Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Operation Simplify 2010

So, another new year is upon us. I do not actually 'celebrate' the new year, nor do I make New Years resolutions. My year actually starts in the fall with the Hebrew calendar, but January first is a great time to try to get the ball rolling.

For me, I want 2010 to be the Year of Simplify. Nice and vague, eh?

What does this mean? To get started, let's define Simplify: 
A verb, used with object, "To make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier: to simplify a problem.

Isn't that what life is supposed to be about? Enjoying family, friends, the SIMPLE things in life?

So how does one go about starting something like Operation Simplify? Certainly making lists, tons of goals and plans really defeats the purpose now doesn't it?

So I shall start small and make mini goals in all aspects of life. 

January's Goals:

  • Simplify Cooking: Crock Pot meals, using leftovers, if it takes longer than 30 minutes prep I don't wanna do it!
  • Simplify Selling Online: Focus shops on the things that do sell, and be ready to abandon ideas that don't pan out. 
  • Simplify Schedule: Plan 1 playdate/park trip per week for kids!
Anyone want to join me in Operation Simplify 2010? What ways do you want to make your life more simple and in turn more enjoyable? 

What simple and easy things in life do you enjoy?

I plan to share little tidbits and simple solutions to ways you can enjoy your new year also!

Be Simple!

 Henry David Thoreau

My Faves: Violet

Purple is one of my fave colors...I sense I'll be making more spotlights featuring purple!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Faves: Black and White--Cafemom Team

Enjoy these black and white beauties from the Cafemom Team!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Faves: Brown and Neutrals

I'm trying to get back to doing my fave things posts!! This week, Browns and Neutrals!! Enjoy!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Spotlight: Winter Wonderland

Today's spotlight is "Winter Wonderland". Although it's not snowy where I am, I hope you enjoy the snow if you are blessed (or cursed?) with it!

Year End Inventory and What's Coming for Mama's Little Monkeys

What a year! I'm amazed that I've had more success in my shops than I imagined! All thanks to faithful customers and new customers willing to take a risk on a Mama just trying to make her way in the handmade world!

Year's end has meant inventory so Mama's Little Monkeys remains closed on both Etsy and Artfire. You can still find some of my sewn goodies on the two Congo's I'm in, Nature's Toy Chest and The Apple Orchard.

I've competed the inventory in my soap shop, Amelia Amos and am happy to say there are plenty of Saint's soaps ready to go! There are some new items in Amelia Amos including soap samples for your business, Sniff cards to find out what fragrances you really like, and a 2.00 grab bag of oops and discontinued soaps! Be sure to check out the PIF Bath Salts tutorial also available!

Destash City is also back open and ready to help you get crafty in the new year!

What's Coming for the Shops!?

Amelia Amos: Many more fleur de lis color combos. I'm loving the fleur de lis soaps and that will be my main focus for the new year. Do you have a favorite color/scent combo you'd like to see in Amelia Amos? Let me know and I'll see what I can concoct!

Destash City: Many more fabric yo yo and button combo's so you can create your own hair clips, buttons, bobby pins and more! More appliques will be added also, as I get caught up on things!

Mama's Little Monkeys: Rearranging of the Etsy and Artfire shops are still being thought out, but expect a major sale to clear out inventory! In the sewing room right now: More rocket ships, Red Heel Sock Monkeys, Japanese Knot bags for you knitters out there and more wetbags to go in The Apple Orchard!

What new items are you working on? What new items would you like to see? Who's your favorite handmade artisan who you can't wait to see more from?


Friday, December 18, 2009

Another Year Almost Over..

Wow. Another year is almost done. We are literally about to start 2010! It just can't be. Yet it is!

It's been quite a year for me! This time last year I was getting the wonderful news that I did NOT have Multiple Sclerosis as I had been told I did months before. (Guess I just have odd things on my brain, no surprise.) Overall our family's health has been good and we had some changes.

