10.25.2010

fresh from the Makery: quitting while I'm ahead


Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I will say, less than a day after my second and most recent craft fair, I'm done with in-person sales for awhile.  The East Bay Mini Maker Faire was great. Despite some last-minute shuffling due to the rain and a $75 outdoor canopy I didn't end up needing, I thoroughly enjoyed participating in such a richly geeky event and felt that my mostly niche market products did better there than at the more general purpose craft fair earlier this month.  I sold seven phone cozies and a fair amount of both the Mother's Cookies notecards and the chick flick stationery.  I was much happier with my display this time around, not only because I had a lot more space to spread out but thanks to a few cardboard displays I purchased (laying either the phone cases or stationery flat didn't work very well at all last time...I mean, really, what was I thinking there?), a lot more signage, with information and pricing clearly marked, and a couple of quirky details, like the old-school rabbit ears antenna I used as a mini clothesline for a few phone cases and the QR tag I created for prospective customers to scan with their Android phones (or iPhones, as a few did, just because they could) to take them right to the custom listing in my Etsy shop.


In addition to the products I had at the last craft fair, including a few additions to my inventory of phone cases, a few of which didn't sell and are now in the shop (here, here, and here), I put together a portfolio of wedding invitations.  Time will tell if the event will produce any new wedding stationery clients. In the meantime, that's where my focus is going to shift because these felty crafts, as enjoyable as they are, don't exactly pay the bills. As my brother would say, bacon bits. Just bacon bits. (Not that the other shop brings home the bacon, exactly - maybe turkey bacon - but you know what I mean.)

10.11.2010

fresh from the Makery: let me eat cake!

So, I had a birthday yesterday. As my brother likes to say, sixth anniversary of my 27th birthday, to be precise. Leading up to this year's milestone (I've documented past birthdays here, here, and here), I was a little nervous about the way the numbers were lining up, turning 33 on 10.10.10. But it turns out 101010 is 42 in binary code which, you know, is the answer to life and the universe and all that good stuff. That made me feel a little better. And I had a great weekend. I even baked my own birthday cake. A few weeks ago, I bookmarked this post on Boston Mamas (a blog I still subscribe to, even though I no longer live in Boston, precisely because of posts like this that instruct you on how to make a rainbow cake and rock a unicorn birthday party!). With the one-year anniversary of my Android phone case coming up, I thought, well, if I was to make a birthday cake for my phone cozy's 1st birthday it would be a rainbow cake, naturally. As my own birthday approached, I figured, hey, might as well kill two birds with one stone. Hence, I present you with the general-purpose Android birthday cake:


Since I'm not much of a cook, I knew I needed to cut corners to make this thing happen.  Neal's made a few tasty cakes in his day and I remember him mentioning once that he'd read that if you're going to cut corners, it's okay to use boxed cake mix and save your energies for homemade frosting instead.  I do like me some buttercream, so that's just what I did, using the Best Recipes recipe for vanilla buttercream frosting. I used Trader Joe's box yellow cake mix for the cake itself and it did not disappoint.  Unlike Boston Mamas experiences, though, I do think the yellow cake mix affected the vibrancy of my colors when baked, and might go with a white cake recipe in the future (since all cakes henceforth will, obviously, be rainbow cakes).  But it might also be due to the fact that I went with a more pastel palette, using green, blue, and pink for the cake and most of the frosting.


Isn't that perty?  Also, I only had enough butter for about half the recommended amount of frosting needed for a two layer 8 or 9 inch cake.  This wasn't a huge problem, though, since I knew I wanted to do something crafty with my cake layers and wouldn't necessarily need all that frosting, anyway (who am I kidding, you can never have too much frosting).  I used one round (cut in half and layered) for the Android head and saved the second round for the antennae, mini cake, and this morning's snack.  Since it was also little Android dude's birthday, he got a little birthday cake of his own, (which made its way to my son's daycare today where my daycare provider is likely "enjoying" the aftermath as I type).


Thanks for a great year, little Android dude. Or, should I say, thanks, Google, for making such an adorable little logo with a creative commons attributions license.



Oh, and a few new phone cases (here, here, and here) were added to the shop this morning. I promise the Makery will get back to projects that don't involve robots at some point in the near future.

10.04.2010

the tucked belly band

I created a little twist on the typical belly band for a couple of recent orders and really liked the way it came out! Both of these clients ended up with completely custom designs. First up was an invitation order from a client I've worked with twice before, first on an order of custom stationery and subsequently on her wedding save-the-dates. So of course I was thrilled when she got in touch earlier this year to get the process started on invitations for her Labor Day weekend wedding. Here's what we came up with, a rustic but elegant ensemble that highlighted the natural beauty of the event's Pacific Northwest location.


Their names were printed again in Hebrew, which I think added a really lovely visual element even if you can't read Hebrew!


We carried over the gold and moss green used in the save-the-date, but instead of black, paired these colors with a rich chocolate brown for the majority of the text and the card stock backing on the invite.


Finally, instead of using a belly band all the way around, the brown shimmer paper printed with a gold woodgrain pattern was tucked between the two layers of the invite in front, creating a very subtle detail in front and a practical solution for containing the rest of the ensemble in back.


I created a similar band for a fall bride in this ensemble, which incorporated a palette of gray, brown, and "lake" blue, with a touch of green.


The client had found this font and wanted to incorporate a scroll theme along with the love birds motif, so I found these "sketchy" scrolls that coordinated perfectly.


