Welcome to my online shop. Free shipping on orders of $45+; Orders over $100 save 15% off your order with code BULKSAVE100. All prices in Canadian dollars. I’ve been making and selling my creations for 2 decades. I ship throughout Canada & the USA. You can checkout my feedback on etsy or ebay, and never hesitate to contact me with any questions. SHIPPING CARRIERS ARE EXPERIENCING HIGH VOLUME DUE TO COVID-19. ALTHOUGH I USUALLY SHIP ORDERS WITHIN 24 HOURS, DO EXPECT DELAYS IN RECEIVING YOUR ITEMS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE
Jewelry--turned-fiber artist with a passion for keepsake gifts & spinning. Fiber work is my way of coping with daily stress and anxiety; whereas jewelry making is my way of releasing it. I enjoy honing my crafts while raising 3 little girls, and vow to use my talents to inspire the creativity within. A native Nova Scotian (valley chick); pinay (mestiza). I have been selling my wares on & off-line for over a decade, and donate my products for grass-roots charitable causes. I love barter!
Mercury officially went into retro-grade Tuesday, so I knew it was a good week to start the re-vamp of old products. It was also a short (work) week due to the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, so I didn’t get too many things relisted. Here’s a look at what I did get up to this week…
One of the first things I did was go thru my sample binder. I stumbled upon a few pairs of sweetheart earrings and thought, why am I not currently selling these?! They are darling cute, and with 7 different colors of freshwater pearls, there are plenty of options for customizing. The pewter charms paired with either sterling silver or gold-filled ear wires give the earrings a well-made feel without being too heavy. I am really proud to list these again.
Several years ago, I used to sell a lot of Celtic themed jewelry. I am from Nova Scotia, so Celtic themed objects are not uncommon here. You can even study the Gaelic language in Cape Breton. The popularity seems to have dipped for my Celtic themed products in the past few years, so I eventually stopped relisting them on Etsy. Looking at the samples, they are still really nice looking earrings, so I am offering them again while supplies last.
I have several variations of these engraved silver and gold plated charms. I decided to offer them with a bit of bling at no extra charge. I think they stand out more on a bag or piece of clothing with a freshwater pear or faceted bead added. I also added a lobster clasp so that you have the choice of clipping it on or attaching with the ball chain key chain. You can easily remove the Keychain and clasp if you’d like to add the charm to exiting jewelry or keyring. First up is the doula charms, with breastfeeding awareness, babywearing, and international child charms coming next week.
If you’re on my Instagram, you may have seen a few yarns I re-vamped from my personal stash this summer. I sell the vast majority of my yarns, because I’d rather be making yarn than knitting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both knitting and crochet, I just prefer to be at my wheel. I keep the yarns that were fails or simply not up to snuff for my standards.
One of my all-time fave yarn constructions is crepe. I am an avid plyer- which is strange considering I was adamant I would only make bulky 1-ply art yarns when I started spinning. Judith MacKenzie’s “The Gentle Art of Plying” and Sarah Anderson’s “The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs” really inspired me to both perfect and play with plying. So I rarely make one plies anymore, opting for the balance and interest of a plied yarn.
The secret to a good crepe yarn is in the twist. Basically a crepe is 2 plies spun together, then you re-spin to one extra ply in the opposite direction. It’s important to add extra twist to the first two plies in order to have a balanced 3 ply crepe. The yarn pictured above was a fun and funky 2-ply but was not structurally sound. Therefore, I will run it back through my spinning wheel to add more twist, before re-spinning it the opposite way to an additional ply. I’ll post the results next week.
The re-vamp project will continue all month, or months…or, when I get tired of doing it 😉
Between mercury retrograde and the general vibe on earth as of late, I’ve come to some revelations this week that looked downright horrific. It’s crunch time for all sensitives and intuitives, and I cannot stress enough now is the time to visualize the future you desire, to choose love over fear, and spin some good vibrations into the air. We all can do this, regardless of where we are at on our spiritual journey or abilities. I am still optimistic we are headed for better days, but cautiously feel the next few weeks will set the stage. This is my plea to all to please take this time to work through your fears and emotions, and embrace love, compassion & understanding. Keep an open mind, beware of group think. My children’s, and all children’s futures depend on it…
I got this week’s listings finished early! I will be cooking for the fam for Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, and I’d like to enjoy the process unhindered. I’m not big on cooking, and I only enjoy it if I can concentrate all my energies on it. Still, I love to see my kids’ and my hub’s eyes light up when they eat a meal I prepared.
This week’s lovely offerings, all made par moi:
I feel very accomplished to have 9 listings done mid-week. I also feel there has been a shift, energetically this week. I feel very light, and hopeful. I hope it’s a long term trend but I’ll take it if even a fleeting moment. I wonder what my fellow intuitives & empaths are feeling…?
I’m pretty much caught up on yarn to list. I pulled a few from the 35 new skeins available that I want to re-think or even re-imagine. I’m very thoughtful about the products I put up for sale.
With yarn caught up, I’m going to focus on older jewelry products that I pulled to re-consider. Some will re-appear as is, and will be discontinued once all are sold. Others will be slightly tweaked or “freshened up” since they were developed over a decade ago!
Happy thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. Instead of obediently being “thankful”, let’s try to send some light out to the world and beyond…
I had a rather mundane week of listing new products. I’ve been guarding my spirit and emotions all week: something is afoot. Here’s is a recap of what’s new this week…
I’ve created a coupon code for 15% off orders of $100CAD or more (approx. $75USD). Available both here on this site and on etsy: BULKSAVE100 at checkout.
New products listed this week. I’m trying to catch up on the backlog of items created over the past several months, so it won’t be this many every week. I should be caught up in the next couple of weeks, and then I want to revisit some older designs that I still like but feel they just need a bit of tweaking.
I wanted to share this really cool pic, taken this morning. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen it. Every so often we get fog over the valley but it never seems to get quite as high as us here on the mountain. It gives the feeling of being among the clouds, and also very disorienting when you are used to seeing a vibrant valley below.
