Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Update!

November came and went with a lot going on.  I entered myself into 3 gift guides & an a-list (Chakra Gift Guide by Phylameana Desy; The Streeter A-List for Accessories & Apparel and Bath & Beauty, and Life with Lovebugs Holiday Gift Guide under Knit/Crochet).  I also kept up on blogging and scheduling and took several custom orders.  And now here it is December already?!  I can't believe the Solstice is just around the corner!

Some other things that went on was the launch of my newsletter - if you're not on it, you can subscribe right here on the page!  I send extra special & early updates there.  I also only give out some special sales via my newsletter that you won't see anywhere else.  So if you love my work, like I know you do if you're reading, stop stalling and sign up already!

While I've been very busy I can say I have a lot to show for it - I had several custom orders placed and filled  before the end of November including two sets of striped armwarmers I named Donatello's Revenge, four sets of house slippers:  A Hint of Blush, If You Were Coming in the Fall, Gray Misty Morn, The Ants Go Marching, and Jack o Lantern's Light.

With December I look forward to more orders as the holidays loom ever closer and the promise of fun new projects I've gotten my little mitts into - like tatting.  I also hope to be able to take a small break from the store, because I'll have caught up on work and do a little work for my photography & design as well as my healing center.

And let me give you a tiny hint at something to look forward for those ordering this month...(be on the lookout for a blog post about it too!)  I'm putting the finishing touches on my branded packaging so you'll get to see my hard work all too soon.  If you want a quicker, personal look head on over to the store and place your order now!

And here's a special treat to those who took the time to read all the way through to the bottom!  I'll be running a Yuletide sale for one week 12/10 to 12/17 resulting in 30% the entire store!  Just use code "YUL3" at checkout in my store!  **An important note:  due to delays surrounding the holidays I cannot guarantee anything ordered during this sale will make it to you before or by 12/25!  I do apologize for the inconvenience!*

To you I hope you bundle up, light the fire, and enjoy the indoors with those you love and develop even more wonderful memories!  Stay safe, keep warm, and feel free to drop by to say hello!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This Just In: Gift Certificates!

We all love gift certificates.  It just makes gift giving a lot easier, especially when you're not 100% sure what someone might like.  So really you can't go wrong with one!  You put the power to be satisfied with the gift in the receiver's hands!

In honor of my first holiday season I've launching three levels of gift certificates:  $15, $25, and $50.  As a special bonus each level is slightly discounted!  However, that is only for a limited time only, gift certificate costs will go up slightly on 1/1/13 to reflect actual amount offered.

Gift certificates are not available for use on custom orders, all sales are final and they must be redeemed in full (any leftovers will be surrendered.)  Each comes with a special code that allows one time use only.

So give the gift of awesome this year and get your special someone, or yourself, a gift certificate to Aradia's Hand!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

November Book Review - The New Macrame by Katie DuMont

I won't spoil it for you by revealing the projects but leave it to be that there are some downright nifty projects in this book!

While having fabulous pictures never hurt anyone, I have to say the display of finished projects as well as samples for other reference really make this book for me.  Like most how to do books there is a brief introduction wherein the author talks about the subject, a brief overview of the history of macrame, and of course the all important tool & supply list with descriptions and some pictures.  Katie also goes into other things you may want to know when considering the creation of your jewelry and other macrame projects.  She has a "Knots 101" section which I found to be particularly helpful as it showed finished photographs, a lined drawing, and a small written paragraph about each knot.  And I can't forget to mention she also shows variations of many of the knots or combinations when right and left handed ones are concerned.

And if you thought there wasn't anything other than projects and other basic how to advice in this text I can assure you you'll be wowed by the macrame gallery section full of inspiring and literal works of art in the world of knotwork.  At the end is a brief description of designers featured, glossary, and a small index.

I'd give this book a 5 out of 5 at least.  It's clear, has wonderful pictures, and perhaps the only drawback is that these designs are for personal use only, but don't let that stop you from being inspired!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cyber Monday Free Shipping Extravaganza!!!

So you're super bummed, you signed up for my newsletter or you just missed the Black Friday sale I just held.  That's okay, I've got you covered!  Monday and Monday alone I'll be doing free shipping on everything available in my store.  This will exclude certain things, but they won't be available for purchase so no need to worry about having to cancel an order if you didn't read the fine print.

This sale starts midnight on Monday and ends midnight on Tuesday EST.  I'll be deactivating the store right before and right after (11:45 pm - 11:59 pm Sunday and 12:01 am - 12:15 am Tuesday).

This is a limited time offer and one I may not be doing again so jump on it while you can!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Simplicity Leads to Success

You can accuse me of "drinkin' the kool-aid" and you might be right, but in this case I have to say you can't deny the psychology behind it all.

I have a personal pet peeve about business.  When you're doing something "right" it works for you, right?  It flows and its effortless.  You put out content, it gets received and taken in.  You ask for comments, you get them.  People buy your products, invest in your services and everything in hunky-dory.

All that is great and well & good, but how does it happen?

Part of it is by offering great quality content, by reaching the right people (people who actually want to be involved in your business), and showing up.  All of that is a given, but part of a good business model is professionality.  This is where I feel a lot of people drop the ball.

What am I talking about?  Get this, think of the last time you went to a website.  What did it look like?  Were there ads out the wah-zoo?  Or was the entire process of getting through the website streamlined?  Chances are if it was some place like Marie Forleo, Laura George, or Jenny Shih's website it was nice, neat, and trim.  You knew what you were there to do and if you didn't you found something they wanted you to do quickly and easily.  No bustling confusion needed!  If it was a personal blog, or website, or even a social media site it was likely littered with distractions.  So many so that it either became a quick time suck or you just left because you couldn't get done what you meant to.

I'm sure those who have websites that fall in the latter category aren't going to like this post.  But what I'm getting at is a simple point of fact I learned from Laura Roeder at Social Media Marketer.  Your website has one specific purpose.  It's to incite an action.  (Share this with your followers.)  It might be to get someone to buy a product, read a blog post, or purchase an informational product.  The more clutter you have on your website the harder you make it for people to do that.

