November 18, 2009

Holiday Sales = Toys for Tots

It's been a while since I arranged a drive for Toys for Tots. In fact, I think the last time I organized something officially was a bake sale when I was in seventh grade. As the reality of this economy devastates the lives of more and more families - I feel compelled to do something again. I've decided to extend my Vintage Holiday Sale through the end of the year, and donate 100% of the sales towards purchasing gifts for children that otherwise may watch the holiday season come and go like any other time of year.

Christmas has always come in very close seconds to Halloween for me, personally. But I haven't forgotten the magic that this time of year possesses for wee ones. Whether it's at my shop, or not, be a savvy shopper and make sure your money works double-time this year - shopping for altruism is a great feeling.

Toys must be donated no later than December 12th - I will be blogging about the results of the sale - I want you to know what we can do!

November 15, 2009

Interview with jenjems

There are many wonderful aspects to starting your own business on Etsy. As with any other venture, there's the sense of accomplishment, nurturing your own success, and regular challenges that make each day different. But what makes Etsy so refreshing is, in my opinion, the community. I have met many wonderful people - and consider many of them my friends. Today, I want to introduce you to one of my Etsy friends: Jen Moore, creator of jenjems, a beautiful line of jewelry with lines inspired by the natural world.

Etsy is home to myriad talented jewelers, but jenjems is amongst the cream of the crop for her sophisticated designs, stunning materials, and importantly - her great business sensabilities. Over the past several months, I have been grateful for Jen's daily Facebook posts, which almost always make me laugh out loud. Perhaps more relevantly, I have been awed by her Marketing prowess. For example, jenjems' 'Hidden Treasures', a sort of scavenger hunt sale for her Facebook fans. Trust me, it's really fun and gratifying as a buyer. Beyond the clever twist on a sale, Jen has a lot of other great ideas which I asked her to share with us, as well as letting us know her better:

I see you on Facebook, and I'm always impressed with the diversity of your Marketing strategies: Hidden Treasures, jenjems Parties, etc. Moreover, I'd have to say the reason your Marketing works, is that I don't feel I'm being sold/advertised to. It's actually fun! Where did you learn Marketing?
I'm a shopper put it mildly; I guess you could say I'm somewhat of a shopaholic. As a Seller, my approach to marketing is to put myself in the buyer's position. I think, "How would I want to be sold to?", and go from there. I can't stand the hard sell: if someone is nagging at me "BUY MY STUFF" I tend to back off more than make a purchase, so I keep it low key. Because I take this approach, Marketing is kinda second nature to me. My approach to jenjems marketing comes from great shopping experiences, dreams, and innovating. My packaging is a result of both my obsessive compulsive nature, as well as a lesson about customer appreciation I learned as a buyer. I once made a purchase online for five pairs of shoes (see, told you I was a shopaholic!) They were each individually packaged with matching tissue and a cute, little sticker; they came with a very nice note, thanking me for my purchase. I can still recall the feeling of joy and excitement I had as I unwrapped each pair. When I started jenjems, I used that memory to come up with my own Marketing strategy for packaging. I want everyone to have that feeling of joy and excitement when they receive jenjems.

'Hidden Treasures' was actually inspired by a recurring dream from my childhood: I was gathering "jewels" and placing them in a GIANT treasure chest. Each dream was in a different setting, but the end result was the same, I was searching for "hidden treasure". I thought, "Why not use that as a marketing tool?", and let my fans find the 'hidden treasure' in my shop.

Jenjems parties are really just a fresh take on the classic Tupperware party. I figured if it works for their merchandise, why not mine? It's so much fun to gather with friends and shop in the comfort of your own home. Get a few cocktails in your friends and they're REALLY ready to shop!

In your shop profile, you mention that you find inspiration in nature. I'm always curious to know what inspires artists - I think that it says something about their unique perspective. Can you elaborate?
I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful commute each day along a stretch of highway with farmland on either side. It's a nice way to start and end my day, and I'm always inspired by the scenery: like the way the sun hits the tips of the trees, the curves and shapes of the land, an old barn alone in a field. This simple imagery is often what charges my creativity and inspires new designs. Watching the way water flows down a hill may inspire the lines of a necklace. Appreciating the beauty in nature and the world around me, whether farmland or the city always shapes the creativity that comes from within.