I forgot to share the new listings from last week. Both available here and on etsy:
This was shared by my friend and soul sister @orek.e.l_saj777 on Instagram. I think it sums up this coming few months beautifully (and also expresses how I’ve felt for the past 7 months):
In my last post I promised that I would blog more. So I put it under “goals” on my to-do list to do one post a week. I don’t seem to get the urge to blog anymore, so now it has been penciled in. 🙃🙂
After that was decided, the question was: what shall I write about this week? Then this happened: I broke one of my smallest sets of bamboo circular needles. 😫 I’d love to say I broke them after a fierce session of sock knitting, but it was due to my own carelessness.
I’m a huge believer in mindfulness, and try to make a point to be present, in-the-moment, for most of my day. Even during the most mundane of tasks (you won’t believe the epiphanies I’ve had whilst folding laundry by simply staying in the moment!).
On the other hand, I am also someone who possesses a great deal of energy and motivation to plow through and get shit done, so I can get back to creating. When I get going, I can be a bit of a bull in a china shop (I am a Taurus, afterall!). 😉
So I was going thru the yarn bin in my bedroom, and saw a ball of handspun silk yarn I thought was in the wrong place. This yarn bin is for in progress projects. I was not knitting any projects with silk, to my knowledge. I picked up the ball, and – huh. The end of the yarn was stuck on something. So I gently tugged. Still was stuck. I pulled a little harder, and harder until the ball came free. I was confused because not only did I have the yarn, but circulars with knitting on it…well, I had 75% of the circulars anyway. Seems I started a pair of socks months ago I totally forgot about.
Yup. I broke a set of circulars just being careless. 😫 I was really upset with myself: not only did I break a useful tool, I absolutely hate waste. What am I going to do with a broken set of circulars? Can I re-purpose them? Then I thought, maybe I can fix them…
Before I was a fiber artist, I was an avid jewelry maker (still am!) so I have quite a few tools at my disposal. The tools are for working on small objects, so I thought I may have just the thing to help fix these. Off to the tool closet to dig in the Dremel bits. A-ha! A tiny burr which happens to be the same size as the opening where the bamboo needle attaches. I had to ream out all the wood that snapped inside if I had any chance of re-attaching the needle.
Steadying the arm holding the circular end on the arm of my chair, I rested the arm holding the Dremel on the side of said chair arm. I have a flex shaft attachment on my Dremel so I find holding it super easy – I’m sure this would work fine without, you just need a steady hand. On the lowest speed I got to work slowly. Before I knew it, the bit goes clear in the metal end and it’s completely clear of bits of bamboo. It also made the cutest little pile of saw dust.
I used the same burr to shave down the end of the needle. It was slightly wider than the opening and wouldn’t fit as us. Then, I used a piece of sandpaper to give it a smoother texture. I admit I could have done a better job at smoothing out the end, but at this point I was getting anxious to see if it had worked. I did a couple of fittings before getting enough shaved down that it felt snug inside the metal.
As an added precaution to make sure that needle end stayed put, I went looking for an appropriate adhesive. E6000 seems to be in every jewelry maker’s arsenal. I applied a small amount to the needle’s end, before returning it to its rightful place on the circulars. Now to wait for the adhesive to dry.
Close up it does look like a puppy chewed on the end, but not so bad in real life. It certainly doesn’t feel like stitches would snag on them. We’ll know for sure once I put them to use.
After they had rested for a few hours I was seriously impressed at how solid they felt. I’ll know for sure if they are truly fixed once I knit with them. I will get a replacement set, just in case. Probably another brand, maybe steel just because I like to have different tools at my disposal. You never can have too many knitting needles in my opinion! 😉
I live in a rural area so will have to order a new set, if you have any suggestions of what to get I’d love to hear it!
Thanks for reading about my broken needle saga. I hope I’ve inspired you to try fixing a broken item before throwing it away. You just never know! 😊
I am well overdue for an update! I won’t lie. I kinda forgot about this blog. I realized that since the most recent post was LAST YEAR it may appear that I am not actively creating and maintaining this website. Not true at all! I am as busy as ever. I did shut my Etsy shop down for several months this spring due to how slow the mail was moving, but that seems to have improved – so I’ve been back full time fulfilling orders for a couple of months now. I received a few orders thru this site during that time, and although delivery was slow I am thankful for the few sales I did receive.
If you just stumbled upon my site, I’m Leilani. I’m a BIPOC maker currently living in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia: mom, wife & cat mama. I’m formerly from the greater Montreal area, which is where I did the majority of my online selling until we moved back to Nova Scotia 5 years ago, where both my husband & I were born & raised. I’ve actually been selling online since the late 90’s in the early ebay days (boy, do I miss that community!) so I have a lot of experience with online selling. Creating and honing my creative skills is a passion of mine: it keeps me hopeful, grounded and positive. It’s an outlet for my expression, and to create something beautiful and positive in this chaotic, uncertain world.
Being home pretty much full time since March gave me the opportunity to create almost uninterrupted (I do have kids, they are very self-sufficient and we are already homeschoolers (unschoolers) so education flowed smoothly with very little transition or change to our schedule). I now have several new jewelry pieces that were revamped and 35 (!!) new skeins of yarn to list (this not including what I made/revamped to keep for myself). I was able to try out and hone skills that I never had time for before. Creatively, 2020 has been a very positive year.
I’ve also had the chance to get back to my spiritual side – all that woo woo stuff I have gravitated to since I was a child. I have had many profound experiences since I was…well, as long as I can remember. I’ve often wondered if I am an Indigo child but I choose not to label this strong connection to all that is. I’m an empath and have been quite surprised that my anxiety has not increased these past few months. I’m really drawn to gemstones again, and feel very grounded when I wear them. I am going to make a bracelet to help balance my root chakra: at the very least, the stones will be a constant reminder of what I need to consciously repair/improve. Hopefully, that will evolve into a new jewelry line I can offer to my customers, but like everything I do, if it doesn’t feel right, I simply don’t do it.
