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The Website is getting a Facelift…

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I’ve been quiet as far as my online presence goes, while I desperately finish this website facelift: upgrade and design. I finally came to the conclusion that I need to just put it up and change things on the fly, otherwise my complicated creative mind gets wrapped up in making everything just perfect.

Everything has been tested as far as ordering an item goes, and you should have no problems there. There may be some wonky things, such as asking if you’d like to receive updates and offers from our partners – obviously, my little creative project has no partners, and we do not give your personal info to any 3rd party. These options are hardcoded into the website software and I will have to get hubby to remove them from the code.

If for any reason you have difficulty with ordering, because I have been unable to test every single item, please drop me a line so I can complete your order. If you let me know specifically how your order failed I will be happy to give you a 25% discount. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sneak Peek at the New bb3.ca Website Design

fresh look for bb3.ca launching fall of 2015
fresh look for bb3.ca launching fall of 2015

Back in June it became very clear that the website needed more than just a simple update. So instead of making the old theme work with the new software version, I decided to go ahead with a new, clean design.

I naively thought it would take me a month to do, but there have been delays along the way – not to mention it is summer vacation here! So I’m aiming to be done in September. I hope to get this completed soon as I have many new projects I would like to get listed and shared with you all.

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New Packaging for Stitch Markers

I finished the packaging for my stitch markers. It actually came together quite quickly, once I took the time to sit down and assemble…

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Although I loved the little velvet pouches just as my jewelry comes in, I didn’t have a way to display these clearly for studio sales or up-coming trunk shows, thus making the little black pouches ineffective. I also wanted to make sure each piece was secure in its respective packaging. This, also keeps the cost down…and rubber stamps helped achieve that overall handmade feel I was going for.

I’m going to do several variations of the “knitting bling“. I know I have really enjoyed using them with my own knitting/crochet rather than the usual rubber/plastic stitch markers I normally use…

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The Website Is Up and Running…

The website is reloaded and extensively tested, although there may be aspects I missed so if you find any glitches please contact me to let me know. I freshened up the overall look. I now feel like it reflects the brand better. When I first established the website I was just getting comfortable with it having moved over from using Etsy and Artfire. Now that I have my footing I feel like I know my way around the space better and know how I want my brand reflected.

 

 

I am slowly adding product back as I am going through a period of change and expansion with my creativity. I am looking to streamline my collection as well as update some of the looks. I feel a bit stuck because our house is up for renovation in the near future – including my workspace. This is much needed as I feel very uninspired in my space these days. It has also become a bit perilous of an area for the baby so my time in it is limited. Slowly things will get back into full swing, per usual you can always contact me directly if there is anythig you are specifically looking for.

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Pardon the mess…while we renovate…

It’s been all about baby here the past six months, so much so I neglected my online presence to the point where we needed to do a critical upgrade and reinstall to both blogs and website. When it comes to web space, you simply cannot “set it and forget it”. I often chuckle at times like this when I see people complaining when a site like Etsy goes down briefly. I can only imagine what it takes to keep a community such as that up and running. Not that I agree with all the practices of ย third part sites, which, is why I have my own space. I think it is worth mentioning however, if you are interested in getting your own website, be prepared to nanny it constantly or pay someone else to do it. If you don’t have that kind of time or resources it may not be for you.

So we are down for a few days…I decided to do a total regut of the jewelry buying site. We are also upgrading to a responsive web design – responsive being the new buzz word for websites that display/work properly on smart phones and tablets (like the ipad). Not upgrading and adding critical updates made the sites sluggish and vulnerable to hacks…particularly the blogs. ย What a mess! Definitely could have saved us a lot of work if I was paying attention and not in total baby bliss. Moral to this story: never fall asleep at the switch of your website.

