Wednesday, February 29, 2012

{New} Key to My Heart Necklace

I'm excited to announce that a new necklace design is now available in the shop!!!...

Key to My Heart Necklace

The necklace features a lace-textured stoneware heart pendant with an antique brass bronze skeleton key sweetly dangling underneath.


It's a great necklace for layering with other pieces.


Available in 6 glaze colors- Vintage Grape, Purple Orchid, Teal, Green Patina, Rustic Cream, & Espresso Blue. See all the necklaces for sale here!

Stay tuned for 2 more necklace styles coming the end of this week/beginning of next!

BIG thanks to model Stephanie & Hollie Marie Photography for all their help!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today


I've been thinking about the way I live in light of Jesus' return. Yeah, generally I consider myself a good person in comparison to the rest of the world, but are there things that I do that I would be ashamed of if Jesus returned while I was doing them? Maybe movies or TV shows that I'm allowing to seep into my mind or maybe even how I'm responding to certain situations around me. I think a lot of what we do and how we respond has to do with the condition of our hearts.

I realize we are all human, and we will never be perfect, but I hope this challenges you to be more intentional with how you live each moment. To live for Christ today and everyday because our time is short.

Is Christ honored by how you are living today?


Friday, February 24, 2012

Ask the Experts- Just.Lovely.Things

The last day of "Ask the Experts" has arrived! (If you need to catch up, do that here!) I'm so honored to have Heather here today! Heather is the owner of Just.Lovely.Things and the co-owner of Fawn & Flora, so she is a busy lady, and her interview is PACKED with information and tips for running a business and blog! Make sure you have a nice chunk of time to take it all in!
What led you to open your shop & how long have you been in business?
I've actually been self employed since 2006 and have owned a few salons (was also a stylist) and a photography business, both of which I quit doing last year to focus on my blog and shop full time. I've tried so many different things, I guess I'm a dip your feet in the water kind of girl. Lets just say I've done a lot of dipping over here- from starting out with business courses in college for metalsmithing and art, to lots of side jobs including retail, management, barista, bartender, marketing, jewelry making... seriously, you name it. There are a few things I've realized about myself over the years:
I get bored and I'm not afraid to try new things.


In late 2008 - early 2009 while planning my own wedding on a budget, I discovered the world of wedding and handmade blogs, and I've been hooked ever since. In the summer of 2010, I started becoming unhappy as a hairdresser and owning a salon. By winter I had put together a local event called The Indie Crafters Market featuring other artisans, and I decided to sell some little hair goodies I made. The response to them was great, and by January 2011, I opened my shop. It took a lot for me to decide if I could put all my energy into it, but one morning last year I woke up and realized that doing hair and taking pictures for my clients... not for me. With the support of my husband, family, and friends, I quit it all and I've never been so happy! 



Do you ever deal with discouragement when running your business?
All.the.time. Ok, I want to clarify this. I can get discouraged easily, and I don't know if it's the scorpio in me that makes me crazy or something, but one moment I can be completely confident in what I'm doing and the next minute totally down in the dumps. Weird, right? I think comparison comes with the business I have chosen which placed me into a community of bloggers and handmade shop owners who, in reality, are all trying to make it. Yes, I want to do what I love, but I also want to be successful. I want my business to grow, and I have huge dreams for it. That's not to say that when I see someone else doing something better or making a snide remark (because sadly, it happens), or when I feel pressured about deadlines, or ask myself "what in the heck are you doing?," or when I don't have something to blog about, that I don't get upset.

What I always have to remember is that at the end of the day, I'm truly lucky because I get to be me and do what I love. In just over the course of a year, I have seen my shop and blog go places that I didn't think were possible. That is so incredibly humbling, so in any sort of discouragement I get, I have to be grateful of where I am because others might be discouraged by me... Does that make sense without sounding snotty? I mean, I get the cutest comments from people (readers and customers) that make me feel like I'm on top of the world and that they are looking up to me, but what I don't think they realize is that I'm looking up to others, too. We all inspire one another and on that note, I think it's our responsibility to ENcourage each other so that the DIScouragement can stop.



