Thursday, May 30, 2013

Local Spotlight: The Vintage Honey Shop

Adorable Photo of a Handmade Necklace
Thank you so much to TheVintageHoneyShop for taking the time to answer some questions and allowing us to showcase some of their amazing photos and products. This local business endeavor is the collaboration of 2 Nashville area women who make vintage style products for stylish moms and babies. Please take some time to browse their photo links and online shop. The photography and products are truly amazing!

1) Please tell us a bit about who is behind The Vintage Honey Shop and how you started your business.

We are Jennifer & Melissa Gilkes, owners and designers at The Vintage Honey Shop.  Not only are we business partners, but we are best friends and sister-in-laws.  We are both pretty crafty & would make cute lil things as gifts.  We both really just started sewing & making paper items only a year or so prior to opening our shop, so we were a little nervous about opening a shop, but decided to take the plunge after hearing friends & family member say, 'you could sell this stuff'! .  We opened up our shop as a fun lil hobby in 2011, but it has turned into a business! 

2) You have excellent product photo, can you give us some of your best tips and tricks for great photos? (lighting, type of camera, editing software, etc.)

Thank you!  We take all of our product photos ourselves.  We do have a few photos with models wearing our necklaces, but hose are done by professional photographers.  99% of all the photos in our shop are taken by us though.  We use a DSLR camera (Canon t1i with a 50mm lens) to take our photographs.  We only us natural light, no flash.  We take our photographs in the mornings by the window.  We set up a white lace fabric on the kitchen table & put up an old white shutter to be in the background.  The shutter gives the background a cool vintagey look & it helps reflect light back onto our product.  For most of our photographs, you don't even see the shutter!  We edit our photos using a free downloadable program by google, Picasa.  The most common editing we do using Picasa is cropping, adding or brightening lights & adding contrast to the photos.

3) Can you please link one of your photos of mamas and babies taken by a professional photographer and tell us about how you found a photographer for your products. 

We have used a professional photographer on 3 occasions for our shop.  Twice with a local family photographer, Christina Campbell of Eternal Treasures Photography, and once with a photographer in Fort Wayne, IN who swapped necklaces for photographs!  We hired the local photographer to take photos of our us & our shop after Jennifer's family did a family photo session with her.  We loved the style of her photography & wanted the same look and feel for our photos.  We contacted Christina to see if she did product/business photography.  She did and suggested doing our shoot on the back of an old truck located at Miller's Grocery in Christiana, TN.  

We set up 'shop' on the back of the truck and our photographer took photographs of us making necklaces & of our products.  We used these photos for our blog & business cards.  We recently did another shoot with her, but this time we hired some mothers & babies to model our necklaces.  We wanted some professional photos taken of our products in use.  We can write the best description of our necklaces in our shop listing, but a photograph is worth a thousand words!  Some people want to see a necklace in use.  It can help them better to see themselves using our necklaces!  The other photographer we have recently used had actually contacted us.  She was a customer who loved our necklaces & wanted more for herself and to give as gifts.  So we traded necklaces for a photo shoot!  She had a beautiful editorial style to her photography that we loved.  She had a big ol' play date with her friends & they all wore our necklaces!  It was a great trade that we loved & appreciated!  

The "Queen Bees" Of The Vintage Honey Shop

Before you hire your own photographer or decide to use one, you will want to find a photographer that will give you full rights to your photos and one that will give you print rights as well.  You will also need to have your models to sign releases, giving you full rights to using them.

4) What special things do you do for branding your shop? Are the necklaces packaged a certain way? What do you include with your orders?

Before we opened our shop, we contacted a graphic designer to create a logo for us.  We traded products for a logo & etsy shop banner.  If you don't personally know a graphic designer like we did, you can just search 'logo' on etsy.  You will find a ton of talented graphic designers that can create a great logo for your business!  Once we got our 'bee', we were branded!  We have our logo on our social media sites, blog, business cards & etsy shop.  We even had a stamp made of out logo that add to a tag on our packaging.  We felt that if we are going to start a shop, we might as well do it right!  Getting a logo professionally made for us was one of the best decisions we ever made!  Even though you are a handmade shop doesn't mean you shouldn't look professional!  

Every order we send out is hand wrapped in tissue paper, wrapped up in bakers twine and a beautiful paper doily and tag are added to the outside of the package.  Inside the order, we place two business cards.  A mini one & one that has a coupon code for free shipping towards their next order with us.  We want opening our necklaces to be an experience!  We want our customers to smile while they are opening their order from us!  Making sure our packaging is super cuter is very important to us!  We get lots of compliments & feed back on our packaging.  Yes, it takes a lot of time to hand wrap every order, especially when you have 20+ going out at a time, but it is worth it when get photos back from customers of not only our product, but the way it came wrapped to them!

