Monday, 16 November 2015

The Run Up to Christmas and Looking to the Future

Druzy bangle

Good morning on this cold November morning!
I have just realised that I haven't blogged since July...July??!!! What have I been doing?

We recently took a short break to Cornwall to have a bit of fresh air and time to think about our little business. We hired a gorgeous little cottage in Porthallow (which we have totally fallen in love with) and they even let us take our cats! Here is the view we woke up to every day :

We have been very busy this year working on new ranges and learning new skills. Craft fairs took a bit of a back burner as we decided to expand our ranges and improve our jewellery making skills and been really honest with ourselves about what was and was not working in our business. I'm pleased to say that we have had our best year ever over in our Etsy shop and it has been keeping us very busy indeed. Unfortunately I, (Poppy) had 4 months off work earlier this year due to a particularly nasty flare of lupus. What energy I had went into improving our online presence and working on our Etsy shop. I spent hours and hours researching SEO for Etsy and taking and re taking photos until I was happy with them, improving tags and titles and it really seems to have paid off.  I returned to my day job part time back in August (James also works full time) but I am still struggling with energy levels, frequent flares and the dreaded brain fog that comes with auto immune disease. The plan for now is that James stays working full time and me (Poppy) works part time until the end of May when my current contract ends, then have a go at doing Poppy Designs full time (with locum work to support me).  Whilst we were away (I do all my best thinking and creating by the sea) we did a lot of thinking about where to go next and what to do and that's the plan! Cannot wait. Ultimately we would both love to do the business full time an be able to afford a lovely house by the sea and maybe a little shop......

 Our tortoiseshell tabby cat Maisie certainly took to the seaside view. I think she approves of the idea of living by the sea!

We hate losing momentum in the Etsy shop, so we took a lot of our stock with us so we could still complete orders. I felt very inspired with this view and ended up making lots of new pieces which I am really pleased with.  Here are a few of our new pieces and ranges we have added since I last blogged : 
Real dried, pressed pansy set in resin
I have been playing with resin and pressed flowers. My own dried and pressed flowers didn't quite turn out as I had hoped, so I bought some dried and pressed by a fellow crafter and here is one of them set in resin. I was really pleased with how this one turned out and think the pearlised background gives a really vintage feel to the piece. 
 James, on the other hand, is totally addicted to metal stamping at the moment. He has been very busy practising his skills and creating these fabulous pieces below.  I think my favourite hand stamped pieces are our personalised rings. I have my own 'Poppy' ring which I wear on my wedding finger. We can stamp names, words, paw prints (lol!) on them and I think they look really good. They are made from stainless steel and we are currently selling them for £10 each and have a range of sizes to choose from. Rings handstamped with childrens names and little hearts seem to be very popular at the moment. 

My 'Poppy' handstamped ring. 

hand stamped, personalised rings
He has also done some wonderful bracelets and bangles with inspirational quotes like these below. My favourite one is one that says 'Cats leave paw prints on our hearts' with paw prints on too.  It looks amazing.

Hand stamped bracelets

Anyway, it seems that I haven't blogged for months and have then rambled on for what seems months worth of posts in one! I think I best sign off and get myself a coffee and then pop over to Lucy Blossom Crafts to catch up with Handmade Monday.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Handmade Monday and Etsy Finds

Well, we have been loving the lovely hot weather here at Poppy Designs Towers. What a beautiful few days of sunshine we have had. Unfortunately today has been a bit of a downpour here in Manchester but at least it has given us some time to devote to our blog.  We have had a really busy few weeks here and as usual, our blog seems to have got a little neglected amongst all the action. We are entering into our busiest time of the year, we have our summer shows and then the run up to (whispers) *Christmas*.....we have been working really hard on some new designs and have got loads more ideas to bring to fruition.

It really has been a fantastic year for us so far, our online sales have really improved and we are now 21 sales away from 800 sales on Etsy. This is in no small part due to all the effort we have put into improving our online presence and a lot of how to do this has come from other crafters and sellers in various Facebook groups and forums. Other than adding our animal themed ranges, our stock and designs haven't really changed that much, we have just been lucky enough to get great advice from others on how to get our products 'out there'. It is for this reason that this week we have decided to devote our blog post to the Etsy Manchester group as there are some really lovely people there that have given and shared some fantastic advice which we have benefitted from. We also benefitted from having our cat rings featured on Buzzfeed over the Easter weekend which gave us a huge boost.....

