Monday, January 31, 2011

First Quarter Team Challenge: Unconventional Valentine

For our first quarter team challenge, our topic was "unconventional valentine" to celebrate a different side of Valentine's day and to think outside of the box a little. We have been busy creating for the past few weeks, and have some great new listings to show for it. The best part of this challenge is that many items have combined our first quarter charity with this challenge, so if purchases are made from this list of amazing items, a portion of those purchases will go towards charity. Our charity is one that is close to our hearts. It is the USO. The USO is a key player in the lives of military service members and their families. They provide a myriad of services to the armed forces communities, and keep us going in hard times. So please help us support the USO by searching "USO charity" in the search engine on etsy to find the various items we have handcrafted and placed for sale.

Without further ado, here are our amazing team challenge entries!

First up, we have Sarah Geraci of scgeraci
Show someone just how valuable you think they are this season with a most fanciful scarf to frame their face.

Valentine's Day is for making girls feel pretty, and special, and this one of a kind neck warmer does that.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/62299816/handmade-valentine-scarflette-luxurious

Next up, we have Heather Strickland of TheNaturesThread
This set of 4 white minky washcloths feel uber soft and yummy against the skin. These make a wonderful unconventional Valentine’s Day gift for that special person in your life.



Heather Strickland also worked on an item to enter from her other shop, HeatherStrickland
A personalized embroidered handkerchief with a short saying of your choice makes a wonderful and thoughtfully unconventional Valentine’s Day gift. Let that special person in your life know how much you truly and deeply care and love them. This listing is for one handkerchief. You have a choice from either a man’s or ladies white handkerchief.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/66452768/embroidered-handkerchief-unconventional

Our next entry is from Tori of vcarolcreations
An unconventional Valentine necklace made from pink and black wool felt. This cute little 'broken' heart is a perfect anti-Valentine or just unconventional statement piece.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66186182/ouch-necklace-unconventional-valentine

Up next, we have Leah Butler of winddancerdesigns
Beautiful sweetgrass (Hierochlöe odorata) from the plains of Canada is a very sweet and soothing scent. A subtle vanilla-like scent blended with the spicy scent of incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) from Oregon. Perfect to scent drawers, clothes closets, linens, guestrooms, winter clothes, etc.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/38362905/cedar-sweetgrass-blend-drawer-and-closet



Our next entry is from Jessica of ruralinspirations
A little naughty, a little nice, this black ribbon (with silver-plated lobster clasp) necklace features a pendant of a sunshine-yellow heart cabochon with cascading beads of black and a red heart.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66439860/happy-un-valentine-necklace


The next challenge entry is by Amy of Amy305
I recently became addicted to "The Walking Dead" on AMC and that show was a huge inspiration for the art quilt that I created. This quilt is made with shades of deep blood red, black, and shades of neon and sickly green.




Up next, we have Celia of HomemadeZen
What a unique way to express your love! This set of crocheted amigurumi mobile is made up of one large cloud amigurumi and 3 little crocheted hearts "showering" down to your loved one.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66660753/showered-with-love-crocheted-amigurumi

Our next entry is from Robin of CreationsAnew
A set of six 4x5 flat notecards featuring my Heart Healthy Photograph of a pair of athletic shoe and it's laces.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/65769945/set-of-6-flat-notecards-athletic

Up next, we have Deb of LilacAve
I thought the "un-romantic" scent name and the teal color story, sort of goes against the norm of roses, pink, and red. However, it is undeniable that this glass heart hand me down, candy dish, with a gorgeous teal candle, and the complimentary valentine card, isn't a lovely valentine to give or receive.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66010208/unconventional-valentine-gift-set-uso


The next entry is from Miranda of Culinarychiqconcepts
This creamy soy candle features the mouthwatering scent of, you guessed it, PIZZA!!! Pizza lovers everywhere will appreciate the scrumptious aroma of fresh tomato sauce, Italian herbs and spice, luscious cheeses and a crispy crust.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66694779/unconventional-valentine-soy-candle


Our next entry is by Rebecca of SubmarineParade
Are you deeply in love with a man who drives a Submarine? I am.

