Monday, June 29, 2009

Silky Smooth Shave Soap

You may or not remember an old post of mine called "Conceal Your Outer Sasquatch" where I touted my shaving soaps. They were okay, but they weren't anything to brag about. I can admit that now that I've made some vast improvements. I'm really getting into essential oils now. I love them, but I never quite know how to use them. I decided to give my shaving soaps a major makeover, this time scenting them with essential oils and adding the magic ingredient (IMO): bentonite clay. Bentonite clay has a grayish hue, and a fine, powdery, almost dusty, consistency. Whether you're using it in cold or hot processed soap or melt and pour (which I'm using for this soap), I find that using a teaspoon of clay per pound works best. I must really say that I am loving this soap! The clay gives the soap a smooth consistency thus providing a better razor slip. I've also been using this soap as a facial cleanser after working out, and again, I'm impressed. The clay acts as a sponge to absorb excess dirt and oil-just what I need after a hard workout with Leslie Sansone (yes, Leslie can kick your butt!) I love the aroma of my EO blends used to scent this soap (Patchouli and Orange). It's not overpowering, but subtly aromatic and a little sensual dare I say?! This dual-action soap is currently on rotation in my shower along with Citrus Bouquet and Honey Baby.

Up next: my first cold processed soap using only essential oils to scent the batch. Stay tuned....

What I Made Over The Weekend

I've been a busy little bee this past weekend-pun intended. I made the mistake of placing a double order of M&P soap so now I have lots to play with! Here are my latest offerings:

The Honey Bar

Figgy Newton Soap

Cherry Cola Lip Lush (I know, it aint soap!)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm The Featured Blogger!

Holla at your girl! Read my feature here on The Blogfire Guild of Art Fire! Thanks AliciaMae:-)

Score This Soap!

As they say in showbiz, the show must go on, but I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that Michael Jackson is gone! Death tends to hit me pretty hard anyway. I was the same way when Aaliyah died, and I'm even worse when a personal friend or loved one dies. Anyway, let's move on to happier things. Let's score some soap, shall we?

I've been neglecting Art Fire lately. My shop is in shambles, but I must get it together quickly because I have a major ad on a major blog coming up in July. Can I stay on track for once? I know you're probably like, "Will you get to the damn score, already...?" LOL, okay, it's not my soap this week. I found this bar called Luna Azul Granola Bar Soap by In A Lather. I love finding unique, original soaps, and this is my first feature of a beer soap. Here's the description:

"The soap base includes skin-loving oils of sunflower, olive, and mango butter. it is topped with a sprinkling of orange peel. Blue Moon Ale is flavored with coriander and orange peel, so naturally my soap is scented with essential oils of coriander and sweet orange, as well as fresh ginger, cedar, and others."

This soap has so much texture, and I love the circle in the middle. Peep those swirls! It reminds me of Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. That is Van Gogh, isn't it? Anyway, it's a lovely soap. Check out In A Lather, and go score!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You Are Not Alone: My Tribute to Michael Jackson

If you have not heard by now, Michael Jackson died today of cardiac arrest. He was only 50 years young! I don't care about all the legal bullshit he was enthralled in over the last few years. This man was an icon. He was a father. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a humanitarian. He made MTV when MTV refused to even air videos by black artists. He transcended race before we'd ever heard of Tiger Woods or Barack Obama. He touched so many lives including mine. My favorite song is You Are Not Alone, and he truly is not. RIP Michael. You are The King of Pop. May your children and family find comfort in all the memories you've created and all the millions of fans who will let your music live on forever.

Buffy The Dead Skin Slayer and Loofahpalooza Soap!

Pretty cool names, huh? It's time to get buffed. I've always wanted to make a salt bar and a loofah soap, and I failed miserably making it using the cold process method. So I decided to give it a shot using melt and pour soap.

First up is Buffy The Dead Skin Slayer Soap. They're not perfect, but that's the genius of it. I LOVE THIS SOAP! It's minty, tingly, exfoliating goodness. This soap can be used with or without a washcloth depending on how heavy you want to go on the exfoliation. I colored this soap three ways using green, merlot, and bronze mica to give it a rich, jeweled tone. It almost reminds me of piece of raw gemstone.