Cat rings
Therefore, this week we have decided to feature some items from Manchester-based Etsy sellers in our blog, our very own Mancunian 'Etsy Finds'. We decided to go with the theme of 'Animals' here goes.....

  1. I have long been an admirer of Adam's shop AdamClarkPhotography and this photograph of cygnets feeding on a lake has to be one of my favourites. Adam has a lovely selection of prints from nature in his shop and well worth a visit. 

  2. These absolutely gorgeous little dachshund felt keychains can by found in MisHelenEous. How beautifully made do these look? Just gorgeous. 
    Gorgeous Dachshund 
  3. Owls have long been a popular animal as it is easy to see why when there are creations such as this beautiful owl bag available by CrochetByChance. I love owls and I am always blown away with how pretty crocheted items look. 
    Crocheted Owl Bag 
  4. Another favourite shop of mine is The Fabric Badger run by the lovely Molly. She has all sorts of beautiful creations made from vintage fabric but my absolute favourite has to be these cat earrings 
    Cat earrings 
  5. Not only does IslaCoast have some awesome creations, but she has this gorgeous dog modelling the hare print bandanas. This shop is a dog lover's dream with gorgeous dog cards, collars and t-shirts.....but this hare print bandana had to be my favourite, if only for the most adorable little dog modelling it. 
    Hare print bandana
  6. Another animal that seems to be very popular at the moment are giraffes. There are lots of lovely giraffe items appearing on Etsy, but my absolute favourite is this watercolour by ArtByMonika
    Giraffe Watercolour
  7. Last, but certainly not least is this Manchester Worker Bee Cup by the very aptly named TheManchesterBee
    Bee Cup

I could really go on forever, there are so many gorgeous things on Etsy....but for now I am going to finish up and head over to Handmade Monday over at Lucy Blossom Crafts and see what everyone has been creating over the past week. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Animal Themed Charm Jewellery

Rabbit earrings and ring.

It has been a busy few weeks since I last wrote a blog post. I am still off work from my day job, thanks to lupus, and still needing lots of rest....but I have been managing to do bits and pieces here and there. We recently added a range of animal themed charm jewellery and gifts to our online shop and so far they have been really popular - particularly our cat necklaces and rings. We haven't yet attended any craft fairs yet this year so am hoping they will be just as popular in real life as they have been online.

Giraffe necklaces. 
 Both of us have always been huge animal lovers so I guess it was a natural progression to add animal themed jewellery to our range. The next step on our journey is to start creating animal pendants from polymer usual I have loads of ideas but never seem to get around to putting any of them into action.

Cat necklace.
 This is just going to be a quick blog post today as I am struggling with my energy levels and need to pack last night's Etsy orders and get them down to the Post Office. We now have over 600 sales on Etsy and I still cannot believe my eyes every time I look at the stats.

Have a lovely weekend and thank you for reading xxx

Elephant earrings.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Crafting, Invisible Illnesses and Animal Lover Gifts

Druzy bangle.

I have just realised that I haven't done a blog post for the whole of April! I was doing so well blogging regularly this year until Easter and then let myself down!

There are a few reasons why I haven't been so prolific on here over the last month. The main reason is my health. As I have mentioned before (on several occasions I am sure), I suffer from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. I still work full time and do my crafting and my business as most of the time I am quite well. Lately, however, I haven't been as fortunate and have been off work for the last 6 weeks and most likely for a few weeks more too. Thankfully I have my crafting and my jewellery making to help keep me sane and give me something positive to focus on....and I have the company of my three adored cats - who seem to understand that something is wrong. My main issues are joint pain and swelling, skin rashes, disabling fatigue and problems with memory loss, concentrating, focusing and problem solving. My jewellery making and crafting is something that I have found very therapeutic. This is something I hear a lot from other people in similar situations - that they get a great comfort from their crafts and their pets. It is particularly so for people with 'invisible illnesses' such as SLE, MS, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety etc.