This print makes a fun little gift for yourself or for your favorite US Navy Submarine Wife.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/59317206/submariners-wives-love-deeply-framed




Up next is by Cassandra of HeartmadeCreations
I cannot send my Hubs anything sweet or overly exciting for Valentines this year because he is currently doing his AIT training. He carries around this little love voodoo doll (the ones from Hallmark) and that is great, but it is bulky and well I didn't make it. So, I thought of something perfect.... a soft fabric hard, decorative stitching and hand stitched lettering. :0) He can wear it in his pocket and keep us near him at all time. My son and I held it for hours just filling it with all of our love.


Our next entry is from Sharon of SHAbang
This black hematite heart frame and smaller heart were re-purposed from another necklace. A small red bead was added to give some color. The smaller heart also spins.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/65420845/black-heart-hematite-necklace-sterling




The next entry is from Tamara of HeartfeltCreativity
The door charm is called a fairy wish door because the door actually opens and you can leave a little note or wish in there. The door has a small magnet on the inside which keeps it closed.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/62023179/silver-door-charm-and-crystal-heart





The next entry is by 5280yarns
A lovely wristband hand knit in variegated yarn encircled by 3 pure white hearts. Measuring 3 1/4 inches tall and 2 3/4 inches in diameter, this simple cuff design gives a splash of lively color to any casual wardrobe.
http://www.etsy.com/listing/66774902/pure-heart-wristband


Up next we have Jennifer of jenharruff
Ah cupcakes...what's not to love about a sweet cupcake with a pretty cherry on top that has absolutely zero calories?


Our next entry is from Jarita of Jaritascreations
A touch of elegance, a bit of romance, a lot of Victorian style, and a timeless appeal blend into a handcrafted birdhouse. This sweet and romantic birdhouse possesses a classy style with a modern touch.


Our next entry is from Christina of CreationsbyChristina
The knitted hat was made with 100% acrylic yarn in red and white (one strand of each color). There are two heart-shaped pom poms attached to the hat with hand-plaited yarn "tails". Flat and unstretched, the height is approximately 8" (excluding the pom pom tails) while the width is approximately 10".


The next entry is from Maredith of CoronaDelMareDesigns
I created this item as juxtaposition for the different aspects of the emotions related to the idea of love. The positive aspect is demonstrated by the vibrant red, the color of love and the clean white, the color of purity. The negative aspect comes from the black representing the sadness felt from loss or lack of love. The swirls in the surrounding loops depict the mixture of all of these emotions that love evokes. Finally, the peek-a-boo heart ribbon reminds us that everyone is capable of love and worthy of being loved.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66953414/team-homefront-challenge-piece-hidden

Good luck to our contestants!




Saturday, January 29, 2011

HF Feature Series: When Creativity Strikes, You'll Be Ready - Part 3


This 3 part Feature series is presented by Brittany Wende of BW Silver Jewelry

 Looking for a project to stay busy? Exploring the possibility of starting a creative business?   You’re headed in the right direction!  There are so many things that are available at your fingertips and can be delivered right to your door or found out in town.  .  Here are some projects to consider along with helpful websites, stores and resources for you to find what you need to get started…

Photography: This is more of an investment hobby, but the outcomes can be so rewarding and possibly profitable.  With the right camera, your possibilities of shooting amazing photos are endless.  Take time to explore the base and your surroundings.  Doing well enough can lead you to taking family portraits, homecomings, engagements, weddings and more.  You could have your own photography business in no time! A standard digital camera works just fine, but if you want to get more advanced and professional with it, I’d look into purchasing a beginners SLR photography camera. Go to www.consumersearch.com and search “digital SLR cameras” to read about each one and find the one that might be perfect for you.  There are even links to purchase them once you decide, or check out www.amazon.com to see if you can find a better deal.  Or you can check your local craigslist www.craigslist.com to see if someone is selling their barely used or lightly used SLR camera. 