Art teachers have made a huge difference in my life - I think it's fabulous that you are an art teacher. Tell us about it.
My desire to teach art started at a very young age. There was always something intriguing about art teachers: their carefree attitudes, the way they were always so kind and full of encouragement. My career path has taken me from Daycare Assistant to sixth grade Art Teacher and currently, to Director of a non-profit childcare center. My program emphasizes on the arts and hands-on lessons more so than academics. There is so much we can learn from a child, if we just take the time to listen and observe. Working with children has taught me to be kinder and honest to others – and myself.

Once while painting with the children I wasn't happy with my end result. Discouraged, I quickly tossed my painting in the trash. Upon seeing this, one of my students, reminding me of my own words, looked up at me and said, "Ms. Jen, 'make masterpieces out of mistakes'", a phrase I started using due to a serious lack of supplies and funding. Hearing my own words from this child made me value the lesson I'd been trying to teach. Rather than toss what I thought was a mistake in my design, I was able to see it in a whole new light; and conceive a new design better altogether than the original. This moment, this lesson – it has stuck with me in my approach to all of my art.

November 12, 2009

Vintage Holiday Sale

If you like these....

Or this....
They are both on sale in my shop! In fact, all items in the Vintage Holiday section of my shop currently reflect 15% off the original price. Sale prices good through 11/18! Happy shopping!

November 11, 2009

Interview with Flight Path Designs

The other day, while trying to demonstrate to Jeff, my partner, how limited the selection at Etsy is for men (I think he is envious of the great handmade finds I've been getting for myself) - I stumbled across an amazing shop that has products that are sure to appeal to both women and men.

I found Flight Path Designs, home to gorgeous leather goods created by artist, Naomi Joy Yamamoto. As I perused her Etsy shop, I found myself completely enamored with not only the unique "tattoo process", but every illustration that graced her collection of stunning belt buckles, pendants, and handbags. When I fall this hard for anything, being the curious cat that I am - I need to know more.

Naomi was kind enough to answer my questions about her art, her process, and business secrets. She has inspired and educated me with her answers, and if you find inspiration here, too - I hope you'll thank her:

I'd like to know what your greatest source of inspiration for your work is? My wanderlust is kicked up ten notches looking at your art - I wonder if I'm onto something here?
I find inspiration in all sorts of places, people and objects. I love to travel, and did quite a bit of wandering before beginning Flight Path as a full time venture. The aspect of traveling that informs my work is being out of my day to day context and immersing myself in the various textures, sounds and views of different cultures. I also love heading out for adventures in thrift stores, looking at the discarded objects of our past. The most mundane objects were produced with so much thought into function and design and that's something that I try and incorporate into my work as much as possible.

Surely all artists struggle with creative blocks. I found a very inspirational quote on your web site:

"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” - Lao Tzu

How do you nurture your dreams? Any sources for creativity you would like to share?
I love quotes-and that one in particular, as words offer me a lot of support and inspiration. Otherwise, I find that having a good support network around you is important, because more than often when you are acting out of passion you will be encountered with road blocks along the way. I do believe that anything a person wants to do with enough determination and conviction is possible; but in order to achieve that there has to be a great deal of positivity and optimism surrounding you, being 'careful what you water your dreams with'. As much as possible, I try and surround myself with creative, like-minded people, and I am fortunate to have a partner who provides me with a great deal of care and emotional support.

I have also recently discovered the act of goal making and how the act of writing these down can actualize your present and future - magic, really!

Perusing your business web site, I was very impressed with your level of professionalism: you have a brilliant media kit, a knock-out booth for shows, and have successfully had your product sold in numerous brick & mortars. What would you say was the most important component of reaching this level of professionalism and branding?
Thank you! But at the same time, I feel like there is much to improve upon and perhaps this is something that keeps me striving to be more professional, more organized, and create a more cohesive identity for my work. Every show I try and work upon one element, whether that be adding a new design to my line, modifying my display, or streamlining the product line. Its never-ending! And that is partly why I enjoy this work so much: its always challenging and there is no time to get bored. I also think its super important to find your resources, which may vary from person to person; I've found it in some amazing books, peers and mentors.