Sure, your website is a creation of your, an extension not only of your business but your brand, your personality.  I've heard people say they "liked" clutter.  (In fact I've said it myself, because I'm an easily distractable person, so I don't much mind it.)  But do you really?  It's a bit like walking into your house.  Would you want to walk in and things be thrown this way and that, have to carve out a path to walk anywhere?  Would that really give you piece of mind?  Or would it be nicer to have things more streamline, simple, and easier to navigate?  You don't have to be a neatfreak, gods know when I get creative I'm not, but you don't have to be a slob either...

Food for thought.

So tell me, where does your website stand in this situation?  How do you feel when you visit the website of another person/business?  What does theirs look like?  Can you see the effect clutter in your web presence has on customer action and satisfaction?

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

November Featured Artist/Crafter - Sarah of Echoland Bags

Sarah's Bio:

Sarah is the owner of EchoLand Bags and loves to design and sew. She loves her two-year-old, coffee, and Jesus.

1.  How long have you been sewing?
I learned to sew as a kid, but didn't really revisit it until recently.  One of my first projects was this awesome 80's pink lace sleeping bag for my doll.  So I guess you could say that bags have been my thing for awhile.
2.  What inspires you most?

Inspiration is everywhere!!  I am *always* checking out people's purses.  It's kind of an obsession.  But I love looking at the shapes, sizes, pockets, hardware, etc.  

3. What is/are your favorite materials/supplies?

I love outdoor fabric and twill.  The heavy and sturdy feel of it gives such great shape to my bags!  D-rings are now my friends, too.
4. Do you have a favorite tool?

Mmm...good question.  Probably my seam ripper.  We have a love/hate relationship.
5. What is your work space like?

I love my work space!  It's got a great desk lamp and piles of fabric.  I have a bulletin board up to pin colors and pictures and bits of fabric on.
6. When do you find the most time to work?

I work exclusively during my son's naptime.  
7. How does your work fit into the rest of your life?

I decribe myself as a Life-Lover, Jesus-Follower, Bag-Designer, so I would say my work has to fit in around my faith and my family :-)  And sewing isn't really work to me...I loooove it--more of a self-sustaining hobby :-)
8. How often a week do you get to work?

I sew here and there throughout the week--probably around 5 days a week or so.
9. Do you sell your work? Directly? Indirectly?

I sell my work on my shop at Storenvy.  Shameless plug:  I looove Storenvy--no fees!!!
10. Do you have a business (on or offline)? Consign?

My business is primarily online, but I do custom orders for friends quite a bit as well.  
11. Do you have a website? Blog? Facebook profile or fan page? Myspace? Twitter? Pinterest?

I have an e-commerce shop via Storenvy, Twitter, Facebook, and blog.

12. Where do you feel your work fits in your market? (Do you concentrate on high volume, low volume; do you make multiples or one of a kind only; Walmart or Bergdorf Gelman?)
My work is pretty much exclusively one of a kind.  I rarely reorder fabrics because I want everything to stay fresh!
13. What is your favorite part?

The designing and marketing are probably my favorite parts.  But I really like sewing and seeing my creations come together!
14. How did you get into sewing?

I love bags and I love fabric.  It was a match made in heaven.  

Looking for that one of a kind but truly stylish purse, clutch, or tote?  Echoland Bags is your place to shop!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Less is More & Why Its Not Cliche...

Gustav doesn't have time for a lot of choices, he's got places to be.

Okay so if you've noted on my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter you've caught some obscure references in the last ... o say twenty-four hours about simplifying, streamlining, less is more and seen Derek Halpern & Social Triggers mentioned in there too.

Let me elucidate my odd ramblings...

I have know about Derek Halpern for a little while and even subscribed to his newsletter from Social Triggers.  An aside, if you don't subscribe to him and you're in business for yourself, you're making a big mistake.  But while I'd seen several articles of his, and even caught him in a video I just hadn't gotten around to following through with reading more of what he had to say.  *headdesk moment*

What this leads up to is that I'm changing how my store is set up.  Ixnay the groans because thanks to Derek it's going to be SO much better for you.  While I'm keeping my fun names for lines I have (eg. Hooked Up, Sticks n String, Wee Ones, Faith Works...) I'm putting those products into clearer categories on my shop website - if you want to know what they are you'll have to browse the new site set up, but I promise you'll like it.

So please let me know what you think below, I'm interested in your thoughts.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

First Ever Black Friday Sale!!!

So if you're part of my newsletter you're privileged and got this info earlier last week.  But I didn't want to leave out the rest of my fans or subscribers who may have joined after I sent this out.

While I've been open for three years this past January I had yet to do a Black Friday sale.  I couldn't tell you why I hadn't thought of it, but being that I'm not a big shopper might be part of it.  So to kick off my first one with a BANG!  I'm doing a special promotional store wide sale!  You can use code "1STBLKFRI" and get 45% off on anything in my shop.  This sale is only for Friday though and runs midnight to midnight.  So at 12:01 am Saturday it's a done deal!

And an extra special bonus, this includes all custom listings I have up!  Which is my special gift to you since most people don't discount their custom orders!  (Although making a request on this day for a listing that isn't made is null in void.)

So I can't wait to see you shopping on Friday, I know I'll bombarding the post office in the next few shipping days after that!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A New Collection: Nifty Notions

A few months back I opened up Sara's Sampelrs.  Originally this was meant to be a place to destash extra supplies I just wasn't using but I have really had the time to devote to it like I meant to.  Later I decided adding yarn, and notions for knitting & crochet would be neat, but again it didn't quite happen as planned.  So instead I'm launching Nifty Notions, a collection dedicated to any sort of supplies for handmade work, including some handmade tools.