Most importantly Eli was diagnosed with autism, explaining a lot of things about him. He's done well on the GFCF diet and it's a relief to know what is wrong. He's very high functioning (which can be a downfall at times because people just think he's a bad behaved child in the midst of a tantrum.) and he shows great potential for 'recovery'. The downside of all that is our insurance company didn't cover any of his testing so we're back in debt again.

But there is absolutely no room for complaining! Even though money is super tight, Paul has a job, and if need be I have no doubt God will help me find one. My businesses have the potential of actually helping supplement our income instead of just a hobby. We have a home, our health, family and friends.

We don't actually celebrate Christmas in our house, but I understand how it makes many people feel, more open to appeciating the things they have. So I challenge you to really sit back and look at what blessings you have and give thanks for them. Give your family a hug, learn to appreciate the possessions you DO have and not lust after things you don't need (trust me, this one is hard!) and enjoy the little things in life!

How was your year?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Monkey is Named......

Monkity Flake!! SediluGreen is the lucky winner! I loved all the suggestions but I just could not pass up "Monkity" It sounded like something my son would say and how can you top a monkey named by a little boy!?

Thanks so much everyone!! Keep an eye out, I'll be doing a giveaway every month for glass tile pendants!!

Monkity Flake:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Name This Monkey!!

This is my latest sock monkey. She needs a name. We don't celebrate Christmas in our house, but she's very wintry, what with the snowflakes and furry pom poms and all.

But she needs a name. Do you have a suggestion? If so, leave it in the comments here! If your suggestion is chosen (leave as many as you'd like) you will a super cool new scrabble tile or glass tile pendant! (My other new addiction). Don't worry, you'll get a choice of pendant, I"m cool like that...

So leave your guesses here!

It's a girl monkey, nothing rude, nothing crude and nothing Christmasy!

Yes, I am aware she has super long legs and shorter arms. She doesn't know that. She believes she is one hot monkey, so let's not burst her bubble. Therapy for monkeys is expensive...

Super cool pendants you could win one of:

Contest ends...ehh when I've decided the perfect name has been found. Why? Because I can.

~~Mama Monkey

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Recycled Crayons Tutorial

I thought I would share some tutorials every month or so! This month's tutorial is recycled crayons. Sure they've been done plenty of times, but I thought I'd give it my own spin! :) Special Thanks to AEBABY for suggesting this one!

Gather your materials, here are my suggested ones:
Crayola Crayons. Do not skimp on this. Non Crayola's will smell, not melt well and not work well.
Exacto Knife
Silicone mold
Plastic Soap Mold (optional)
Aluminum Cans (optional)
Aluminum foil
Baking Sheets

  • Peel your crayons. If you don't have a small child handy to do this for you, use the exacto knife to cut a slit down the crayon paper. If it is a pain to pull the paper off, cut the slit, then put the crayons in the freezer for about 30-60 minutes. The paper should pop right off then!

  • Break the crayons and put them in the mold. If you are using a silicone mold you can just fill your mold with the broken crayons. If you want a multi colored crayon, mix them together. I'll show you how to do solids or layers in a bit!

  • Set your oven to approx. 325-350F. Silicone molds can go directly in the oven, but because of their flexibility, you probably want to put the mold ON a baking sheet for stability. This is particularly important if you are doing layers.
  • Melt the crayons in the oven, checking them every 5 minutes or so. You want them melted but not TOO hot. Once you see nearly all the crayons are completely melted, your crayons are done!

  • Let the crayons cool until completely hard and then, pop them out of the mold!! If you choose to use a metal pan, you would want to spray the pan lightly with cooking spray so the crayons slide out easier. This is one of the reasons I prefer the silicone molds--plus they come in way more fun shapes!!


  • Now say you want to do solids or layered crayons, or use a plastic soap mold? No problem! Gather your aluminum cans (like the ones that hold vegetables). Clean, rinse and remove the paper label. Break your crayons and separate the colors in each can.