No matter – onward and upward. I do like a good tear down and gutting & in many ways this is what it feels like…a complete and total renovation. It feels fresh & new and in the long run I will be happier with it. In other words, I’ll stop pulling my hair out soon… ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m not up and running 100% yet anyway on account of the baby so do contact me directly with any requests…and stay tuned on what I have been doing while on “maternity leave” – mainly trying my hand at the textile arts: knitting, crochet, and…my absolute new obsession…spinning fiber on my Lendrum DT!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Going Solo: Setting Up My Own eCommerce Website

When I decided back in January to set up my own website using open-source cart software, I had every intention of blogging about the process along the way in hopes ofย  inspiring or helping others in the handmade community who were thinking of doing the same. I have always felt rather suffocated & limited by third-party sites. I tend to like to do things my own way and not have to play by the rules -or agendas- of others…it’s the artist and the entrepreneur in me, I guess… ๐Ÿ˜‰

What I wasn’t prepared for, was how time-consuming it was going to be. Oh, open source, la la la…once I learn how it works, how hard can it be? I have enough geek knowledge under my belt – this will be fine. Truthfully, it was a HUGE learning curve…one that has left me feeling totally accomplished – but still, jewelry making (development & skills) has been put on the back burner while I take on this very big endeavor (all the while, I still am taking custom requests. Eeek!).

So here is what I came to realize:

1. You can’t go it alone – unless you are a programmer in your “day” job.

Whether you use ZenCart, Magento,ย  PrestaShop or OSCommerce…whatever the software you find, it will never be perfect, and will need tweaking. Unpacking the software and uploading it to the web space in the first place was a head scratcher. And then, I cannot express my frustration loud enough of loading in a section or a product and having it not display properly. Luckily for me – I happen to live with a developer. My husband got me set up with the site, and tweaked the style sheet when items would not display properly. I am geeky but I do not code – unless you count simple html and that ain’t gonna cut it. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, no matter how many hours of sweat equity you want to put in, you will still need to have help from someone with technical know-how. That may mean paying someone – or maybe setting up a bartering system for goods in trade for programming. In my case all I have to do is turn really red and mash the keyboard really hard and my hubby comes to my rescue. I know everyone cannot be so lucky. ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Be willing to make compromises.

One of the reasons why it has taken me so long to even develop my own site is because I had visions of grandeur…all the things I wanted it to be able to do, to represent – AND do it all the while with an edgy, artsy look. Over the past 7+ years I have sketched out the website of my dreams on paper over and over again…tweaked and re-tweaked. The truth is, to have the kind of website I envisioned it wouldn’t have taken several hundred dollars in development time, it would have taken a few THOUSAND dollars in development time. Although I am married to a developer – time taken to put together that kind of site is food out of my children’s mouths. Literally! If he is working for free for me he is not doing work for his clients…

So I realized that I had to settle for heavenly flower, version 1. You have to start somewhere. So when demo-ing different cart software I looked for one that was closest to what I wanted. The one I chose has a fairly easy to understand back-end, it also had modules I could add for features I wanted. Besides being able to sell a product to customers, this one allowed browsing with different currencies, had a customer wishlist and also a rewards program. Also, I was able to find a theme I liked that was inexpensive, that was fairly easy to implement and fairly easy to tweak (again – hubby took the lead here…it would have been a disaster if I gave it a go solo!!). It’s not perfect. There are things I would like to change – and being open source we will probably change. But for now, version 1 is usable and presentable so onward & upward as they say. ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Be realistic with your goals

In January when I finally decided to go ahead with this project, I thought end of May would be ample time for implementing and launching the whole site. We are talking 4 months. Then, life happens. I am a mom to 2 little ones – and at the time I decided this timeline, I didn’t realize I was a *pregnant* mom.ย  Yet, I like to give myself tight deadlines as I tend to procrastinate. It turned out the fact that there is a new family member on its way really kicked my butt in gear. I spend my days with my kiddos, and added an hour or two extra at night to get my crap together. It did mean compromises – like going with older photos I had taken with the old camera. But this is heavenly flower, 1.1. I had to tell the perfectionist in me to politely eff off. I can always go back & retake photos later, once the site is finally live.