While this may seem like a digression away from the majority of what my store sells (accessories & home decor) it falls into the larger dream which includes a brick and mortar store wherein I would include some beautiful handmade tools from my favorite crafts.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November Product Review - Alpaca WPI Tool from Moonsong Ranch of Etsy

I've named him Henry...

Earlier in the month I finally "splurged" (yes I call it that whenever I buy supplies or tools) on a tool I've been yearning for for quite some time.  When I first saw the WPI tool I wondered what in the world that silly stick was for and what it had to do with yarn.  As I have grown as a crocheter, into a knitter, and now a spinner I understand it's use.

For the uninitiated a WPI tool or wraps per inch tool serves the purpose of giving you the weight of a yarn.  This is especially handy and most commonly used by spinners to determine the weight of their handspun, but it's also useful for when you don't have a yarn label.  (Which is what prompted me to buy it finally.)

While most things you find in the handmade marketplace are one of a kind, some can be remade.  But you never know when something will be available so it's my modicum to buy now, rather than wait till later.  I have to tell you I couldn't be happier with this little guy, because unlike your typical WPI tool, this one is shaped like an alpaca (a fiber which I have a love for by the way too.)

So I commend Moonsong Ranch on their adorable craftmanship!  And not only did they send my order, but a handy laminated reference for determining yarn weights based on wraps which also included average stitches/4" and needle size recommendations with its other side bearing strand sample sizes.  (I also received a fabulous surprise of some top with which to spin...)  I recommend their work highly and will happily use my lil 'paca to my heart's content!  They had excellent customer service and prompt delivery as well!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's Not, But Don't Say We Did...

Image Credit:  3 Faces of Brigid by Aradia Goseling

I love being supported, I really do.  It warms my heart when another person artist or not compliments my work.  Support in the handmade community is very important, especially when you're starting off.  But in my humble opinion (which is shared by more than just me) there is a line you have to draw in the sand...

Recently I came across a post by Marie Forleo tackling just this exact subject.  It also brought up this post by Laura George I'd read a few weeks ago.  What both women are talking about is a bit of a touchy subject, as I covered earlier when I first read Laura's post.

For many there is a bit of an instant desire to support someone because they supported them.  But to quote one of my favorite comedians John Pinette "I say nay, nay."  When you support someone you're not just doing them a favor.  You're recommending them to your audience and you're putting your reputation on the line.  So I urge you to think twice about who you recommend.  If you can't recommend because you don't know their work, or do not support it's quality take Marie's advice on the matter and say it with class.  Thank them for their support and perhaps suggest ways they can up their ante.

Have you had issues with this subject?  Do you often find yourself immediately reciprocating in the "You like me, I like you" mentality?  Share your story in the comments below!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Groundbreaking News Just For My Fans...

I try to blog when the urge hits me.  I have a few "scheduled things" I try to do every month because I'm awesome and I want to share the love with all of you.  But every now and again I feel an idea push it's way to the top of my cranium, knocking on my skull to be let out...Tonight is such a time.

I'm sitting here talking with dear friend and jewelry designer, Melli of Melli's Trinkets, discussing marketing ideas and some thoughts I have about my business in general.  Now for those who have been following along I have been talking a lot about some changes I've been making, revamps to old systems (thank you Jenny Shih for your awesome e-book!), and just what the lovely Lissa Rankin calls "ass in chair" work.

But what does all that "work" amount to?  If you're a solopreneur some of it, the day to day necessities of marketing and promoting, and even the creating of stock if you're a handmade artist like me seems like it doesn't really pay off.  Sure, when you sell a product you made, it pays off.  When  you gain a new follower or like and it leads to a sale or an order it pays off.  But in the every day you just don't see an immediate result much of the time.

Now really marketing and promoting is a vast and deep subject, and while I'm not covering it here it's on the list of things to talk about at some point.  My real point is that I came to a singular notion while discussing the definitions of failure & success and what it meant to me and my business and what it can mean to others.

Success is not a number.  (Go ahead and share that quote right now!)  I'm sure we all know this, but it can be easy to forget how widely the definition of "success" (and "failure") ranges.  There are all sorts of successes everyday that we overlook.  It's a success that you wake up in the morning for example.  And it's in thinking about this that I realize I don't even have a solid hold on what I think success is.  In fact, my version of success has been (from an early point in my childhood) entirely contingent on the definitions and accomplishments of others.

I know I'm not the only one, but I also know that that realization is just not something we want to come to grips with necessarily.  Yet it is freeing, so very much so that its a little laughable.  So I challenge you to look at what success & what failure are to you.  Really get to their core and then think, where did these ideas come from?  Are they authentic to what you think, how you want to feel, or are they ideas accepted and imposed upon you by others?

Success is being happy with what you've got and still being able to do more without feeling attached or driven by that need.  (Agree with my definition, share it!)  Leave me some comment love and share your views below!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Pattern/Tutorial - Backstitching

Image use courtesy of Aradia's Hand

Since I'm talking about embroidery this month I thought that I would match the tutorial with it by discussing backstitching.  First and foremost, backstitching is a part of cross stitch (which is a form of embroidery) that seeks to outline a group of cross stitches.  It is also used in simple lettering as well.  You can see it in use above in my Tree Frog Trio.

There is a specific technique to back stitching that involves stitching from point A to B (from the bottom of the cloth, through the top, then top to bottom), then moving on to C (bottom to top) and inserting the needle back at point A (top to bottom), and repeating this with all subsequent stitches.

Unlike some stitches backstitching may cover a wide area of stitches, versus only going over one square at a time.  Backstitching is a bit of a decorative type of stitch, but one with a simple purpose that is very easy to do.  Most any book worth it's salt will cover how to do backstitching and once learned you'll see how easy it is.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Update!

Happy November to you all!

Here in Virginia the changing of the leaves is well underway with many of them littering the ground.  If you're on the East coast you've heard all the crazy hype about #Frankenstorm - a combination of a hurricane by the name of Sandy and a Nor'easter to make a larger storm that will affect much of the East coast and even parts that may not be used to such weather.  Being a North Carolina native I'm not making a fuss about Sandy who is cruising at a category 1 right now and am a little peeved at the hub bub, but all that aside what else...?