Druzy and pearl bracelet

I would really love to be able to do my business full time and it is something I have thought about a lot more recently. It is my biggest fear that one day I will be unable to hold down full time or even part time work in my chosen career. One day, I might be totally reliant on my income from crafting and selling.  My jewellery making gives me the ability to work when I feel well enough and rest when I need to (which at the moment is a lot). Having my own small business has helped me focus on the positives and give me some self respect, at times it has stopped me going crazy with frustration at not being able to do all the things I would like to do. My current situation has made me think a lot about how to move forward with it all and how to improve my sales and range. I think having a wide range of things is very important in order to appeal to as wide a range of people as possible.....but the products should all look cohesive. I knew I wanted to expand, but it was a question of how to do this. I decided what I was going to do was continue with my jewellery making as that is my passion and I love it.....but also to add a range of 'Animal Lover Gifts'. I am an enormous animal lover so I thought this would be a great way of adding to my range and it felt very 'me' also. I cannot possibly create enough products by hand (time wise and health wise) so some of my new products are 'sourced' rather than 'handmade'.....although I have embellished some of the products. I also make it clear which of my products are 'sourced' and which I have made myself as I wouldn't like to mislead people. Here are a few of my new 'Animal Lover' gifts :

Cute little cat purses 

Tuxedo Cat Notebooks 
Regular readers might recognise the black and white tuxedo cat on the notebook! He is my rescue cat Dexter. I love this photo of him. I took it last summer when he was sitting amongst the poppies in our garden. We also grew these poppies from seedlings. I have him as my logo now, but loved the picture so much I thought I would add him to my Animal Gifts range in the form of a little notebook! (any excuse to shoehorn my cat into a situation).

Animal lover stuff aside though, I am still a jewellery maker and have still been creating pieces of jewellery. I realise I have made up for not blogging in April by rambling on today, so I will leave you with a couple of pictures of some of my druzy pieces.

Druzy necklace

Druzy earrings

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Handmade Monday : Anchor Bracelets

For a while now I have had the idea of making some 'anchor' related jewellery - inspired by my love of the sea and my Dad's house in Appledore, Devon. I have had the idea for bracelets in my head for a while now and spent a good few weeks sourcing and selecting the materials to create the 'look' I had in mind......and here are the results. I think these bracelets are my favourite bracelets I have ever made, I love them and I'm so pleased with how they turned out. I made a few different versions before I finally settled on this design :

...the vital ingredients

....the making process

..the finished piece : red anchor bracelet

 Each colour bracelet is available with a choice of gold plated, silver plated or rose gold plated anchor and clasp. I haven't photographed the rose gold ones yet as I had to wait for the rose gold stuff to arrive......which it did yesterday, so I am going to try and get some of the rose gold ones listed on my Poppy Designs Etsy Shop this evening/tomorrow morning.

Navy Blue Anchor Bracelet

So far they have been really popular - so much so that I have had to order more supplies to make more. The red and blue ones seem to have been the favourites so far and I have had a few sales since I listed them on Etsy on Thursday afternoon.

It's been a real boost to me this week, as sadly I am in the middle of yet another lupus flare which has left me unable to function properly and do my day job. I originally got into jewellery making and crafting when I was first ill with painful joints....I am so glad I did as I really think my crafting has kept me sane through some dark times. I think a lot of people have had similar experiences as I have met a lot of people through fairs/forums who have long term illness and get a lot of comfort and positivity from their art.

Purple Anchor Bracelet

I am not sure how much I will manage this week....I want to try and do something, but this debilitating and disabling fatigue makes it so difficult. I like to try and get some exercise and fresh air, so thankfully a good week on Etsy (with 15 orders) and 3 orders on Facebook have given me a real boost and the motivation to stroll to the Post Office with my little bag of parcels every day. I have this lovely little selection of charms to play with this week, so hopefully I can muster up some creativity and come up with some designs........

 I am going to sign off now and pop over to Handmade Monday.....and try and conserve some energy for the week ahead. Have a lovely week xxxx

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Craft Fair Advice Based On My Own Mistakes : Choosing a Fair

Time and time again I see on Facebook, blogs etc that people are struggling with craft fairs. Whether it is finding fairs to attend, how to display items or what type of fairs to do.

I have been doing craft fairs for a number of years now, since 2006. We have done small local fairs and large fairs at the NEC, some successful fairs, some not so successful. I can do a fair one year and do really well and then at the same event the following year do badly. Thankfully, these days the fairs that I do (which is significantly less than I used to) work out pretty well for us. It is a long time since I have done a fair and not made money - and by make money I mean cover the stall fee, cover the cost of my materials, cost of travel (and sometimes accommodation) and enough money to pay for my time. I am not going to pretend to know the answer to what makes a good fair, or what makes a fair successful...but I hope that by posting a series of blogs, based on my own experiences, then I can help others maybe avoid some of the mistakes that I have made.