So a few “housekeeping” items to update you on. I have had to limit my shipments to Canada and US only (again). I was excited to offer shipping to the UK, hopeing that would open the door to broader shipping internationally, but the supplier I was using was really slow, and items were coming back return to sender at my expense. I traded in lost packages (why I stopped shipping internationally in the first place) to returned undelivered packages. I’m just too small beans to have these kinds of monetary losses.
Social networking update: I’ve decided to let my Facebook page go, although I will keep it live for information purposes. I think the pinned post goes to my Etsy reviews. I’m happy to streamline my day to day behind-the-scenes work to my Instagram. I enjoy the micro-blogging format and I’ve connected with so many inspiring makers, as well as those just starting out with spinning that I can encourage, mentor and cheer on. It’s overall been a far more positive experience, since I’m not all about selling selling selling. Yes, I realize Instagram is owned by Facebook, however it’s a platform that I can use in a positive way (bonus: less complaining! 😉). I am a maker first: I sell my goods as a connection to others; to spread some good in the world. Do we ever need it now, more than ever! So come join me on Instagram, although you must love cats, since my 3 are such a huge part of my life (and studio life!), particularly Peanut. 😀
Etsy price update: you may see a discrepancy in prices between this site and Etsy. Unfortunately, in order to be seen in searches on Etsy, I need to offer free shipping. This is something I have resisted with yarn because Canada Post is so much more pricey on bulky items, versus the small padded envelopes I use for my jewelry. So I’ve had to add a buffer for shipping into my Etsy listings. It’s still not enough, and depressingly, according to my spreadsheet I am making on average $2-$3 an hour for making yarn. Price is perception, so I have to finesse the price to an amount that I feel will sell, vs. a price that’s fair. It’s a sad and common reality with handmade goods. I’ve thought of vacuum sealing my yarns to make the package flatter as seems to be popular now, but I struggle with the presentation. When you open an order from me, it’s like unwrapping a gift, because I am so appreciative and thankful to all of you who support my work. I want you to be confident about your order and excited from the moment you receive it.
The difference between here and etsy is that, when you spend $45CAD or more here, you can choose the option for free shipping at checkout. I also have discount codes highlighted at checkout, when available. If you are interested on a bulk order either here or in my Etsy shop, I am happy to extend a discount. Simply let me know which items you are interested in, and I’ll work out a price reduction.
Thanks for stopping by for this catch up/update and checking out my work! If there is anything I could assist you in or if you are looking for something specific, please do not hesitate to ask! Come join me on Instagram if you are able. I will try to blog more even if it is short posts here and there.
Always remember to put love over fear: sending love outward to you… <3
Hello UK peeps and the world at large: I am shipping to the UK again…more info below…
The new website is pretty much completed. There are a few more products to add, although some of the older designs are no longer listed while I reconsider or revamp them. If there is something you’d like but no longer see it listed, ask. I can most likely make it for you. The old bb3.ca website will be pointed to this domain as soon as we can get around to it (AKA: when my programmer husband has time to do it 😉 ). I’ve switched it to catalog mode until then, so any purchasing will be made here only (and Etsy and ebay, but they don’t have the full line of products).
Now that I have a new online home I am satisfied with, I’ve been thinking more about offering international shipping again. Several frustrations, including the cost of shipping and lost packages made me discontinue shipping outside Canada & The US a few years ago. But I have a new shipping option. It’s a courier that drives packages over the border and ships via USPS. It seems absurd to send a package destined for elsewhere to the US, but USPS offers competitive rates as well as tracking. That’s something Canada Post and other courier companies cannot provide.
So I’m soft launching International shipping here and on Etsy, starting with shipping to the UK and seeing how it goes. Of all the destinations I have shipped internationally, I miss my UK customers the most. Packages seem to arrive in a reasonable amount of time and the customers were very nice. So United Kingdom, you’re up first. Like all my shipping options, it will be a flat rate depending on whether you are buying jewelry or yarn.
If you are looking for shipping to your country, please ask me for a quote. Chances are I can set up your country quickly with shipping.
Hi there. It’s been awhile! My plans to blog more got thwarted once again. BUT there are exciting things on the horizon: after a summer hiatus of making lots of goodies I’m updating my selling platform to Woo Commerce.
I’ve really loved using Prestashop and support the open source platform purely out of principle, but it is getting harder and harder to keep it up and running. Since I already had this under used WordPress blog, I thought I would give Woo Commerce a shot. I think stream lining my products here will make my life easier in the long run, and let’s face it, I’d rather be creating than spending all my free time doing web maintenance and upgrades #makersgonnamake…
I’ll post updates here as I go, and I’m hoping to delve into blogging more in 2020: maybe even vlogging…! You can still buy the full compliment of my items on bb3.ca. I also have a good chunk of my items on etsy and a few on ebay. I take offers on ebay, so if you are planning on buying more than one item don’t forget to make me an offer – happy to throw a discount your way.
Well, my plans to blog more went totally out the window! I’d rather be making than on the computer, as much as I enjoy writing. In fact, I have cut my social networking down considerably as well. I find making & listing garners me more sales than social networking ever has. Not to say I don’t enjoy connecting with others, it’s just so hard to find time/balance when you are a maker, a busy (unschooling) mom (kids having their own interests and activities to boot) and being a self-employed household. Besides my website, I still maintain my Etsy shop & have added a few listings to my Ebay account. I feel like it’s coming full circle as Ebay was the very first place I sold online in the late 90’s!
Due to requests I have made some bulk discount coupon codes for larger orders. I can give larger discounts on orders of $250+ simply send me a message and let’s discuss! These codes work on the website and Etsy shop:
Save $10 on orders of $50 or more with code: BULKSAVE10
Save $20 on orders of $75 or more with the code: BULKSAVE20
Save $30 on orders of $100 or more with code: BULKSAVE30.