The touch of green came primarily from the decorative paper we used for the tucked belly band (the silver of which in turn inspired the "cement" gray paper used in the ensemble!).


This design also gave me another opportunity to work with Etsy seller sugarskull7, who makes amazing hand-carved rubber stamps. 


My client wanted a stamp that coordinated with the flat-printed love bird motif we used on the invite, for use elsewhere in her wedding stationery, on programs and thank you notes she planned to make herself.  


Isn't the stamp itself just gorgeous?!  In addition to creating custom stamps, sugarskull7 has a huge inventory of unique stamps, ready to go, along with stamping supplies.  So talented. And great customer service. After a not so great experience with an address stamp maker for the same client, we were both relieved sugarskull7 could help us on the bird stamp!

Congrats to my late summer and early fall brides, Rachel and Alex!

fresh from the Makery: this week we explore pattern, texture, and glitter

Preparing for the craft sale this past weekend, you could say felt Android phone cases have sort of invaded my work/craft/living space.  But the silver lining to slow sales on Saturday was a bunch of stuff to list this morning, including a facelift on a few existing listings with new images, and several new phone cozies.  For starters, I made a standard droid dude version of my phone case:


Also new is a basic case that includes three colors instead of just two (I've been using a different color for the pocket on all of these limited edition cases so I thought I'd try that on the more basic option):


The original batch of limited edition cases is truly limited since I can't seem to find that patterned felt any longer.  I have enough to make two cases from each combination so they're somewhere between "one-of-a-kind" and "limited edition". "Two-of-a-kind", if you will which, oddly, sounds less, I don't know, special than "limited edition". Doppelganger edition, perhaps?

Anyway, I have found some new textured felt I've been playing with and listed two such cases today, starting with an alligator skin texture in red, paired with a gray Android, lining, and stitching:


The other fun felt find has a cobblestone texture...you know, for that old world effect:


I've got two or three more color combos for each texture that I'll be adding over the next couple of weeks (and/or trying to sell at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 24th).  Finally, I picked up a sheet of glittery, hot pink felt that I toned down a tad by pairing it with a gray droid and lining:


For some reason most of the glittery felt is too stiff to use for a phone case. Why you'd want it pre-stiffened is a little beyond me, but that's why this is the only phone case with that little extra je ne sais quoi that only glitter provides.

10.03.2010

back to life...in the cloud

Fresh from my first craft fair, I wanted to share a few images and thoughts.  I've been hesitant to participate in craft fairs until now primarily because, taking custom orders exclusively online until now, inventory has always been a bit of an issue.  But I hunkered down this past week and produced enough Android phone cases and paper goodies to fill out the smallish table I was given. 


There was a lot of editing throughout this last week of preparation - I went from nearly a dozen or so items to focusing primarily on the phone cases, a few Mother's Cookies items, and a couple of other note card sets ready to sell. 


I incorporated a few tips I picked up from a number of different craft fair checklists, including the height variations in my display, the free and edible offering of actual Mother's Cookies Circus Animals, and bringing my craft with me to work on during the six hours of the fair, something that didn't really work out too well in the end.  With the presence of the Mother's Cookies goodies, both edible and easy on the waistline, I decided to go with a pastry shop inspired display, using a silver charger and a couple of different cake stands.  While I liked how these worked visually and for display purposes, they weren't that practical when visitors wanted to peruse, for example, the 65 or so different chick flick notecards I had to offer yesterday.  Additionally, the phone cases, displayed more or less flat, sort of disappeared, prompting the venue's owner and organizer to offer me a little decorative suitcase to use to sort of prop them up.  I actually had an entirely different idea for displaying these that I didn't get around to but will definitely get together for my next event in a few weeks.


I used the elements of my Etsy shop banner for my table sign and thought, how clever would it be to carry this over into my individual product displays using an actual Dymo embossed label maker?  Clever, perhaps, but again, not so practical since the signs proved a bit hard to read.  I think I'll do something similar to my sign name, only smaller, next time around.

Other thoughts...While I'm still looking forward to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire later this month, I'm just not sure the craft fair/sale is for me.  For starters, it feels too close to my experiences in retail, experiences I'm not particularly fond of reliving.  Not to be all complain-y, but it's exhausting having to stand for hours on end with little or no break and repeatedly explain and pitch your products. Much easier to put it on the Internets and let the customers come to me.  Which brings me to the conclusion that the Android phone cases, targeting a niche market as they do, perhaps just fare better online.  Very few people recognized the logo, let alone carried an Android smart phone.  The one guy who did happened to be an employee of Google.  The only phone case I sold yesterday I sold to a woman with a Blackberry.  I explained the nature of the product and offered her my card with my Etsy shop info if she'd prefer a custom order.  I felt a little guilty but she insisted and seemed pleased with her purchase so who am I to argue?

Also, initially I thought, well, it won't be too tedious.  I oughtta be able to crank out several phone cases while I sit there for six hours, understanding of course that I'd experience, with any luck, frequent interruptions to interact with customers and hopefully sell some product.  But I was discouraged from sitting and crafting and I totally get it. I'm just not sure I like it or have it in me to do it too often, let alone monthly or sometimes weekly as some of these hardcore crafters do.

On a positive note, it was a really welcome change to interact with other crafty folks and supporters. One surprising hit were the chick flick notecards, the day's biggest seller (that's not saying much but still), and quite the conversation piece.  And of course, I learned a bunch and I'm hoping the event will prove to be a useful trial run for the Maker Faire coming up.  I'm also hoping to capitalize on the slightly more, er, geeky audience sure to attend.