October came and went and I fell off the wagon a bit as you might have noted.  I didn't get out a newsletter, but it should be hitting your inbox today, and if it hasn't well hop on over and sign up here.  Then you can stay up to day with the goings on and special offers that I just don't get out on social media and through the blog all the time!  Last month had me very tired, sick, and tending to a sick child so time just went out and about it's own way my plans be damned, apparently.  But I didn't sit it idly I promise!

  • I launched my photography & design work on Facebook.  You can see my work which includes product photography for local artists, graphic design of logos for website use and other venues, and branding for your website.
  • I've fallen in love with Buffer App, which lets me share more neat stuff without taking away from daily things and creative time!
  • And of course, I've been enjoying the build up to Halloween with monster & horror flicks while doing some creating....
For November business will continue as usual.  I plan on stocking up a bit for the Winter holidays, who doesn't love a handmade gift?!  I also hope to wipe a few more things off the queue that have been sitting and veritably collecting dust, although which ones is yet to be determined.

My special message to you - while Thanksgiving falls in this month we often use it to talk about what we're thankful for.  While I urge this of you as well I also put in not to forget it throughout the rest of the year.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Facing Up Trial & Error with Hairbrained Ideas...

Not every idea I have is worthy of becoming something.  Case in point, I have a pile of yarn and plastic star beads sitting on my desk right now.  I've torn up the "project" three times already, thinking I would make a necklace, then a belt and now I'm realizing that nothing is up to par.

There seems to be a temptation among crafters to do it all, use everything, save anything useful.  Especially with the advent of the surge of re & upcycled crafts nowadays.  Everyone it seems wants to be eco-conscious.  And while I completely respect that, there is a limit to just keeping it all.

So a lesson learned and one for you to.  Everything isn't worth keeping, nor is every idea as good as it seems at the time it comes to you.  But the ability to see something new and whole from old parts is worth the effort of trial and error.  No art is failure, just an advancement in perspective.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Book Review - Creepy Cute Crochet by Christen Haden

I love to crochet so how could I have not bought this book.  Sporting a picture of a monkey with a fez hat, a little Cthulu, and a mini grim reaper... I was sold!

This book is creatively written starting out with the author's inspiration of how they came to write it as well as tips, tricks, and resources that are always popularly found in how to books.  A benefit of the book is it's small enough to fit in your project bag to tote around while you hook cute monsters, however I am sad that the pictures in the how to basics are so very small, not optimal for the beginning amigurumi enthusiast.

Projects range in things you'd expect to find in this book - like zombies - to things less expected such as the gladiator (I'll admit to missing the creepy reference here since they're just cool!  Yes I'm a fan of the Gladiator movie...)

The pictures of each project are great, though again some of the diagrams are a little small so I wouldn't recommend this for a novice.

I'd give this a 4.5 out of 5, only docking for the fact that some of the diagrams are a little on the tiny side for my tastes.  However this allows the book to remain in pocketbook form so it's not that big a deal if you can read standard crochet abbreviations!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LAL with Melli's Trinkets

Several months ago I participated in a loom a long (LAL) with owner and jewelry designer of Melli's Trinkets, Melli Burger.  Originally we decided it would just be something fun to do since neither of us seemed to have anyone local to do any kind of "a long" with.  Just last night we started on another one, this time something nice and seasonal - a cowl.

Although I'm not ecstatic about this picture I gathered together some fun colors to try in my design...

As you see below I started with the dark chocolate and burgundy (which in this light looks a bit like raspberry).  I've also given my own spin on the cowl's stitch pattern, doing a six row repeat

So far the pattern stitch definitely looks interesting!  I'm even considering documenting it and offering the pattern in my Ravelry store!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Featured Artist/Crafter - Krystal of Children of the Underground

Krystal's Bio:
I lend my crafting knowledge to a variety of art techinques that I use when making an item. No two pieces of my work is the same; which works well with my personality. Custom orders are my favorite to work on because it shows a level of trust from the customer and the interation from them helps add to the overall finished item. Since I have a regular job outside of my house I usually only craft during the spring and fall when my workload slows down. My artistic vision can occur during peak moments of epiphanies while I am going about my daily routine. I use these moments to write down items and collect odd items for inventory and current crafts. People describe me a free-spirited artist and I can see why. Past customers of mine usually tell me that the end result of what they requested from me is more than what they expected. All and all I try to keep my hours of crafting time open, stay well connected with my customer throughout the process, and take general pride in my work.

1. How long have you been doing crafting?
I have been doing art all my life. My father's family has a history of artisians. My applicable art didn't really start happening until I was in high school. That was the time of my life where I got more training and techinques honed, as well as great acknowledgement from my fellow peers.

2. What inspires you the most?
The thing that inspires me the most is being out in nature. However, I have also found that by trying to turn my racing brain down I can see inspiration in other things, even commercial/industrial items.

3. What is/are your favorite materials/supplies?
My favorite materials I use are found objects. They really aren't an art tool, but its fun to find something and make it into art. Most of my best work has been built around an ordinary object.

4. Do you have a favorite tool?
I don't really have a favorite tool, but I feel the most important tool is pen and paper. My ideas come about so randomly I usually have to write them down in a timely manner.

5. What is your work space like?
My work space goes thru stages. It is currently thru a "intermission" stage in which I am going thru my inventory to see what I want to keep, toss, or donate.

6. When do you find the most time to work?
I find the most time to work late in the evening when my son is watching tv or playing the computer. I like to work with plenty of noise, because it makes me concentrate on the task I am working on. Working in quiet would put me to sleep.

7. How does your work fit into the rest of your life?
My working life outside of the home is dominating my time at the moment. The crafting part of my life is in a dormant stage, but with winter coming soon I don't expect that to last long. So I fit in crafting when I can so I don't have to force art.