I think it's also great to just step away from it all and reflect on what really makes you happy, which for me, is bonding with others who have similar interests and being able to create. Stepping away to do this actually started another business for me! I became friends with Dana from Wonder Forest, and the connection was quick- so quick and strong we actually started a company together called Fawn & Flora. Basically, my love for creating pretty things allows me to stay inspired and not get discouraged. If something from one of my shops isn't working out right, I can easily step away, re-focus, and do something with the other shop. Plus, having that friendship with Dana is great. We can't get on each other's nerves since we aren't around each other, and we are there to encourage one another no matter the situation! Seek friends when you feel discouraged, and I promise it helps.


How important is social media (facebook, twitter, blogging, etc.) in growing your business?
I think there are pros and cons to social media. It's obviously a huge part of what has made my business become fruitful in many ways, and I have made new friends, networked with other businesses, and built a strong blog following and customer base. It's completely vital to how successful my business is or will become. Looking back at the previous question though, it's also where a lot of discouragement can stem from. That's where you need to find the right balance in using the internet and not getting so completely consumed with what others are doing (yet still trying to support them) that: (a) you lose hours in your day that you could be using for yourself or your business and (b) you let it affect the way you feel about what you are doing.

Think about all the businesses that don't use social media or those that started before it existed. Those businesses are still around and doing just fine because they know how to build customer relationships. The art of business is based off of good communication, reliable products, and stellar customer service. If you can achieve those things, you will be successful. Thankfully social media is another stepping stone to that success. I honestly love it so much and use it to its full advantage (facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest, blogging), but I don't neglect personal interactions that can be just as beneficial.



Are there any indie biz owners or bloggers that you look up to & admire?
This question is hard because I want to sit and list all my friends and their shops and blogs. I've been lucky enough to make some really great connections since I started doing this. How about I switch it up and share with you what inspires me?

I'm drawn to the pretty stuff- the designer and photographer element of a lot of things. Here are the places I go when I need a lift, a new perspective, or honestly, just a break from my own thing...
Bri from Design Love Fest has an eye for killer style and is usually the trendsetter in links you see floating around on other blogs (since she somehow manages to always find things first).
I love the consistency that Moorea from Moorea-Seal brings to her brand. She has a certain vibe with colors and shapes that you see in her shop, blog... even the stuff she pins. (Yep, I'm a pinterest stalker.)
Other favorites who are a breath of fresh air are Making it Lovely, PoppyTalk, Hula Seventy, and The Flowerchild Dwelling. I could seriously go on and on. The blog world is inspiring and ever changing. Don't you just love that there is something for all of us?


What have you found to be the most successful way to grow your blog?
I'm still learning! I have a great business series going on this month on my blog called Love Your Business, and I have a feeling that the direction I want my blog to go may change each time I read one of the contributor's articles. Blogging is different for everyone.
Do you want to write for you?
Is blogging an outlet?
Do you want to create/write to share with others?
See, my blog is a reflection of the person behind the business, so of course, I want to share all of the things that interest me while sharing a little bit about myself. I'm still searching for that right balance of being a real girl and being a business owner. Both the business and blog are full-time and both make income, so I can't neglect either one, which I think is the most imporant part of my journey- balance. Finding the time to make my blog a place not only I want others to visit, but where I want to be. Sure, I've had slumps and that's when I stepped away, slowed down on posting, and only wrote when I felt the need. Then I have crazy days where I want to post like 5 things at once. In the end, you have to realize that it's your blog, so take it where you want it and the followers just fall into place. Seek loyal traffic by being true to yourself.


If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out with a handmade biz, what would it be?
Please, please, please don't do something just because everyone else is doing it. Don't go browse pinterest or etsy and think "hey, I could do that." It's really not made for everyone, so don't do it unless it's your passion. I say that because not only do you over-saturate an already saturated market and take away from others who do have a real passion, but if you don't succeed it's possible discouragement and time wasted. HOWEVER, if you do have a passion, really think you could be happy, can take the responsibility (because believe me, there is a lot of responsibility in owning a business), and have the support behind you and the confidence in yourself, then go at it 110%! Do it because you love it, you want to follow your dreams, and you know you can, and don't stop because you never know where it will take you! If you put yourself into it with confidence and a vision, you will achieve something.


