Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What a Week!

I've been kinda quiet here, thanks to a "what was I thinking?" issue with my teaching schedule. Yes, folks, the gal to travels and teaches for a large part of her living managed to book herself 3 classes in 6 days! O.M.G!!!!!! It's no wonder I'm running around like a drunk chicken!
There ARE new beads... just no time to list! 

Wanna take a ride on the magic carpet of my last week? Hold ON!
  • Wednesday - Wire Wrap I class...  dashing out the door, check email. Spot an order from a customer who orders lots of fondant  every year. Fondant...hmmm. OMG! FONDANT... of the truck load of supplies needed for cookie class, I have forgotten about fondant! Call vendor and place an order on the way to class. Whew! Thank you Universe!
  • Thursday - need to bake cookies for cookie class but enrollment keeps fluctuating. Distractions calls from customers, emails about custom stamp plates, promoting a photo that's a finalist in a breast cancer awareness contest, monitor online contest promoting shelter adoptions. Decide to make use of ebay's last day of free listings instead of prepping for class. 71 items listed... Great.
  • Friday - MUST BAKE COOKIES! Bake enough for class + demo + 2 extra sets in case of walkins. Clean up and realize that Monday's class is small enough, one more batch might buy some downtime on Sunday. Land a custom bead order from repeat customer. Do the happy dance. Pack cookie kits to sell, load up all the store items, vases, silk flowers, money box, ipad, and kitchen tools. Get ready for bed. Realize there are no Hershey's kisses to make rosebuds for the cookie bouquets. Go to the grocery store in a bathrobe.
  • Saturday - Leave for class at 8:15 - Unload, set up store items, kitchen work area, flower arranging work area and painting area. Teach and sell. Clean up / load up and home. Beg the dog for a night off... No luck... maybe the hike will make the back pain stop screaming. No, it doesn't. Collapse in a puddle on the sofa. The phone rings. Can't move. It rings again and again. Look  at caller i.d. IT'S A CUSTOMER. At 9 pm on a Saturday. WTH? Check messages...nothing urgent. Reprogram call forwarding. 
  • Sunday - Back pain dominates. Breakfast with the bestie who's been out of town. Major exciting household finds at the thrift shop afterwards! Lunch with the hiking buddy. Feeling guilty, make the beads for the custom order. Check emails and messages and find that the same customer has now called about her non urgent issues a total of 12 times in less than 24 hours, leaving an actual message 7 times. On a Sunday! Decide to put her on the back burner until Monday.
  • Monday - Repack sold items in store kits. Call anxious customer. She adds LOTS of items to the order going out. Fell guilty for not responding on Sunday. Get angry for feeling guilty for wanting a little quiet time. Find out my photo won the contest! Pack orders, pick up assistant (the bestie), unload and realize 30 minutes before class on box of crucial items is missing - still in the driveway. So is the ipad... can't take credit cards. Race home - get to class 10 minutes late. UGH! Home by 10 - glad all classes went well! 
  • Tuesday - Try to pack the anxious one's order, realize one item is out of stock. Call local-ish vendor to verify their stock. On the way out the door, the bestie calls - tickets to Dancing with the Stars TONIGHT! Spend an hour and a half running errands toward the vendor. Realize vendor doesn't have item you need and curse the whole drive home. Electrical contractor who has promised to show up for two weeks is at the shop... asking questions, needing input. Can't press rubber...he's in the way. No orders can ship and the studio call is now an hour earlier than expected! Race to get dressed in decent clothes and realize there was no lunch! Enjoy the show, dinner with friends. Home exhausted and ready for bed at 8pm.
 This is the photo of my sister that won the Archipelago Botanicals Contest! So excited... she will be getting all kinds of goodies from them!

Today, shipping MUST resume in the shop!  There's rubber to press... did I mention - I've manage to run out of rubber??? OY!

I hope to come up for air in a day or two... that is  after shipping 10 packages of dog prizes from the Creekhiker blog and dealing with those 71 listings on ebay! Er - Maybe it'll be another week....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rubber Stamp Convention Underway / Ebay

Whew! What a busy week this has been! I wanted to show off some new beads... and never got to it! No, Ebay was having a free listing week! I cleaned out the craft room, stamp shop and some glass bead bowls and listed 71 items for free! Whoo Hooo... I wish they would just do that all the time! Like they don't make enough taking 12% between charges charges fees and Paypal!

And I wanted to mention that the Virtual Rubber Stamp Convention on Rubber Stamp Chat is underway!

My offerings over there are:

Sweet Stampen / Museum of Modern Rubber
Convention Deals

1) Save 10% off any Sweet Stampen images and accessories. Sale also applies to our STUFFED Rubber Stamps on Sale Category... many stamps there below wholesale!