5) Are your products ready to ship or do you make them custom? If you make them to order, how do you work production into your time management schedule?

The majority of all of our products are ready to ship.  Our rosette cuffs are made to order, but we make sure that we allow enough time to complete them without feeling rushed, so we say to allow up to 7 days for their item to be handmade.  We do get a lot of custom requests for necklaces & those turn around times are a week as well.  Our first year of business, we made most everything made to order, but that ended up causing a lot of stress on us, especially around Christmas. We decided that we would make all of our necklaces ready to ship.  It was one of the best things we ever did!!  Now all we have to do is ship...sometime on same day a purchase!

We will also give a coupon code for 10% off using code: midtenn

Here are some links for you of our past photo shoots:

Here is the link to our photoshoot we did last year in Christiana:

And here is a link to our most recent photoshoot:

Here are our shop & social medial links:

INSTAGRAM: or look for us @thevintagehoneyshop

Monday, May 27, 2013

Featured Shop: Sew Sweet Calico, Handmade With Cotton

Handmade 100% Cotton Pillowcase from Sew Sweet Calico
Today, we are going to hear from Rebecca about her brand new online shop, Sew Sweet Calico . This shop specializes in adorable cotton pillowcases, made right here in Tennessee. Rebecca is a seasoned Etsy seller in her other shop, Rebecca's Accents , with over 100 sales of her handmade knit goods, she knew that she enjoyed selling her handmade goods online and set out to create a second shop with a unique identity for her sewn cotton goods. Let's hear what Rebecca has to say about her new shop and selling on Etsy.

I have lived in Woodbury, Tenn for 33 years, originally from the Philadelphia, Pa area. Our 2 daughters are grown, and I have free time to devote to crafting.

Hat Made By Rebecca
Vibrant Colors

I used to sew all my clothes, for family and friends, when I was in my teens and for about 20 years. I even made suits for my husband! But in the last 10 years I really did not sew at all--cranky sewing machines with chronic tensions issues make it a battle, and I was content to delve into yarn and crochet.
Now I have purchased a new sewing machine and am having great fun getting back into the swing of it! I hope to make quilts one day, I am fascinated with the colors and techniques of this true American art form. 

Yarn hobbies, both crochet and knitting, are what I have done a lot of. I love quality yarn, which costs a lot of course. So doing small projects as I do on Etsy does not break the bank. 

Lessons: My first shop I opened at the end of winter, and my crochet shop is geared for cold weather. I knew nothing about Etsy, teams, marketing, treasuries, or FB. Needless to say, nothing happened. Now I know get in there with teams, favoriting and interacting with other sellers, and making treasuries. 

Second shop was SOOO much easier to open than the first. I think Etsy has greatly improved their format. Just be sure you think wisely before you choose a username: it cannot be changed. 

Richly Detailed Fabrics

I am working on pillowcases now, and hope to have more selections, and quantity of each, in the next few weeks. I will be adding sets of pillowcases, as many people want two. 
I am thinking of adding totes, and after that, perhaps some baby items. Little quilting projects? I hope so!

For me, calico pillowcases, sewing cotton accessories, etc, did not fit in with my yarn accessory shop. I had read on some teams that it can work better if your shop has an overall theme, or medium, rather than very different sorts of items. I will find out if it's true!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Featured Artist: Skye Colors Pet Portraits

Cat Portrait from Vickie Lee

Today we are going to hear from the owner of Etsy shop Skye Colors , Vickie. She specializes in breed specific and custom pet portraits. Who doesn't love animals? Everyone does! Please take some time to read about Skye Colors and visit her shop on Etsy.

My name is Vickie Lee and I live in Kingston Springs, TN. I'm an art student working toward getting my degree in commercial illustration. My dream is to write and illustrate children's books about animals. My shop, SkyeColors, is where I sell prints of my art, which is mostly animal related.

SkyeColors got its name from my dog, Skye, who recently passed away. She was my best friend for over twelve years. Skye was a blue merle Border Collie / Australian Shepherd mix, she was the best dog!

I have been drawing since I was a little kid. It was one of my favorite activities, along with coloring with crayons. I would sit for hours and draw silly cartoon animals. It wasn't until I was about twelve years old that I felt the desire to get better at drawing.

I love all animals, so I enjoy drawing and painting all sorts. But if I had to pick one, I would have to say dogs. I am very passionate about dogs and I've spent a lot of time with them, so dogs really just make a connection with me that other animals do not. 