And just for fun... If you could have a day to put your work on hold and do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do?
Honestly, I've been thinking about this and I might consider seeing if it's possible, but I would LOVE to go hang out with little kids, like maybe elementary school-aged, and teach them crafts! I mentioned in a post over on Revolutionize Her (a blog I contribute to) that I thought I was going to be a teacher when I grew up, but my dreams led me elsewhere. I just love sharing, and really kids are innocent and fun, and I think they would make me enjoy it and see things in a new way. So that's what I would do... go hang out with kids for an arts and crafts day. Of course, maybe I would have to go get a massage and pedi afterwords, so how about a crafty-spa day?? :)

So much great advice, right?! Seriously, I think I need to take notes on this. I think it's so important to remember to do what you love because why would you want to do something for the rest of your life that you didn't enjoy?

BIG THANKS to Gussy, Jessica, Casey, & Heather for sharing their advice here with us this week!!! You ladies rock!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ask the Experts- Casey Leigh

Today I'm continuing "Ask the Experts" with the lovely Casey. (You can read yesterday's interview with Allora Handmade here!) I'm sure many of you read Casey's blog, but if you don't, you must go check it out! It is very raw, real, and beautiful, often written from the depths of her heart. She is a freelance artist, wife, & momma of two (with one on the way!)

What led you to open your shop & how long have you been in business?
I have been a freelance artist for about 5 years now. My husband gave me the courage to take the leap! I went from painting for fun to making it a profession!


 Do you ever deal with discouragement when running your business?
Yes, definitely. I am super hard on myself, but having a supportive husband helps a ton!!   


How important is social media (facebook, twitter, blogging, etc.) in growing your business?
I think it is HUGE. I wrote a post about it awhile back. You can find it here: http://www.thewiegands.com/2011/11/advice.html


Are there any indie biz owners or bloggers that you look up to & admire?
There are tons! All for different reasons! So much drive, encouragement, and inspiration in the blog world- it's amazing!


What have you found to be the most successful way to grow your blog?
Sponsorships and networking!    


If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out with a handmade biz, what would it be?
I would say don't be discouraged if it starts out slow... it's a process! Very rarely does something just explode over night.


And just for fun... If you could have a day to put your work on hold and do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do?
I would go to the beach with my family!

Be sure to head on over to Casey's blog // facebook // twitter and get to know her better! (Her shop is closed for maintenance right now.) Looks like "find a supportive husband" is on my to-do list... kidding!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ask the Experts- Allora Handmade

Today I'm honored to have Jessica of Allora Handmade as a part of my "Ask the Experts" series! (Did you read Gussy's interview yesterday?) If you've been around here for long, you have probably heard me talking about Jess and her amazing rosette necklaces (I'm sporting one here and here!) Not only is she a successful business owner, but she is also a wife, a mom of two adorable boys, and the co-creator of the Queen Bee Market


What led you to open your shop & how long have you been in business?
poor.college.students. ha! i opened shop when i found myself with 2 babies, a husband back in school, and no money to pay rent. it was a leap of faith in a desperate moment almost 3 years ago.


Do you ever deal with discouragement when running your business?
yes! it is only natural! after all, no one has ever done what i'm doing exactly how i'm doing is. so much of the handmade business is making it up as you go along and that can be really discouraging if you lose sight of the goal. i just have to tell myself to "carry on" and that tomorrow is a new day.


How important is social media (facebook, twitter, blogging, etc.) in growing your business?
social media is the driving force for my business. outside of people who know me and customers who recommend my product to their family and friends, it is the only way other people know about my shop. i am not in stores. i am not in catalogs. social media is my marketing strategy. the bigger my influence is in those realms, the bigger my customer base is. they go hand in hand. having said that, it is really hard to stay on top of it all while trying to stay on top of orders as well. that's when i wish for a clone. ;)

Are there any indie biz owners or bloggers that you look up to & admire?
i wouldn't even know where to start. really, the whole movement of indie biz in the online community is fascinating, and i have serious respect for anyone who gives it a shot. there are several that have helped me a lot along the way, but i have to credit one that i've looked up to long before blogs ever were- my sister, mique from thirtyhandmadedays.com. love that girl.