2) We have NEVER had a sale on Museum of Modern Rubber stamps...until NOW!
We are offering the following images used to make our Cake Boxes and our Gingerbread Housebox projects 10% off including the templates! The stamps, shown below for these projects include: Icing Shingles, Cake Texture / Stucco, Swirls, Candy Cane, Cornelli Lace, Frosting Swirls, Gumdrop, Peppermint, Frosting Star, Candle, Cupcake, Rose Trio, & Icing Window.
These are the ONLY MoMR images that are part of this sale.

3) I would like to remind you that we are having a HUGE wood mount sale already. These are ONLY listed here and on our Fan Page and are marked down more than 50% already and the sale rate APPLIES! These are limited to supplies on hand!

4) Fan Page Members save an additional 5%

5) Free shipping on orders over $75. Fans get free shipping on orders over $50!

  • Shop the Sweet Stampen site and check out over there.
  • Enter RSC in the comments section so that I can give you your discount when I run your card in the shop. (Our cart does NOT bill your card!)
  • If you are a FAN PAGE MEMBER, you will get an additional 5% off! Enter FAN in the comments box.
  • If you want any of the wood mounts, please list them in the comments box as well!
  • I will email you a total before charging your card.
I'm not the only shop having a virtual booth over there! 16 other vendors have sales posted with anywhere from 10 to 50% off on select items, free shipping... etc. Lots of goodies to be found!  So don't wag your tail! Get over there!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Virtual Rubber Stamp Convention

Mark you calendars! The Fall Virtual Rubber Stamp Convention will be held over on Rubber Stamp Chat Forum from October 25th - 29th!!  If you into rubber stamping at all, you should be a member over there! Lots of discounts and specials!

Sweet Stampen will be offering 10% over there with an additional 5% if you are our fan page members! We also being offering discounts on select limited supply wood mounts ONLY on the RSC site. And... we will offer a sale for the first time EVER on select Museum of Modern Rubber images!

Other anticipated vendors are: Beeswax Rubber Stamps, I Brake for Stamps, Viva Las Vegastamps, Queen Kat Designs, Red Rubber Designs, Mad Rat Rubber and more!!! Be sure to check it OUT!

Now, if there are any dog lovers reading along... there's going to be a giveaway for PUPS on my Creekhiker blog later today!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So, in the aftermath of discovering glass bead "artists" selling their work for Chinese wages, what's next???

Well, the truth is I don't know. I've spent most of the last several weeks deeply depressed. It's not just that beads aren't isn't either. At least not the high end stuff that I love to make beads for.

Pendants that were for part of a custom order

Midas Wages & Walmart Shoppers

I lost my best repeat customer this year. After buying my beads and those of many other artisan beadmakers for years, she started selling her jewelry. Make that... attempting to sell.

While I found her jewelry designs to be some of the most unique, fun, edgy and amazing stuff I've ever seen... the way she combined materials would blow my mind... within weeks, she found her prices being criticized.

Mind you, she was using huge glass bead focals that run around $50 bucks and usually a nice set costing $50 - $60 in her work, adding in antique beads, fine metal findings and not to mention her precious time designing. I felt in the end she was only recouping her costs plus maybe an hour of her time at a fair wage, which, considering the cost of her materials, she should have been charging MORE.

But many told her they would only be willing to pay $30 - $50 for one of her gorgeous necklaces! Even when she explained the quality of the materials used, the opinion was still the same. So what did she do??? She shut down her Etsy shop, packed up all her beads and supplies and gave them to a friend!

This was supposed to be fun... a way to relieve stress and maybe make a little money. Not a thing to cause stress and be criticized!

Doesn't that just seem to sum up the times we live in? Everyone wants to be paid like King Midas but we all want that deal.

 The gorgeous "Barbie Bead" was also part of that custom order

The Get It Cheaper Effect

Have you ever thought about how Walmart sells for less??? It's not simply that they buy in, they manipulate in volume. Michael's does something similar which is how they can afford those 40% off coupons. Walmart goes to -  say a vacuum company that sells their vacuums wholesale for - say $75 and says to them, "We're going to buy 100,000 of your vacuums but we're only going to pay you $64."

The vacuum company doesn't simply just take a cut on, they go to each and every supplier: the plastic mold maker, the nuts and screws people,  motor designers and (the scary part for me) the electric cord makers. The vacuum company does the same thing to each of them and says, "I'll take 100K units but, you gotta make it for 13% LESS."

To me, copper wire can only be so thin before it all blows up! As vendors, I'm sure they feel they are giving us a quality product at a great value. But as consumers, don't we all feel it??? Things break more often. The price of bleach goes up and container gets smaller... same with ice cream and sausage!

There is some illusion that things are the same, but they are not.

Color shifting glass beads are some of my faves. Sold this made to order set out of the blue last week!

Make Quality, Make it Better

I think the thing that hurt so much in finding someone I once thought highly of is selling her beads so cheaply is... our beads are the same. No, not the same same... we have different styles. But as first world artisans, the best argument we had against buying cheaper crap was: the glass is not annealed for strength, it will break; the beads are not cleaned and will muck up the the other beads and the stringing material, and often the skills were lacking in Chinese beads.