When I first started out doing fairs I got carried away on a wave of enthusiasm (something I do a lot) and booked into every fair I could get into without doing much research. This resulted in a lot of disappointment and crushing of my confidence when I didn't sell anything/much or ended up sitting in an empty room all day hopefully waiting for customers to magically appear. Not to mention the amount of money wasted!

These days I take my time on choosing fairs and only book fairs that I have done well at in the past or that I think I have a realistic chance of doing well at.

Criteria I look at when picking a fair : 

  1. Is it 'handmade only'
  2. Are there sensible limits on each type of craft 
  3. Location, location, location
  4. Advertising/Social Media Presence/'Findability'
  5. Timing

I have found in the past that the fairs that I have had the most success at have been events that are strictly handmade only - particularly those that are juried. By juried I mean that you have to provide photos of your work/links to your page or website and then a panel of people select the stalls that they would like to have at the fair. This usually means applying by a closing date and then waiting for their decision. More often than not these fairs have a lovely selection of different and complimentary crafts (usually handmade only) and provide a lovely shopping environment for targeted buyers. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to compete with lots of stalls selling similar products and bought in tat from goodness knows where. There is a place for bought in products and sometimes I do fairs where there are quality resellers there - and that is great. The problem comes (for me) when I have a beautiful set up handcrafted stall in amongst stalls selling products more suited to a market stall for knock down prices of the 'pile it high, sell it cheap' variety. As I said, there is a place for everything......and it is my belief that craft fairs should be exclusively handmade products. I am never going to be able to compete with mass produced prices and ultimately I am not going to find the 'right' kind of customer for my work at a fair that is targeted towards the 'Primark prices' type of buyer.

Sensible Limits
Another one of my frustrations has been turning up to a fair and finding that over 50% of the stalls there are selling jewellery. I sell jewellery so this is something I have a huge problem with, but I think it applies to other types of craft too. I have found that I have done much better at fairs where there have been sensible limits on similar crafts. Last year I turned up to a fair to find that not only was there someone else selling Murano glass jewellery, but they were right next to me! Clearly, this was disappointing for both of us.....and for the customers who would like to attend a fair to see a range of crafts and stalls, not rows and rows of jewellery/cards/soaps etc.
An excuse I often hear from organisers (who are eager to fill their stalls for obvious reasons) is that 'it's all different'. This is fair enough, some competition is good and a range of different jewellers selling glass, silver, beaded is good and keeps the fair looking fresh and interesting. When every other stall is jewellery this is NOT cool. I have lost count of the number of times I have been standing behind my stall and heard customers tutting as they past 'there's a lot of jewellery here' without so much as looking at my stall. It is absolutely soul-destroying and unfair on stallholders and customers alike.
My advice when booking the stall is to ask the organiser how many stalls there will be selling the same type of craft. If they are reluctant to answer or won't give a straight answer it makes me think twice about booking a table. I want a fair chance at doing well and if out of 30 stalls, 10 are jewellery then my chances of doing well plummet before I have even set my stand out.

Location, Location, Location
This is a really big one....and the most important factor - especially for the smaller fairs with a smaller online/media presence. Where is the fair being held? Is is accessible? Is it easy to find? Can your customers find it?

Some of the biggest mistakes I have made with fairs is booking events that had, in hindsight, not a scrap of a chance of attracting customers. It takes so much more to hold a successful event than simply booking a room, printing a poster off on a home computer and hoping people turn up.....yet it happens ALL the time. It's not that all organisers are out to rip us off and make a quick buck, it's a lack of understanding as to how difficult it is to drive people (and let's not forget, the right type of are there to sell, not to have a chat with folk, however lovely, that are there for a 'day out' with no intention of spending money).