Chihuahua Portrait

I opened my Etsy shop as a way to expand my art and prints to a wider audience. For awhile I was just doing art for myself, friends and family, and school projects. People seem to enjoy my work, so I thought Etsy would be the right place to branch out a little more.

Custom Pet Portrait

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 18th Team Treasury Contest Winner!

'From Birth to Two...Lifes a Zoo' by lauraprince3

The first two years are literally like living in a zoo. These whimsical items will add some smiles to your hectic life even in those times when you feel like going into hibernation.

Personalizes Growth chart - ...

Monthly Baby Onesie Stickers...

Giraffe Baby Wipe Case, 15%...

Cheetah baby shower decorati...

Sally Giraffe Personalized 1...

Gia the Giraffe Rufflebum Ou...

Elephant Pillow

Boutique Zoo themed with Gir...

Zebra with Turquoise Aqua Bo...

Zoology Receiving Blanket 33...

Zoo Animal Birthday Invitati...

Albert's Zoo, 1st editio...

Zoo Animals Wall Decal Party...

Fondant cupcake toppers Zoo ...

Baby Blanket Fab Cheetah Bab...


May 18th Team Meeting Pictures and Notes

Sabrina from HugsLove and Amy from fAveritte Creations (Look at that Cute Chevron Shirt!)

First, thank you all so much for attending the meeting! We had an intimate gathering of 4 local at Hasting's coffee shop in Murfreesboro. This was a great meeting to see familiar faces, meet new people, and discuss marketing and sales for our handmade businesses. It might seem like summer will be slow and boring now that the holiday season is long gone, but we have lots of exciting news and suggestions for your online shop! Below, you will find a highlight of what we discussed; however, please see the team discussion boards on Etsy to comment and contribute on some of the ideas:

The team boards have a new feature to pin important threads. These threads will be highlighted in blue and remain at the top for easy reference. Titles of threads that are white will drop of the first page, unless they are active. If you can, please participate or comment on the team discussion boards once a week. It is not a requirement, but it keeps things fun and active, plus there are tons of opportunities to promote. If you want to make a treasury featuring one or more team members, please use our team tag, "teamboro", as one of your treasury tags. Also, don't forget we have a team Facebook page. Every shop can promote one new listing and one sale every week, plus as many treasuries as you can make. Additionally, we welcome comments regarding local businesses, craft fairs, and activities. Please join the Facebook fun here: Team Facebook
Dave Summers, Local Author and Amy 
 Now, on to the highlights of the meeting!
Me, Clare, from Mylana 

1) Probably the most exciting idea of the meeting is the wish to get together a team craft show at a local venue. There will be a thread in the team discussion boards for this. The goal is to have it sometime in October or November and make it a low cost to participate. We will need to secure an indoor venue and have all vendors make a pledge to help promote. Please visit the discussion boards on Etsy to make this happen!

2) Did you know that you can add a button under your shop name on Etsy that says, "Request Custom Item"? Simply join this team and the button will appear by your name. It is an Etsy test team. Custom Prototype Team

3) Christmas in July is coming up! Amy from fAveritte Creations told us that she participated last year and was almost as busy as during the holidays. There will be a thread on the team boards to help you get started; however, watch the other forums and emails from Etsy, as they will announce what tags you should use for your sale items in advance. Christmas in July is a promotional shopping event to encourage customers to hunt for bargains during the holiday off-season.

Samples With Washi Tape
 4) Do you spruce up your orders with a little something special? We discussed packaging and order presentation. All of us included a thank you note and a business card, and some of use included discount coupons, samples, or free gifts. If you include a gift, try to avoid candy, as it melts in the hot, summer weather, or things the customer might perceive as junk. The best choices are small samples or items that allow the customer to try another product you offer. Colored bakers twine, washi tape, decorative bags, stickers, and ribbons were popular choices for item packaging. Amy also added that she makes thank you tags from carnival tickets and is getting personalized shop name tags for her fabric items.

Blanket from HugsLove
5) Speaking of fabric, some of our sellers spoke about adding washing and care instructions with their orders. If you sell textile goods, you might consider informing the customers how to best care for their handmade goods. This includes both hand and machine washing instructions.

6) We were lucky to be joined by local author Dave Summers, who is considering opening an Etsy shop for his novel and short stories. Currently, he is establishing with Etsy what format of writing falls within the parameter of "handmade". So far, there has not been a definitive answer from Etsy, but I did email them directly and am awaiting a reply. We do know that "drop shipping" or 3rd party shipping is not Etsy legal. This has to do with delivery confirmation, and seller protection from direct checkout and Paypal. If Dave wants to sell his novel on Etsy, he must have a copy and ship it directly. The same applies to photographers and greeting cards. You are allowed to have a third party print your original design, but they need to ship it to you and not the customer. Otherwise, you will not be covered by seller protection in case of a charge back or non-delivery claim. This seems silly, but it is for your protection as a seller.

