On The Record!

If there is one thing I love as much as making art it's enjoying music. I'm addicted to playlist.com. I obsessively follow and collect my favorite musical artists. In the past two years I have also begun to avidly collect vinyl. Friends and family have contributed (err...dumped) their own collections on me and I am left with some beautiful vinyl...that you couldn't pay me to listen to. So I've gotta do something with it!

In my high school art club I am having students turn my un-listenables into fabulous time pieces, by painting, collaging and adding motorized clockworks to them. Here's one I made from a vintage picture disc:

Others on Etsy have found some ingenious ways to use old vinyl that I may have to try out myself at home:

Recycled Record Coasters and Bowl
from Innoudid's Attic

Record Album Catch All Tray from Vindicated Vinyl by Brinda Kay Design

Vinyl Record Bookends by Nerd Nest

And speaking of Vinyl...check out the definitive blog on album cover art called Sleevage. Love it!


Alice in Wonderland Challenge

Our Rochester Etsy Street Team has started a monthly challenge! This month's theme is Alice in Wonderland. We have to make an item representative of the theme and list it in our shops by March 23rd. These items will be tagged "RNEST March" if you search on Etsy.

This challenge is also judged. We will put the items up to vote on March 30th on our blog and announce the winner on March 31st. This is just the incentive I need to kick my derriere into motion. You, your friends, your relatives, everyone can vote here.

And the prize is...... A RESERVED PARKING SPOT for a mini (store) at the top of the team blog! Woot woot!

Here are some of of our amazing Rochesterian artistes' offerings:

The Quilted House - The Red Queen's Hot Pads

Kaitlin Erin Gray - Alice's Keys

Duncan Creative - Queen of Hearts Tarts

Buenahelena - Mad Tea Party Lamp

Creative.Hodge.Podge - Alice's Teapot

SarahsAmiables - Mr. White Rabbit


The Whole Package

There are many reason why Etsy has been so wildly successful. The piles of unique, one of a kind items. The assurance of knowing who made the item your buying, the quality of their working conditions and the equity of their wages. Beyond all that good stuff, is that lovely feeling of getting something great in the mail. Not your email, twitter or facebook. Something in that little metal box at the end of your driveway. It's delicious and it keeps buyers coming back.

How can you make an irresistible and professional package with each item you send out?

1. Brand: Always include a business card for your shop. Create your own invoices with your brand and logo as the header. Stamp your items and packages (perhaps with a personalized stamp from JackBear Stamps). Stay within your shop style throughout the whole package. For example I upcycle a lot, so I've used silly things like Mighty Taco tray paper for my gift wrap. (Clean of course.)

2. Have you own Back: Print your shop's return policies and contact info on the back of your invoice if possible. Many folks don't bother to read it on your Etsy profile and it's better for them to know your policies and willingness to remedy problems before getting negative feedback.

3. Beautify: Make your package look awesome. Stock up on: Gift boxes, gift wrap, patterned packaging tape (now sold at JoAnn's), stickers, handmade envelopes. I recently sold something to someone who lives within 2 miles of me, but she wanted me to ship her item simply for the joy of the packaging!

4. Butter up: Send a personal thank you. Add a coupon code to your note or the back of your business card to show return shoppers your gratitude and persuade them to shop again. Give a small freebie, ie. Anything you'd sell for a dollar or less like magnets, key chains, samples items, a tiny zine or an artist trading card.

5. Branch out: Promote your team with a pack of business cards from other team members. Create a stand alone team business card promoting your blog or team website. Make a flier of upcoming shows or markets you'll be attending.

Follow these five B's. When you take each step of a transaction seriously, buyers will appreciate it and come back. They may very well bring back more buyers with them too. Let me hear what your put in your packages!


Success By The Numbers

A Monday tale of budding success, for strugglers and underdogs on Etsy:

I started Buenahelena on a whim in 2006. I was working as a (highly underpaid) teaching assistant at the Cleveland Institute of Art and my friend had started an Etsy shop to supplement her waitressing job. (Oh what a recession will do to even the college educated!) So I opened Buenahelena, goofed around with some ideas then went off to grad school. I'd work on Etsy in bursts over my breaks, but let it alone for weeks at a time. It's no surprise that from 2006 -2008 I averaged a meager 9 sales per year.

This summer with one year of teaching Art in public schools under my belt, I decided to jump into Etsy seriously and wholeheartedly. I spent the summer making new items and editing the branding and story of my shop. That August I joined the recently formed Rochester New York Street Team and attended their first face to face meeting. They are my turning point. The team and its members push me and feed me. Since joining in August of 2009 I have sold almost 20 items and made it into a treasury and a gift guide. Nearly doubling my total sales from 2006-2008! In 2010 alone I have already surpassed those yearly totals of 2006-2008.

Oh Snap!

Two weeks ago I committed to an item-a-day challenge from fellow street team member/founder Just Ice Jewelry. Putting up an item a day led to more exposure and last week I sold 4 items, a number that I would normally reach in 3-4 months. I also made new connections as challengers hold each other accountable for posting items by giving away items when we forget to post. On Friday I was picked for a treasury by ThingsOldeAndNew. That treasury went on the front page Saturday. According to Google Analytics I average about 25 views to my shop a day. On Saturday I had 226 views. Ten times more than average! On Craftcult's Heartomatic site I received 5 new shop hearts and 17 new item hearts within a few hours, instead of the normal few weeks. This treasury led to a reserve order of 5 items.

My sweet free gift from Karol's Vintage Art from the IOTD challenge.Check out her shop!

Thank you RNESTers! From 5 items every six months, to a possible 5 items in a day! I won't calculate that mathematical leap, but just sit with it today and be content. Maybe teacher's gonna buy herself a new pair of shoes...


Strange Curiosities

With Tim Burton's interpretation of Alice in Wonderland opening in theaters this weekend I have been drawn to odd objects. I love things that, as Alice would describe, are "curiouser and curiouser". Extreme Craft (a blog that is: "a compendium of art masquerading as craft, craft masquerading as art & craft extending its middle finger". Love it!) directed me to FOLK OBJECT, a Tumblr gallery curated by Clifton Burt. So what is this? Garth Johnson, of Extreme Craft describes it better than me, so I will quote him:

"Folk Object is a Clifton-curated Tumblr reliquary for..well...folk objects. As he should, Clifton takes a broad view of what constitutes "folk". On the Folk Object site, you've got your curious expressions of nationalist craft rubbing shoulders with album covers, high fashion and distillations of "folk" sensibility that range from psychedelic to dollar store. Academically trained artists rub shoulders with craftspeople, designers and business people. It's up to you, the viewer to juxtapose everything and sort it all out."

FOLK OBJECT hit my kitsch switch, grabbing that piece of my creative soul that makes me buy weird mugs at thrift stores and save foreign candy wrappers. Wherever the inspiration is for your work, find it, but this is where mine is. I thought I'd share some recent acquisitions of mine in this genre of the strange mundane. Enjoy!

Royal salt and pepper shakers found at Goodwill for 99 cents.

A delicious chocolate bumblebee from the Madelaine Chocolate Company, but wait...

A seemingly innocent candy wrapper that when opened reveals a psycho bunny ready to brainwash!

A whimsical (but headless!) clown...on a bike...on a mug. Hmmmm.