4. educate yourself as much as possible about the software you choose

I read many tutorials & posts on message boards to understand how the software worked, what I could expect, and any issues people had encountered with it. Hard on the head, yes – but if I hadn’t of done this, there would have been useful features that I would have totally missed. Not to mention when something wasn’t working it was such a time saver to pin point the exact problem.

5. weigh out the pros and cons of having your own site, and think long term

Are the sales rolling in since launching the site a little over a week ago? Oh hell no, of course not! I still have SEO (search engine optimizing) to do, not to mention all my own promotion and advertising I did when I sold on the third party sites. It ain’t that easy folks. For me, it is a long term plan. First, set up shop on a site like Etsy and try out this online thing for a couple of years. It had been over a decade since I first sold online – a lot of things have changed about online shopping since then. As a busy mom I love to shop online so I soon learned what I like and dislike about the experience. I plan to spend the next year building up my brand…which is a never ending process whether you have your own website or not. The point is, I have not made and am not making sales my goal for this year. If I get requests, great, but again I am thinking long term. I’ve never really been comfortable with my name attached with such-and-such selling community. So it is worth it to me to take the time -finally- to build something for myself. For others that may not be such an issue. Nor is everyone ready to invest that kind of time (and possibly money) on something that is not necessarily a sure shot. Remember that your own site means not only paying to set up the site, but for hosting. In my case, once I stopped paying Etsy listing/renewing fees and downgraded my Artfire to basic I have ample money to pay for the monthly hosting cost. The goal is to eventually offer my own credit card processing as well. What you want to offer, who to and when are all questions to ask yourself.

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So it’s the end of May – did I reach my goal? Yes in the sense that the site is live. No, because I am not done – yet. Still more products to load. And we need to move over to the faster more reliable hosting. Am I happy with the direction things are heading? Absolutely! Having my own site in many ways is like birthing a baby. It’s a huge responsibility and can be scary/intimidating at times. But I have never felt so free and excited about the future of my handmade business! ๐Ÿ™‚

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My Eye is on the Ball for a May launch…

Here is a cross post from my other blog, to explain the growing excitement for our family these days: Our Growing family .

Despite all the excitement & distractions, I am still working towards an end of May launch for my new website.ย  (Preview new look of the site here).

My clearance section, now currently the inventory on Etsy & Artfire is loaded. My hubby the developer has my list of tweaks as there are a few hiccups with the style sheet (I am using an open source software to power the site) which are well over my head technically speaking. Stage 1 of testing the Paypal API has been successful – I now have to test it using different currencies & countries.

This weekend I started pairing and pricing collections, which is exciting…and I am itching to make new things. I have to keep my eye on the ball, though. Due to our family’s unexpected coming arrival I am really behind, but I am confident I can catch up even if it means launching with only one collection live.

Once I decide on customizing options for each collection & price, I then get to play around with attributes on the website. Oh goodie, I say apprehensively. I am excited to be able to offer custom choices on each piece, but it is a bit of a headache to figure out on paper, let alone figure outย  how to do it via software. It will cut down a lot of back & forth time with my custom work though, which is win-win for both me & my customers. Well worth the headache.

I will be permanently closing down both my Etsy Shop & Artfire Studio end of May. I really need all the funds I can get to pay for my hosting. I have cheap hosting now but it is not reliable. I need an upgrade like, yesterday! To be honest, my feedback from customers on the third party sites has been luke-warm at best, to the down-right, “I hate it”. Unless my customers are already members of these communities, they haven’t really served me well for what I do. In fact, this blog accounts for 95% of my jewelry requests! So it will be nice to finally have my own little home here on the internet that I feel best represents me. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am planning on having a sneak peek of the collections here on the blog shortly…stay tuned. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

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heavenly flower Featured as Shop of the Week Bejeweled’s Jewelry

Thank you Lisa Holley for featuring my Etsy Shop as the shop of the week!!

Bejeweled’s Jewelry: All My Friends on Etsy

(on a side note, I should be back to blogging shortly. I got side tracked with web design & a new venture hopefully launching shortly there after…so many ideas, so little time…)