Next is Buffy's cousin Loofahpalooza. I got this deep cavity mold from Bramble Berry, and my original plan for it was to make a men's soap (which I still plan to do), but the idea of embedding a hunk of loofah in it hit me like a lightening bolt. Loofah has evolved like a Cro-Magnon. At first it was square with a slice of loofah. I didn't like it. Then I shaved pieces of loofah into liquid m&p soap. I didn't like that. So here's the final result. You can use this soap as is or with a with a washcloth. As the soap wears, the loofah will become more exposed upping the exfoliating ante.

Buffy is on sale now in my Etsy shop. I'll be adding it and Loofah to my other venues soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Funneled Soap-A Botched Soap Tale

If you're a soap maker or a fan of handmade soaps then you've probably heard of the funneling technique. I'm not sure who created it, but it's the perfect way to make swirls for the swirl-challenged like myself. I got the original tutorial here from Lomond Soap. It's a very simple concept, but realistically, you need two people to do this neatly. You should have seen me trying to tie these wooden skewers all criss-crossed so I could get my funnel to stay in place. I'm still laughing my ass off at the mess I made.

Anyway, the scent I used was Cranberry Fig from Sweet Cakes, and I'm not a huge fan of cranberry or fig (but I love cranberry juice and Fig Newtons-go figure!) I mixed a little Blackberry Grapefruit in to try to take the edge off the fig, but it didn't work. The brick color is red oxide and the violet is ultramarine violet. I went a little too heavy on the red, but getting back to the story, I only added my fragrance to the red batter. While I had my funnel nice and centered, I began to pour both mixtures simultaneously. I had a good flow going (literally) til the dang red batter seized on me mid pour. Can you believe this sh$%!? It clogged my funnel all up, so I had to move with the quickness! The bottom and middle parts look okay, but the top is botch-y. I had to spread it like cake icing, but it's not bad. It smells really wonderful-if you're a cranberry and/or fig fan. I used the last of my palm oil (from Columbus Foods whom I've learned uses sustainable palm oil. Thanks, Joanna for the knowledge) to make this one. It also has avocado, castor, and soybean oils. I think it's a keeper. Tomorrow I'll post yet another new soap!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guess What? I Made Some Soap!

Yes, my friends, I made soap. I finally got some lye and made a few batches. I also made a glycerin-based soap I've been dying to try for ages. I'll break these up over several posts.

First up is Stone Washed Denim-that's a working title. I'm going to give this a "real name" eventually. This is a purely olive oil soap otherwise known as Castille Soap. There are no other oils in this soap-no coconut oil, no palm oil, NADA. Of course, this soap was very soft when I unmolded it, even after I let it set for 48 hours before I sliced it. The goal was to make this soap look like "stone-washed denim," but I had a little snafu. The olive oil I used was extra virgin (got a 32 oz bottle on sale at Safeway for $8.99-score!) so it was greenish-yellow. My intent was to make this soap light blue. I forgot that blue+yellow=green, so this soap is bluish-green. The little sprinkles on top are supposed to represent the frays of the denim-you know, like we used to do back in the 80's when we cut the knees out and the holes frayed. You get the picture.

This soap smells of freshly-washed clothes drying in the sun. It just screams "CLEAN!" This is the perfect summer or warm weather soap. I plan to use this one after doing one of my Leslie Sansone workouts!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quick Poll: Your Input Is Needed!

Hi All,

I've been seriously considering starting a monthly newsletter, but I'm a little nervous. One because I'm not comfortable sending unsolicited mail. I'd be sending the newsletter to all past buyers. I don't want to be perceived as a spammer. And two, I want the newsletter to be meaningful and insightful, and I'm afraid I'll run out of content. Before you tell me about the sign up option, I've tried that, and I've had no bites-maybe one or two.

So, I put up a little poll just to see how you feel on the subject. I look forward to your honest feedback. Voting ends 7/3/09. Thanks!

Oh The Places You Go!!

Ok, I really didn't go anywhere, I've just ben dying to say that! I got a really nice e-mail the other day complimenting me on my Etsy shop (my Etsy shop is really picking up as of late) and asking for a feature. Uh, let me think about it and get back to you. Okay, sure! Lo and behold, the very next day, I'm in the Health and Beauty section of Thanks Martha for the feature!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm An Incurable Insomniac-HELP!!!

(Sleepless in NY and Sleepless in DC)

My sister and I both suffer from insomnia. So did our mother, and it's not getting any better! I literally cannot sleep without taking a sleeping pill, a Benadryl, or Tylenol PM. I've tried all kinds of relaxation therapies, but nothing seems to work! My mind is constantly on "go." I am writing this post at 4:20 am, and I'm wide awake!