Looking to sell your handmade items?  There’s always www.ebay.com but I’ve come to find that the fees associated with eBay are way more than I want to shell out.  Try Etsy www.etsy.com, Artfire www.artfire.com, Dawanda www.dawanda.com or Big Cartel www.bigcartel.com.  All of these are great ways to start getting your items out there and are very affordable, if not free to use!  Take a look at them first to see which site is the best for you.

Need further inspiration? If you can’t make it to your nearest Borders or Barnes and Noble, try searching on Amazon (www.amazon.com) for endless amounts of sewing, photography, jewelry making, painting, and other crafty books.  Here are a few to check out:

Remember that happiness depends on you. It’s ok to be sad when your spouse is away, but it’s healthy to have a creative distraction or hobby to keep your mind churning and motivated.  You can learn new things every day and turn your craft into a profitable business or cherished item.  Whatever the case may be, keep your head high and your hands busy.  Get the kids involved too, they will love the projects and making those memories together will be priceless! 

 
Thanks Brittany! If you are interested in submitting a feature for Saturday Tutorials, please contact us via the CONTACT tab at the top of the blog.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: Ahoy Graphics

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

Let Me Introduce to you  Kristen Hodges
of
 
10 Creative Uses for Your Etsy Shop Avatar



If you sell on Etsy, then this article is a must read! Etsy sellers are always on the lookout for the next great use of that tiniest of tiny square. It your first impression of your shop when in chat rooms, forum threads, treasury comments, seller searches and on the new Etsy Team pages. No matter what you've been used to in the past, try spicing it up a bit and keep your buyers interested. Here are a few ideas for using your Etsy shop avatar:

1. Get festive and spotlight a key product that collates with the season or holiday. (probably the best way to promote your shop as buyers are enticed by what they see)

2. Spotlight your charity work and feature your participating product with the charity logo/name.

3. On Twitter and Facebook? Add icons of the two social media giants to the bottom of your avatar to let customers know that you are active, in touch, and available.

4. Handmade businesses are personal because you are the business, not to mention that customers love getting to meet the brainchild behind their favorite Etsy shop, so post a photo of yourself. (this has become my new personal fave, especially since the new search by name site feature and the Facebook profile photo option for shop avatars)

5. Shop name long? Create a small graphic to become the key element in your branding that can fit beautifully in that small space that will undoubtedly be recognized as you.




6. Hype up sales by letting your customers know what's new—not listings that are renewed or relisted but genuinely new items, customers love visiting active shops.

7. Show your buyers the hottest item in your shop and be sure to say something about it, too. Buyers aren't the best of mind readers... unfortunately, right?

8. New in town? Make your avatar the start of a conversation by greeting buyers with a greeting somewhere along the lines of "Hello, I'm new! How are you?"

9. Host repeating events on a particular day? Create a graphic for that event and replace your usual avatar with the event one on that day.

10. Is your twitter or blog's reader community far greater than your shops and those loyal readers are the bulk of your customers? Use your avatar to direct them to your blog or twitter and become involved with a graphic that asks them to follow you there.


Thanks Kristen for your tips! If you would like to contribute to this series, please contact us (Use the CONTACT tab at the top of the blog)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: The Taffy Box

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

The THREE PART SERIES is brought to you by Koryn of The Taffy Box
Applications - Use them to your advantage!
Hello Fellow Homefronters! The New Year has begun and with Christmas season just behind us, Valentines Day  isn't far off!  I hope your shops are all seeing new business and steady growth in 2011 so far!