What have you found to be the most successful way to grow your blog?
i have never paid much attention to numbers and it is never in my scope to "grow my blog" simply because there are too many other things i am trying to stay on top of. i mean, let's be honest- i am usually pretty proud of having blogged at all in any given week! i have noticed that giveaways, guest posts, cross marketing with twitter and facebook, and posts that are relevant to my audience have all led to not only the growth, but also the impact of my blog.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out with a handmade biz, what would it be?
never hope more than you work.


And just for fun... If you could have a day to put your work on hold and do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do?
spend the day at the beach with my family. and i do it as often as i can!

Be sure to connect with this lovely lady on her blog // facebook // twitter and if your eyes need to stare at pretty things, head over to her shop (disclaimer: I am not responsible for the condition of your bank account after you visit). And remember, "Never hope more than you work."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ask the Experts- Gussy Sews

"Ask the Experts" is finally here and we're kicking off the series with the highly talented and crazy popular Gussy Sews!!! Pull up a seat and get comfortable because Gussy has so much wisdom to share with us!

What led you to open your shop & how long have you been in business?
My husband, Zack, and I were living in Detroit a few months after we were married when we both suddenly lost our jobs in 2009. We were shocked, especially since we had graduated from college within the past year. In between applying for jobs I was reading library books on how to sew, something I had taken an interest in just a few months prior. I was also blogging, or trying to blog! ;) The longer our unemployment went on the more time I had to devote to learning the trade of sewing... and the quicker I fell in love. It was quickly the fall of 2009 and our unemployment income was about to end. The house we were renting in Detroit was also nearing the end of it's lease, so after receiving a job offer in Minnesota {and zero in Michigan} we decided it was necessary to pack up our home and travel west to Minneapolis.

Zack and I were once again employed and it was the best feeling ever! It was a huge relief to have a steady income once again and the new adventure we were on made everything else we went through as a team totally worth it. But, as the months passed I couldn't stop thinking about sewing, blogging, and the brand new community I had formed online. Would it be possible to do this full-time, I wondered?!

Ohhhh, what I wanted to give to make it possible :)


That husband of mine, he deserves a gold star. He's always supported every dream I share with him. Together we made a plan for how I could quit my NEW salaried position, the one we moved 600 miles for, to pursue Gussy Sews full time. That magical day was May 17, 2010. That's the day my heart burst with glitter... the day I literally skipped myself out of bed because I was so excited to start work. That day was a huge milestone for Zack and I, especially because I was so new at handmade // indie biz // entrepreneurial goodness. I share more details on how I did this on my blog :)

To share some easier-to-read stats: I taught myself how to sew in November 2008 and then in May 2010 I quit my day job for my dream job :)


Do you ever deal with discouragement when running your business?
A few times, yes. I think every artist faces discouragement and the only way to beat it is to,
a) find a really great support system to share the ups and downs with
b) decide whether your business is worth fighting for
c) spend a healthy dose of my day OFFline.
How important is social media (facebook, twitter, blogging, etc.) in growing your business?
Absolutely monumental. I truly believe it's the only way Gussy Sews was able to take off in the way it did. I attended a blog conference in 2010 called Blissdom, just a few months before I left my day job, and I'll always associate a large part how HOW I was able to leave my day job to attending Blissdom and being face-to-face with so many from my tribe

Are there any indie biz owners or bloggers that you look up to & admire?



What have you found to be the most successful way to grow your blog?
Hmmm, such a BIG question :) I'd like to pick two answers: "trial and error" and "authenticity". It's totally natural for it to take a little bit of time to find your writing style and to know what kind of online community you'll develop. What you think may work may not, and what you think won't work totally will! By writing "authenticity" I mean YOUR own authenticity, not that of someone else. It's so easy to shadow what works for others but I feel like that's the easiest, quickest way to burn out and quit.

A tip: take notes on the ideas you dream up. Start making lists, categorizing your ideas into topics and then start your blog. It can be so easy to miss-mash topics and styles and it'll only cause a lot of confusion.

Don't be nervous :) Just start writing and pushing through even when it seems like no one's reading. Most likely people are, they are just nervous to comment!