Do you suffer from insomnia or other nuisance disorders? I'm going to call my sister now so we can both talk about how fat we are! Hey, maybe if we can get to sleep at a decent hour, we'd lose 5 pounds easily....

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Are you addicted to checking to see if you're in a Treasury? I aint gon lie: I totally am! Check out my latest featuring my Cherry Berry Lip Lush thanks to zellbell!

Score This Soap!

It's my blog dangit, so I should be able to tell the people to score my soap! Ok, I'm lashing out a little because I was asked the other day why I'm not promoting other soaps like I used to. I almost always speak before I think, so I blurted, "Let them get their own dang blog..." That was harsh. I've been making soap lately, and I want to share it with you. Is that so wrong....(sniff, sniff)

This week's score comes from moi-again. I actually got this inspiration from The Soap Queen herself after watching Episode 8. I've always wanted to make these cool pinwheel soaps, but could never for the life of me figure them out. Now, I'm a pinwheel addict. I want them in every color. I call this one Sweet Thing because it smells like cotton candy. Up next, Green Apple? I don't know.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weekly Wrap UP!

I'm having a lovely weekend special in my Etsy shop only. All of my body scrubs (sugar and salt bubbles) are 25% off. Now is the time to try them if you've been curious. No other discounts will apply, and to sweeten the pot, I'm offering a 1 oz sample of another scent of scrub with any purchase. Sale ends 10:00 pm Sunday.

Speaking of lovely, I'd like to give a shout out to Sharon of Rose of Sharon Jewelry for bestowing yet another Lovely Blog Award to me! Thank you Sharon. It's so gratifying when someone finds worth in what you do. I love my readers xoxox!

Next up: Come visit me at I Heart Handmade Summer. I did the spring event, and I thought it was rather successful (Hell, a sale period is successful in my opinion!) I can't believe I'm only one of two B&B artisans participating. I'm not complaining though-the stage is mine (heehee).

And last, but certainly not least, don't forget about the Etsy Artists of Color Treasure Hunt: Today's phrase: HERE COMES THE BRIDE. For details on how to play, click here:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Hunt Is On!

You've all heard me talk about the Etsy Team EAOC (Etsy Artists Of Color.) Well, after a slow start, our team is united and stronger than ever! Today launches the 1st of many team activities to come. Starting today thru Sunday, you have a chance to win dozens of fabulous prizes from our participating members-myself included. What am I contributing? If I told you that, then it would be cheating! Click the link to go to our team page for more info, and good luck!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bitch Post #8: Non-Paying and Shady Buyers!

I haven't done one of these in a long while, and oh, my friends, I’ve been stewing like that bunny in Fatal Attraction-just ready to boil over! I’ve been having a steady number of sales on Etsy in the last couple of weeks, but nothing burns me more than a non-paying buyer! It even says in the final checkout…”You are committing to buy”-as in PAY! I’ve been burned twice in the last month!

The first incident wasn’t a non-paying buyer, but my spidey instincts started tingling and told me that something was fishy. This buyer had a really low feedback rating because of non-payment. She did not pay me initially when the transaction was completed, but after we traded a couple of convoes, she paid me. Red flag #1: She stated she was located in the US when she was actually in Canada-so I ate the costs of the extra shipping which wasn’t a whole lot, but it was misleading and dishonest! Red flag #2: She then sweetly hassled me about giving her positive feedback because she received negative feedback from a very reputable Etsy seller due to non-payment. I mailed her package on a Saturday. A week later, I get a convo from her that she still had not received the package. I explained it was mailed via USPS and provided her with a tracking #. To wrap up this horror story, I ended up refunding her the full purchase price and cancelling the sale. She may truly not have received that package because USPS still says the package was “accepted” for mailing, but there is no delivery confirmation or otherwise. I’ve never had a problem shipping a package to Canada until this incident. I don’t get it!

The second incident was a brand new buyer to Etsy. He joined the same day that he bought a soap from me. He didn’t pay. I figured it was because he was new and may have been confused about how things operated. So I convoed him to thank him for his purchase and explained that I would promptly ship his soap once payment was received. Three days passed and nothing, so I ended up cancelling that sale too!