Starting this new year I am keeping very close and tight records of my business expenses and write offs. Why now? Well, if you hadn't heard,starting with 2011, Paypal will begin requiring anyone with an account that accepts 200 incoming funds transactions or $20,000 in sales in a calendar year (which ever comes first) to report their SSN# to them for IRS tracking. I kept pretty good records before, but now more than ever I am looking for tax shelters for my business. Never did I think my Etsy shop would bring in enough income that this would even matter to a person like me!  I use Outright.com to track my income and expenses on a daily basis...it is free to use and very basic. It graphs reports so you know just how much you are spending on various categories such as supplies, postage, payroll, office supplies, etc.  You can also import CSV files from Paypal or Etsy (if you know how to do that sort of thing). I do it manually and you can to if, like me, you are technology impaired!

I started on Etsy about 3 -4 years ago.  I was just dabbling at the time, having fun making things and earning a little fun money as a part time pre school teacher and mom of 4.  I discovered hand stamped jewelry and the rest is history! I was hooked from the first blow of the hammer!  Then, in 2008 breast cancer struck, and I was thrown into a full year of surgeries and chemo therapy treatments that forced me to quit working and stay home and fight. I used that time to pour myself into the business and to keep distracted doing something that made me happy. I gradually grew my business to where I am able to work full time from my basement studio now, have several part time employees, and don't have to trudge off to a job anymore. I work in my PJs most days, and throw a little bit of housework in there now and then! Oh yes, and I am thankfully showing no evidence of cancer!

I was asked to share with you a couple of things that have helped my business become successful and hopefully you can incorporate some of them so that you can be a success as well. I am by no means an expert, and I find myself learning new ideas from fellow Etsians all the time, so this list is certainly not exhaustive or complete. I'd like to share some of my marketing strategies and shop ideas with you here. Etsy has already done some of the homework for you with some of their new features so first things first - take advantage of what Etsy already provides! 


 Etsy has a whole apps menu under Your Etsy so go browse and see what might work for you and your business. Facebook ALSO has an Etsy app so the first thing I recommend is that if you have a Facebook account, create a Facebook PAGE for your business, then go to the app feature at Facebook to add that Etsy tab to your page so people can browse and shop right at your Facebook page! Here is mine so you can see what I mean:
http://www.facebook.com/TheTaffyBox?v=app_169505045786 I do not personally recommend Faceboook ads. They are very expensive and there are better ways to put yourself out there. You can start with your own network of friends and their friends and their friend's friends!

Etsy also offers coupon codes now (see Your Etsy page under "promote") so you can use these to your advantage to share with your Facebook friends who "like" your page! Tell them that Facebook fans receive discount coupon codes and they will be sure to "like" your page and be privy to new listings and specials that you post there as well as the coupons!  Guess what happens next? Your page shows up on their profile page and their friends see it! It is like wildfire! It will spread! Who doesn't love a coupon! I offer coupon codes specifically to team members as well.

EtsyOnSale is a new app that allows you to put all or part of your Etsy shop on sale. You decide the discount %, the section or sections, and the start and end date of your sale. A Gmail account is required - but it's free! Great idea for Fathers or Mothers Day, for instance.

Join Etsy teams that apply to you, as you have already done here with Homefront. So what's the Homefront code for my shop, you ask? It is SAVE10 . You enter SAVE10 at check out and save 10% off every purchase just for being an Homefront team member! Return customers get a different code for even better deals! And so on...you can make them for any amount- whatever you can afford to offer - anything to get them looking and shopping!

You can also create a Facebook page link such as mine http://facebook.com/TheTaffyBox

Etsy also now offers shop stats so you can track your sales and income. You'll find that under Your Etsy on left side of page as well.  Etsy also now offers "Circles". (This is new! Check it out!) Add people to your circle with whom you share a commonality. Maybe you love photography but you create hand knit items. Doesn't matter. By adding to your circle, more shoppers will view your page and photos of things you create and possibly come browsing in your shop.

