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.