So now I’m nervous after every sale. I never give feedback to a buyer until I receive payment, but now I’m wondering if I’m jumping the gun. I don’t like to hold feedback hostage, but should I wait until I receive feedback before I give feedback? Also, should I give negative feedback to a non-paying buyer then cancel the sale, or should I just cancel the sale and be done with it? I’ve never had this happen to me before. I’ve always read about it, but I’ve never been a victim til now. I’m beyond pissed….ARGHHHHH!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What Do Your Biz Cards Say About You?

A few weeks ago I finally broke down and ordered some business cards. I used to think they were an unnecessary expense. I get handed business cards all the time, especially when I order something online. I automatically file them in my Rolodex for safekeeping, but I never paid attention to them until I got my own. I laid all the cards out, and I began to study them-the colors, the layout, the font, the information printed on them...

When I ordered my cards, all I knew was that I wanted pictures of my soaps and stuff on them somehow. I wanted whoever I gave a card to to have a picture of my product smack them right in the face! I ordered my cards from Moo. You may know Moo for making those slim, tiny, piece-of-a-business card, but they've graduated to full-sized business cards, and I couldn't be happier. I've got the badabing on the front, and the blah,blah, blah on the back. It's the best of both worlds. I now put a card in every order. When someone asks me what I do (I really hate that question), I simply give them a card, and tell them, this is not only what I do, but this is who I am.....

So, what's your take on the biz card?

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Giveaway To Die For!!!

Did you know some of the most talented soap makers are from Spain and Latin America? I follow a number of "Spanish-speaking" soap blogs-not only because I admire their artistry, but also to brush up on my Espanol. One such blog is Jabon artesanal or Handmade soap. Nuria is the creative genius behind this fabulous forum, and her soaps are simply gorgeous. Nuria posts in both Spanish and English and has quite a loyal following-myself included:-D

Nuria is hosting a giveaway featuring additives of all kinds: dried flowers, dried fruits, soap colorants, herbs, you name it. And I want it ALL!! Look at how beautiful these lovelies are. I've never made soaps with herbs and dried fruits and stuff before, and these are begging for my little grubby hands to touch them! Those oranges are to die for. I think I'm going to slice up some oranges and dry them out to see if I can get them to look as delicious as these. Anyway, you too can enter the giveaway by clicking here. Good Luck!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Score This Soap!

Hello from hot and sunny Washington, DC! I went to the post office this morning, and it was hot as blazes, AND the post office had NO a/c! The good news is it wasn't the first of the month, and there was no line, otherwise, I'd still be standing in it!

This week's score comes from no one other than: ME! Yes, I'm scoring myself, lol.... I finally ordered some lye, so until that comes in, I have to keep busy somehow. I had this fragrance oil from Bramble Berry called Basmati Rice, and I never knew what to do with it. It smells so light and delicious, that the concept came to me from one of my own soaps. I decided to shred up some plain soap that I made with strawberry seeds to create the "rice". I covered it in clear, scented glycerin soap, and finished with a layer of white, glycerin soap for contrast. Here's a snippet of the description:

Before you say "Ewww," listen to this: It doesn't smell like rice! It smells like sweet, delicate flowers with a kiss of summer fruits blowin' in the breeze!

Okay enough blabbering, check it out, and go score here or here!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yikes, I've Been Tagged!

Thanks a lot Butterfly (wink, wink..) You know how this game works: Someone tags you. You have to give 7 random facts or tidbit about yourself. Then you tag 7 blogging friends. Here goes:

  1. I'm not a morning person.

  2. I cuss like a sailor.

  3. I'm silly as hell. I truly crack myself up!

  4. I'm menopausal (and I'm not even 40-go figure!)

  5. I like to paint my nails only to turn around and peel the polish right off.

  6. I love children's movies like Matilda and The Parent Trap (Li-Lo version)

  7. I can eat an entire bushel of crabs by myself-in one sitting!

Now that you know some personal and not so personal things about me, I'm tagging these buddies o' mine. Hope you read this:

  1. Structured Chaos

  2. Lenox Knits

  3. Pegasus Soaps

  4. All Naptural

  5. Barrs By The Bay

  6. Burnt Mill Candles and Soap

  7. Feathered Friends Mementos

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm Such A Lame Blogger Buddy!