One code per order, but these are combinable with:
Free shipping on orders of $45+ with the code: FREESHIP45
Offer subject to change at any time.
Thanks for your support and most of all, for supporting handmade!
Here in Canada, Canada Post Employees have been involved in a rotating strike since October. At first, this was not a problem: I found that my packages were still being delivered and were only slowed down by a day or two. Canada Post is now stating that the backlog of mail due to these rotating strikes is so large, they don’t see it all getting delivered until sometime in the New Year. Although back to work legislation just passed in the House of Commons, I still doubt disgruntled employees will clear up the backlog in a swift fashion (I certainly do not agree with back to work legislation).
I know I have at least 2 packages to my knowledge held up in the system. Instead of running my usual holiday sale on Etsy, I put my Etsy shop on vacation mode until I could figure out what to do next. On my website, I have disabled shipping with Canada Post until further notice. I have become increasingly frustrated with Canada Post over the past few years, the reasons could be a blog post on its own. Sad considering I have been satisfied with their service for several years prior. I’ve been selling goods off & on online since the early 2000’s.
I’m treating this as an opportunity to do find new carriers to work with. Here are the current shipping options for my personalized handmade jewelry, knitting accessories and handspun yarn:
MARITIME BUS (NS, NB & PEI provinces only)
My husband has picked up orders for computer gear from the Maritime Bus before, and I thought it was a really neat idea. They are continuing the tradition of shipping small packages via the bus much like Acadian Lines did back in the day. I can remember as a child my mom packaging up my dad’s dress shoes or other items he may have forgotten, to ship to Cornwallis where he worked in the summer with cadet camps.
Maritime Bus is an affordable, quick option. Their staff in my experience is really nice & helpful. They run 7 days a week, and you’ll receive your package same day or next day once your package is dropped off (with the exception of inclement weather).
FREIGHT FORWARDING TO BORDER, delivery handled via USPS and UPS (US customers)
This is now my recommended way to deliver packages to the United States. Your package will be driven over the border by a Freight Forwarding company, where it will be then dropped off at USPS or UPS for delivery.
You will always have tracking on your packages, whereas the economical Canada Post Shipping option does not. Since your package will be driven over the border by a bonded carrier, there is less to no customs hold up of packages, and your package will be delivered quickly once it is over the border.
This option is 100 km away for me, thus I can only plan to drop off once a week, or use a local courier company to get it there. Therefore, the perception is that your package takes quite awhile to ship, but in reality, you will receive your package far faster this way than if I were to mail it immediately with Canada Post.
TRADITIONAL COURIER SERVICE (USA & Canada)
Choose a courier such as Purolator, UPS, Fed Ex or CanPar (for Canadian customers). Please note that the prices given on the website are approximate. Because I sell items of varying size and weight, I took an estimate loosely based on shipping quotes to destinations as far West as possible. Should the cost be lower you will not be overcharged.
Courier service tends to be reliable with tracking and faster delivery compared to the mail service.
The cost is astronomical in Canada to ship via courier for small businesses like me that don’t do the volume to qualify for discounts. I wish they would become more competitive with their rates!
FREE SHIPPING OPTION
Don’t forget you can bypass the whole shipping headache by ordering a minimum. Orders $75 or more in Canada ship on me. For US orders, $100 (that’s Canadian dollars – so approx. $75 USD with the current exchange rate).
Don’t forget to use these voucher codes on the website for free shipping:
Use code FREESHIP75 for Canadian orders 75+; The code FREESHIP100 will give you free shipping for US orders over $100
If you are located in Kings County, Nova Scotia, we can arrange pickup at a convenient location or I can possibly deliver to you. I also frequent Hants County and Halifax/Dartmouth/Sackville – if you can wait to receive your order until the next time I’m in the area.
I don’t live in a heavily populated area so I recommend meeting up in town (Canning, Wolfville, New Minas, Kentville, etc).
NO ECONOMICAL OPTION FOR REST OF CANADA
Unfortunately, I have not found an economical shipping option for outside the Maritime provinces for small orders. I would suggest taking advantage of free shipping with a minimum order (above). I’m hoping that this will change in the near future as more carriers see the growing need for competitive reliable shipping in Canada.
These shipping options are available on my website and will continue to be available once the strike and its backlog is over. I haven’t decided if I will re-open my Etsy shop before the New Year. Currently, I am informing Etsy shoppers to go to my website if they want to order anything before the holidays.
How long has it been since I posted here?? Good grief. So much for making time to blog. Family life has taken up much of my time but fingers crossed for more balance this coming fall. These past 10 months have been filled with family time including homeschooling (unschooling) my girls, bulk yarn orders, name jewelry orders, and supporting my husband with his business endeavours. I simply have not had the time to put up new yarn listings, let alone the bin of jewelry prototypes, some 2 years old. I have had time to work on, and I can confidently say, perfect my dyeing technique for yarn: at least, I have a system that I am now happy with. Dyeing, much like spinning, is proving to be very meditative and satisfying for me. It is my new destressor. 🙂
It’s a long weekend here in Nova Scotia, and I’ve taken the time to give the website a much-needed up-grade. We’ll be moving it to a faster server soon – which is exciting. All the yarn backlog is now listed, now on to the jewelry backlog as well as spiffing up this blog.
Here’s some promo codes for the website. I wanted to note that shipping for yarn is an estimate and I’m happy to refund the difference if the shipping ends up to be more expensive. Canada Post shipping rates in Canada are complicated and at times seem very random. How about free shipping to save the hassle?