7) Trademark and copyright infringement are a big deal these days and if you listen to the buzz or visit the forums, every day you hear of shops being shut down or fined for selling goods with licensed characters or copies of brand name goods. Do your research before selling and protect yourself! Many fabrics, such as Disney or sports teams logos, are for personal use only, meaning you need permission from the organization to sell items made with the fabric. The same goes for paper goods. You need authorization to make Elmo or Angry Birds party invitations, if the intent is to sell them. Even paper cutting machine cartridges have restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your paper die cuts.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself.  Look for any warnings or stickers about personal use on fabric before you purchase it. If you make any products with popular cartoon characters or team logos, research if you are allowed to sell it. Do not use any trademarks or brand names in your shop when listing your "inspired by" items. For example, it is okay to make a necklace that looks like a Chanel necklace and sell it, but it is NOT okay for you to use Chanel in your tags, title, or description. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and do not sell character and logo items or remove any brand name references from your listings.

Personally, I have had one listing removed from my shop Mylana. The listing was for a Poison Apple Grapefruit Soap. I did not know that one of the big bath and body companies had Poison Apple trademarked for all body and skin care. Etsy removed and deactivated my listing until I changed the name. Many of the big companies have people searching Etsy for copyright and trademark infringement. Entire shops are being shut down. Also, you could be reported by your competition, trying to get an edge. Take the steps necessary to protect yourself before a problem arises. In most cases, it is fine to make a craft project with a licensed character, but you will probably not be allowed to sell it for profit.

As a final note, the Etsy forums can be pretty vicious when dealing with questions regarding copyright infringement. I suggest asking the organization directly, for instance MTSU, if you have questions about using their logo on a product you intent to sell. Furthermore, even if it seems like everyone is doing it, you cannot sell clothing, jewelry, or paper goods with most major cartoon characters. Disney and Hello Kitty are notorious for going after violators. It could be a just a matter of time before you get caught. You can also ask in our team discussion boards for opinions on anything you think is questionable- we were all new at one time and didn't know all the rules, so we will be gentle!

Rutherford County Farmer's Market Now Open!
8) The Rutherford County farmer's market is now open every Tuesday and Friday from 7-12 in the Agricultural Center on John Rice Blvd. You can use debit, credit, cash, or EBT/SNAP/food stamps. In addition to produce and plants for your garden, they have baked goods, handmade jellies, candy, honey, soap, candles, lip balm, and more. All of the craft products are made with some type of local farm product like goat's milk or wool. They even have hydroponically grown plants. Support community farmers and artisans by shopping local!

9) Please announce any summer craft fairs or festivals that need vendors on our team discussion boards and Facebook.

10) Are you hosting a charity event or blog giveaway that needs donations? You can start a thread in the team boards, too. This is for legitimate charities or team member blogs. Please no requests for freebies and samples for personal use in the team discussion.

11) Everyone loves kittens! Amy Averitte has 7 kittens that are about 4 weeks old. They need homes for June. Please contact her here

12) We are looking to have a meeting in Nashville. Do you know of a good place to have one? When is a good time for you. See the team boards for more information.

13) Participating in the treasury contests, promotional threads, and games is a good way to market your shop for free and help the team. It only takes a few minutes a week to post in a few threads. We have added the "Need a Heart" game and also threads for your blogs and social media.

14) The next meeting will be in July. Time and date are to be decided. 

Who Loves Cats and Kittens???? Amy Averitte has 7 Kittens Needing Homes

Friday, May 17, 2013

Opening Day at the Rutherford County Farmer's Market

Unfortunately, I've been under the weather the past few days with a nasty spring cold, so I didn't get to post about my May 11th adventure to the opening day of the Rutherford County Farmer's Market in Murfreeesboro, TN until today. Sorry for the late update, but I will give you the scoop on the produce and crafts and how the Farmer's Market works. The hours are 7-12 noon every Tuesday and Friday and it is located on John Rice Blvd. at the Agricultural Center. You can follow them on Facebook here: Farmer's Market Facebook Page

The Farmer's Market is a place where local farmers and artisans get to showcase their locally grown and handmade products, all made with ingredients or plants produced right here in Middle Tennessee. There are seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and more, along with jams, baked goods, honey, goat's milk cheese, soap, lotion, and more. Everything is grown or created by each vendor with locally harvested materials. The honey and beeswax vendor even brought a display hive with real bees!