But with an American artist selling for Chinese wages, when I know she anneals her work and cleans her beads and her skills are just fine... well, it HURTS!

And while I hadn't torched in almost two months thanks to my depression, when I lit up the baby the other day, I was happy. I was excited. So no, I'm not gonna give this up.

As I sat there at the flame, trying two new ideas suggested by customers, I realized my skills had changed. This often happens to me when I'm away from the torch for a while. You would think my skills might deteriorate... but like so many breaks before... I found I was BETTER! My work was more delicate and the glass just flowed... I only made two beads... but they were the two I set out to make and they came out exactly as the vision in my head!

I realized I'm not going to lower my prices and play her game. If someone wants my beads, they better be willing to part with some paper. And isn't it strange how during this time of re-grouping and re-thinking my art, I landed my biggest custom order ever and the biggest order to a customer out of the blue??? Two huge orders just when I need a little validation! Wow!

But Stuff Isn't Selling

Nope it's not... But I'm still not willing to give my work away. I have a bottom line....which has helped form  my plan. I'm not going to list my beads ad infinitum on Etsy, save for made to order designs.  I'm still using them for their powerful SEO and I'm using Facebook and Ebay the same way. From now on, my sales order goes like this:

  • Preview on Fan page w/ 10% discount (no listing, html or multiple photos required)
  • Regular items to my glass bead website
  • Timely / holiday items to Etsy
  • Regular items posted to Etsy after time on HollysFolly
  • Two - three rotations through Etsy and move on to Ebay
  • Items not sold on Ebay = donated to Beads of Courage
If I have to give my beads away, they are going to children and a charity that desperately needs them! Not to people too cheap to pay for quality!  I'm happy about that!

In the Meantime

I still need a job... at least a part time one. I'm terribly torn... my stamp business actually makes money in the fall and I need to be around for all the last minute restaurant orders that fly in! So, I think full time is not going to work. Of course I could always hire someone to pack orders if need be. Having money again would mean I could throw money at my problem...

I have a teaching certificate for grade school. I got it two years ago, just as my school district went through major layoffs and a hiring freeze... my timing is always impeccable...NOT!  But I've started teaching at a nearby town's community center. Driving there, I suddenly realized my little mountain community that is part of Los Angeles, is surrounded by THREE other school districts and they all need subs!

So, I'm polishing up the teaching section of my resume. And I'm also trying to pick up more jewelry design classes at other community colleges and craft / glass shops.

While these last few weeks have been so challenging, I realize I can only be good at what I do. I can't worry about what others do. I have a plan.I can only keep putting one foot in front of the other!

And if you are still with me on this journey... THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Fallout

 Dark Waters - Custom order

I had promised an update two weeks ago... and got sidelined by a nasty fever AND a severe tummy ache from recalled almond butter! Oy! What a two weeks it's been!

I was amazed at the outpouring of support for my last post...mostly private... because so many didn't want to post publicly and appear "unsupportive of women." I also was ripped to shreds by many who didn't get the point. I'm always amazed that someone can read an article that has nothing to do with them or their business and still think it's about them.  They can't just read it and think "well, I pay myself a fair wage and account for my materials so this isn't about ME." I also got ripped for using such broad and general language... but I intended to be controversial to make a point. It's just sad to me that people can't read between the lines.

The most common thing said to me is I should try to be more helpful. I shouldn't be so hurtful and call them names. Excuse me but I need a laughter break! REALLY??? Let me see, I work about 18 hours a day running two failing businesses and teaching, looking for a "real" job for four years, taking freelance gigs when they come along. My house is a wreck and the dog needs to be fed and walked daily, as do I. My sister is dying from metastasized breast cancer and my mom is 90. There is so little left at the end of my day and yet, I'm supposed to find time to help IDIOTS who clearly don't care about themselves much less their impact on the marketplace??? WOW!

Let me just say that I didn't become a television producer at the tender age of 30 because I was warm and fuzzy. No, I'm direct as speeding bullet. And the one thing that pisses me off is that, because I am a woman, I am expected / told / ordered to be "softer." What bullshit! If a man gets to the point and says what he thinks, NO ONE says a word. But let a woman do it... I come from a long line of direct women. Women who held "male" positions with national corporations. And the one thing I've learned from these women is that when someone hurts me and my business, I want to punch and HARD... not give someone a hug and thank them for destroying my business.

It just says to me that the people who think this didn't really read the article... there is lots of good pricing info in there...

Bottom line, I write for me. I just do it publicly.  If someone wants to make a tender loving supportive post for women who want to earn less than two bucks an hour, they can do that on their blog.

But on my blog, I call those women, as well as men who don't value their time, stupid. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old Fresh Glass

These have been sitting in my kitchen window for weeks...hence the title. That long awaited update??? Coming Monday! I promise!