Who are your three biggest influences, artists or otherwise?
  • My parents who raised me surrounded with handmade objects and designs of their own making.
  • My friend, Kari Woo, who has been my roomate, employee, studio mate, collaborator and motivational speaker all rolled in one!
  • Countless designers and artists who fill our world with thoughtfully designed work.
What are your other interests or unique talents?
Prior to beginning this venture I was really into installation based art with a emphasis upon human rights. Part art and part activism - I'd like to be able to get back to that in the near future and possibly complete a masters in fine art/activism - if such a program exists! I also love to cook when I can, and would like to have more time and energy to create more elaborate meals and expand my culinary vocabulary.

November 9, 2009

And the Winner Is.....

Thanks to everyone for entering my very first Giveaway! You have all given me great feedback about my shop, some of which I've already implemented in my shop, others which will take more work. Your gift to me was invaluable, and I wish it were possible to give you all something back. The lucky winner is edmontonjb!

November 4, 2009

And the Survey Says....GIVEAWAY


Well, almost free. Actually, I'm going to ask you for a teensy weensy bit of feedback, and for your time, you will be entered in a giveaway for an Herbal Eye Pillow of your choice.

1) What is your first impression of my shop?
2) What is your favorite item?
3) What is just far too overpriced?

Bonus: If you are an Etsy Seller and win, you will ALSO be written up as a Featured Seller on my blog!

Requirements: You must be 18 years old to enter. This giveaway is open internationally. Giveaway is closed at 11:59pm on Sunday, November 8, 2009 Pacific Time. Winner will be by random draw and will be contacted by me. The winner must confirm their win within 24 hrs of my email or a runner up will be drawn.

How to enter!
First Entry: Visit Elan Vital Anthology and answer the survey questions by responding in the comments below. Let me know which Herbal Eye Pillow you would like.
Second Entry: Follow my blog for second entry!
3 Extra Entries: Blog about this giveaway and hyperlink to the blog. Let me know in your comment.
5 Extra Entries: For each purchased item from ElanVital Anthology during this giveaway, receive 5 extra entries! Be sure to post comment here so that I know the purchase is from you.

November 1, 2009

Limited Edition Herbal Eye Pillows

For those of you familiar with Elan Vital Anthology, you probably already know that my bestsellers are my Organic Herbal Eye Pillows. For those of you who don't know - my herbal eye pillows are made using certified organic herbs and flaxseed. There are a variety of custom blends, each created for a specific need: unlocking the flow of creativity, sleep aide, improving concentration, etcetera. All of the herbal eye pillows are fabulous for headaches resulting from eye strain, sinus pressure and migraines. Moreover, all of the eye pillows promote rest and relaxation.

The photos above are of my two new Limited Edition Herbal Eye Pillows. The "Fly Away" pillow is made of peacock blue silk noil and cerulean blue silk satin with a chocolate brown and cloud blue cotton bird applique. The "Vintage Bouquet" pillow is made of a vintage cotton/linen blend floral with cobalt, cornflower, and chartreuse roses and daisies. Contour stitching outlines the blue roses in magenta and red threads. Brown and orange floral circles from a vintage Japanese cotton have been appliqued to create rhythm and pop. It is also backed with the cerulean blue silk satin.

Any of the Herbal Eye Pillows at Elan Vital Anthology make for an excellent gift for yourself or someone special. At only $18 each, why not treat both of you?

Toddlers and Photoshoots

So I just spent the better part of a half hour trying to get my adorable daughter, Marley, to cooperate with the camera. She must've sensed that her cuteness was being exploited for my Etsy shop, because while normally a ham, she was completely uncooperative for the pinafore shoot. I so wish that the photos would've come out better - because apparently, lots of you think this Wool Birdie Pinafore is the cutest thing ever; but the original photos on the hanger just didn't translate well. Alas, I'll probably have to subject her to another shoot. Just wanted to share the outtakes as I'm sure many of you have experienced the similar celebrity-paparazzi relationship with your wee ones. Not to mention, I still think she's entirely too cute, even when all you can see is how she doesn't want to be seen!