If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out with a handmade biz, what would it be?
Own your niche! Study all that you can, start new trends, be confident in what you're creating :)

And just for fun... If you could have a day to put your work on hold and do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do?
I would eat a giant platter of yummy cheeses, crackers, fruits + chocolates :)

Isn't Gussy's story so inspiring?! She was one of the very first blogs that I found in this amazing handmade world, and I truly feel like she has had a huge impact on where I am today. :) Be sure to check out her blog // shop // facebook // twitter to follow along on her adventures!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yours


If You washed away my vanity
If You took away my words
If all my world was swept away
Would You be enough for me?
Would my beating heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives and takes away

If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart will sing to You


P.S. Tomorrow starts the "Ask the Experts" series, and I CAN'T WAIT!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ask the Experts


As I mentioned yesterday, there will be a new series here next week titled "Ask the Experts." I feel soooo blessed by the amazing ladies who have so graciously offered to share their experiences and advice here with all of us about running a handmade biz & blog! I'm sure none of them would consider themselves experts, but I know they have a wealth of knowledge that can only come from experience, and I'm so excited that they are willing to share that here! Drumroll, please...


TUESDAY: Maggie (aka- Gussy) from Gussy Sews
WEDNESDAY: Jessica from Allora Handmade
THURSDAY: Casey from Casey Leigh
FRIDAY: Heather from Just.Lovely.Things

See you here next week! xo

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Coffee Date

I think it's about time we had another coffee date! You can get whatever you want, but I think I'll stick with water.


I would tell you that I saw The Vow last night with my girlfriends for Valentine's Day, and I really liked it- maybe not one of my favorite movies, but definitely worth seeing. My one friend even gave me flowers! (How sweet is she?!)


I would tell you that I unloaded my kiln on Monday, (it was a glaze firing- the exciting one!) and I'll be working on stocking up my shop again this week! (If you want to see more peaks inside the kiln, there are more pictures on facebook!)


I would tell you that I met up with this lady and this lady on Monday, too! And let me tell you, they are both as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Do you read their blogs? You should. I feel so blessed to know them in person! (How cool is that?!)


I would tell you that I got my mom a cupcake from the local cafe/cupcakery that Steph, Michelle, and I met up at- Chocolate Covered Raspberry. Doesn't it look good?! It was her V-Day treat. :) And the box... oh, don't get me started. You know how I have a thing for packaging. ;)


I would tell you that I have a new week-long blog series coming up next week that I am very excited about! It is going to be packed with advice for newbie bloggers and shop owners. I'll give you more details tomorrow!


I would tell you that I got this print from Yellow Heart Art, and I loooove it! I added it to my office, and whenever I see it, it makes me smile!


I would tell you that on Friday, I'm going to be working with a model and professional photographer! I am SO EXCITED!!!!!!! I can't wait for you to see my new jewelry designs AND my gorgeous model! :)

Phew... I feel like there's a whole lot of exciting going on.

What about you?
What would you tell me?
Tell me something EXCITING!

Hello Hue Little Things
 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday Reflections: Everything We Have


How many of us are willing to give God everything we have to live on? And not just financially, but all of ourselves- our time, our desires, our plans? I promise you, it is worth it.

linking up with Heather

Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Office/Packing Room

Remember I told you a while ago about how I got an office/packing room in the house? Yeah, it was a while ago. I finally got a little more organized and took some pictures!



Nothing like a fresh wheel of bubble wrap :)




My "No" chart (you might not be able to see, but I checked off my first "no") :)



I absolutely LOVE having my computer, shipping supplies, and pottery all in the same room! I used to have to grab ordered pieces and my laptop, then run upstairs to my shipping supplies. I would usually make a couple more trips up and down the stairs because I forgot or ran out of something (at least it was a good workout!), so this has been an amazing time-saver!


My mom helped me organize my pottery by color, but these shelves are starting to get bare! The big item on my to-do list today is to "glaze like a mad women." I have to fire my kiln Saturday, so I can unload on Monday and then... hold onto your pants, there are some EXCITING things happening in the near future! I'm so excited for this new venture that NS Pottery is on!

  
If you want more organization inspiration/ideas, be sure to head over to Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop today on her blog!

Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop!