Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Day In Paradise

I'm not sure that 18 degrees and blowing snow counts for paradise, but when you live in northern Indiana its what you have to put up with.
I was on the forums tonight and looking at a bunch of
nice blogs.   My husband was snapping pictures the other night so I thought I would post a few.   Besides the more pictures the less text I have to write :)   I am trying hard to keep up with the writing. 
     I am working on one of my bags for a local customer  which you might be able to figure out from the pictures.   You can also tell that the theme of ladybugs is something I just can't get away from. 
I also ordered some fabric I saw on the internet last weekend.   It may never end up in a bag for sale but it definitely well end up in a bag for me!   My husband continues in his quest for a better picture.  He now has submitted two pictures to crafthawkers, and both have been turned down.   This is a site which will take various craft picture submissions and post them.  Some really good ideas can be found there.   I'm not surprised at the first one, but the last one I thought was pretty good.  I'm not "modeling" the bags and I don't think the two boys will!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


OK, I know I have not blogged in a few days. I also know from reading every Etsy forum how important it is too blog and talk and blog. I'm part of the Etsy bloggers too now, so I have no excuse for being lazy (the fact that I do the company accounting and this is tax season and I still have W2's to get out - yeah maybe I do?) I need inspiration to blog and I get tired about talking about my stuff. My husband has not had any good inspirations either. He is still trying to figure out why some bags photograph well and others don't. Oh well. Instead of working I was checking out some of the other Etsy blogs. Check out the post at Sew Kim.
I could relate to many portions of it and I'm sure a lot of others can too. Even better, if you read the previous post you'll find she is giving away (free!!) a pincushion to answer a simple question. I would check it out.
Inspiration is such a fleeting thing and can be sidetracked by so many things. I had so many plans this weekend and then I just had to buy some stuff at JoAnn's because they had some good sales on what I needed. Of course the one close to me (3 miles) didn't have what I needed, so I had to go to the next one ( 15 miles). More time. Then a friend called and twisted arm Sunday to go shopping. I found so many neat things. My crafty nature came out in new stuff for the bedroom.  
    Well I have been bust at night this week.   The Cheetah fabric really did well as Christmas stockings so I wondered about a fabric handbag.   I posted a picture here for you to see, 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another "Green" Bag


Hi!   I just put up on Etsy the latest in the "green" bag line.   My husband keeps experimenting with the photographs.   He submitted one on craftgawkers last night.  We have heard that can be difficult to get accepted.   Not sure what to expect.  So many of the photographs are so good!   I think handbags are somewhat difficult to photograph.   It seems the "simple" ones are the ones that Craftgawkers like for handbags.  He tried a more "simple" photograph with the new "green" bag.   We're not sure that cropping and cutting the images are the best thing to do.   We have tried various place in the house along with our handmade light box.   No one size fits all approach appears to work.  It appears like the material and color of the handbag influence what comes out best. 
     It is really hard to figure things out.  We put three bags up on Etsy last night.  One has 20 views and another only 3 view.   Not sure why.   Our last sale was way back in mid-December.  We didn't push much over the holidays but we have been trying to ramp up some.   Happy Sewing !

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Line: "GREEN" MiladyBags


In my last post I hinted of a new line.  My husband uploaded three of the new bags tonight.  Milady Creations  is going eco-friendly in their new line of handbags and totes. We have acquired several pieces of home d├ęcor, upholstery and seating fabrics at little to no cost allowing us to create a unique, one of a kind custom handbag or tote at a reasonable price. These handbags will be of lower cost than our original line.  Quite simply because I'm getting the fabric at very low cost and require no quilting I can pass the savings on.  Although these are "upcycled" fabrics, these are not inexpensive fabrics.  These would end up being expensive bags if I would have had to pay "original" cost for these fabrics.
     The first “Milady GREEN Bags” are based on the “Nikki”, our most popular quilted handbag style. I absolutely love this handbag and have several of them for my own personal use. It is so easy to use and carry. It features two separate outer pockets in place of the usual inside pockets making them easily accessible. I no longer have to desperately search for my cell phone when it rings!
      The first bag to the left that you are currently looking at is made from left over remnants from a furniture store that went out of business. It is made with a tan, black and dark red upholstery fabric. The pattern and

texture in the designs make for an elegant yet simple look. The edge of this remnant indicated the fabric had been treated with a fabric protector. Because it’s an upholstery fabric, it should remain durable and wear well for quite some time. There will be one or possibly two more handbags made from this remnant and that will be it. This bag has a black cotton lining and black zipper. The zipper is recessed down about 1” from the top of the bag. When unzipped, each side pops up against the side of the handbag greatly minimizing the user’s chance of getting scratched or snagged when reaching in. I have never had a problem with either.   The next bag is made from left over remnants from the automotive or RV seating industry.  The fabric is a blue, black and grey velour.  The edge of the remnant is stamped with a copyright date of 1988/1989.  This remnant was stored well and doesn’t show any signs of wear or fading.   Because it’s an upholstery seating fabric, it should remain durable and wear well for quite some time.  There will be one more handbag made from this remnant and that will be it.
The outer fabric on all our bags labeled “Milady GREEN Bag” will be made from left over remnants and scraps such as this one. The linings will be made from recycled fabric or scraps whenever possible.  The "GREEN" bag line will allow me to offer lower cost items and use some of the nice fabrics I was coming across that needed rescue.  Our original quilted styles will continue along with several new items that will be introduced shortly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New "Green" Bag Line

I've been thinking about something new in my handbag line.   I hand-quilt most of my fabrics which can take a fair amount of time.   It gives you great choices, but I like to think I can make more than 0.10 / hour  (I sometimes question whether I'm much above that!).   I've been trying to figure out how to lower the cost of my handbag  and keep quality high.   Then opportunity knocked.  A friend of a friend had some left-over seating and upholstry fabric.  This is usually quite expensive. It was nice fabric, but something I had not worked with before. Thus I rescued some fabric which was on its way to the local landfill!    This type of bag is a diversion from my other bags, so I wanted to call them something else.   Then the "green" bag hit me.   I've seen "green" be used in quite a few places on Etsy.   It really made sense to call this line of bags green.   There are a fair number of RV manufacturers around here, and their left-over fabrics could become someone else's bag.   These are generally limited fabrics, so when they are gone they really are gone.   I have not put this in the shop yet because I'm trying this demo model out first.   I want to make sure the strap is strong and durable.  So far so good, but I may make a few modifications.   The pictures I've posted show the zipper, the fabric, and my new"green" tag.   I think this will work out, at least it is worth a shot.   It has been strange in that the local sales have been good and very quilted handbag-centric.   The Etsy sales have had far fewer bags and more in the lower-cost items  I've tried producing.   I think part of this is due to the relativity low number of on-line sales.   I think that is enough for tonight.  Until the next blog ....  Happy Sewing!   

Monday, January 11, 2010

My First Etsy Blogger Featured Blogger of the Month: Nico Designs.




The Etsy Blogger January featured seller is Erika of Nico Designs.  First up, I was curious where Nico came from.  I looked around and sure enough in her profile she tells us.   The name of her shop comes from her Dad who calls me "NICO" for my middle name.   At Nico Designs you will find handbags, accessories and an assortment of handcrafted gifts.   Nico is a stay at home mother with two small babies, ages two and one.  My kids are much older but we do have one thing we have in common : we sew to maintain sanity in our worlds!  Nico strives to create handbags that are eco-friendly by utilizing a combination of new, repurposed, recycled or upcycled materials.   You can visit her Etsy shop here and her blog here.  Her blog has some tutorials describing how she is making some of her items.  This is really a nice touch.  She also has a web site and a Facebook account.


She has several adorable handbags, accessories, and other gift items. My most favorite (if you know me you could have guessed) was the ladybug pin cushion!    Do you think you could have guessed that one?   She has a really nice diaper bag collection which I also show here as well.

Congrats to Erica for being the January Etsy Blogger of the Month!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Item for Valentines Day



I have a new item which I just posted on Etsy.  These are 4.5 by 5 inch goodie or gift bags.   I wanted something less expensive and for the next holiday on the list for gift giving: Valentine's day.  I have several patterns and colors which could be available.  Maybe my husband will buy one for me and put something in it?   I can hope for something sparkly for it, but most likely it will be candy.  My oldest son's books were $400 for the upcoming semester which I paid off today.  I think that is why the bag will be borrowed and filled with candy!

    This is yet a slightly different direction for me as I have never made machine embroidered lace before.   When it works it works well.  I did have a few issues getting everything to work out well though.   Not sure if its the machine, the lace, or bad karma for the day when it fails on me.  We did pretty well with the Christmas stockings so I'm hoping that another small item will get traffic flowing to the shop again.   Since mid-December nothing has been happening on the Etsy-side of things.   Local custom orders, however, are keeping me busy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Etsy Carnival Post

As I mentioned a few post ago, I joined the Etsy bloggers team. I have a couple of the widgets from them to the right. One of the items to do is to participate in the blog carnival. I've checked out a few so lets hope I'm doing it right. I have two topics to choose from for this carnival:

1) Now that 2009 has come to a close, what will you remember most about last year?

2) Now that 2010 is here, what do you have planned/look forward to/hope to accomplish this year?

Definitely one of the things most to remember last year was the whole craft store idea. I have always done all kinds of craft projects and my house is full of stuff related to it. I started making a few handbags fro myself. I had a lot of comments about them. I started to think about what about selling them? My husband has done a lot of research on this part of it himself. We had no idea what we were doing, but we started on this adventure. I sold a few to friends of friends first. Then we stumbled on Etsy. One thing led to another and we opened our first shop. We started this blog shortl thereafter. We never sold anything from that shop and a month later we found out that something close to our name had been trademarked by someone else. We were told to stop and we did. We did. Then we had to restart everything. New banners, new names, etc., etc. Some of this is documented in the blog here. Nearly another month went by before we had our first sale. In the meantime between my husband and myself we self-Incorporated as a LLC (lawyer skills!), started a web site (computer skills), started to learn Dreamweaver( web site skills), learned photo skills and software, and a multitude of other things. Most of our evenings seem devoted to this! So here we are in 2010. So what is our hope for 2010? Have a 1000 sales and sell out to a big corporation and make lots of money and retire. Ha! I don't think that is going to happen.  One of the big things coming up is figuring out the taxes for an LLC,   I KNOW we lost money last year!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Other Selling Venues - Part II

My wife is busy working on her new creation tonight so I'll be following up on my R&D work tonight.  I went through the excellent list of scarlettcat's from A to F two nights ago.  Tonight I go through G to N.  Most of the links tonight were not that impressive (my opinion only!).  One begins to understand why I've heard of only a few of the sites listed so far. 
     In tonight's group, the site Lovli appeared most like Etsy in the listing group today, but with a considerably reduced ranking (compare US rank of 319,000 to Etsy rank of 108;  these are also considerably below that of Artfire and ShopHandMade).  When you get to an individual item the layout looks something like Etsy but with more social links.  Lunacraft was something really different.  It appears to be a free directory service for craft related businesses, blogs, and web sites.   Its ranking is well below that of Lov.li at 890,000.   It is something I will be checking out latter only because it is a neat concept and the price is right (free).   Even at 890,000 I'm sure that ranks way ahead of this blog :)


Cost

Variety

Comment /Rank


http://www.gozabo.com/

Dead Link

http://handmadecatalog.com/ $5-13 / mo
Handmade only


http://handmadefusion.com/

Opening under new Management

http://hyenacart.com/ $10 setup + $5/mo
"Earth" Friendly shops


http://www.icraft.ca $25 setup + $5- $15 /mo
Handmade only


http://www.kinfolkcrafts.com/ $100 setup + $20 /mo
Handmade Crafts
More like a web hosting service

http://www.lollishops.com/ ?
Cottage-style look
Applicate only; niche market

http://lov.li/ 3.5% (no listing
Handmade
items may not be for sale (US rank 319K)

http://lunacraft.com/ Free
Craft "information center
a directory of craft sites (US rank 890K)
*
http://www.madeit.com.au/ Australia ONLY site
Handmade crafts


http://www.mintd.com/ CLOSED

ending operations

http://www.myartplot.com/ ?
appears mainly art although handcrafts mentioned
Musat register to find out more info

http://www.mystore.com/ $7.50 / mo
general merchandise
Free is for only 4 items and 1 picture

http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/ application only
"unique" items; weddings appear big
UK

 














Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year and a New Creation

  

OK, its been about two weeks since I posted something new.   Tonight I post a new bag.  I spent way too much time on this one, probably over 5 hours but this bag has become one of my favorites.   I hope I can part with it (although I can always make one for myself!).  My husband doesn't like me taking "freebies" for me though.   I tell him that I need to do some quality control and personal advertising when I take one of my own.  I did start my new project tonight, but this may take a while since it is something I have not done before.
    I continue to be impressed with this sewing machine and what it can do.  I have long way to go before I recoup the money that I have in it.   My husband is continuing his research on other venues for us.  The pictures he took tonight was with the new tripod I got him for Christmas.  I'm so thoughtful for getting a gift that he can use to take better pictures for me.  It does make it easier to take sharper pictures, something he had trouble doing before.
     The house is so much better organized now that we bought several large plastic containers to hold all of my fabrics.  We need to inventory this so that I know what we have.


     Today was the first day of work back for both myself and husband.  I put my youngest to work as well at my office.  He doesn't go back to school until Wed.   The snow just coming down today.  We had a lot more snow than what we supposed to get at the beginning of the day. 
    Enough of the blog tonight.  I did get a nice email from one of my Etsy customers who really liked my Christmas stockings.   It is always nice to get that positive feedback and I really appreciate it. 
    We continue to be stuck at nine sales, but then its been since the middle of last month that I've added or renewed

Sunday, January 3, 2010

First post for 2010: Etsy Comparisons

I'v been busy the last week or so with everything BUT sewing.   I do have a new design that I'm working on.  I hope to have that up soon.  My husband has been doing a little research.  He came across an Etsy forum thread on all the different selling venues by scarlettcat.  We both wish to thank her for finding these sites.  We thought it would be interesting to go through these and determine how they stack-up against Etsy.  The original post did not give any additional info like cost, locations, web traffic, or a review.
     While we have saved a few dollars by not relisting the last few weeks the time is coming where we need to start again.  These cost can really start to add up.  Is there something better out there?  It is hard to beat Etsy we think for the vibrant community and forums.,  To date we have not found anything similar.  We did open another shop at http://www.shophandmade.com/Store/Miladycreations in mid December.  Only a few items are there compared to our Etsy store.  The cost of listing is free and we thought perhaps a smaller venue might be interesting.  We have not sold anything there as of yet.
   Below is the beginning list of by scarlettcat up to the F's My husband plans on continuing this, but we decided to get at least this partial list out.   It would be interesting to find out if anyone else finds this helpful.  I think he plans to get this up on our website at sometime in the future.  Most of the sites we looked at appeared small with quite a few in Beta's.   The cost generally appeared to be higher than Etsy.   Two sites appeared somewhat interesting to us: the first is Artfire which is pretty well known in Etsy circles.  The second which we never heard of is ecrater.   This one is free (we think).   In some cases it is difficult to completely assess the cost.  Ecrater is not focused on handmade ( a negative) but does allow the uploading of 10 pictures.  The US traffic rank was 986.  This can be compared to Etsy which has a rank of 103.  Artfire, the only one we flagged below has a rank of 2976.  Thus Ecrater has a much higher volume of traffic than Artfire, but considerably lower than Etsy.   Craftmall, one of the ones we were not impressed with had a ranking of 410,000.   Shophandmade, where we put our second shop had a ranking of 51,000.  All of this is making Ecrater looking OK.   You can find the web traffic reports at www.alexa.com/siteinfo



Cost

Variety

Comment


http://www.1000markets.com/
5.5% + 0.50

Wide Variety iincluding food including

Amazon pay


http://www.artfire.com/
0 to $12/month

Etsy-similar


*

http://www.artflock.com/
5%

Artwork Only



https://www.artfulhome.com/
$35 appply+ $25 /month

Art, Home, Jewelry



http://www.artbyus.com/

Artwork only



http://www.artsefest.com/home.php
$14-$18 /mo

Etsy-similar



http://www.blujay.com/
Free

Ebay -type



http://www.bouf.com/
5 to 20#/mo

Designer-goods

UK-based


http://bigcartel.com/
Free to $20 /month




http://www.buyitsellit.com/
$20 / month

General (Ebay)



http://www.craftmall.com/
$15 / month & up

General (Ebay)

Few items


http://en.dawanda.com/

Handmade and hard to find

European


http://www.ecrater.com/
Free

General (Ebay)


*



http://www.elsewares.com/commerce/index.php
Closed, item submission

Independent design shop



http://www.erayo.com/
0.35 /item

Wholesale only of designer goods



http://funkyfinds.us/theshops/
$2 to $8 /mo

Etsy-similar



http://www.folksy.com/
20p & 5%


UK-based