Sunday, May 27, 2012

Analyzing Failure

Welp, I built it... and no one came. And as I'm so apt to do after a complete and utter failure, I analyze and reanalyze and try to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Was my sale a complete and utter failure due to :
  • Poor timing... one of the busiest travel / graduation / holidays of the year
  • Ugly beads... I often feel that my beads are different... people don't "get" me / my humor / my style... or as I like to say, "My beads are ugly and their mother dresses them funny."
  • Too much reliance on Facebook  and my own paltry newsletter?
I can't do much about timing... by the time I decided to have the sale and the structure (buy more / save more of similar valued beads), it took a week to photograph, size and code the shopping cart.  Bad timing could be the story of my life.

Ugly beads... well, if they are ugly, people outright lie to me. Although I always secretly wonder when someone calls them "interesting" if they really mean ugly.   (I hate that word - interesting... it's such a vague bullshit kinda word.) Unless people are honest with me, I have no idea.

And as for Facebook, after reading this informative article, I realized that Fan Pages don't really work the way I thought they did. To quote the author, Kristen:
"Right now only certain fans see your updates in their feeds. However, if you now PAY Facebook $5 for an estimated reach of 900 fans or $10 to reach approximately 1600 fans, then your status update will show up in the feed of everyone who “likes” your page."

That's great but I don't have 500 fans and don't feel I should have to PAY the same as someone who does just to get a message out. And as business owner, I understand that Facebook can't offer all it's services for free forever. However, as a fan of many business pages (from my local bakery to other etsy sellers or RL friends), I hate that I have to go to their page just to see what's going on or to increase the likelihood that I will see a sale or special that pertains to me. I feel that if I LIKE something... it should show up in my feed PERIOD!

As for my newsletter... I thought it was a great way to communicate with potential customers but when less than a third open it much less click on a link... I'm left pulling my hair out trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.  Which leads me back to #2...ugly beads.

I have no answers and I've always laid my feelings and insecurities bare here just as I have shared my triumphs.  The lack of interest certainly doesn't make me want to hit the torch...which I could have done every day this week and... just could not make myself do it. I just know I long to be one of those bead makers who makes beads and... they sell. I've only experienced that a handful of time via my fan page... guess I can't be too mad at Facebook.

If anyone is remotely interested after this post... there is a huge sale and a CONTEST going on.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fan Drive and Sale

I've decided to host a fan drive in conjunction with my huge glass bead sale. In addition to the two prizes offered here, my Glass Bead Fan Page has three additional prizes: Gift certificates for $50, $40 and $30 good for any bead /  jewelry section of my Glass Bead Site* or Etsy... your choice!

But first, about the sale! I've cleaned out my HUGE bead bowls and some of my travel / teaching kits for this sale! There are six listings with super discounted individual beads but... within those listings are some buy more, save more deals. The beads get cheaper the more you buy!!!

The categories are:

With a sale this big, can you understand why I was pulling my hair out last week with photo editing and shopping cart code???

To participate on the FAN PAGE FOR PRIZES: 
1) SHARE any of the posts about the sale with your friends.
2) INVITE your friends to follow and post on the fan page that you sent them. You will both be entered in the drawing on 5/29 for prizes.
3) TALK about the sale on any of your social media outlets and post the link ON the fan page.
Each activity gets you an entry!!!

But don't forget to enter here for prizes too!!!

*Free beads gift certificates are for beads or jewelry only, must be used on listings older than one month unless otherwise specified, shipping is included within the limits of the prize.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Sale IS Coming!

I've been hunkered down over the keyboard all week, prepping photos and posts for a super glass bead sale! I've cleaned out all my teaching kit and many of my ginormous bead bowls for this special event!  Many of these beads have never been shown online!!

I had hoped to have everything ready to go today but with the rehoming of the ducks and a persistent knee injury from a nasty fall a few weeks ago... It will likely be tomorrow.  Stay tuned for more info. But in the meantime, enjoy these lovely teasers:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Photography Conundrum

I recently had my Etsy shop critiqued and the one thing that really got me down was the comments on my photography. I've always prided myself on my photography skills and I've even been published but I have to  admit, product photography is HARD!

So I set out to build a better set up.When I ran across a build your own photo tent on a jewelry designer's blog, I thought it was something I could do.

Her blog recommended an used large priority mail box.  The top and two opposing sides were cut out and replaced with vellum. The front was cut away and wrapped with aluminum foil and placed in the rear for more stability. A photographic paper was laid in the bottom and lights were placed pointing in the three vellum windows. I'm not posting links to her tut because... as you will see, the set up didn't work for me...