So, where is the fair being held?
Is the venue on the way to something? Is there a lot of passing trade? Can people park easily? (especially important if you are selling heavy items like furniture/wood)
People are lazy in general and won't make an effort to get to somewhere if it's too difficult. Good venues tend to be, for example,
a) places in busy shopping centres/streets on a Saturday - plenty of passing trade and people that are out with the intention or idea of spending.
b) fairs that coincide with another event already being held (providing of course, that the other event is not direct competition).....such as Christmas Fairs that coincide with the 'lights switch on', craft fairs held in a hall when there is a farmers market on outside; a craft fair alongside a church/village/school fete where people are likely to come along to support the event. One thing to bear in mind though, is that school fetes might be more successful for cheaper end products and products targeted to children.

Is the venue accessible/attractive?
Anything not on the ground floor is a no no for me. Firstly, I don't want to put my back out carrying stock and display up a load of stairs! Secondly, we are back to people are lazy.....or busy...and take the path of least not having to trek up a load of stairs to look at stalls. Also, if there isn't 'easy access' of lifts then a whole section of customer base might not be able to make it up there e.g. disabled people, elderly, families with pushchairs/prams.
The harder it is to get to, the less likely people are to come. Plus, when you are hidden away up stairs, around the back etc then passing trade cannot see the 'buzz' going on inside and be enticed to come in and have a look. You want to be a visible as possible.
Also included here is the attractiveness of the venue. You are selling beautiful, handcrafted want to be in a beautiful, well decorated, bright venue.....not some dark, dingy, poky room. It's all about the atmosphere, the buzz, the lifestyle....when selling handmade items you are selling a lifestyle as well as a product

Can your customers find it?
This is sort of tied in to the above paragraph on venue accessibility. The event HAS to be easy to find. I have booked events that I have struggled to find and get in to set up......disaster!!! If I struggle to find it (and I know it is there and am frantically looking for it) then how are the general public going to find it? The average customer simply won't make the effort to hunt something out, unless it is something they know they desperately want. Chances are, if you find it hard to get to then so will your potential customers.

Advertising/Social Media Presence/Visability
Don't be afraid to ask the organiser when booking what they will be doing in the form of advertising. Where will they be promoting/advertising the fair? Will there be huge signs out in front on the day? (A4 posters printed off at home will simply not cut the mustard) Will there be a big A board out in front enticing people in? To be fair, some councils/local authorities do limit the amount of advertising and signage that organisers can put out on the day - so best to check this. I know from experience that this is the case in York.....I am sure that this must be a problem elsewhere too.

A lot of organisers totally underestimate the amount of advertising they need to to, or even how best to advertise. A great social media presence is fantastic....creating a buzz on Facebook, Twitter etc in the weeks and days coming up to the event is great (but the event still has to be well signposted on the day itself). I would think twice about booking a stall with any organiser that has an unprofessional looking website and a lack of presence on social media. There are events that I have done in the past which I have done very well indeed at but tapered off in recent years. The world changes and so must simply have to have at least a Facebook page (in my opinion) if you are organising an event. Virtually everyone I know is on Facebook, and on there is a huge source of potential advertising and it really puts me off dealing with organisers who point blank refuse to engage with it. I have done some fantastic events with organisers that have created a huge buzz and excitement about the event on social media/Facebook prior to the event.

Be realistic and honest with yourself, if you are only paying £10 - £15 for your stall, chances are that there isn't a great advertising budget (if any) in there. Potential customers don't just magically appear, they need targeting, enticing, finding, reaching out to. This costs money. Decent, professional-looking signage costs money. I don't pretend to know the answer to successful marketing and advertising but I do know it takes time and costs money. I do events from the cheaper end of the scale and have done well at events where I have paid £10 for my table, so I am not saying don't ever do's just important to be realistic about expectations and what you are paying for. Generally speaking, you do get what you pay for. I do events that cost £10 a stall and events that cost £300 a stall. I am reluctant to do fairs that cost much more than that (although I do decide on a case by case basis, rather than any hard and fast rules) as the risk is so much greater and you have to sell soon much stock just to break even.

Again, there are no hard and fast rules about timing - as I have found many times, there is no pattern to selling at fairs. Some things to think about though are :

Time of the month
Ideally, the best time to sell is when people have just been paid and have a bit of money (hopefully) in their pocket.....rather than week three of the month when people are looking forward to next pay day.

