Thursday, February 28, 2008
Sari silk and banana silk wool blend...it looks even more gorgeous in reality than my quick pictures shows.
I can't wait to get all this accounting behind me and tend to the crafting part of my life again.
Running off to Staples to buy more ink, well, I still have a few days to go and print receipts and records.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tax time reminds us that we DO run a business. There is no way around it. And being a woman, I often wonder if I couldn't do things differently.
I found this article while googling
(Quoted from the original article)
1. PRICING TOO LOW
Women-owned firms are notorious at pricing their goods and services too low. This dooms them to a life of always worrying about money. Even when business is booming, they aren’t making enough profit on their sales.
2. LACK OF INFORMATION ABOUT CAPITAL
This is a big one! It’s really not about the lack of money. It's the lack of capital-raising skills and knowledge that holds women back. Studies have shown that fast growth firms eclipse the laggards because of their aggressive use of investor capital and their risk-taking skills. You don’t have money? So what. Someone else does!
In my success-coaching, I talk to many women who are just too sensitive about business. Every rejection becomes a devastating blow. The truth is that people who reject us are actually doing us a favor. They are freeing us to go after the qualified customers who will help build our business.
4. LACK OF SALES AND MARKETING SKILLS
Every company is a sales and marketing company. The true salesperson is the ultimate adviser. She listens to the customer’s goals, objections, questions and desires. Instead of pushing products, she offers brilliant solutions. If they do any marketing at all, most companies use a limited, one-prong approach, sometimes called "Elephant Marketing." To succeed, you need to use "Octopus Marketing," which involves many different high-tech, low-tech and no-tech strategies.
5. NOT TRUSTING YOUR INTUITION
Women business owners have highly developed intuition, but sometimes we forget to listen to our inner voice. Intuition is an important part of business for both men and women, actually. Because he didn’t trust his gut, the chairman of Remington Products, Victor Kiam, lost out on an opportunity to manufacture and distribute what we now know as Velcro.
6. NO SYSTEMS IN PLACE
When women start or buy businesses, they tend to choose labor-intensive companies. If you show up, you get paid. If you don’t, you lose money. You are trading hours for dollars. Your business should be a system that functions without your presence. The system gives you freedom.
7. NO PLANNING
The business plan, whether written on a napkin or presented in a portfolio, is the internal roadmap for your business. Without it you will be swimming upstream. The business plan is a living entity. Don’t just stick it in a drawer or in a file cabinet. Take it out every three months and reevaluate it, massage it, sleep on it and ask other people’s opinions about it.
Sure, business is challenging. But if you do it right and learn from your mistakes, it's your ultimate passport to living the life of your dreams.
I may be guilty of #1 and #7. Food for thoughts after I have compiled sales figures and over head costs.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I just pick up some yarn these days and see where my hands will take me...I don't have a plan or pattern behind it.
Scrap yarn hats and doily tams are side by side, just like winter and spring.
I have had 2 teeth pulled today, my wisdom tooth and the back tooth next to it. Actually it was not as bad as expected, but I feel a bit weak. My left cheek is swollen. I took a nap earlier, but I really will have to start taxes as there are only a few days left until I'll meet our accountant.
In a perfect world I would crochet in my rocking chair, sitting in my crafty hobbit house and not have any worries:)
Sunday, February 24, 2008
is the name of this beautiful online shop on Etsy. Located in Den Haag she makes eye-popping happy and bright baby/toddler shirts and dresses from recycled materials.
If I had a little girl or boy to dress, I would be all over this shop. Eye candy in Etsyland.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Just a quick update, it's weekend after all. What a contrast, the popping colors in front of the dead grass.
I am so glad I took my pictures earlier, because now it's raining, adding some GREY to the day.
A good chance to grab those books that I always wanted to read and cook some comfort food.
Have a great and relaxing weekend!
Friday, February 22, 2008
with this "traveling gypsy" skirt. Please disregard the chaos in my sewing room, I am in dire need of a renovation. For this 4 tiered skirt I have picked some of my brightest fabrics from my stash and have cut larger patches to make it pop. I hope to finish it tonight. When it's freezing, cold and grey outside we just need to create our own colorful experience, voila.
I also finished a few more smaller tams. I have had a lot of requests for smaller sizes tams and have taken this into account. I will offer a wider variety of sizes from now on.
Brown, solid, simple and beautiful, a custom request.