Build a free web site! I use Webs.com . They offer unlimited pages and a cool Etsy App! Yeah! You can shop right from the web page and it looks like you are at the on line shop! Take a peek! http://thetaffybox.webs.com/apps/etsystore/ I have a domain name managed elsewhere but webs offers one as well. You can purchase the domain name and eliminate the "webs" part of your shop name so that it looks like this http://TheTaffyBox.com but for free you can have your domain be http://theTaffyBox.webs.com . Private domain names are as low as $17 a year with Godaddy.com

Thank you Koryn! If you have some tips to share, contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Monday, January 24, 2011

HF Community: Monday Meetups

The 2nd and 4th (sometimes 5th) Monday of every month, watch this space for a few questions that you can take, post and answer on your blogs and THEN LINK BACK HERE so that we all can come around and visit.

This adventure is OPEN TO EVERYONE!  You DO NOT have to be a part of the Homefront Team.  We just ask that when you leave your link here, you TRULY have a post that pertains to the set of questions.

OK so....

The BRAINCHILD behind this series is Mandy of Simply Leilani  and here is her list of questions:
1 -     Are you a night owl or early bird?
2 -  Share one thing on your bucket list.
3 -  What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
Ok, remember to list the link to your blog in the comments

Mandy's links:

Have questions? Send them to us for consideration via the "Contact" Tab at the top of the blog?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

HF Feature Series: When Creativity Strikes, You'll Be Ready - Part 2



This 3 part Feature series is presented by Brittany Wende of BW Silver Jewelry

         Looking for a project to stay busy? Exploring the possibility of starting a creative business?   You’re headed in the right direction!  There are so many things that are available at your fingertips and can be delivered right to your door or found out in town.  Here are some projects to consider along with helpful websites, stores and resources for you to find what you need to get started…

Learn Calligraphy: This seems random, but actually it can be a profitable skill to have.  People pay good money for calligraphers to do their wedding invitations, etc.  By learning how to do it well, you can benefit from making a little extra money on the side with your ever growing military friends and families. You can find a starter kit at www.artsuppliesonline.com and begin the learning process.

Get Beading: Michael’s Crafts, Wal-Mart, and of course Hobby Lobby again, has all the beading supplies you’ll need to get started making your own bling.  But, try out these other online shops to help you get started: Etsy (www.etsy.com) has oodles of beading supply sellers that have great deals!  They don’t do the commercial mark up like most companies do, and the shipping can sometimes be cheaper.  Also try www.jewelrysupply.com or www.houseofgems.com to find affordable and chic beads, clasps, wire and more.  Make your own earrings or bracelets and you can even forge silver to make cuffs or rings and swirly pendant designs.  I think you’ll be surprised how addicting and fun it can be!

     Remember that happiness depends on you. It’s ok to be sad when your spouse is away, but it’s healthy to have a creative distraction or hobby to keep your mind churning and motivated.  You can learn new things every day and turn your craft into a profitable business or cherished item.  Whatever the case may be, keep your head high and your hands busy.  Get the kids involved too, they will love the projects and making those memories together will be priceless!


Thank you Brittany! If you have an idea for Saturday tutorials, please contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Creative Homefires: Left Circles Scrapbooks

Creative HomeFires is a series which highlights the value that creativity offers to family members of a deployed spouse/significant other.  We offer stories of the creative life and the beautiful benefits experienced during some of the most difficult seasons.

Let me introduce Karisa Hess of Left Circles Scrapbooks.  Here's her story:

Having been married to a Marine for 15 years and endured five long deployments, my craft has enabled me to keep my husband completely up to date with everything that’s going on here at home. Through scrapbooking, I have made him countdown calendars, cards, albums and gifts. He knows that I take a lot of time to choose something special for him to have and he has often told me that his favorite gifts are the ones I make for him with pictures of our family all together.

 

Scrapbooking also kept me busy during deployments as I took classes and taught other military wives how to make gifts for their spouses as well. Whenever I scrapbook personal photos, I get to relive the moment in which the photo was taken. My favorite photos are the ones in which my entire family is together. As military spouses, we are able to appreciate those moments and should keep these mementos close to our hearts.

Thank you so much Karisa for sharing your story! If you would like to submit a story for this series please contact us ("Contact" tab at the top of the blog) for consideration.   
                                               Left Circles Scrapbooks -the Etsy Shop

Monday, January 17, 2011

Military Life...From a Spouse's Perspective: Jeananne Sizemore

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.

  This Feature is written by Jeananne Sizemore, shop owner of Art Whims

Military Life….
From a spouse's perspective
      A military life is a great one, one that I have known my entire life. As a Navy Brat and now as an Army Wife, I have experienced the ups and downs of what it means to be a member of a military family and that our family includes many more than my genetic relatives. Our family is all of the people in the military and those who have family members and friends in the military.


        I am proud that the Homefront Team is now part of that family. The military family mirrors the relationship of siblings; we may fight sometimes, have differences in faith and ideas, but when we really need each other we rally together and stand strong. And with the losses that many of us have faced it still brings tears to my eyes that I have so many people willing to reach out and give me a hug of encouragement when I need one. I am so thankful to be living this military life and would not have it any other way.


Jeananne's Beautiful Items can be Found:
Painted Items      
Thanks Jeananne! If you would like to submit a story for this series please contact us ("Contact" tab at the top of the blog) for consideration.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

HF Feature Series: When Creativity Strikes, You'll Be Ready - Part 1


This 3 part Feature series is presented by Brittany Wende of BW Silver Jewelry

        Looking for a project to stay busy? Exploring the possibility of starting a creative business?   You’re headed in the right direction!  There are so many things that are available at your fingertips and can be delivered right to your door or found out in town.  Here are some projects to consider along with helpful websites, stores and resources for you to find what you need to get started…

Sewing:  By hand or machine, this is a great way to get crafty.  You can make drapes, pillows, bags, even baby clothes.  I’ve seen so many cute patterned baby bags and purses that are surprisingly easy to make.  Need supplies?  If you can’t make it to your local fabric store try these sites: Overstock (www.overstock.com) has different sewing kits to choose from with all the supplies you’ll need at a very low cost.  You can also purchase patterns to make fun purses and bags at www.homesew.com and find endless amounts of fabrics at www.fabric.com. Their prices and deals are awesome! You can also search for very affordable beginners’ sewing machines on www.amazon.com, but you local Wal-Mart or fabric store should also have them too.

Make a T-shirt Quilt:  This website has free instructions on how to get started making your very own t-shirt quilt: www.goosetracks.com Ragged old tees that you can’t bear to part with is a perfect way make a lasting keepsake.  If your hubby has a ton of battalion, company or even college tees he never wears, this makes for an excellent start in creating a functional “scrapbook” of old t-shirts. Great for old baby clothes or kids tees too.   Find the thread you need at your local JoAnn’s Fabrics (www.joann.com), Hancock Fabrics (www.hancockfabrics.com), or even Wal-Mart’s that still have a fabric section (www.walmart.com)

Like to Paint? Or course Michael’s (www.michaels.com) and Hobby Lobby (www.hobbylobby.com) have all the paints, canvases and brushes you might need to get started.  But, if you are living in a rural area or can’t get to a local art supply store, here are some online art supply shops that are just as good, and deliver right to your door: www.jerrysartarama.com has everything from paints to pasta machines and at great prices too!  Amazon of course has it all, if you search “drawing kits” or “painting kits” on www.amazon.com there are so many to choose from to get you started.

Remember that happiness depends on you. It’s ok to be sad when your spouse is away, but it’s healthy to have a creative distraction or hobby to keep your mind churning and motivated.  You can learn new things every day and turn your craft into a profitable business or cherished item.  Whatever the case may be, keep your head high and your hands busy.  Get the kids involved too, they will love the projects and making those memories together will be priceless! 

Find Brittany in these spaces:

Thank you Brittany! If you are interested in submitting a post for our Saturday tutorial features, contact us via the Contact tab at the top of the blog

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shop Diagnostics: Bug A Booties

Shop Diagnostics is a series where we share tips coming from creative entrepreneurs who can run shops in light of adjustments brought on by military life YET APPLICABLE to all those interested in improving their shop's presence online and worldwide.

Take the Time to say THANK YOU!
Written by Lauren Murray, 
shop owner and creator of Bug-a-booties
Hi Homefront Team! I am so excited to be a part of our shop tips! A quick little bit about me; My name is Lauren Murray and I am a 31 year old mother of one beautiful 17 month old daughter. I have been with my husband for 10 years, married for 7. I work during the day as an Orthodontic Lab Technician and I work on my Etsy store evenings and weekends during nap times, although that will change soon . My husband is leaving for basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky on February 1st. We are late to the military life, but we are very excited.

I started making baby booties when my daughter was 4 months old. I had many people tell me I should make them to sell. So in January 2010 I opened my Etsy shop! To date I have about 25 sales on Etsy and twice that many off site. I also have my booties in two different boutiques, one in Manhattan and one in Whitehorse, Yukon in Canada.

So what does an a person like me, with little experience in the military life and so few sales have to offer as a shop tip? Well, before I went into the Dental field, I spent over 12 years in customer service, mostly doing retail sales. My experience in the retail industry has been invaluable to my Etsy success. I believe that excellent customer service can take you so much further than just having a great product! As a crafter/handmade entrepreneur, you know that your items are not a necessity, but a desire to the prospective customer. Consumers do not come to your shop to buy something they need. They come there because they desire what you sell. With so many other sellers carrying similar items, you have to set your self apart from the competition. There are many ways that can be done, but I am amazed by how often good customer service is passed up.

One of the best ways you can wow your customer is to send them a personal message. When I buy something on Etsy, if I don’t get a convo from the seller confirming my order, I feel cheated. A simple “thank you for your order, here are my shipping policies, etc.” would suffice. I cannot believe that an Etsy seller would be too busy for that, and if you are, I hope you are writing a shop tips section, because I would love to know your secrets! 


I also always include a little hand written thank you card in each of my packages. The least expensive way I have found to do this is to buy a pack of scrap booking paper in note card size. You get a cute variety in one stack. Just simply fold it in half and write your note inside! You will show your customer that you took the time to thank them personally and that you are being thoughtful. With the economy in its current state of disarray, we should be thankful that people are choosing to spend their hard earned cash on our handmade goods!

Properly done, good customer service will lead to repeat sales and great word of mouth! There is a statistic that says something like, “a good experience is repeated twice, a bad experience is repeated up to 11 times!” Don’t let a simple thing like forgetting to say thank you become the bad experience your customers are repeating to their friends! I know this seems like common sense, but take the time to thank your customers! Thank you for reading this! I hope it helps. Best of luck and many sales!

Thank you Lauren for sharing your tips! If you are interested in contributing to Shop Diagnostics, please contact us (Use the "Contact" tab at the top of the blog).

Monday, January 10, 2011

HF Community: Monday Meet ups


Questions are a fun way to connect 
I LOVE questions
I hope you do too!

The 2nd and 4th (sometimes 5th) Monday of every month, watch this space for a few questions that you can take, post and answer on your blogs and THEN LINK BACK HERE so that we all can come around and visit.

This adventure is OPEN TO EVERYONE!  You DO NOT have to be a part of the Homefront Team.  We just ask that when you leave your link here, you TRULY have a post that pertains to the set of questions.

OK so....

You will meet the BRAINCHILD behind this series who will kick this off with her list of questions
on 
January 24, 2011 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Creative HomeFires: Blue Room Gems

Creative HomeFires is a series which highlights the value that creativity offers to family members of a deployed spouse/significant other.  We offer stories of the creative life and the beautiful benefits experienced during some of the most difficult seasons. 

Jennifer Avery is the shop owner of Blue Room Gems. Here's her experience:

 Colorful multi gemstone bracelet By Blue Room Gems

 Surviving a deployment is never easy.  My husband recently returned from a year in Iraq, and I have to say, creating jewelry and running my shop definitely saved my sanity while he was away.  I am a stay-at-home mom to three boys, who were all under the age of five at the time of the deployment.  To say it was hectic is an understatement!

I actually opened my shop only a few weeks before he left, and it quickly became a much needed distraction. It filled in the emptiness of the evenings, giving me structure and purposeful activity to pass those lonely hours. 

It also gave me something to look forward to each day.  I would frequently wake up with a new design in my head and couldn’t wait to get into the studio and make it real.


But, the thing I am most thankful for, was that it connected me to others, lessening the feeling of isolation.  I am still truly amazed at all the wonderful people I have met through Etsy.  They are such a blessing.

So now I am onto the next adventure, balancing kids, business, and a husband!  Good thing military spouses are always up for a challenge!

Thank you so much Jennifer for sharing your story! If you would like to submit a story for this series please contact us ("Contact" tab at the top of the blog) for consideration.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Military Life...from the brat's Perspective: Jennifer Harruff

Jennifer is on the far left

The Military Brat Team and the Homefront Team are combining efforts to share our experiences with the military lifestyle so that others can fully understand the sense of community, sacrifices, benefits, and expectations we all share as members of a truly unique group of people. Each month we will feature a story shared by a Military Brat Team member, and a story shared by a Homefront Team member.

First Feature is written by Jennifer Harruff, shop owner  and blog leader for Head of the Etsy Military Brat Team and brainchild behind this series.

Military Life….
From a brat’s perspective

"Growing up in the military can be hard. I remember getting so angry and sad when we had to say goodbye to our friends and move all over the country because we had to go where the Navy sent us. We had to endure being a constant new kid at school, and we had to work our way into friendships, only to have them break apart when we moved again in a few years. However, with all of the struggles we went through, we had a great deal to be thankful for. I am the third of five children, so my siblings were my playmates wherever we went. We were great explorers and set out to conquer each and every hiding place, secret path, and playground we could find in the quickest time possible. It was how we claimed our territory and marked it as our home. We grew up for a time in Virginia Beach, Virginia, climbing trees, eating plums from our neighborhood trees, and catching the sweet nectar of the abundant honeysuckle flowers on our tongues.  There were marshy ponds nearby where we saw tadpoles grow into frogs, and caught turtles (of course, naming them after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Fireflies danced in the yard, and we held contests to see who could catch the most in a jar with holes in the lid. We caught caterpillars and made them little homes inside shoeboxes full of leaves, only to find that they had fled when we checked on them in the morning.
    The best part of growing up as a military brat in Virginia was definitely the military appreciation day held by Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. With five kids and two adults living on a Navy income, we could never afford to go to theme parks, so this was the greatest gift we had to look forward to all year. We got to go on the fourth of July. My mother, older sister, and I were in line for the terrifying rollercoaster, the Loch Ness Monster, and at the last minute my older sister chickened out. So I was trapped into going, pretending I was brave while I shook from head to toe. I kept my eyes shut tight the entire ride. My mom shook me and told me to look up at the fireworks as they exploded above our heads, and I wish I had actually opened them. At least I got to brag about how brave I was when I got off! The whole day was a fantastic experience that made us all feel like a family, and made us all very proud of our status as military brats."


Visit Jennifer over at:
Her etsy shop where she makes the MOST ADORABLE and dare I say SEXY APRONS
FaceBook fan page
Twitter
If you would like to submit a story for this series please contact us ("Contact" tab at the top of the blog) for consideration.