  • The color you melt in your cans will stain the can, so once you put a color in a can, it's staying that color! So save them for future use!
  • Put the cans on the baking sheets (you can do this at the same time you do a silicone mold) and heat for the same time, 5 minutes at a time @ 325-350 degrees until the crayons are totally melted.

  • Using your OVEN MITTS pour one color into the plastic soap molds at a time. Allow the crayons to cool SLIGHTLY before pouring, but not so long that they start to harden again. Put your soap mold on top of wax paper, aluminum foil, etc just in case the crayons melt the plastic and it leaks. (Which is why you wait until they cool a little.)

  • It's okay if it spills just a tad, you can easily 'carve' the extra off your finished crayon once it hardens. Or get every little use out of it and let your little ones color the extra away!
  • Once the colors harden just turn the soap mold over and GENTLY tap the crayons out. If you hold the mold too far above your counter/table they'll crack as they fall out and hit the hard surface. 

And there you go! Solid colored car crayons!

  • If you want layered crayons, all you need to do is take a deep mold like a silicone mold. Melt the crayons in the cans as above. Pour a layer in your silicone mold. Let each layer harden before you melt and pour another! The hardest part of layered crayons is to pour the colors very carefully into the silicone mold so it does not splash up. If you pour slowly and carefully you will get clean, uniform, layered crayons!

Feel free to leave any questions, comments or share this tutorial!


Pin It

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Renewal Experiment Results...

Okay. I hate numbers. I need an accountant! Thankfully my friend AvalonStudios helped me run these numbers and I trust her! :) So go check her shop out because without her mad math skills, this experiment would have died out!

Alrighty, in case you've forgotten here was my plan.
Renew the SAME item on Etsy at various times of the day for 1 month. I ended up skipping every Saturday because that's my 'churchin' day and I didn't want to turn into a pumpkin for doing work on the Sabbath. But it all evened out to more than 30 renewals because I listed new stuff on occasion also.

Now these are numbers ONLY from my Mama's Little Monkeys Etsy shop. TECHNICALLY my sales went up on Detash City also, BUT I can't prove it was from the renewal without drowning in hellish data from Google Analytics and honestly there's not enough vodka to make me do that. So since the test was really ONLY for the MLM Etsy shop, that is what we'll look at.

I started on 10/25/09 and went until 11/25/09. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I started selling more nearly as soon as I started renewing.
Here's the rundown:

Total Sales Without Shipping (as shipping is not profit):                   166.00
Total Fees (not shipping but, relisting, renewing, transaction fees):        25.08
Total "Profit":                                                                                        140.92

That looks great to me.

At first.

Here's the thoughts on this:

  • It cost me 25 bucks to run that ONE Etsy shop for the 30 day period.
  • It costs me, well, zero to run my MLM Artfire shop because I write for HandmadeNews and get a free verified account. I do pay for my Destash shop on Artfire. For ten bucks a month for 2010. BUT the sales were not the same on AF for that time period. Just a fraction of what they were on Etsy. 
  • That 140.92 in profit then has to factor in these things: the times I undercharged on shipping and I had to eat the shipping; the items I sold at clearance just to get them out of the house; cost of materials and time. 
  • I would have to sit down and really figure out the time it takes to create the items sold, and it varies. But for the sake of argument, let's say I sew/craft/work on the business for approximately 4 hours a day. Which is true. I may not be sewing that whole time, but I'm packaging, shipping, creating, promoting, organizing, doing books, etc. That's 24 hours of work a week (6 days a week) for 96 hours for 30 days. So, if I divide 96 into 140 I get about 1.45 an hour I got paid.
  • 1.45. Really?
  • I mean for real, I could work at fast food here and make 8 bucks an hour STARTING pay! (we pay a lot post Katrina).
  • And I haven't even factored in taxes in this equation. I need more vodka before I do that.