Time of the year
This is especially important if you are selling seasonal type products. Some things sell better in winter (such as knitted gloves, furry boots etc) some things sell better in spring/summer. It might be better to spend the quieter months on products, online marketing/selling etc and then go hell for leather sell, sell, selling at fairs during your 'busy' periods of the year. I sell jewellery, and I tend to do well in summer and just before Christmas. My quiet months are Jan - April and then August - October. August can be a bad month for fairs (unless you are selling stuff for kids) as the kids have been off all summer and parents/famillies have had an expensive month entertaining the kids. This might not be the case for everyone, but it is something to bear in mind.

What else is on locally that day?
If there is a big event on locally that day, bear in mind that this may take a lot of potential customers away from your event. A Sunday afternoon event coinciding with the Wimbledon final may be quiet for example or events that coincide with big national events.

I have waffled on for way longer than I planned to...I kept thinking of more things as I was typing (I have clearly made a lot of mistakes in the past!). I hope this is helpful I said, there are no hard and fast rules and no guarantees. If I knew where all the perfect fairs were, full of my perfect customers and my 'target' market then I wouldn't have the time to sit here writing about fairs.......I hope though that this blog will help people when trying to decide which fairs to book and give some pointers to those considering starting out. I have lost more money than I care to think about in the past doing fairs.....and not just the money, it's that soul destroying feeling after a bad day and that erosion of confidence each time. Don't get me wrong, we all have bad fairs and bad days. It's part of business. It is inevitable. All we can hope for is that there are less bad days than good and that we can try and reduce the bad days and bad decisions from our own and others experiences.

I really hope this is useful and wish each and every crafter the greatest success for their fairs this year.....

Now for me, it's Handmade Monday time xxx

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Feeling Creative

Purple Druzy Necklace

Well, I have had a brilliant week and a fantastic start to March. I have had at least one sale in my Etsy  shop every day this week so fact I have had a sale every day in March. I hope I haven't jinxed it now by sounding boastful on here! I am so happy, it is my dream to be able to do this full time. I love my little Etsy shop. I would love to be able to craft for a living, maybe from a little seaside cottage in Devon, Cornwall.....or Greece, ooooh or from a converted loft apartment in Manhattan or Sydney! To be honest, if I could make a living from my jewellery on Etsy and from craft fairs I would be happy anywhere. I would love to spend my time creating beautiful things, baking, spending time with my animals and enjoying the simple things in life (interspersed of course with shoe shopping, travelling and gorgeous cocktails). 

I have so many ideas at the moment and have spent pretty much all of my sale money from last week on more beads and things from Etsy sellers - I like to spread the joy and buy from other small businesses. I have envisaged a fabulous 'nautical' range of bracelets for summer - inspired by the village in Devon where my Dad lives, Appledore - which I just love. I love the sea and I love boats. Before I went to university, I went travelling to Australia and the Far East and became a scuba diving instructor.....I miss the water so much - there isn't a great deal of sparkling clear water in Manchester - the Ship Canal and River Mersey don't count! I would love to live by the sea one day. One of the Greek Islands would be my first choice I think - but Devon would do! lol!

Druzy Necklaces 
 I have pictured below some of my most popular items on Etsy this week.....funnily enough the things that sell well online are not my best sellers at fairs. My best sellers at fairs are my Murano glass range and my own 'Poppy's Art Beads' necklaces. The Murano does very well online too, but I almost never sell a Poppy Beads necklace online. I think I have sold maybe 2 in the last 6 months.....I sold over 40 of them at Stonor Park alone last summer! Funny isn't it?

Gemstone triangles - an order off to America this week

Mini druzy necklaces - these have been very popular this week indeed
Anyway, seeing as I haven't sold anywhere near enough to retire....and it wasn't my turn for the Euromillions jackpot on Friday night, it is back to reality tomorrow. I best go and finish off my weekend jobs, drop by Handmade Monday and then get back to the real world!!!
Have a nice week everybody xxx

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Photographing Products

Rose Quartz Triangle Gold Necklace

For a long time I have found it very difficult to photograph my work well enough. I am really working hard on building my Poppy Kitten Designs Easy Shop this year. Top of the list for improving is is the first thing potential customers see and what will make them decide in a split second to click or move on. I decided to try and find a more interesting way of photographing my work....I need to think of a way to grab people's attention, show the item off to it best, yet be clear about the product at the same time. I decided to have a go at my rose quartz jewellery feels a bit like spring this morning in Manchester so I picked some of my rose quartz, pastel pink necklaces to practice some 'arty' shots with. 