8. How often a week do you get to work?
I can usually manage a good day and a half a week for crafting work.

9. Do you sell your work? Directly? Indirectly?
People custom order directly from me. Not many people buy work I have done and posted online. My experience tells me that I work better with custom orders.

10. Do you have a business (on or offline)? Consign?
My business is called "Children of the Underground" after my high school art project. It seemed appropriate to keep the name.

11. Do you have a website? Blog? Facebook profile or fan page? Myspace? Twitter? Pinterest?
I have a facebook page for it and an Etsy account. However, I would like to be apart of someone else's page and post work as I get it done on a more personal level. I would hope that in doing so I could blog or pinterest from that connection.

12. Where do you feel your work fits in your market? (Do you concentrate on high volume, low volume; do you make multiples or one of a kind only; Walmart or Bergdorf Gelman?)
I feel my work fits more in the low volume market. I have been known to make multiples of items in the past, but I like to change one element of each item produced.

13. What is your favorite part?
My favorite part about crafting is that I can express myself visually for others to see. I consider myself lucky that I can do that.

14. How did you get into crafting?
I believe I got into art thru life. My family always motivated me to keep doing what I loved. Looking at some of the previous work members of my family did help inspire me to continue.

15. Favorite deceased artist? Why?
Believe it or not I do not have a favorite deceased artist. I have had to do reports on great artists thru history for my two years of Art History and it just felt so forced. My college art teachers used to say that some artists can be hindered by studying too much of other artists, in that you may not be able to develop your own style.

16. Favorite live artist? Why?
I don't have a favorite live artist either. However, I do have a favorite art form. Tattooing is my favorite art form because its an experience from both sides. The person tattooing is putting up their best work for someone that will be carrying it around with them for the rest of their life. The person receiving it is putting their trust in the artist to make a great piece. So in a sense there is an exchange going on; someone gifting a piece of art. To further expand on this, I especially like artistic pictures taken of tattooed people. I have always found that fasinating. Being a woman with tattoos I have been on the modeling end of it as well. It is extremely liberating and I feel like I know more about myself than I originally did.

Location: Warner Robins, Georgia

Text Krystal:   478-217-8713

Thanks for tuning in for our Featured Artist/Crafter of the Month! We'll see you back in November with our next feature!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October Product Review - Storenvy eCommerce Site

Visit my store on Storenvy

Alright, normally I do a physical product for my review but I was inspired to review the ecommerce site I sell through because it's pretty fantastic and yet a lot of people in the craft circuit, even those online, don't know about it.

First of all we all know Etsy.  Now I have no beef with Etsy, although we had a bit of a bad breakup, it is the giant for handmade ecommerce.  And while I was with Etsy for two years from 2009 to just into 2011 how it looked when I came there, versus how it looked when it started, and even how it looks now isn't the same.  While I think the changes they've made (from what I've been able to see though not being a seller there anymore) it's been improvements after a good fashion.  My gripes - the banners & avatars are crazy small (compared to other platforms) and it has a bit of a Facebook feel to it.  You can customize a minimal amount and that's it.

I've also sold with Artfire.  They changed a lot in the few years I was with them too, and while again some changes have been good, others I really wasn't all for and well we broke up too, lol.  They offer a good deal more customization to their shop fronts, but in order to have the maximum affect you had to be a pro seller (although now it's changed and that is the only option).

Just this last year (December of 2011 to be specific) I came to Storenvy.  I was a little forlorn over my Etsy break up still and was okay but not terribly ecstatic about Artfire.  So I decided to give them a chance at the ecstatic urgings of new friendy & fellow crafty fiend Melli of Melli's Trinkets.  Admittedly I had a little bit of trepidation.  What would this new ecommerce site be like that I'd never heard of?  Would it be more work, would it be worth the effort even?

I can answer in the positive and with a resounding yes that it's great and well worth it!  Originally drafting wasn't precisely available in an obvious fashion on Etsy or Artfire (although now both offer a way to do it, Storenvy's way is much simpler and getting better all the time.)  For me drafting is an extremely important feature as it allows me to hit those high points of inspired copywriting without feeling I have to sync up my listing process into "all at once".  The picture availability is set at the standard 5 which works for the most part, although you have to get a little creative at times with your pictures to narrow it down into just 5 depending on your product.  Also standard is an easy to use app with Facebook and it also allows you to link your account and sign in that way.  Changing your email for sign in and to receive messages is easy which is also a major bonus.

Some other nifty perks, they have built in deals and promotions you can run as well as the ability to mark things as On Sale, Coming Soon, and Pre-Order (there are other options Active, Hidden, and Retire).  Forums of course are attached to the site and they give you on site stats in your dashboard.  You can see an overview of your recent sales, access specific invoices, see visitor to view rations for up to a month back or across 6 days.  Your most viewed products & top sellers, top referring URLs, top search engine terms, visitor & buyer countries.

Another major bonus to your storefront with Storenvy is that you can have as many collections, what they call store sections, as you want.  Whereas Etsy restricted it to 10, which made many people open up additional stores for categorization, this is a welcome difference.  Other tidbits are fairly standard with the ability to reference links to other areas of the web (up to 6), customization of your shipping confirmation email, and bits in your profile.

However, the coup de grace of it all (aside from it being a fee-less system of course) is that you are allowed 100% customization.  Your store can be as simple as you'd like it to be or as hands down fancy pants as you can get it (or your web designer can get it).  This leads the way for you to have a truly unique webstore that bespeaks your style while setting up a good majority of the front for you.

So if you have a shop and maybe you're struggling with your venue, or you're thinking of opening one, pop on over to Storenvy and try it out - you won't be sorry you did!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Love Yarn

I love yarn.  I'm of the mind that you can't really have too much.  Instead of being the crazy cat lady I'd be the crazy yarn lady.  Recently I had a large stash donated to my reasonably small, but diverse stash.  (I've been picking through it to make things, I love scrap projects...)  The stash was so impressive that I had to record it and when I compared it to the last time I took pictures... well... WOW is all I can say.