My latest favorite color combination of sea blue and toasted almond, available on Etsy
Another tam made with hemp and virgin wool. This time I have tried a few tricks gathered up on the internet to get rid of the "sheepy" smell. Dish washing detergent to wash out the excessive lanolin (which causes the smell) and then a bath in hair conditioner since wool basically is similar to hair. It added a nice softening touch to the material, but now it smells "washed", not sure where I will list it yet. I have not quite figured this material out, but I like the look of the yarn very much. But how do you explain what a sheepy smell is, how intense, or how my conditioner smells, since we all have a different sensitivity and dislikes?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Wind: N at 12 mph
As an accessory and clothes maker I have been thinking spring ever since Christmas was over, ha!
Far away from reality. More out of lack for any better ideas I was working on some warmer scrap hats and listed them on Etsy and my website.
A good move after all. Some have already sold.
So, should I wish for spring or hope that winter will make us freeze a little bit longer? The first choice would be so good for my sun-seeking warmth-loving personality, the latter beneficial for my business. How should a hat crocheter decide?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I feel somewhat disgruntled these days.
See above, my show box system full of receipts for materials, packing supplies and postage. It's convenient during the year to just throw store receipts in there, but a nightmare when it comes to organize myself for our tax accountant appointment. Will I ever learn?
My craft room is depressing as well, overflowing with stuff and boxes piled on one another.
Less is more? I wish:)
One positive note: This morning I got up and started my state sales tax statement (due every month) right away and had it finished before 8 a:m. It has to be mailed today!
Ah, give me a deadline and I will get it done, right, shortly before due-time, but not one day earlier:)
In order to give this post at least one uplifting aspect for the poor reader (who may not be up for my rant:), I would like to share a free program just in case you don't have MS word or excel on your computer (I don't), try this website
You will be able to create tables, open word and excel files. A free software for thrifty biz owners.
(You can dl your paypal transactions as well into a spreadsheet file.)
Monday, February 18, 2008
We bought a new scanner and Sid is going through the task of scanning some of our old photographs. I hadn't looked at my old pictures for ages, but glanced through the pile on his desk this morning. I grabbed 2 of them and took a quick digital camera shot. The quality is not the best for that matter, but I am not sure I want to post them clearer anyway, because, I think they are quite weird.
Pic 1: 1977 in France, I started my permed hair phase a la Barbra Streisand and wore ridiculous short bangs, corduroys, India cotton blouse and Swedish clogs.
Pic 2: With my younger cousin at my grandparents house, all "dressed up" for a Sunday afternoon in the mid 1980s. 80s attire, pumps, pleated pants and ruffled blouse ...what a tacky sight:)
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I was a bit tired and bored today, but the weather didn't really invite us to go out for a ride or walk.
We stayed at home, except for a short trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients for chili. cold-weather-feel-good food:)
I managed to list 3 new hats on Etsy, though.
I did a bit of blog-reading today and was really shocked about how some people use them for their personal rants. Negative remarks about their families, their competition in business, jobs, partners, companies. Critique is usually a good thing, but posting about personal vendettas on the www? People should think first, then hit post.
Have a great peaceful Sunday!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I wanted to write about "going green" for a while now, but I knew it was going to be a task to put all my thoughts into words. Therefore, I decided to write a short article about how ecological-conscious living can be achieved in small baby steps.
When I moved from Germany to the USA it was scary and challenging at the same time to witness what environmental "sins" were still allowed in the beautiful state of Oklahoma, please keep in mind, that urban and country living in Germany had been restricted by many laws considering trash, garbage disposal, paying high taxes on any energy-intensive product like gasoline, even for plastic grocery bags....
I also take into consideration that a densely populated country requires different restrictions in order to keep the environment alive and healthy.
My DH and I sometimes still don't see "eye-to-eye" on certain steps, but here is how I try to implement my European roots into the American Way of Life:
***Recycle for private and business matters, whatever possible I buy at the thrift store, clothes, ribbons, bags, books, dishes.............I guess anything other than underwear, socks and shoes!
***Never throw anything out of your car window and onto the streets or roads
***Avoid plastic bags if possible, use fabric totes
***Turn off lights and devices if not needed, electricity costs natural resources and money
***Return batteries, hazardous waste if possible, not throwing it into the house garbage
***Composting kitchen waste
***Save water (we have our own water well, but I still see it wasted if it's just flushed down the drain without any purpose)
***Buying less is more, enjoy an uncluttered living
***Refurbish used furniture with toxic-free stains and paints
***Wear a sweater when it's cool, keep the heat on moderate temperature
***Fill washing machines and dishwashers before running the wash cycles (I never had a dishwasher until I moved over here, so, that's one convenience I am thrilled with, but I fill it properly and scrub pots by hand:)
***Buy handmade and homegrown/homemade, we don't need cotton swamps made on other continents just to have them shipped across the ocean so that we can save 50 cents at the store. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables which are grown in your area. Don't support sweatshops without any quality control and environmental-unfriendly production methods. Saving a $ does not justify importing all our daily goods, because it takes an immense amount of energy for transportation, unsafe uncontrolled materials may threaten our health and the huge quantities of unnecessary trinkets and one-way-products eventually will exhaust the resources of OUR earth.