I will say that for round one, I did not have matching lighting... I had one flourescent overhead and two incandescent lights on the side because that's what I had at home. I also took my big fancy smancy light box apart and put it in the bottom of the cardboard setup.  This is the raw photo followed by my color correction in photoshop:

I noticed that some of the high-silver beads I had seemed blurry in this set up so the next day I purchased 120 watt equivalent matching fluorescent lights and removed the lightbox and replaced it with white matte coat cardstock. And the photos got WORSE!

I could not remove that ugly yellow tint from the fluorescent lights... and the photoshoped colors are hideous... So... I went back to what I've been doing... outside on my bannister with a notebook of cardstock in indirect light.

Not perfect but... as close to the real bead as possible! In the end, I wasted several days and still have no idea how to take better pictures!

Glass bead Bobbin Necklace is here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fresh Glass 5/7/12

I repaired my kiln myself over the weekend and finally got to anneal the beads from the day the kiln died on me mid-session! And I got to make a few new things too!! Happy Girl!

Lots of new beads up on the glass bead website and I'm SLOWLY restocking my Etsy now that I'm done on Artfire! Thanks for l@@king! Happy Monday all!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saving Money on the Wedding Cake

At a cost range of 2 - 15 bucks a slice, the wedding cake can represent a HUGE chunk of change. As the niece and I both have pastry skills, we couldn't see spending that much for cake. But we knew it was out of the question for us to do the cake... what to do and still stay on budget?

Once the bride told us she liked the look of multiple cakes at varying heights filling a table, I knew immediately how to save money! We were also lucky in that our girl has very simple and elegant tastes. By going with simple white cake with only a shell border at the bottom, I knew we could create a fantastic looking display and save some serious dough!

As luck would have it, one of the aunties found a lovely and very affordable plant stand in black at big lots that would hold four cakes. When we purchased it - a full year before the wedding - it was eight bucks. It's now $12. But we were drawn to it because there appeared to be an "A" in the scroll work, our bride's first name is Athena... Kismet.

Jewelry boxes were cleaned out and a local dollar store had lots and lots of crystal jewelry for a dollar or less. We purchased stuff by the bag full there for all of the wedding. So, I'm not sure how much we spent on bling, but I assure you it was nominal! We also bought crystal cording in downtown LA... we got yards of it for around five bucks.

That "A" was highlighted with the cording  on all the pillars. The jewelry was cut apart and added all around the base of the plant stand.

Next came the issue of the cake itself. I started with Costco and Sam's. I was most disappointed that they only had ginormous round or rectangular cakes and not the multi-sizes we needed. So I tried my local grocery chain, knowing they would be much cheaper than a bakery. While I was telling the clueless clerk my plan, another customer sidled up beside me and said..."You need to go to My Bakery in Pacoima. They make the best cakes and they are really affordable."

Curious, my first question was, "Isn't that a Mexican bakery?" I was terrified of some of the over done hideous cakes I've seen at Quinceaneras.

She said yes, they make those too but they also make really elegant stuff as well!  I went by and purchased a small white cake as well as a few slices of their other cakes. Everything was amazing, fresh and delicious!  So, don't be afraid to try an ethnic bakery.

The one caveat we had... were those darn shells. What I call shells from years of cake decorating...did not translate well. I would call their shells dots... but their decorator was on hand and made a quick repair on pick up day. So point all you like in the display case... make sure they understand.

After the taste test, we took the stand in with us to be sure all the cakes would fit. It was under a hundred dollars for all five cakes and we supplemented with a sheet cake in the same flavor from Sam's for under $30. While the bride would have loved that the cake be ivory, that would have added another $60 to the costs!  The aunties decided it's night, she won't really notice... and she never said if she did!

Finally, someone from the wedding party has to deal with picking up the cakes and setting up the cakes. To me, that's a large part of what you pay for! I picked them up the day before the wedding and stored them in the venue's fridge.

Before the ceremony, the aunties added finishing touches. I had found some gorgeous crystal dragonflies at a favorite art store. They had put up their Christmas trees early and used last year's ornaments - 1/2 price - until the new ones arrived!  The bride had been at a wholesale show and purchased their initials in crystal. We had our florist bring a few buckets of organic - no pesticide - tulips. And... edible glitter! 

In just a few minutes, we had a gorgeous cake table!  And total cost was about a 1.50 a head! It took a little, research, work and planning... but we had a stunning cake that tasted amazing!