Don't you think when someone takes the time to not only read, but follow your blog, then bestow an award upon you, you should take the time to acknowledge them? Well I do, but I'm such a hypocrite! In the last month, I've gotten two Lovely Blog Awards, but I haven't even taken the time to publicly thank the two lovely ladies who gave them to me. WELL, I AM TAKING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PUBLICLY THANK:

PATTIE @ Structured Chaos and

Thank you so much! I'm glad you find my blog lovely, and I appreciate your following. I know I'm forgetting someone (or two) because she sent me an e-mail telling me she sent me an award, but I didn't acknowledge. Girlfriend, I'm sorry. If you're reading this, please comment, so I can thank you too! I'm so lame, but I promise I'll be better next time. Charge it all to my head-not my heart!

I pass this award on to everyone I follow. If you didn't have a lovely blog, I wouldn't be following you in the first place. Now I'm off to drink myself silly to hide my shame....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Last Chance To View My Latest Treasury!

I so wanted to post a pic, but thumbalizr and super screenshots are acting like buttholes! FireShot isn't working either! Anyway, click this link and check out my latest creation. It's an ode to all things FUGLY!!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My Latest Discovery: Black Rose

One of my earliest blog followers was a beautiful lady all the way across the pond named Val, better known as Black Rose. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't take notice of her fabulous shop until this blog post "Buttons Are A Girl's Best Friend." I'd seen button rings before, but these rings are wearable pieces of jewelry fashion. It's pieces like these that prove you don't have to spend a grip (aka a lot of money) to look cool, original, and fashionable.

I ordered two button rings on a Saturday, and I received them the following Saturday. Talk about quick! These are coming from London! When I received my order, my rings were beautifully wrapped in these adorable, little pastel boxes and tied with a ribbon. I almost didn't want to open them. And....I got a freebie! Who doesn't love freebies??? Give me something extra, and you've got a lifelong client!

Check out Val's shop on Etsy. My goal is to acquire 8 fingers worth of button rings (no thumbs) and wear them all at the same time. A bit much? Maybe, but I tend to overdo things sometimes.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Score This Soap?

Yes, my friends, it's time for yet another score, and this time I was looking for something reallllly unusual. I think I've found it. It's called Tooth Savior Soap For Teeth by A Wild Soap Bar. Talk about a wild soap! This is a non-fluorinated (is that a word?) toothpaste. It's not even paste, It looks like shredded soap, and here's what's in it:

"certified organic extra virgin olive oil and enriched with wild white oak bark, organic aloe, french green clay, xylitol, chlorella and sea salt"

Here's how you use it:

"You simply place one (or even one half) soap shred on a back molar, bite down several times, and then brush thoroughly until the soap shred is gone."

Ohhhh-kay! I'm not sure I could do this. Sue me for selling out, but I can't even do plain baking soda. I'll do Tom's of Maine, but that's about as far as I'll go. What are your thoughts on this one?

Friday, June 5, 2009

EAOC Spotlight: Janeen St. Louis

Ok. I admit. I have a woman-crush! Not only is this week's artist gorgeous, but very talented and insightful. I met Janeen of Janeen St. Louis in the EAOC ning forums. I had just posted my latest on my first spotlight, and I was seeking new artists to spotlight. Janeen was the first to reply, and it was love at first sight, LOL.....Seriously, I really dig a true independent artist who doesn't conform to gain acceptance. Enough blabbering, get to know Janeen St. Louis!

You’re a very beautiful woman. What’s your ethnic background? Is your real name Janeen St. Louis (lol)?

Thank you for the compliment! but I can't take the credit for that, I got to give that to my parents. My Father is Haitian, my Mother is Cape Verdian & Native American. Yes Janeen St. Louis is my real name, Neenee is my family name. My Grandmother named me Janeen after her French best friend who she knew as a little girl.

I read a bit of your bio on artbreak. What was it like growing up in an area where you were one of a few minorities? Was that what fueled your creativity and interest in jewelry making?

Thanks for reading. It was very difficult growing up in a neighborhood that had little to no minorities. There was racism, I was considered the "ugly duckling", wasn't taught how to read until I got into the 4th grade and ended up getting bullied A LOT. As you read in my bio, I wouldn't change a thing in my past. I was raised by my Grandparents with a strong up bringing and my family (especially my grandmother) instilled in my sister and me to always be proud of where we came from and to never be ashamed of who we are. I carry that with me everyday all day. My Grandmother was the rock of the family and she always encouraged creativity. My creativity in jewelry making didn't come to me until much much later in life. The passing of my Grandmother is what fueled that. Beading helped me to open up and to get over the loss of her. I really went through a tuff time. But, When I'm in my moments of solitude, day dreaming, being creative, I feel her energy all around me and I know she would be proud.

