. I’m sure I’ll fall off the motivation wagon, as I always seem to, but I’m going to give it my best shot. (feel free to nudge me!)

I have some other projects that I have been neglecting (not to mention the kids and all that jazz) so it’s going to be interesting trying to juggle it all. I am pretty sure the extra stuff going on will be beneficial though. I am always more motivated and organized when I have more going at once. The less busy I am, the less productive.

So… Wish me luck!