I'll say I have an inordinate amount of red and blue hues.  But I also now have a much more sizable accumulation of browns and grays.  I'm looking forward to the various ideas that have come to mind as I've been winding.  Much of the yarn has been 2 and 3 weight, with a few that look to be 1.  Lots of lace-y goodness coming my way!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Craft/Art Form - Crochet

Crochet gets treated like the red-headed step child many a time.  Passed along by knitters as something for those less serious.  But anyone who has looked at or scoffed at the idea of crochet with disdain obviously doesn't know the art or it's range very well...

Crochet may not be as old as knitting, but it certain has it's own claim to fame.  Progenitor of many an intricate lace doily that graced your grandmother's home and that of fine ladies in the Regency era.  It was all the rage in the 70s with "granny squares" and if you're of my generation you likely have curled up in a granny square afghan before.

Crochet, like knitting, at it's core is the simple twisting of fibers with a tool.  The major pull and benefit to crochet over knitting for many is that it look less complicated with the use of 1 tool, rather than two simultaneously.  The reality is that it isn't any easier or harder.  While knitting has only 2 basic stitches, crochet has 5 (ie., slip stitch, single crochet, half double crochet, double crochet, triple crochet) basic stitches.  There is only one way to decrease or increase a stitch however unlike knit which gives a veritable plethora.  Crochet also has a number of special stitches from elongated versions of all of it's basic stitches to decorative and textured stitches (eg., popcorns, bobbles, puffs, picots...).

As with many fiber arts starting to crochet is as easy as acquiring hook and yarn, and of course a little instruction.  Both allow for a myriad amount of choices to suit your taste, style, and wallet.  Hooks are available in aluminum or steel, depending on the size, but also plastic, acrylic, and wood of various types.  They also come in differing styles, including standard, Tunisian, cabled, and two differing types of double ended hooks (one version is for working Tunisian back and forth the other to combine hooks, they may face the same direction or opposite ones.)  Yarn is available in the form of synthetic man-made fibers (eg., acrylic, nylon, rayon), plant-based fibers (eg., cotton, linen), and animal-based fibers (eg., wool, mohair, angora, cashmere, alpaca, silk) or a blending of any of these.  Due to the potential size of a project crochet has an easy portability to it, except in the case of larger pieces, such as afghans.

Crochet differs largely in some ways from knit in it's basic use.  Crochet is perfect for sculptural and three dimensional objects.  (This is not to say that you can't do such thing in knit at all, just that it is easier to do so with crochet.)  Unlike knitting crochet has a denser feel to it and is worked up one stitch at a time.  The benefit of this is it's great for outerwear and things that need to be heavier or thicker, and if you do have a hook mishap and drop your work you likely only messed up one stitch.  (As opposed to the catastrophic dropping of needles where in an entire row could unravel!)  With the greater amount of density however you use roughly 3x the amount of yarn.  So a similar project would take more yarn in crochet than it would to do in knit.

Crochet comes in a number of styles, including amigurumi (the making of small dolls or toys comprised entirely of single crochet, originally made in knitting), Irish Crochet (a particular style of crocheted lace), Tunisian Crochet (uses a special kind of hook that is either elongated, has a cable to extend it, or is double ended), and Freeform Crochet (this technique involves a number of crochet techniques that build upon one another to form often abstract designs).

When choosing to learn crochet depending on your style of learning there are many options.  YouTube offers videos on everything you would need to get started.  Many sites also offer full color, live picture tutorials so you can "see" stills of how a stitch started, in progress, and finished should look.  There are a plethora of books and magazines about crochet, that all cover the basic stitches.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Having Resources VS Being Resourceful: Which Are You?

True story... I've had a number of people come up to me asking about marketing, design, and just general business "stuff".  Guess that means I'm doing something right huh?

It makes me laugh because I have been in business for over three years now.  But what I realize is that I really wasn't a business until now:  because I changed my attitude.

Now I've told you how much I can't stand that modicum:  it's not a business if you're not making money, it's a hobby.  But I know all too well how true that statement is, even though it burns me up to hear.  The other thing that is important in business is attitude.  I recently heard a quote of Tony Robbins by way of Marie Forleo saying, "It's not about your resources, it's about how resourceful you are."  I have to site that whole idea as the source of my success.

The reason I laugh when people come up to me asking my advice is because I have paid the bare minimum to get good quality information while I've been re-building myself and my brand.  And I'm not saying not to go through programs, because I have wishlist of things I want to do including Marie Forleo's B-School and at least several months of Laura Roeder's Social Media Marketer.  What I want you to take from this is:  don't let money stand in the way of your success, you can capture success simply by making the most of what you have.  I fully believe that investing in yourself is never a waste of time or resources, even though it's scary at first.

My secret is that I have collected an amazing group of mentors that I refer to who all offer high quality, worth their weight in gold advice.  They do blogs, vlogs, question and answer, and regularly share awesome content.

If you want to check out these amazing peeps and start your own full on makeover check out their websites!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I am an Idea Fountain...

June 3, 2010 Maymont Park, Richmond, Virginia

Quite often I find myself to be an idea fountain.  My brain will just get going and like a jackrabbit being chased I dip, dive, and scramble all over the place.  Though in my case it's not being chased, but chasing.  The flights of whimsy that catch my mind's eye scattering my thoughts and at times interrupting my productivity and even sleep.

It's funny how it seems to come about, mostly when speaking on random things from mundane to fascinating with whomever.  There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason nor even the slightest inkling of any particular trigger.  Leave it to be people, interaction, and just the world around inspire me.

What inspires you? (Leave a comment below!)