Did you have any formal training?

Nope. I didn't get any training at all. It just felt natural to do. Through time and patients, it developed to what it is today.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

My favorite materials to work with are natural materials. I love the textures, colors, shapes and their imperfections. BUT, my most absolute favorite materials to work with are my Trade beads. If you read the descriptions of most of my work, you will see the words "African Trade Beads" almost everywhere. I love them!

How do you come up with the pieces you create?

It's a feeling I get. I sit at my work space, feeling and organizing my beads. I do this for about 10-20 minutes and then it seems from there, I know exactly what and how I want that piece to look.

Do you do custom work?

I love to do custom work! I consider everything about the person. I think about their personality, their spirit, the way they dress, everything. I take the "idea" of that person to create their presence, into a piece of wearable jewelry made especially for them!

What brought you to Etsy and to EAOC?

Etsy, for obvious reasons, is a great way to get your name out there as someone in the "craft" community. There really isn't a place where crafters are taken seriously like they are on Etsy, at least not to my knowledge. And for a lot of us who craft, it is a means to stability whether it be for the joy of it, money or therapy for that matter. I became a part of EAOC because I wanted to connect with people who are like myself, that want to be taken seriously as an artist. People who want the same recognition as any other artist and to allow are own artistic voice to be seen and heard in our communities and abroad as African American Artist.

Do you ever peep at other jewelry shops to scope the competition?

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". My theory is, if you think it looks good, then it looks good. I do peep at other jewelry artist work but, I don't see it as competition. I make what I feel and what I want. We each have are own vision to create what we see that is beautiful to us. For me, I'm not doing it to get rich quick nor am I catering to the "popular opinions". I will take 3 out of 50 customers who appreciate my work and feel what it is I'm doing. I'll take that any day. I believe that as an artist, you set the tone for yourself as to how you want the public to perceive you.

Where else do you sell besides Etsy?

Any social networks or blog?As you know, I sell my work on I'm also on I do most of my networking on facebook and myspace. I do have some of my work in two boutiques in Martha's Vineyard (the Green Eyed Daisy boutiques) and at the Museum of African American History, here in Boston.

Can you envision your life without making jewelry? What would you do if you weren’t making jewelry? I only ask because I always view my life as BS and AS-before soap and after soap….

Yes I can. Life takes it's own course. Whatever God sees fit for me to do, then that's just what I'm going to do. Just when you have laid your plans all out in front of you, here come the elements of life to change everything. That's just the way it is. My other passion was to go to school for nursing, go to Africa and start my own non-profit organization. I have a name for it and But since I already have invested soo much into my business of making jewelry, I continued on that path. Instead, I am combining the love I have for my craft and putting it into a program that has to do with human services. This is something I been working on, to help the craving I have to want to help people.

Are there any other talents you have or if you could do anything else artistically, what would it be?

I wish I could sing, sing my life away. Instead, ..I will hurt your ears. God didn't deal me those cards. So, I fantasize about singing at my work station, in silence by myself or I sing to REALLY LOUD music while I'm beading, that way no one can hear me

Ahhh, how refreshing! Thank you Neenee for your time and for gracing us with your talent. I wish you much success with wherever your life's path leads you!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Snagged Another Treasury and Other Etsy-Related News

I'm getting pretty good at this thing. This is my second one in 3 weeks! When I'm in the mindset to really create one, I'll stick with it, but you really have to want it because it's an impatient waiting game-at least for me it is! The theme of this treasury was lime, and it's in Treasury West. It expires in a day (boo!) so check it out while it's still live. I actually featured two of my friends, Made By Laura and Burnt Mill Candles and Soaps.

Also, my team EAOC is having a treasure hunt in the coming weeks (more details to follow). There will be so many fabulous prizes to win, that I almost wish I weren't a member so that I could participate (members are ineligible.) You'll be seeing a lot of EAOC in the coming months. It's taken us a while, but we're getting our footing, and our goal is to become one of the major street teams on Etsy. Just because the team is "Etsy Artists of Color" does not mean if you are a person of color, you cannot join. We would love to have you! Tune in tomorrow for my next EAOC Spotlight.