Small steps, but we should never feel helpless, we always can do something good for our Mother Earth.
And one more thing, if I was an American national, I'd vote for a candidate with an environmental program.
But my naturalization is still a matter of the future.
PEACE and have a great weekend!
More online articles to read:
Small steps to reduce waste
Going green in the kitchen
10 environmentally friendly ideas for college students
Micro-Green - Small Steps to a Greener Existence
Friday, February 15, 2008
But I rewarded myself with a trip to the thrift store today. My o my, I haven't even unpacked yet, but I am especially happy these book finds. 75% off.
The huge "Alternative medicine" is a thick hardcover 1997 edition and was only $2.35
(I prefer alternative health treatment methods if possible and have had good results for myself)
"Search for personal freedom" $0.80. A huge philosophy/art/literature/culture volume.
Craft book from 1975 $1
Mother Nature's Secrets for Thriving Indoor Plants 1975 for $0.15
A vintage ceramic strawberry tray (without picture) for my son's girl friend who collects vintage strawberries=$2.
Too much to go on about, I had a blast, and carrying my loaded bags across the street to the parking lot is my only limit.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Ok, so I proclaimed a crafty design challenge for February and have to admit, it didn't work out as planned:)
But that's fine. I have stopped making resolutions for every New Year's beginning and good so.
Relevance is a key factor, stick to your priority goals. Sometimes you have to abandon a fun idea to support your livelihood first.
I was very busy filling orders and I stuck to my main goal of making my home based crafting business work. In that respect I was consistent. Patting on my own back is not of good taste, but we need to praise ourselves from time to time, right? :)
Know your long-term goals and keep them at the top of your list.
Today just a fun update. Above is a picture of my private side project:
A table runner (freshly started) made from recycled t-shirt yarn. Sid sacrificed some of his t-shirts in a size XL which provide a bit more yarn than my M. Just cut slightly diagonally, starting at the bottom (cut off seam first) and go all around the t-shirt cutting about a 1" wide strip until you reach the sleeves. Stop there. Wind the long strip into a yarn ball. My yarn was too thin for a rug but too thick for any wearable, so I decided on a table runner.
Great way to get rid of unloved big t-shirts and saving them from landfills.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I really had good intentions to keep up posting a new design/idea for each February day, but life had different plans. But, isn't flexibility key?
I worked on new ideas, just as I had promised to myself, but didn't take the extra time to post them since I had a big order of custom hats to fill. I believe taking care of your orders is priority.
In my little spare time I made a tam with scrap yarn and a fuzzy second strand of yarn to have an interesting "material blend", to be finished soon. (See picture above)
More "material blending"...rayon/cotton blend held together with a normal worsted cotton yarn (the one you would use for potholders)>>>the result is a very nice structure of slight sheen and great weave. BTW rayon is a natural fiber, used for tropical wear mainly, but it may not hold up very well on its own, blended with cotton it becomes ideal for hats.
Last but not least, I have have received a super yarn package from an Ebay yarn seller, filled with hemp/virgin wool blend yarn in "forest" colors, this one is called walnut and has a super rustic feel to it. Unlike most hemp/wool yarns this one is of very nice even thickness...and it smells of sheep though since it contains the natural oils of the wool>>>being virgin wool. A great product for the nature lovers among us. I will hand-wash these hats before sending them out though, I used to wear virgin wool socks, and the smell is one not to be ignored even though you may not have a sensitive nose.
Off to work on today's idea, which is very intriguing, hopefully I can share it tomorrow and get back on track.
Don't you sometimes wish you could only enjoy the part of designing prototypes and leave the production for sale up to your devoted busy bee employees? Well, this is what distinguishes a crafter from a "designer", we just do it all. Work up our ideas, reproduce them, pack them, ship them, answer all the business emails, read crafty forums, read other blogs, cook dinners, clean houses and hopefully spend time with spouses and children, too. If you ask me, that is what truly handmade is all about.
Besides crocheting and more crocheting:), we took a ride to Kaw lake to look at a country side property which may meet our idea of a "weekend getaway from civilization". We couldn't see if the property line reached the river bank (we love to fish), so, we may go back with a realtor to see more. It has a livable double-wide and huge acreage. It's something to further look into for sure, located close by a lake and river at the same time.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Why would I mention the color of my wool sweater?