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

I’ll Have a Serving of Authenticity Please…

Hecate, Greek goddess of the crossroads;
drawing by Stéphane Mallarméin Les Dieux Antiques, nouvelle mythologie illustrée in Paris, 1880

So authenticity is a buzzword in the circles I run, focusing on entrepreneurship and establishing oneself as a solopreneur.  But maybe you don’t run in the same circles I do or the word seems a little mystifying to you.  Here’s my take…

Being authentic sets you free, it allows you to form a real connection with other people - in business your audience.  Once upon a time all companies were faceless entities with their directors, owner, CEOs etc making publicity statements here and there and that was the lot of it.  With a small business (meaning 1-10 employees) that way doesn’t fly.

There is a penchant among newbie biz owners to try and adopt the ways of big corporations, much to my chagrin.  What ends up happening is they often model well but not to their benefit.  Afterall, we’re neighbors, you have a house, a family, friends…and you’re a faceless entity?  Doesn’t instill trust does it?

Being authentic can be scary.  We fear rejection and ridicule, worry how we will be perceived and judged.  As sensitive creatures we don’t take well to that.  But you don’t move past something or grow from it by avoiding it.  It still will be ever present looming in the background.

Me - I’m like a bowl of spilled spaghetti.  I keep odd hours, stay up late and bicker with ADD & insomnia.  I work from home, run two businesses, do several things on the side, chase after a small human and silly mutt.  I try to keep tabs with people and sometimes I go “radio silent”.  I’m a caring & compassionate person who genuinely wants to help even if I get burned for it.  I have many names I work under and not one is a façade, it’s just another facet.  I write, draw, craft, create, doing healing work.  You can call me Laney, Salem, Aradia, Naware, Brynna, or Gaea.  I have a thousand and one aspirations and I’m living my dream tenuously.  Who are you? (Please share in the comments below!)

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Update!

Butter late than never...yes that was intentional.  Looking back, rather than forward since this post comes to you late October has been pretty hectic, more so than I thought it would be!  Murphy & Parkinson's Laws seem to have ganged up on me and made everything that could go wrong with my schedule do so...monkey wrench to the nth power for your math nerds :P

With the revamp for the biz having wrapped up I went bananas in September with inspiration putting up 15 posts, 3x my scheduled normal.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Although so far I'm back down to closer to my quota a thus far.

I've been brewing a newsletter in my noggin, but I have chosen to put off it's initial release.  Ever the perfectionist it's hard to shake those tendencies.

In the changes that continued to occur during September I simplified my website & store set ups so that my shop tab goes directly to my Storenvy shop rather than having two essentially.  Since I like Storenvy and it's infinitely customizable it just made more sense to simplify the process for my lovely audience.

My pricing overhaul completed I'm focusing on a pragmatically intuitive system that I like quite well.  I didn't quite get through the copy like I wished to but it's an ongoing process and a creative one that doesn't like to be rushed.

Finally a special little offer for my blog followers and readers!  My sabbat sale will run from 10/21 to 10/28 for 30% store wide, use code "S4MH41N" at checkout!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Inspiration Knows No Bounds...

My inspiration knows now bounds, because even when I'm sick & tired  POOF! there it is...

So I'm laid up on the couch for part of this morning, not feeling too stellar, keeping an eye on the rugrat while Disney plays on tv.  And in my moments of I'm pretty too damned tired and icky feeling to sit up...I have this idea pop into my head.  While I usually send an personal email to my customers when I ship something, Storenvy has allowed me to make a more personalized shipping notice that does the same thing.  Any care instructions I send within usually, if they're applicable.   And I always try to remember to send a business card or two for both of my businesses, including a few to hand out to lucky friends.

Image used courtesy of Echoland

Customer service however often entails a real connection and personalization to ordering handmade.  It's not a requirement but it goes a long way towards making the customer happy.  Some people include cute hand or computer made tags.  Others include notes, and my friend Sarah of Echoland wraps hers in the most adorable little parcels.  I've also seen some of the branding packaging of Freckle Fox Boutique which is too cute for words even!

Image used courtesy of Freckle Fox Boutique

Tangent complete.  So my's a craft my mother started and one that I know with great care & skill can look absolutely fantastic.  Card making.  As I'm a major DIYer I always prefer to make something from scratch rather than buy it pre-made.  I think my customers will appreciate this, but really I'd love direct feedback!  (I do plan on adding cards to the store at some point regardless but this would be a nice jump off point in the mean time.)

So what do you think of handmade cards?  Do you have any you've received that have brought a smile or giggle out?  Have examples you want to share?  Post in the comments below!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Anchors Away" House Slippers Custom Order - Part 1

So first off let me just gush...I love my ball winder, any chance to use it is grandiose to me because it's just fun and it brings back some memories of playing with the one my grandmother had when I was little.

I'm taking a short break because I'm just all aflutter over this custom order.  Months ago I came across this fantastic pattern designer, Mamachee of Etsy, and she had the CUTEST house slippers ever.  Well originally I bought the pattern for myself, along with two others.  And while I have yet to make myself a pair (I know for shame!) I am now starting my fourth pair, and the second of nicely embellished ones.

Speaking of my grandmother I'll be pimping these out with vintage metal buttons emblazoned with an eagle holding an anchor.  Which to quote my customer:  "These are really cool and have an old school/military feel to them".  I couldn't have said it better myself!

To cap off the nautical theme I'm using Loops & Threads Impeccable Worsted in Aqua & True Gray, so it'll be like a cool misty seaside morning, with that touch of fog over the water.

Enough popping in though, my hands are itching to whirl my ball winder and fly with hook & yarn to whip these up, I can't wait to see them!

Be sure to check out Part 2 (to be linked soon!) to see the finished product and any updates!  In the mean time, peep my last custom pair made for a dear friend who loves skulls as much as I do!

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September Featured Artist/Crafter - Kristie of Aquarian Elegance

Kristie's Bio:
A wife of a US Marine and Mother of two boys and another little one on the way due in late February, I love to use my creativity and imagination while exploring local beaches with my family. In my spare time I create one of a kind hand crafted jewelry and beach life home decor.

1. How long have you been doing crafting?
I have been crafting for many years, from a very early age, I have always been interested in arts and crafts.