In closing, did you know that with your Art Fire studio, you can actually add your Etsy mini? How freakin' hot is that? What other venue do you know of let's you actually advertise the competition directly on their site? I've got my blog link, Etsy mini, 1000 Market banner, Funky Finds, and my twitter link in my Art Fire studio. I'm telling you, if you don't sell on Art Fire, you are missing out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Re-Working Some Old Faves

I've been so out of it lately. You spend so much time networking and promoting, that sometimes you forget that you actually have to make product! I'm out of lye, so I'm on a glycerin kick. I've re-worked a few old faves again. This time it's the "fruits of my labor." I know, I'm so corny right?

Sugared Grapes

Pina Colada

Chessie The Crab

I need to stop being lazy and order some lye. It'll be fall before you know it, and I won't have any new soaps to offer!

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Very Savor-y Interview!!

Last week I gave you a small teaser about something big I had cooking, and I deliver on my promises. If you're a fan, seller, buyer, or all three of Etsy, then you must know who Savor is. If you do not, sit up, and take note. I've been on Etsy a little over a year, and I scope a lot of bath and body sellers. Lisa Salamida, the owner and creative genius behind Savor, is the one of the most successful sellers on Etsy (13,200+ sales since she opened shop in October of 2007.) Her soap making comes from a love of cooking, and that passion is reflected in almost every single product she offers. I'll stop gushing now, and I'm very honored to present my interview with Lisa of Savor!

For those who are familiar with Etsy but have been living under a rock, tell us a little about who you are and what you make.
My name is Lisa, and I run Savor -- a shop that sells handmade bar soap, whipped soap, lotion, lip balms, and occasionally other bath treats. In addition to running Savor full time, I have a full time job as a computer tech (among other things, but that's the quickest way to describe my job's scope). Outside of working, my husband Mike and I enjoy camping on Mt Diablo, bike riding (he likes to ride Centuries, I'm more casual), gardening, running and cooking.

To say you’ve been successful on Etsy is an understatement. You have outsold sellers whose numbers are equal (if not less) to yours but have been on Etsy twice as long. What do you think has attributed to your success besides making a great product?

There are a couple key areas to focus on to drive a business -- customer service, which helps with repeat customers and word of mouth sales; advertising, where you display your items directly to interested audiences; and product photography (along with that is style, or branding). I think a lot of crafters/artists/shop owners list their items on Etsy and expect the sales to just follow. I have rarely seen it happen that way. To be a huge success, you have to get a lot of eyes looking at your shop because only a small number of them turn into sales. It's great when Etsy features you, but it's an incredibly small part of selling and doesn't draw in the audience you'll need -- being on the front page, for example, is wonderful, but probably only brings a sale or two. It's up to you to draw in the big traffic.
To get that traffic, spend time researching how to run a small business. I'd venture to say that most of us are really great at our craft, or have a good eye for vintage or interesting and needed supplies. But that doesn't even touch the business side of it -- knowing how to find your target market goes beyond the scope of this interview, but it's nothing you can learn about with a few hours at the library! I approached everything like this -- if I didn't know how to do it, I learned it, or consulted with someone enough to get me started.

(OMG-doesn't this look good enough to eat?)

Why haven’t you quit your day job yet?

This question is kind of amusing :) It pre-supposes that I want to quit my day job, and I don't -- I love it. It exercises a totally different part of my skill set, I work with awesome people, and I have fun pretty much every day. I have the freedom to run Savor at the same time, with a laptop, my "Savor office" is anywhere I am, including on the commuter train.
There's also the practical side of it -- my job provides some pretty incredible benefits. I've been there almost a decade, so salary and job security are fantastic. Inexpensive health care (I think it's like $20 a month), 401k profit sharing and matching -- with no limit, which is kind of unheard of! We also get fitness allotments (I use mine for gym membership), optical and dental allotments, heaps of vacation time, and multiple bonuses. Well, that's hard to beat :)
There are countless expenses that eat away at those raw numbers. You've got payments to Etsy and Paypal for your fees, you have the raw materials cost (materials, shipping cost to get to you, car wear and tear and gas when you pick up locally), insurance, business supplies (labels, printers, paper, ink, toner, envelopes, boxes, gift cards, ribbon, tape, bubble wrap, gift wrap), office furniture (bins, chairs, tables, desks, shelving, lighting), licenses and professional fees (memberships, classes), utilities (gas and electric, water, internet). You have to set aside funds to cover product loss, shipping damage, returns, product development that didn't work out. You have constant equipment upgrades, repairs, and money to put into research and development of new products. There are also fees for advertising, business cards, fliers, give-aways, and materials/furniture for craft shows.