Here are the results...... (I am going to pop over to Handmade Monday and then keep practising) 

Rose Quartz Bullet Silver Necklace

Pretty in Pink

Rose Quartz Triangle Silver Necklace

Pink Druzy Silver Necklace

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Etsy Sales, Online Selling and Dexter the Cat.

Gemstone Bullet Necklaces

Good evening on a very cold Sunday evening here in Manchester. I have had a reasonably good week - I have been on annual leave from the day job and was supposed to go down to Devon, but unfortunately my lupus had other it turned into a week at home. Luckily I have been doing quite well in my Etsy shop and had a few sales this week to cheer me up, otherwise I think I would have been really miserable. The amethyst slices that I made and posted about last week on Handmade Monday did really well online and I only have 2 left. I love it when that's such a boost - especially at this cold and dark time of year. 
I am loving my funky shaped gemstones at the moment and have added the gemstone pendulum bullet necklaces to my range this week. I have strung these ones on silver plated chain but I think I will see if I can get some more of these pendulum shaped gemstones and put them onto gold plated too. I hope these are popular too.

Packing up a turquoise cat to go to America
I love my little Etsy shop, it's my baby (as well as the other 3 fur babies). I get so excited and such a buzz when I get a sale on it. I have been working really hard trying to promote it lately as I just love creating things and selling them but feel totally drained by craft fairs. I still enjoy fairs but only carefully selected ones.....and not outdoor ones at this time of year! It's freezing!!!
I really want my Etsy shop to be a huge success. I think it is important to make a good first impression so I put a lot of effort into packaging to make it look lovely. I wrap my pieces in tissue paper (unless is is Murano glass, which is gift boxed) with a little 'Poppy Designs' sticker and then pop it into an organza gift bag with some love hearts and a thank you tag.

Poppy Designs parcel
I then pop the package into bubble wrap and into a padded envelope - which I 'seal' with a paw print sticker on the back. I hope my customers like it.

I have even treated myself to a new notebook to write my Etsy sales down in (I am trying to keep on top of my tax return as I go this year - rather than a huge panic at the last minute). Of course, I had to have beautiful Dexter sitting in the poppies as my cover print!
New book for Etsy orders
In other news, it was James's birthday last week and one of his gifts from me was this giant beanbag, pictured below. He hasn't had much of a chance to sit on it as these two have decided they like it!

Anyway, I am going to have a nice. cold glass of Pinot now and settle down to Kirstie Allsop's Vintage Homes which I have recorded on TiVo.......have a lovely week and thank you for reading my blog xxx

Monday, 16 February 2015

Amethyst Slices and Moon Dust Rings

Amethyst slice necklace 

Good morning. Somehow it is Monday morning seems to come round quicker every week!
Anyway, I have been very busy over the last few weeks with so many new ideas and creations. I find that I get obsessed with a certain medium/type of jewellery for a while and go totally crazy with it. My infatuation at the moment is with semi precious gemstones.....particularly rough cut, natural looking gemstones. My favourite pieces lately are the rough cut amethyst slices. I just love them. They look like they have been sliced straight from the geode! I have strung them on silver plated chain and I think they are fabulous. I really am proud of them

Druzy rings - they look like what I imagine moon dust to be!

Whilst we are talking about natural looking stones, I also love these little druzy rings. Druzy, for those that are unfamiliar with it, is a thin coating of quartz crystals over a host stone. When the ground water that carries dissolved silica is forced into an area of porous rock, rapid cooling occurs causing the formation of tiny crystals. How cool is that?
I have also made some little mini druzy necklaces on gold plated chains which are just soooo cute :

Mini Druzy Necklaces

In other news, my Tower of London poppies finally arrived. I absolutely love them. I wish I had bought my Dad one too now. I originally put them in the garden....but then ended going out in the middle of the night in my pyjamas to retrieve them as I got paranoid about someone stealing them! lol! I also suspect they are not frost-proof! They are now in my studio waiting for me to find a nice vase to display them in. I am thinking of redecorating the lounge with a  red theme so I can put them in there!
Beautiful Tower of London poppies with beautiful Poppy the cat.
 On that note, I think I will head over to Handmade Monday and link up with the other contributors. I will leave you with a few photos of some of the other new things in my Etsy Shop

Semi precious triangle pendants

chunky rough cut amethyst ring