Monday, June 29, 2009
Figgy Newton Soap
Cherry Cola Lip Lush (I know, it aint soap!)
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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
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
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!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
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
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
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
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
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
- I'm not a morning person.
- I cuss like a sailor.
- I'm silly as hell. I truly crack myself up!
- I'm menopausal (and I'm not even 40-go figure!)
- I like to paint my nails only to turn around and peel the polish right off.
- I love children's movies like Matilda and The Parent Trap (Li-Lo version)
- 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:
- Structured Chaos
- Lenox Knits
- Pegasus Soaps
- All Naptural
- Barrs By The Bay
- Burnt Mill Candles and Soap
- Feathered Friends Mementos
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
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
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!
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
Friday, June 5, 2009
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 ..lol, 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 artbreak.com. I'm also on craftlister.com. 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 everything..lol. 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
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
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
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.
Why haven’t you quit your day job yet?
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 :)
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.
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.
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.