Use code FREESHIP75 for Canadian orders 75+; The code FREESHIP100 will give you free shipping for US orders over $100; and use code 10DOLLARS to take $10 off your order of $100+.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at selling handmade online: this is a screenshot of the many products that I have made and yet to list. Some of these items have been around for over a year. The problem is this: I love to make things and I would spend my entire lifetime doing just that. Taking the time to get items ready for sale and listed, not so much. I wish it were as simple as: I make something, I take a picture of it, and magically customers come along and buy it. Not so. When you are an artist/maker of any kind – in charge of selling your work – you wear many hats/learn many talents to make that sale. We don’t have a MLM company to back us with promotional kits on the ready to help promote our goods. I’ve considered hiring outside help but any kind of PR I’ve researched was too out of reach for me cost wise. When you think about the price that we have to charge to be competitive with the mass-produced, selling handmade online is a losing battle.
Let’s look at the anatomy of a (handmade) listing, shall we?
Conceptualizing and designing the idea
Although my items have evolved into simple keepsake designs over the years, there is still more to it than pairing charms on a necklace. Everything I make is something I would wear. When I am inspired by a theme I then have to choose: will it be sterling silver or gold-filled or both? What size engraving blank should I pair with the charm? What font should I use? I have to then engrave the prototypes, and assemble a sample so that I can assess wearability and aesthetics. Do the charms look good together? Do they hang well together? Is there movement/flow? Should I add a bead? Or add/remove another element?
This is another reason why I normally turn down custom orders these days. Not the personalization I offer, but built-from-scratch requests. All the time that is put into conceptualizing the design would be out of reach price wise for the customer. Add to it that the majority of the time changes or tweaks are asked for, or interest is lost entirely and the piece is never purchased. For these reasons custom orders are simply not worth the time involved for me. Before I had kids I was more willing to donate my time for custom work, but these days time is a precious commodity. Of the requests that I do take, it is because I already have something in mind that has not yet left the design notebook. In this instance if the potential customer changes their mind I can still sell it as a new product. Bottom line is I have to be mindful of the time taken to develop a custom piece and the compensation involved, all the while staying true to my aesthetic and personal style. And goodness no – I will not copy someone else’s work…
Photographing the new design
I wish I was talented enough to get a few good shots of my products in just a few minutes, but the truth is, it takes quite a bit of time and patience to get a good shot. I have to set up the camera on the tripod, after I put on the macro lens. Then turn on/position the lighting. It has a dedicated spot in the studio but it always gets knocked out-of-place between cats and kids. Plus natural light will determine which direction the lights will be. Placing the item within the lighting so that it stays at the right position is also tricky. It is very tedious to set up a piece of jewelry and have it stay in place without falling over in an unattractive position. Sometimes I can use a bit of sticky tack to help keep charms in place. But for the most part, I like a natural drape over an object such as a smooth stone. Once I get the item positioned, I have to carefully move it ever so slightly left and right to get the lighting angle in the “sweet” spot: not so much light that it drowns out the engraving, and not so little that it appears dark which is also hard to see. When I find the sweet spot I will snap several pictures. I do have the added bonus of computer software so I can sharpen focus directly onto the computer before taking the pictures. Once I get several shots in one position I will try at least one more, plus a hand shot for scale. The hand shot turns me into a contortion artist while I get my hand in frame, focus the shot via computer with other hand, then hold still enough to take the picture. I would say the photography aspect is my least favorite thing to do. I procrastinate on it a lot. Like, until the “take photos of these new items” bin is over-flowing. Part of the reason is that photography is the most frustrating. You can take a ton of shots only to discard every single one when reviewed later. I have logged hundreds of hours over the years with different cameras, tried all kinds of set up and contraptions and watched many videos/read many blogs and I still think my pictures are acceptable for selling on the internet, but they aren’t stellar. I did purchase a short online course many years ago that I found the most helpful. But what works for me is based on putting in the time. There is no shortcut.
Photo editing can take even more time than taking the pictures. I don’t do any color correcting – just some brightening if the photo is too dark and cropping the photo square. The goal is to have a crisp and clear photo. Different resolutions on devices will have the items looking slightly different color and tone wise anyway. I don’t want to misrepresent what I am selling so I do very little touching up. I’m told my items look even better in person – and that always makes me feel really good. The pictures are attractive enough to make the sale and people are happy with their purchase, rather than disappointed. That is a good thing!
As time-consuming as editing is, I enjoy the process. Seeing my work on-screen is where it comes alive for the potential customer. I love choosing the final images and it is only discouraging when none of the images turned out to be viable for the web (it means I have to repeat the picture-taking step – WAH!).
Finally, I do watermark my photos with my website for copyright and recognition purposes. I know this is sometimes frowned upon for many different reasons: like it’s distracting, or Etsy doesn’t feature watermarked images…however I have witnessed photos being stolen and misrepresented as others’ work by scam artists over the years. Plus photos often get shared on different social network platforms without context as to where it came from.
Another daunting task that I don’t enjoy is pricing my work. In the beginning I would eye ball the piece and price it from the top of my head – which meant that I was rapidly losing money: not covering even my expenses to make the piece. So I soon moved to spreadsheets to price my work. I have a master spreadsheet with the cost of supplies: I price out to every last jump ring and component. Then I have spreadsheets for the items themselves: one for the keepsakes, and one for yarn as they are very different in pricing structure. This is where I add my costs for my time, packaging, and listing fees. The sad truth is I don’t make very much an hour. I honestly don’t mark up my work very much – and for this reason it’s hard for me to have sales or discounts. When I do run a sale, I am losing money at least on my time. I end up writing sales off as advertising (as well as giveaways).
So why don’t I mark my items up more? The market is solely dictated on the buyers and I have to go with what people are willing to pay. I’ve tried pricing my goods higher and they simply don’t move. Plus I’ve always had the philosophy that everyone deserves to own something nice and well made. I get it, money isn’t always there for the extras. I want my work to be accessible to as many people as possible as it is an expression of me from the heart. The many positive comments I have had over the years is a feeling that money could never buy. Yes I have expenses and bills like anyone else. But I do feel the handmade movement is far bigger than that. Sure I’d love to make more money at what I do, but I’d also like the cost of living to go down for everyone, too…
It never ceases to amaze me the misconception of how expensive handmade goods are or that they are not as good as the mass-produced products that have flashy ads or brand names to go along with them. Oh and if you are getting a lot of free stuff along with your purchase – or for signing others up – don’t think for one second you haven’t paid for it several times over in the markup.