2. What inspires you the most?
I love being out in nature. The sights, the sounds, the peace and solace that one can find in nature, I find a lot of inspiration within nature. I also gather much inspiration from other artisans.

3. What is/are your favorite materials/supplies?
My favorite materials are: seashells, glass beads, metal charms.

4. Do you have a favorite tool?
I love my hot glue gun!

5. What is your work space like?
My work space is generally my kitchen counter or my dinning room table. I would love to have a real home office but for now, with wee little ones, I work within the sight of my rambunctious critters.

6. When do you find the most time to work?
I have a special time of the day which I call “Mama Time.” It is usually between the hours of 8:00 pm and 12:00 am. I get the bulk of my work done then.

7. How does your work fit into the rest of your life?
I love that I can create and do something that I absolutely enjoy within my home where I can be with my family at all times. My husband is very supportive in the sense that he offers me time to work and helps out at craft shows and festivals when he is able. My boys love to be involved as well.

8. How often a week do you get to work?
I have a goal of creating 2-4 products a day. With children, it doesn’t always work out that way but when my creativity is flowing, it is generally easy to accomplish.

9. Do you sell your work? Directly? Indirectly?
I am currently selling online. I also participate in various craft shows and festivals in Virginia.

10. Do you have a business (on or offline)? Consign?
I have four online shops. I have recently been offered to sell in a few cosign shops in the area and am waiting for the right offer and opportunity to be able to sell in gift shops and or boutiques in my area.

11. Do you have a website? Blog? Facebook profile or fan page? Myspace? Twitter? Pinterest?
Yes! I am on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter as well as Blogger. My websites are listed below.

12. Where do you feel your work fits in your market? (Do you concentrate on high volume, low volume; do you make multiples or one of a kind only; Walmart or Bergdorf Gelman?)
I would love to see my work in small town gift shops and floral shops. I am waiting on the opportunity and if an offer arises, I would be delighted! Almost every item that I create is one of a kind. My inventory currently numbers between 400-600 individual pieces. 

13. What is your favorite part?
I absolutely love doing custom orders. I love the challenge and the positive feedback I get from happy customers!

14. How did you get into crafting?
I have always enjoyed working with my hands, it would be safe to say around the time of preschool is when I got into arts and crafts. It is just something that never gets old.

15. Favorite deceased artist? Why?
In an art appreciation course that I took in College, I studied artists such as Monet. I really like the paintings of Monet. I like the way he captured things with feelings, capturing nature allowing the viewer to experience the light, the sounds, the water, the earth within the paintings.

16. Favorite live artist? Why?
I really love artists who tap into nature especially expressing awareness for the planet either through sculpture, crafting with recycled materials.

May your treasure lead you to the beautiful waters of our land.

Need your own seaside inspired treasures?  Long to have the beach in your home even if it's far away?  Brighten up your decor and accessories with a little Aquarian Elegance from Kristie!

Aquarian Elegance on Twitter

Thanks for tuning in for our Featured Artist/Crafter of the Month! We'll see you back in October with our next feature!

Branding 101: Consistency is Key

We all know that familiar red dot with the larger red circle around it... Target.  Then the two tailed mermaid of Starbucks which is modeled after Melusine.  The big, bright yellow M, or golden arches, of McDonalds.  How about something more obvious - Walmart, Michaels...the list goes on.  These are all stores or businesses, and also brands.

When I started my foray into re-vamping my business "branding" came up a lot.  And honestly I was at a bit of a loss for what it meant given that the context was never quite clear.  So if you're in that boat let me give you a paddle and help clear things up.

Your branding is the image of your business.  It's the name, the font used, the colors, and any logo used to represent your business.  It's also you, yes your face.  For big brands like the ones mentioned before, being human isn't such a big deal.  For small businesses however, representing yourself & your business as one entity is essential to your success.

The thing about branding is being consistent.  You want your logo, name, image to be so common place, that a stranger sees it and immediately knows who/what it is.  I know this can be tough for the artsy types.  You get pulled into the myriad colors, shades, fonts, and other stylizations to create your image.  The issue is that confuses people.  Sure it may be the same name, but when you used Arial here, then Georgia there, or some block font, or fancy script - it's hard to tell whether it's even the same thing.

As my business coach said to me while we discussed branding, your branding is the clothing of your business.  (Share this tidbit with your followers!)  For me that really hit it home and cleared up all of the vague references I'd been battling with.

So you know what branding is, now what?

Quick Tips for Good Branding:

  • Be consistent.
    • Same font.
      • Super duper tip:  use a font that is free for commercial use.
      • For your website:  stick to 2-3 fonts.  1) Logo font, 2) Heading font, 3) Body text font.
    • Same logo.
      • Use color & black and white.
      • Have several versions and sizes.
      • Save as a .JPG & .PNG.
      • Don't be afraid to ask for help in making a logo.
    • Same colors.
      • Black & white not withstanding, choose 2-3 colors (remember we want to keep it simple) that compliment one another.  For help with this find an artist or someone with an eye for color & check out
  • Be simple & to the point.  (You don't need a fancy stylized graphic.  Your name nicely done in your chosen palette works just fine.)
  • Your profile picture should nearly 100% of the time be YOUR face - not a logo.
    • Why?  People connect with a face, a person, they develop relationships with people not illustrations.  (Is this an absolute, honestly no, but if you want to connect with your audience it's advice well worth following.)
    • Make sure your image is consistent with your branding.  Funny, flirty, serious, ... being out of sync confuses people.

The big picture:  Your branding should speak to your market.  So when in doubt consider who you're trying to reach and what appeals to them most.  And if you've made your branding and you're not selling to who you intended, perhaps it's time to re-think your market!

Praise & Shoutout:  I owe much of my understanding to working with Laura George, a business coach for creatives.  While the information I've provided here is an amalgamation of my own thoughts, what I've learned from her, and research I've done online and through observation if you're needing serious help and can't "do it on your own" I highly suggest hiring her or another business coach.

Happy Crafting,
Aradia's Hand