So what is one to do about this? Obviously sales went up when I started renewing. Ironically the very item I kept renewing (I renewed the same one to keep it consistent) NEVER EVER SOLD. EH??? So renewing, in theory, seems to equal sales. But at what cost?

Now, granted, I don't do this to roll in the dough. I do it because I like to create, I like to do something JUST for me, I like the online community, I enjoy the challenge and I generally enjoy doing it.

But what if I did NOT like it? I'd be slaving for 1.45 an hour?

So here's my plan:

Continually to occasionally relist. I have built a decent customer base, and there are items I repeatedly sell like my Swiffer pads. I will continue to promote my Artfire shop MORE than my Etsy shop (since I don't pay any fees there and I like AF better. There I said it!) and that is where my domain links to.

I have multiple shops, and those kind of take care of themselves. My soap shop is really more to show to wholesale inquiries because that's how I prefer to sell soap. My flower pens are just there...if they sell, they sell! :) Again, good for wholesale inquiries. My destash shops are a combo of purging my multiplying piles of supplies and of providing decent handmade supplies to other artisans.

Here are my thoughts for other artisans:

  • Use multiple venues to see which fit is right for you.
  • Etsy needs to lay off the damn transaction fees. 3.5% is too high when you sell an item for a high value! If you sell and item for 50.00 you paid 1.75 in a transaction fee, plus listing fee (and how many times did you pay to renew it?) PLUS paypal fees. Sure it SOUNDS like just pennies but when you start to add the up, your profit goes down and down.
  •  Artfire needs to step up the promotion. Sure they are growing, but they need to compete with Etsy. Etsy is still not a household name, although it is growing more and more popular. I have seen it mentioned in magazines at least once per month. Where is Artfire's mentions? I am the first to say that Artfire is doing a fantastic job in keeping sellers happy, making our jobs easier. BUT if we don't have buyers to promote to...what's the point? Etsy has buyers for us but crappy service, crappy favoritism, and admins to laugh at.
  • If you have a big enough customer base, consider just running your own website or domain. Or if you only sell for wholesale purposes, list your items and renew only when absolutely necessary. Then you can keep your Etsy bill low. 
  • Renew responsibly. The item I renewed was my Chalk Cloth bag. Thus far, no one else on Etsy in the first 10 pages of searches has one just like me. They have bags SIMILAR but no one has a lined back made of chalk cloth that holds a pack of chalk and wipe. Is it because of this unique item that I stayed on top? Would this renewal experiment have worked if I sold jewelry? Look at your competition and see what you have that is unique to renew. (but not SO unique no one thinks to search for it.
  • Get on TEAMS! Build your prescence online! Get your name out there!! Build friendships, comradarie and have FUN! If this isn't fun, why are you doing it?
  • Get prepared for competition. As handmade venues grow and grow (and you should also anticipate it might burst at some point) you need to stay current and on top of trends. Sites like Etsy are being touted in magazines as a great way for people to make side money. If you sell jewelry and 100 new jewelry stores open up ever day on Etsy, where does that leave you?
  • Be prepared to step away and say goodbye. If you are going in debt, not enjoying this, and it's stressing you, it is okay to take a break. Put your shops on vacation, take a break, and get back to creating because you LOVE to create, not for the almighty dollar.

I hope this helps some!! Remember to do what you love and love doing it!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day One Fail...

Okay. This is sad. I did not even make it through day one!! BUT in my defense, I did not seek out these deals, I received an email from (satan I tell you!) and I had to choose colors for a previous order that was out of stock. WHOA. Totally did not know their vinyl would be on sale. With the help of my enabling friends, (You know who you are!!) I caved. Ok I caved. I bought. But that is enough vinyl to hold me for QUITE some time and it was in HALF OFF SALE plus I had a 20% off coupon!!! COME ON!! You would've done the same thing, don't even lie! we start over AGAIN! I may have to ban myself from the computer to make this work....

WE CAN DO THIS! I think I can, I think I can...

Lord help me ya'll...


Related Posts with Thumbnails