Listing items online
I currently list items on two places online: my personal website and Etsy. I’ve sold on other platforms before but it’s too time consuming for the handful of sales, so I’ve stuck to the two places that I get the most bang for my buck.
I’m quite fortunate to have a software engineer for a husband as well as being a tad geeky myself so a lot of things I can take care of on my own on the front end and all the technical stuff hubby can deal with on the backend. For sellers who constantly complain about Etsy: please stop. Listen, I am not always happy with everything they do over there nor do I agree with every decision that has been made in the evolution of this company. However, once you try to maintain your own website – you come to appreciate that you just have to pay the fees every month and the technical issues are someone’s else’s problem.
Listing items online means writing a decent copy description of the item, making sure it is placed under the right category on your website, uploading the pictures, setting the shipping costs, and doing SEO for each individual item. Nevermind the hours of setup it took beforehand to have a working site – and we use out-of-the-box software to power my website. I am fortunate enough to host my own site thanks to my partner’s business…sort of. By that I mean, don’t forget I have to babysit the site daily to make sure it doesn’t go down due to hosting issues, getting hacked, or the myriad of other issues that can happen that render it useless: like your payment gateway failing or a file corrupting. As for SEO, I admit that I find SEO tedious and it falls to the wayside a lot – and I instead rely on Social Networking for promoting my items and getting them out there. Once again, I appreciate paying Etsy to do my advertising for me. I have a very small budget to promote my listings but there is always a return for doing so.
Touching a bit of this in the previous section – promotion is a full-time job in and of itself, something that I just don’t have the stomach for – I admit it. The online pond is very big and you have to scream really loud to get noticed: I’m not so good at selling what I’m selling. I don’t mind sharing and showing what I make, but doing so over and over feels egotistical to me. I am not doing anything life saving here; it’s pretty things. It’s fun yarn and accessories for knitting. None of which is necessary to survive. I also rarely discuss what I do with my friends and family because I don’t want them to feel obligated to support my work. I get it, it’s not to everyone’s taste. I don’t want people to feel like I look at them with dollar signs in my eyes. It is such a good feeling however, to tap into that crowd that loves and gets what I do. Etsy has been wonderful for that. And I appreciate all the good feedback I’ve gotten over the years there. If I ever doubt my talent or abilities, I can read that feedback and know I make good things and provide a positive experience to others.
Keeping items fresh & relevant
I used to make beaded jewelry – and I still do, I just find the simple wearable keepsakes translate as “in style” for a longer period of time. The time it takes to design and make beaded jewelry, plus the uniqueness of the designs means more effort to move the finished product. I like to stick with daily wearable pieces, like my ” wings” necklace that I wear everyday.
So if it is so hard why do it then?
It’s a drive to keep going that I can’t really explain. A passion for handmade and what I create. Wanting to get my items part of people’s online shopping experience: offering them an alternative to the norm. I do it because it makes my customers feel good, and therefore it makes me feel good. It’s my pay-it-forward. But mainly I do it because I have a drive to create like nobody’s business. It truly does keep me alive and sane, and if I want to keep creating, I have to move the things as they pile up. 🙂
I recognize that when I get resentful or feel stuck & anxious about it, it’s when all my time is spent online rather than making the things I love to make. The ideas run wild in my head and there is no outlet to get them out because I feel I must be responsible and do my social networking today, or list new items today. Once an item sells, most of the time I have to make the item with the customer’s personalization, then package and ship it. So if all my time is in doing just that and no new ideas are flowing, I feel stuck really fast.
I’ve just come to realize it’s about creating balance and even after 16 years at this, I haven’t struck the right chord. I tend to go from one extreme to the next. Now that I have made that revelation, I hopefully will find some motivation to list. Because there are some goodies in this folder that I’d love to get into people’s hands. It makes me happy that I get to share my talents with others.
If you stuck it out and read all this (thank you!) I hope you gain some insight on the behind-the-scenes of the handmade goods you buy online. If you sell or are looking to sell your handmade wares know I feel your pain, and I am here to support, if ever you need…
Weekly Sale October 2 – 8th, 2017
This week I am offering my knitting bling as I call it, for 40% off. Most sets of 8 stitch markers are only $13 regular price so it’s a great time to stock up for personal use or to gift a knitter or crocheter in your life.
I unexpectedly started my Christmas shopping today. Great deals at a kitchen store I couldn’t resist which reminded me, that I will have weekly sales leading up to the holidays but I have not had the time to blog about it (and I still don’t, so this will be brief). This week’s sale was 20% off the matching mother daughter necklaces. You still have time to take advantage of the sale, it’s going on until end of day tomorrow, Sunday October 1st, 2017. Monday I will announce another sale.
Available via my website and Etsy. Be sure to like my Facebook page if you want to keep up with sales and promotions. I don’t always have time to blog about it. Okay! I got to get back to work. I have yarn to dye and wool to comb into top, and jewelry request to fill…
I’m having a huge work block lately – I’m totally unmotivated to do the heavy lifting as far as listing and promoting my handmade items. I’m currently writing an extensive blog post about it – The Anatomy of a (handmade) Listing – that is rather involved and detailed so my brain can only write it in small bits at a time (I’ll link to it here when it is finished). I’ve been really busy making things with no real desire to list them – which, defeats the purpose of selling my handmade goods online. I feel like I need to get the details out in words so that I can move past my block and get things listed. As far as the deadline I gave myself for new items for the holiday season, well, I am really behind…
Luckily, I still have orders for jewelry and paying requests for yarn to keep me busy until the motivation returns.