I'm pretty fortunate that I have solid profit margins on my work, and that I'm supported well by doing a lot of wholesale. Savor is healthy and profitable, but I think "quitting my day job" would be incredibly irresponsible and short-sighted. To throw away a job that I love, and have had for 10 years on a business that's less than two years old seems silly :) The pressure of trying to live off of something that's frankly unstable is nothing I need in my life!

How do you come up with your cool product names?

A lot of products come straight from recipes, so I co-opt the name of the dish for the soap, like Polenta or Dulce de Leche. Other times, I draw from things I enjoy -- Original Gangsta because I like rap music, Ciao Bella because I am part Italian, that kind of thing. A new soap, Pacifics, comes from a Digable Planets song that my husband and I both like.

(Ok, do you lick the chocolate or bathe with it?)

What’s a typical day like for you?

A regular weekday goes like this -- Get up at early, relist sold items and thank customers, check feedback, take item inventory. Make breakfast, get my stuff together for work, and get on the bus to get to the train. On the train to work, I usually check reddit, answer convos, order supplies, see if anything's interesting on Twitter, answer emails, etc. At work, I do my regular job, and do "Savor things" as needed, and sometimes spend time on the Etsy forums just goofing off. I generally go to the gym for about an hour as long as I'm behaving myself! Repeat the train ride home, and once home make dinner with Mike, play with our kitties, just chillax. Spend about an hour or two shipping the day's orders, and then catch something on Netflix, or grocery shop, or cook some meals for the rest of the week.

On the weekends, we tend to go out Friday and Saturday nights, but spend much of Saturday afternoon making soap. Sundays we make more soap, wrap and package, and then spend the evening shipping. I like to sleep in on Saturdays, pretty late, sometimes until 2 in the afternoon.
Do you ever get tired of making soap?

Hm, not really. I get tired of making some scents, they get a little boring, but I'm always doing something new. Sometimes I'm physically tired, but I tend to have a lot of energy. It conflicts with me being lazy, which really I am! If I can get away with doing nothing, I will, happily, haha. But then again, I can work for 18 hours and not grumble, so it's sort of a split personality there.
You’ve only very recently started a blog. What took you so long?

I don't really even have one yet, although I have installed Wordpress and I'm having fun playing with layouts. I love graphic design, so that's one aspect of it I'm enjoying. I'm not sure how to answer "what took me so long" -- I just wanted a place to post things I wanted to share, like a dessert we made the other night (creme brulee ice cream, french sea salt and caramel sauce). I don't think blogs are very necessary for a shop, if that's what you mean. I just wanted to write one and I have some time on the train :)

Who are some of your favorite sellers on Etsy?

This is one question I'll have to be coy about. I don't want to shout-out and leave out people who should be mentioned :) I have my favorites public on Etsy so that'll have to do!

Do you sell anywhere else besides Etsy?

I don't sell directly elsewhere but I wholesale, online and to some B&Ms. Because I'm sending out all the product to one place and don't have to do a lot of customer service, it saves me on labor. While I love Etsy, I love wholesale from the business-perspective, it's what keeps Savor steadily profitable with much less legwork than selling to people one-at-a-time. We don't seek out any wholesale contacts at this point, they've all contacted us.
One thing I admire about you is your professionalism. There are a lot of haters out there who aren’t so happy for your success. How do you keep your cool?

I guess I didn't realize there were a lot of haters -- that kinda bums me out. I do see some jealousy on the Etsy forums, which I honestly find pretty revolting -- it's a turn-off and I'll disassociate myself from people who bash others for being successful. If stuff is happening outside of that, I don't see it. I don't have the time to fuss around elsewhere very often. If people truly hate on another person's achievements, then those are sad people. I hope at least their moms love them, because I bet they make other people pretty miserable :) Most people I come in contact with are pretty jovial, happy people, and not in an obnoxious way, haha :) Just people who have genuine passion and drive, people who are sincerely friendly and caring. It helps me be the same, because I am rather dark humored and cynical at times. Mike is definitely a positive influence for me, and the Etsy sellers I am close with are as well. My friends celebrate my successes and I theirs, and we commiserate when things go wrong and help bring each other up again.

I could have asked Lisa probably 20 more questions, but I contained myself! I love this woman. She is so put together and focused! I am not just an admirer, but a buyer. I urge you to check out Savor on Etsy. The photos are gorgeous, and the descriptions just transform you to a different place....Stay tuned for more profiles!