Well, it is in consistency with yesterday's clothes discussion. And the "prove" that it actually works for me.
The pictures above show the 2 new designs of yesterday's contribution to "design something new each day of February". Yesterday I was motivated, but couldn't really follow through with my plans. I must say I wore black. So today I have put on a red sweater, to get the fire going and blood rushing:)
HOW THE COLOR RED AFFECTS US
- Increases enthusiasm
- Stimulates energy and can increase the blood pressure, respiration, heartbeat, and pulse rate
- Encourages action and confidence
- Provides a sense of protection from fears and anxiety
(very informative article about red in many spectra of society)
My self-observations so far are: I am better when I am dressed better (and since I am a jeans, patchwork skirt, casual sweater kind of woman, I don't crochet in a business suit or "smart" look, but dressed to please my own eyes, hair done to look a bit edgy and not to forget to put on a favorite necklace or earrings). The color can get me into the right direction as needed. Sure will need some green these days, too:)
Today I have been really good with my time and have actually something new to show off.
The "energy tam", something bright, thick and yummy for the dull days in our lives.
Squidoo lens with more color info (no scientific article, easy reading)
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
2. "Mushroom" hat, a bubbly balloon-type design which reminds me of the head of a mushroom
Moving on to my topic of the day:
I googled articles about the Psychology of Clothes, a very interesting subject for me.
My initial question was: Does it influence my working self (productivity, creativity, business success) if I crochet in my pjs or oversized sweats without any kind of style other than being comfortable?
Or in other words, even though I may be the only person who sees myself working at home, does it effect my self-esteem, self-perception, my crafting life?
I don't try to scientifically deal with this subject, I am curious if I can influence my crafting life by clothes I put on myself.
I found several articles to support my idea that putting yourself together (whatever dress-style you may have), will actually impact your working at home (without client contact).
Exert from "Clothes Psychology: What Your Clothing Tells Others About Who You Are and Who You Want to Be"
Do get "dressed" daily. It's easy to slip into a pattern of throwing on anything, particularly when you're not planning to go out anywhere special. However, this can set your mood to expect a monotonous, ho-hum day. Try putting on something special even when it's not a "special" day, and take notice of the change in your attitude.
If you want more scientific in depth reading I recommend these free internet sociological psychology sources
The Psychology of Dress
Monday, February 4, 2008
Variety is key. I made a smaller tam design to accommodate those buyers who have just started out growing dreads or who don't have a lot of hair to tuck into their hat. This hat style will be ideal to offer in custom colors.
(Design of the day Feb 2008, something new and fresh every single February day).
BTW, we have 75F today, gorgeous day outside. I ran across town, got a hair cut, bought alpaca wool and snacks.
Tomorrow the forecast has announced snow, so, I better enjoyed it while I can:)
Sunday, February 3, 2008
People love to pick their colors, I know I do!
Here is my newest listing for a custom color netty dreadlock tam hat.
Available on my website Purple Sage Designz
(Contribution to my February design challenge, a fresh idea on Superbowl Sunday 2008)
Etsy is also a fabulous place where you can trade with other artists. Here are Lighting Your Path (Goddess Mama Lamps) Earrings, I absolutely love to wear them and Kasey of shivsister
has sent some good vibes along with them.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
Today I'll start out with my "handmade" packaging supplies. Mind you, I am not a paper person, never did like paper crafts, but I set all my doubts to the side and scrapped up some hang-tags. Actually they are quite pretty, could be refined, but it's a start.
I package my hats in brown paper bags, unbleached. This batch doesn't show a very good stamp design. My other star rubber stamp has a much better effect, but you get the picture, there is always room for improvement, especially for my beginning self.
Now I cut up one page of store-bought design paper (I didn't have any cool paper goods saved, so I invested in a thick book with design paper at Hobby Lobby).
I print my information on a plain sheet of white paper (I paste it onto the print page multiple times, as often as it fits onto 1 sheet with little cutting room between the text blocks), and include company name, handmade in the USA and care instructions for my crochet items. Last but not least a material list and a Thank You of course. I cut this sheet of paper with a scalloped-edge scissors which hides imperfections or not so straight cut lines (cost around $2). I glue the white instruction sheets onto the blank side of the design paper with non-toxic glue stick (the one that is approved for children's use, to make sure no toxins get into my package).
I punch a hole through the hang-tag and fasten a ribbon, crinkle ribbon, jute cord or yarn around the package and tie the hang tag to it. Usually I add a business card and a wrapped bag of tea just as a little extra.
Well, it's fun and I make a whole batch once I am at it. It's personal, it's thrifty, it's not plastic and reflects my store pretty much.