In the meantime, I wanted to mention that I have been taking Instagram out for a test drive and I really like it! I have been meaning to check it out for some time but feared I lacked the time for it. Finally giving in to a smart phone a couple of years ago certainly makes posting pics online easier. I love seeing life in pictures – so if you are on IG please follow me: I need people to follow, too! The content is much different from what you would find on my Facebook page or even Twitter (although a bit of overlap is inevitable). It’s a behind the scenes glimpse of my creative life: and my cats with a few appearances of my kids (the cat thing, was supposed to be temporary while I tried out how the app worked – who knew people liked seeing pics of cats. So. The cats stay… 😉 ).
I don’t do a lot of sales because there is very little markup on my work. However once in awhile I love to give a discount because let’s face it: there is very little money for the non-essentials these days. Etsy is having its first ever site wide sale & I’m participating! The sale is running from August 31st to September 4th, 2017. Save 30% on everything in my shop (excluding jewelry making supply destash). I will run a sale in tandem on my website – 30% off – simply use code LONGWEEKEND30 at checkout. I will highlight it in the checkout in case you forget. The sale price will be automatic on Etsy.
Hopefully this sale will help you tackle some of that holiday shopping – I know I know – it’s too early to think about. BUT we all know how busy fall gets, and having a few small gifts or stocking stuffers ticked off the list is always a good feeling.
Don’t forget to check out your favorite shops on Etsy August 31st – September 4th to see if they are participating in the sale.
I’m celebrating handmade for the month of July with 50% off all my handmade earrings. I’ve been so busy this month in the studio with mostly fiber arts projects, the usual jewelry orders (and trying to have a bit of a summer vacation too!) that I am just getting around to announcing it on the blog now. But if you follow me on Facebook you may already know about the sale. In any event, you still have until the end of the month to take advantage.
Just use the voucher code EARRING50 at checkout on bb3.ca to take advantage. It is featured in the checkout too, in case you forget. Also don’t forget that orders of $39 or more from Canada or the US qualify for free shipping.
Speaking of the blog, do you like the new format? I have been spending a good chunk of my evenings updating its look and making it more user friendly. Now that I don’t have the newsletter, I have more time to devote to my other online entities. I love the blog and the ability to share more if which is limiting in a newsletter.
Since I have let the newsletter go, I am hoping to have more sales such as the 50% off earring sale this month. Go here to see all the pairs available. Choose the ones you like and I’ll make them for you! They make great gifts so stock up for co-workers, add-ons, even stocking stuffers. Don’t forget to treat yourself too! 🙂
I needed a quick gift to give a fellow cat lover and there was no time to order jewelry supplies & design something in such a short period of time. One thing I had immediate access to, was cat rubber stamps. So I made a set of note cards.
These cards feature stamps from My Favorite Things & Hero Arts sets. They are colored with a water brush & distress inks – mostly the new Oxide inks which I love! They color much differently than the original distress inks – which looks like watercolor paint. The oxide is more vibrant – cartoonish I guess – which I love.
For this next group of cat themed note cards I used a combination of distress inks and copic markers. I wanted a really simple note card but found the end result rather plain. So I added some Nuvo Crystal Jewel Drops and I loved the dimension they added. I adore the jewel drops the most as they have a nice translucency. The final card in this series (above) was to resemble a cat the recipient owns, but it was hard to get his unique black and white coloring.
The next two cards were achieved by masking the stamped area in order to sponge on a background with Distress Oxide ink. I stamped the cats on first and colored them. Then I cut out the stamped image from a piece of full stick post-it notes. After covering the cats with the post-it note cut out (above), I applied the oxide ink with my Ranger ink blending tool, then spritzed & dripped water onto the ink. Here are the results:
White embossing powder sets the sentiment on black paper die cut with a scalloped edge. Sequins made the best finishing touch.
Finally, as a thank you card for the recipient I made this card:
I love the cat peeking out the window and the curtains, what I don’t love is that I made it in a rush since the other cards took most of my time and all I see is the things I could do better. But, it was cute nonetheless, and practice makes perfect.
I’m thinking of offering some inexpensive cards sets on my website since I love the majority of how these ones turned out. If it comes to fruition, I’ll include a link here when they are available to purchase. Either way, I hope this post inspires your paper crafting or card making.
May will be the final newsletter. It’s not for any bad reason, it just hit me while compiling it this month, that I should consider doing something new as far as promotion goes. That and, for several reasons covered in the newsletter, it’s becoming more & more difficult for me to offer a monthly giveaway. The cost of postage alone has risen significantly over the 4 years I have compiled the newsletter.
bb3 is not going away anytime soon and I certainly still have many ideas left to create out of this noggin of mine. I will still be offering giveaways and promotions on social media – I just can’t commit to it every month. I can use these funds for other ads & promotions to help me grow. Sometimes we just need a reason to give ourselves a kick in the butt. The newsletter has become my comfortable go to – and growth happens not out of comfort.
There are many ways to keep in touch and up to date with what I am working on, this blog being one of them. All the ways are listed in May’s newsletter.
It’s been too painful until now but I finally designed a Memorial piece for our dear Hemingway cat who passed away suddenly from feline g.i. eosinophilic sclerosing fibroplasia back in February. I’m finally at a place where I want honor him and move forward, although not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and remember how he feels. I know it’s “just a cat” to so many people – but to me, he was so much more. We will have more cats join our family in the future but he will never be forgotten.
I tried several options before realizing that the simplest design is the best. I tried adding in a birthstone, & pearls, different chain – but just the sterling silver angel cat charm and a small 10.5mm charm that I engraved with his initial spoke to me the most.
I think that is one thing people don’t grasp when it comes to creating jewelry. Even though I am not manufacturing components, it takes time to come up with the right combination. I know it looks simple: but it took much careful consideration and trial and error to get the ideas from my head to paper and eventually to the final product. I have mad respect for jewelers who design every component from start to finish! I don’t have that kind of attention span – so I am happy to source out the right supplies (this takes time too!) to come up with the final product that is satisfying to me.