I love farmer's markets because you get to interact with the producer of the foods and products and get to ask questions about how to use unusual plants and support the local economy. The quality of the products is also superior to the grocery store and the freshness is unbeatable. Comparing prices, I discovered the cost of fresh vegetables and fruits at the Farmer's Market was about the same as the supermarket; however, the quality was better. Look at those heads of lettuce in the first picture, beautiful! I bought one, and it tasted great, too.

Other goods, such as jellies and soaps were slightly more expensive than you would find in a commercial grocery store, but have the advantage of being made with locally grown ingredients and being fresher. You can also find niche products and unusual recipes, such as hot pepper and berry jelly and lavender lip balm. I sampled some butter pecan honey that was outstanding!

When you get to the Farmer's Market, you purchase tokens at the entrance using cash, debit, credit, or a food stamps card. These wood tokens are good all season. This helps the individual vendors, so they don't need to have a lot of change on hand. You can also purchase cloth shopping bags and t-shirts. Simply tell the cashier how many dollars of tokens you need, and she will ring you up and swipe your card. To get an idea of how much you will need in tokens, I spent 2.50 dollars for lettuce, 3.00 for a huge butternut squash, 3.00 for pecan bakery bars, and 5.00 dollars for soap.

Some things to keep in mind for planning your shopping trip is to pay attention to the season and what is ready at that time. In early May, there is not a wide variety of crops ready yet, so they were offering many greens and plants to grow in your own garden. Later, when the weather turns hotter, they will have tomatoes, corn, peaches, pumpkins and more. Like the Farmer's Market on Facebook to get updates on what is in season. Also, get to the market early if there is something in particular you want. Strawberries were sold out very early.

This year is the first year the Rover city bus goes to the Farmer's Market. I took the city bus to get there and it was a wonderful experience. I had never been on the new West Side Loop Route and the driver was friendly and informative. The bus drivers also had flyers and posters to promote the market. I think this is amazing that the Farmer's Market is trying to reach out and make locally grown, nutritious produce accessible to elderly and low income people that use the bus. The Rover costs 1 dollar each way and picks up at the Farmer's Market once an hour. Have questions? Ask your driver! All of the Rover drivers are friendly and informative.

Finally, there Farmer's Market offers free classes on subjects such as beekeeping and container gardening. When I visited, they were offering a class on how to grow monster tomatoes. There were also signs up about classes offered at the University on canning and food preservation. The goal is to get the whole community excited about locally grown foods and healthy eating. Not only is food good medicine for the population, but it puts dollars directly into the hands of local farmers and crafters.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Pebble's Destash: Featured Local Shop

Beads From Pebble's Destash

Who among us that creates does not love to acquire supplies? The desire to accumulate materials for our craft is passionate, but sometimes, artisans may find themselves with too many unused supplies that are taking up space. Occasionally. we also need money and our craft supplies are a valuable, although hard to part with resource. Whatever the reason, if you are ever faced with a deluge of materials you can no longer use, or need to sell for money, opening a destash shop, a shop just for supplies, might be an option for you. Today, we are going to talk to Carol from McMinnville, TN, about her new supply shop, Pebble's destash. Carol sells beads, cord, and jewelry making supplies.

Please check out Pebble's Destash today!

From Carol:

My main shop is Ivy's Pebbles. I make jewelry.

Destash is basically selling a "stash" of supplies. In my case, destash includes beads, cord, pendants, etc.

Yes, I will be adding to my destash as listings sell out. 

I've been accumulating these supplies for at least 4 years.

It is difficult to say which beads are most difficult for me to parts with. I always think, "I can still create something from these." But, I would have to say I have a more difficult time parting with "my" freshwater pearls.

To set up a destash shop, you do have to set of 2 etsy accounts. I also found out during the process, you actually have to have 2 separate emails.

I set the second account up using the same process as if I did not have an account. I had to do some research using Etsy's Seller Handbook and find discussions on "second shops."

April 28 Winning Team Treasury

'Minty Fresh' by tngal22

Inspired by Mylana's Rosemary Mint candles

3 Rosemary Mint Scented...

Minty green upcycled co...

Real Dandelion Seeds Ne...

Minty Aqua Upcycled Bre...

Pastel Flower Necklace,...

Minty green rose floral...

Fabric Flower Headband ...

Minty Organza Flower Bo...

Geometric Owl StuffedTo...

Minty Kiss Fabric Cover...

Minty the Spring Bunny ...

Minty Rose Silver Tone ...

Trio of Mint Green Pain...

Easter Banner with 10 B...

Vintage Letter P - Heav...

Mint green photograph f...