Since I was making a Cat Angel Necklace I decided to expand on the memorial pet jewelry and make a dog version as well. I hope to have more options in the future as I find the perfect sterling silver charms. The dog angel charms read ” good boy” and price out cheaper than the cat angel charms, I assume due to the size and amount of sterling used. I also had the idea to offer the piece as a necklace or clip on charm set. These 13mm sterling silver lobster clasps are a large size making them appropriate to clip to a purse, bag, keychain, zipper pull or an existing bracelet. I like how this clip on option turned out so much, I will probably offer this option with some of my other personalized necklaces.
In late January I ordered another cool fiber processing tool but it arrived around the time my baby cat passed away, so it took me awhile to get around to use it. I’ve always seen hackles as a tool for blending fleece & fiber, and since I own a drum carder, poo-poo’d investing in one.
Then it occured to me one day that hackles could make my life so much easier when it comes to combing fleece top. A drum carder is great for blending and making your fleece & fiber somewhat smooth, but it won’t remove all the noils or tiny gnarly bits nor is the fleece/fiber guaranteed to be lined completely straight like it would be if combed. This texture has merit for spinning, particularly chunky or woolen yarn. Of course I do like to spin a textured art yarn as well. For certain fleece that I hand process I prefer them to be smooth – like merino for instance. I love a nice, smooth, merino top. Plus I get the added bonus of felting with the leftovers. I love my St. Blaise combs, but there is only so much you can comb at once. With hackles, I can load a larger amount of fleece, then comb it out with my combs.
I’m still working out my process with the hackles, but what I find is that I can load the uncombed merino onto the hackles, then comb with just one comb: added bonus is this is so much easier on my neck/shoulders/back. The hackles are clamped to the table, so instead of motion with two of my arms, I only need to used one arm.
This merino is pretty rough so I will comb as much will fit onto the comb, then finish it by hand combing with both combs, then pulling a small top. After the top is pulled the process repeats: back for more fleece from the hackles, combing out, and so on. This makes the process so much easier! I was amazed how fast I went through the fleece – it cuts the time in half, at least, not to mention it really saves my body from the wear and tear which is the biggest advantage. I love to work with my hands, whether it be jewelry making, paper crafting, fiber washing, dyeing, combing or spinning, but it does wreak havoc on my muscles and tendons so any tool which makes it go easier is worth it to invest in.
Hackles is mostly used for blending and I have yet to try that. You can pull a nice long roving off of it rather than the little top I pull from my combs and coil into a nest. I purchased my hackles from Gemini Fibers here in Canada, and I appreciate that they are handcrafted in Ontario.
April is my birthday month – Earth Day – which seems to fit me perfectly (green washing aside!) being someone who pulls all my inspiration from nature and personal experiences. Truthfully, I often feel not of this earth even though many of my friends and family see me as the “grounding” person in their lives – the voice of reason per se. If only I could apply that sensibility to my own life. I am constantly in a state of buzz, worry, self-doubt and what ifs when it comes to my own circumstance. It’s easier to see clearly what one must do when one is not experiencing it first hand.
All that analogy aside, when brainstorming for April’s new products I wanted to have items with some personal meaning to me. Everything I make has meaning in one way or another, but this month I wanted to go one step further for items that represent me or something that is special in my life.
I keep a sample of all the charms I own in a binder with plastic inserts you would use for baseball or hockey trading cards. A look book for charms so to speak. I often will flip through it for inspiration. This month one charm caught my eye: the mother-daughter charm. This sterling silver charm comes as one heart that I have to carefully separate into two. The significance of this charm goes farther than my own mother-daughter experience: my mother is buried with her half.
I bought one of these charms originally for bracelets I was working on for my wedding jewelry.
My mother passed quite unexpectedly just 2 years later. I remember my father asking if I wanted her engagement ring as a keepsake, and feeling pretty wrong about it. Then I had this strong sense: yes, I will take the ring, but I wanted her to be buried with the bracelet from my wedding. My dad said if I could find it, he would give it to the funeral home. It was in plain sight in her jewelry box. Today I cherish my decision – at peace knowing she was buried with something that ties us together but also being able to keep a keepsake to pass on to my girls one day.
The second item is a woodland fairy necklace – personalized with a monogram charm and paired with a faceted crystal. Clear quartz crystal is a birthstone for April – not all of us can afford diamonds. 😉 I find crystal quartz to be a powerful mystical stone nonetheless – if you think of looking through a crystal ball or the mystery of the crystal skulls. It seemed highly appropriate to pair with a woodland fairy particularly for an Earth Day birthday.
Lastly, if you are a knitter here is some inspiration to keep your project going forward positively. Knitting and spinning for me is a meditative process so adding a few inspirational words into the mix should help keep things peaceful and positive. I also thought this set would be nice to gift one each to 8 of your knitting friends, and spread the positivity. The little things really do matter, particularly in the tumultuous world we live.
P.S. don’t forget to check out April’s newsletter and my Facebook page in order to enter for a chance to win April’s giveaway. I’m giving away a personalized bunny necklace this month.
Since the New Year I started making balled headpins again. I really like the look of them versus the more common flat head (although they certainly have their place in design). For awhile I just couldn’t be bothered and would buy sterling silver headpins in bulk. Now that I got the (mini) torch out again I have to ask myself why I didn’t just stick with making my own. Yes it gets tedious cutting the wire to size. Yes I have to set up the workspace including protecting my desk with a fire resistant mat. But having the freedom of making the gauge and length of headpin that I need for projects is a luxury, and watching the silver ball form at the end of the wire in the orange flame is mesmerizing. Using fine silver – a more pure silver than sterling – means no fire scale to clean off so it’s incredibly quick.
Instead of walking through the steps of making balled headpins, I’m sharing a very thorough and straight forward video from Beaducation. Why reinvent the wheel? She is also using the same torch that I own, only here in Canada I bought mine from Lee Valley.
Until I watched this video, it never occurred to me that the *kind* of butane matters and have since switched to a cleaner burning butane. I picked this one up at my local smoke shop so it should be widely available in Canada…